This week on MTV's Death Valley, the officers are involved in a community outreach campaign. They are encouraging civilians to report supernatural sightings rather than take the law into their own hands. It's an episode that's heavy on horror and light on comedy. There's even some heart-warming stuff that happens that falls very well inline with the cop show basis of the horror series. It's an eventful episode that confirms that only one character--Captain Frank Dashell--doesn't really work on the show. He's a little too Police Academy for a show that's a less-schticky Reno 911. It's a shame, too, as actor Bryan Callon is really committed to the role. It's just so over the top that it brings the rest of the story down with it.
You'll see when we get into the blood and guts of it after the jump. And by blood and guts, I mean some of these screenshots are not safe for work. You've been warned.
The episode opens with Officers Stubeck and Pierce having lunch in their car. They're Monday break is shattered by fresh young zombies chasing after a defenseless civilian. They quickly get rid of the zombies only for Officer Pierce to have a surprise: the woman they rescued is a date he never called back. Thankfully, this is a moment of character development for Pierce. Lindsay will not be joining us for the rest of the series.
Captain Frank Dashell introduces the new sound guy, Roger.
Right, Jamie. I'm sure the show will get rid of him soon enough.
Anyway, Captain Dashell introduces the new Monster Awareness campaign to the officers. It consists of three posters encouraging community members to stay active and vigilant in the fight against the zom/were/vamp invasion in San Fernando Valley.
MTV turns the final poster into a series of "gay" jokes. They do not--thankfully--mean "gay" as in "stupid." They mean that the poster makes it look like Officers Stubeck and Pierce are in a long term relationship. The Captain even makes a bizarre but heartfelt speech that "we're all God's children" and "it all feels the same anyway" when the lights go down.
Officer Kirsten Landry is told during her kickboxing workout that she will be going on patrol with Captain Dashell. He is still clueless that she has any idea what she's doing and could probably rip his spine out with her pinkie and not break a sweat. Remember kids: men underestimating women is always funny. Except for when it's not, which is most of the time. It's a lazy joke that has to end soon, right?
Meanwhile, Sophia, our favorite vampire prostitute, is still locked up at the station house after her pimp was staked.
This becomes one of the two main story lines of the episode and gives me a lot of hope for Death Valley as a series. The show handles a very sad story with a lot of sensitivity.
But first, we jump to Officers Carla Rinaldi and John "John-John" Johnson responding to a complaint. Turns out a bunch of teenagers are using the new Monster Awareness campaign as an invitation to start taking the law into their own hands. Teenage punks are stalking down slow walking zombies and beating them up with baseball bats and other blunt objects for sport. This builds up the conflict that began last episode between the two officers over protocol. Johnson likes to use a baseball bat or his fists to get rid of zombies, while Rinaldi plays by the books and uses a gun. Rinaldi is clearly frustrated that Johnson uses this teen stop to lecture others on not attacking zombies with a baseball bat.
After the break, Captain Dashell breaks down the level of crime in San Fernando valley. Zombies are like "hobos." Vampires "run drugs, launder money, are heavy into the sex for blood trade...the douchebags of the monster community." Werewolves are "sad." They're otherwise normal people who become a threat to society once a month. Dashell's old partner is a werewolf. Presumably, he left the force to better control his transformation. This leads to Dashell and Officer Landry getting a call about an unidentified creature in an attic.
Meanwhile, Officers Stubeck and Pierce offer to drive Sophia to her home. She reveals she doesn't have a home. She has no one to call to pick her up and no family that stays with her. She's a lost vampire with nowhere to go but crime.
The problem is that if Sophia is arrested one more time for illegally draining blood during prostitution, she faces a mandatory 30 day stay in jail. Stubeck tries to stage an intervention with her, but Pierce is not showing any sympathy. Every time Stubeck starts to breakthrough, Pierce runs his mouth and gets Sophia to shut down. Eventually, she agrees to try and turn her life around. Pierce won't even give her that without a comment. If vampires are the douches of the monster world, Pierce is King Douche of the police force.
Officers Rinaldi and Johnson receive another complaint about teenagers beating up slow walker zombies. The teenagers act real tough, trying to tell the officers that they're only doing their civic duty. Rinaldi and Johnson point out that the only reason they aren't dead right now is that the zombies they're beating up are old. "Freshies" would eat them up in a second.
After the break, Captain Dashell and Officer Landry arrive at the unidentified creature scene. A nice new couple to the neighborhood saw the Monster Awareness posters and called for help. Their dog has been going crazy barking at the attic for the past few hours. They're convinced something is hiding up there. Dashell climbs up and finds a rat.
Dashell instructs the couple to call Animal Control while Landry--desperate for action--suggests they get rid of the rat themselves. This is a bad idea. You know how Dashell has proven himself completely socially inept around anyone else? Turns out he's a horrible officer, too. He destroys this couple's home trying to catch a rat. He shoots holes through the walls, breaks decorations, starts a fire without opening the chimney, and even breaks one of the homeowner's noses, all to catch a rat. It's as stupid as it sounds.
Meanwhile, Officers Stubeck and Pierce trail Sophia to find out what she does on the streets. Unsurprisingly to Pierce, she returns to the scene of the crime.
Stubeck refuses to believe that Sophia would lie to her. Pierce rubs it in. This leads Stubeck to go into a nice quasi-monologue about how people turn to crime.
Do you think every homeless person starts out homeless? [Yes]. No you don't. Do you think everyone in a wheelchair starts out in a wheelchair? [It'd be pretty funny.] No it wouldn't. It would be tragic. It's a lot of things. It's life. It's luck. It's parenting.
It's a sincere moment in a rather strange series. A bit direct, perhaps, but I wasn't expecting this show to ever try and comment on anything. It's a welcome surprise.
Pierce breaks it by being a jerk. He wants to arrest Sophia immediately for prostitution for blood, but Stubeck says they need to catch her in the act.
Well, that's that then. Sophia is a vampire prostitute down to her bones and nothing will stop her.
Officers Rinaldi and Johnson get another suburban zombie call. It's the same teenagers as before picking on the zombies.
Wait a minute. I recognize that ginger zombie. Oh, snap. The teenagers that were beating up the zombies have all been zombified. Sunrise, sunset.
And another stellar makeup job for Death Valley. Their team is great.
Meanwhile, is that guy choking Sophia to death?
Yes, yes he is.
How sad. I liked her.
At least the sound guy survives this time.
Death Valley seems to be getting an idea of the direction it wants to go. It's a little more of a serious horror/drama show with moments of levity. This could obviously change as the series goes on. I hope it does. If they cut back on the Captain Dashell slapstick and schtick routine, it could be great. I also hope in coming episodes that Rinaldi/Johnson aren't relegated to just killing monsters.
Did you catch the second episode? What did you think? Sound off below.