Spoiler alert: Chucky’s still alive. Yes, the killer doll with more resurrections under his belt than Sauron does get killed at the end of Chucky season one, but he has evolved beyond such petty hurdles as death. Now in its fifth decade, the Child’s Play franchise is as convoluted as ever, but for all the hoops it jumps through to keep the killer doll(s) and his opponents on a collision course, Chucky’s philosophy is as refreshingly simplistic as ever: keep the kills coming.
We pick up mere seconds from where we left off in season one: Teens Jake (Zackary Arthur), Devon (Björgvin Arnarson), and Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) have killed the Chucky doll that terrorized their town and families, only to discover there’s a truck full of dozens of new Chuckys on its way to needy, doomed kids across America. Yes, if you’re just joining us: Chucky can split his soul now, and he’s gone big with it. After a hasty and thrilling prologue in which Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent, still in the role he originated in 1988) tries to stop the Chucky Truck™, we jaunt a year into the future. Jake is living with a new foster family (adorable kid brother included), Devon’s still dealing with the loss of his mother, and Lexy is trapped in the suburban ennui of Hackensack, where her disgraced mother (Barbara Alyn Woods) has been recalled as Mayor and her sister Caroline (Carina London Battrick) is harboring a problematic fondness for dolls. (“Say it with me: All dolls are bullshit,” Lexy tells her sis while tucking her in at night.)
Season two of Chucky quickly gets to the good stuff. We won’t spoil the how and why of it all, but it’s safe to say our teen sleuth trio isn’t apart for long and a new Chucky isn’t far behind. (Side note: It’s lovely how the puppeteers behind Chucky all get “also starring” credits for the series.) The season’s first murder is brutal and shocking in its simple cruelty. For all the silliness that accompanies a narrative with a redheaded murderous doll as its focal point, Chucky has no qualms with pure sadism. Brad Dourif continues to imbue Chucky with playful menace, and he’s as good as he’s ever been in the role. “Uber has made being a killer doll so much easier,” Chucky half-boasts, half-wonders aloud in the first episode. “I used to have to take hostages to drive me places,” he says, as if fondly remembering the last time he held a flip phone.
Elsewhere, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif, Brad’s daughter) is having a bad time. Still possessed by the spirit of Chucky Prime, Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly, playing someone pretending to be Jennifer Tilly—it’s a whole thing) has cut off her arms and legs to prevent him from launching an attack. That’s a tough break for Nica, who inhabits the body most of the time. It’s a tragic and tasteless fate for the franchise’s most recognizable “hero” after Andy, but the younger Dourif eats up the scenery when her Chucky side comes out.
The divide between new- and old-school Chucky is handled more seamlessly in season two, simply by virtue of separating the stories. The Tiffany scenes may as well be an entirely different show from the one Jake, Devon, and Lexy are in, extending the canon of the original films. People just tuning in will undoubtedly find the Nica/Tiffany scenes perplexing, but they’re short and snappy, and enough is explained to get the gist. Besides, Wikipedia exists for a reason.
After a tragedy all three blame on Chucky, the three kids are sent to a correctional Catholic school, which just so happens to be the same building where Chucky, previously Charles Lee Ray, grew up. Yes, we’re going to get Chucky terrorizing a bunch of nuns this season. “I got resurrected, too,” he gloats to a sister after revealing himself, “and it didn’t take me three days.” The stories will inevitably intertwine down the line, but sequestering the newer main characters in a single spooky location is the kind of thing Chucky does best (see: Curse Of Chucky and Cult Of Chucky, which take place in a scary mansion and psychiatric hospital, respectively).
Just two episodes were provided for critics pre-air, but already Chucky is telling an interesting, somewhat cohesive story built on the franchise’s strong points. Season two is unlikely to draw many new fans, but for the faithful, one of the best spooky shows on TV has stepped up its game.