“I don’t want an autograph,” a fan says to Scott Landon early on in the latest episode of Lisey’s Story. “I just want you to know you changed my life.”
It’s a simple line, one presented with a splash of horror as the fan holds a magic wand (looking eerily like a weapon) that he built as an exact replica of something from Scott’s books. But, taking this line out of context is where it holds the most power. As much as the series has been about Lisey and her experiences with Scott, it is ultimately a story about the way the pair have changed each other’s lives. Though much of it can be, and has been, lazily read as a story about how Lisey’s entire persona is based around Scott, King has gone through great lengths to emphasize that Lisey is as much her own woman and a life-changing force in Scott’s life.
The first half of “No Light, No Spark” takes place entirely in the past, at the end of Scott’s life with the focus almost entirely on him. The road to his death is a gorgeous one, the way Pablo Larraín shoots both the Colony Theater and the hospital he’s admitted to as haunting as it is aesthetically appealing. There’s such a heightened sense of magic and horror from the get-go of the episode, from the red herring of the obsessed fan to the way Scott’s relentless cough is the primary sound present.
Scott’s old wounds are reopening, both figuratively and literally, coating him in blood while he’s trying to fix himself up in the bathroom and falling apart on stage at his author event. The way Larraín lets the stage performance play out, pushing hard on Scott’s exhaustion and the toll that life (and this other world) has taken on him, is engrossing. For all the mention of Scott’s death and glimpsing into the aftermath of it that we’ve seen in the past, it’s a nice touch to actually get into his death itself. This is especially rewarding in how it reframes the Boo’ya Moon and its healing waters as something with its share of lasting side-effects rather than as easy salvation.
Once Scott is wheeled off to the hospital, we pivot back to Lisey. It’s always Lisey who has to pick up the pieces, Lisey who has to navigate what she believes and what she doesn’t. Lisey, without Scott, is still Lisey with Scott’s baggage, and the series has always made that explicit. When Lisey begs Scott to try to go back to the Boo’ya Moon (which he notes is impossible because the Longboy is blocking the way to the water), it’s extra context for why she has so actively rejected it as real in the past. She wasn’t always denying it, but once it became theoretically useless in saving Scott from death, it became something to pretend wasn’t real.
Owen and Moore give everything to Scott’s final moments of life, the two playing off each other beautifully; one in a desperate attempt to get someone to hold on to life while the other tries to soothe their partner before death. It’s unfortunate that, once again, the emotional impact of a scene is undercut by the music, with Clark’s music drowning out the whispers of the show’s protagonists. But Moore gets to continue shining as Lisey wanders Scott’s funeral and wake, wanting to be out of this house of people, of memories, her mourning and exhaustion consuming her.
“No Light, No Spark” takes the viewer back to the present and back to the same energy that closed out “Now You Must Be Still,” a trio of sisters not only getting to be themselves for the first time in ages but preparing for a fight for their lives. In readying themselves for the fight against Dooley, Amanda arms herself with a hockey stick signed by Patrice Bergeron & Darla handles the gun she claimed to throw away. Everything about the relationship between these three women continues to lean into humor while also acknowledging that their joking serves to combat the very real danger they’re in. Larraín is adept at navigating humor and tension, with Dooley’s home invasion and Lisey’s half-assed plan to lure him into the Boo’ya Moon being just as amusing as it is thrilling.
It’s delightful to watch how Larraín stages the low-lighting fight, complete with night vision goggles and a rotating lighthouse that blinds the villain and the audience alike. The humor fades out once they step into the Booya Moon though, with one of the best mounted bits of suspense happening as Lisey and Dooley trail through their own paths. One is entirely unfamiliar with this space and the other just barely, but it’s clear Lisey has the upper hand and it shows in the way they exchange provocations back-and-forth. Once Lisey hears the Longboy and says, “There you are,” the episode ends on the ideal cliffhanger; we may all have an idea of how it’s going to end, but there’s pleasure in watching the execution, and I simply cannot wait.
- The scene where Lisey begins to throw everything away, from typewriters to models, whispering “I don’t know how to be this way, I don’t know how to think it” to herself, feels the closest to what King’s genesis for Lisey’s Story was. It’s the closest thing to his wife redesigning his studio and King seeing his books and belongings in boxes, imagining life after death, and I think it’s well depicted here.
- Maybe stupid but when I read the words “No Light, No Spark,” I immediately thought of Joni Mitchell’s “Court & Spark” and I can’t explain why that feels right, but it does.
- Alright, now it’s time to list my favorite quotes from Amanda, Darla, and Lisey in this episode, starting with Darla screaming “DIE! DIE! DIE!” while hitting Dooley in the dark.
- When Lisey notes that her Plan B is just them all beating him to death: “Plan B sucks!”
- “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.”
- “Good, I hope the asshole gets soaked.”
- “I think hockey players must be illiterate.”
- “You invited a maniac, a fucking lunatic, into your house.”
- And, my personal favorite exchange: “A safe word. Oh yeah, like S&M.” “What? Were you and Charlie into S&M?” “God no, his idea of bedroom excitement was leaving his socks on.”