What to Watch Verdict
“Just Let Go” feels more like a 'Child’s Play' slasher than any episode yet, figuring out the proper balance between Charles Lee Ray flashbacks and a pissed-off modern Chucky.
The narrative finds its core strengths
Subplots are paid off
Chucky sports a more horrific look
Still feels like the series is taking its time a bit too much
Parental spats feel less significant
Waiting for a real wild death sequence
This post contains spoilers for Chucky. Check out our last review here.
Last week, Chucky reached a pivotal milestone where the backstory of Charles Lee Ray began eating into Jake Wheeler’s (Zackary Arthur) narrative as a killer in training. It felt like an episode at odds with itself as retro flashbacks to Charles’ slasher origins subtracted from the progressing modern Hackensack massacre, but that’s all in the past. “Just Let Go” is a reconciliation of subplots — Jake and Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) are forced into confrontation, Jake denies Chucky’s (Brad Dourif) mentorship — and a shot of adrenaline. Don Mancini’s team finds a balance between significant reveals for Charles’ childhood and Chucky’s current mean-streak, even if we’re still waiting patiently for a few familiar franchise faces (already announced in casting news) to make their appearance.
Lexy’s silent disco party in last week's “I Like to be Hugged” ends with Chucky, framed against a raging inferno in Hackensack’s mayoral landmark estate (Lexy’s mother is the mayor, don’t forget), cackling as he’s presumably about to slay Lexy. That doesn’t happen because “Just Let Go” continues in the town’s hospital, where attendees all recover from smoke inhalation and parents let frustrations boil over.
Logan Wheeler (Devon Sawa) takes a swing at Lexy’s pushover father, Nathan (Michael Therriault), in a landmark moment that confirms Lexy’s bullying and selfishness has made her entire family a target – not only for Chucky. Neither of Lexy’s parents buys her “a ginger toy caused our mansion to burn down” excuse, and with Chucky at large, she only has one choice for an ally.
The rawest moments of “Just Let Go” both commiserate and evolve teenage characters, primarily since Jake and Lexy's survival depends on teamwork. Jake lays everything on the table — giving Chucky approval to kill Lexy, his murderous intentions and the trauma her negligent pranks cause. Other high school dramas might allow emotional admissions to linger, but my favorite aspect of horror storytelling is how death forces characters to engage in immediate changes.
That urgency arises when a frustrated and seething Jake backs Lexy over a charred banister in her scorched abandoned home on accident. Chucky stands below with a kitchen blade, urging Jake to finish the deed as the outcast boy grasps Lexy’s outreached arm lest she falls, which he doesn’t allow. Chucky fails to convert Jake, and now all bets are off. It’s an important scene with stakes and agency that removes Chucky’s need to play nice.
We’re also introduced to what I’ll call “Two-Face Chucky,” since half the doll’s face is now melted and blackened, reassembling the Batman villain’s gnarly repulsiveness. Chucky’s gone from huggable and mischievous to monstrous and nightmarish but doesn’t seem all that hindered by his cindery makeover.
Detective Evan’s (Rachelle Casseus) partner Detective Peyton (Travis Milne) is this episode’s unlucky victim, as Chucky jabs random syringe cocktails into the paralyzed officer right under Caroline Cross’ (Carina Battrick) hospital bed. Blood oozes from Peyton’s eyes, ears, even fingernails — I’ve got medical questions about the last part — in a mortifying display, nary hidden from public discovery. Chucky kills Peyton for nothing more than having a punchable face, with no regard for getting caught.
Even more interestingly, “Just Let Go” introduces a concept from Cult Of Chucky that I’ve previously mentioned in passing but now believe to be afoot. The last film in Mancini’s cinematic universe ends with Chucky’s revealed ability to control multiple dolls at once, which I suspect is referenced in last night’s episode. As Junior (Teo Briones) slips into an anesthesia slumber, he spies Chucky running past his room’s door twice — but this is as Detective Peyton supposedly holds the grotesque Chucky doll from the Cross’ uninhabitable wreckage. We see Petyon place Chucky on a chair next to another one of the hospital’s broken vending machines, as he then reaches into the removal hatch when his snack of choice stays stuck on its shelf. Are we to believe the lawman is so distracted trying to grab his sugary treat that Chucky scampers away, darts around, then returns to the same plastic waiting room chair that’s barely out of Peyton’s vision? Methinks we’ve just been reintroduced to the drama of numerous Chucky dolls, or at least Mancini wants us to question the return of murderer multiplication.
“Just Let Go” steers Chucky back towards the maliciousness and mayhem that we’re used to seeing from a kill-’em-all perspective. Chucky ends the episode by flipping Jake and Lexy off from afar, and it’s such a devious threat of “game on,” as nurses flock to Caroline and pandemonium ensues after everyone discovers Detective Peyton’s corpse. Jake and Lexy can only gaze in horror, knowing how bonkers their Good Guy conspiracy theories would sound to anyone but true-crime podcaster Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson). Chucky has snared the children in his trap, and their fear is what inspires hope for the series’ coming conflicts. I have all the inkling that the show’s Chucky doll is only the first of many and a henchman at that. Why else would flashbacks to Charles Lee Ray’s home for wayward boys expose the psychopath’s desire not only to mutilate those who disturb his peace but show others the way of a blood-slick knife?
Matt Donato is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic who stays up too late typing words for What To Watch, IGN, Paste, Bloody Disgusting, Fangoria and countless other publications. He is a member of Critics Choice and co-hosts a weekly livestream with Perri Nemiroff called the Merri Hour. You probably shouldn't feed him after midnight, just to be safe.