“Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” Before I read R.L. Stine’s The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, I perceived that sound to be a happy one. But now it has a sinister undertone, and you’ll understand why in the third episode of the new series adaptation of Goosebumps. As a reminder, this series has continuity, so be sure to read our recap of the previous episode, “The Haunted Mask,” before proceeding through “The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.”
Episode 3: The Cuckoo Clock of Doom – Written by James Eagen
It’s Halloween night. James (Miles McKenna), Isaiah (Zack Morris), Allison (Rhiannon Payne), and Margot (Isa Briones) have snuck into the old Biddle house and are getting it ready for a party. Isaiah is stuck in the basement while his friends try to pry the door open. Isaiah is able to open it from the other side, snapping a Polaroid picture of his friends as he knockes them back. James’ head hits a cuckoo clock. Margot and Allison worry that he has a contusion, but he doesn’t want to waste the night. It took a lot of effort to get into his sexy cat costume and he’s not going to waste it.
As the party gets into full swing, James is a social butterfly. He dances around the rooms, passing out drinks, complimenting everyone’s costumes. And when he reunites with his best friend Isaiah, he is informed that his crush has arrived. Standing in the loft looking down at the scene is Sam (Aiden Howard), dressed as an aerobics instructor. “I’m about to Romeo this Romeo,” James brags as he heads upstairs. As he tries to flirt with Sam, James lies about being into sports, specifically soccer. When Sam asks about his favorite team, James says “London United,” which isn’t a team. Sam quickly looses interest in James and walks away. Frustrated, James decides to leave the party. He walks through the door. He steps off the porch. And then…
… James is back at the cuckoo clock on the floor having just hit his head. “Something is very wrong,” he tells Isaiah, Margot, and Allison, telling them that he was just in the future. He even quotes along to Isiah’s response to prove it, but nobody believes him. He runs to the door to try to leave the house again. As James is pulled back, he can almost see himself making it out. But instead, he’s back at the cuckoo clock. He repeatedly tries to leave the Biddle house, through windows, back doors, every possible way. As he continues to go back to the moment he bumped his head on the cuckoo clock, Margot’s comments about punctuality become more and more poigniant.
James sulks at the bottom of the stairs, unintentionally blocking Sam’s path when he comes downstairs. Sam notices that James seems sad and asks if he’s ok. “I’m stuck in a nightmare that won’t end and everytime I try to escape it, I just wind up right back where I started,” James tells him. “Sounds like high school,” Sam responds, encouraging James to try to make the best of a bad situation. Getting an idea, James asks Sam for his favorite soccer team. It’s Arsenal F.C. James pulls out his phone and makes a note of it. Then he runs through the time loop to repeat this moment. When Sam asks James what’s wrong, he says he’s bummed that the star player just left his favorite soccer team, Arsenal F.C. Sam lights up at finding another soccer fan, and one who’s gay like him. After a quick makeout session, Sam asks James if he’d like to go somewhere else. James looks anxiously at the cuckoo clock and he gets an idea. He tells Sam he will be right there as he goes to the clock, opens the face, and breaks a mechanism inside it. He heads to the porch where Sam stands just beyond the time loop barrier. He nervously takes a step and makes it out. He’s broken the time loop!
When James gets home the next morning, he finds his mom’s empty wine bottle in the kitchen and gets frustrated as he recycles it. He gets a text from Sam inviting him to watch the game with him on Saturday. Excited, James bops around as he opens the fridge to grab some milk. But when he closes it, he finds he’s not alone. He’s staring at another version of himself, still dressed as a cat from the night before. The other James tells him that every time he went through the time loop, he created a duplicate of himself. James looks behind him and discovers he’s surrounded by duplicates of himself. He turns around to grab his phone, but one of the dupes grabbed it. They put a bag over the real James’ head and abduct him!
“Why are you doing this?,” the real James asks as the bag is pulled off his face and he can see that his duplicates took him to the old mine. He tells the duplicates that people will know they’re not the real him, a thought they laugh at. They toss James into a pit. He hears the leader say “Back to work.”
A duplicate James has gone to school in his place. Passing Allison in the hallway, he asks her what Isaiah and Magot are up to, arousing her suspicions even more. Sam asks James why he ghosted him. James calls Sam clingy, prompting him to break up with James.
That evening, James’ mom is meeting with her old friends in the backyard while a duplicate entertains Isabella (Ana Yi Puig). They play pool and when she scratches, the cue ball hits the dupe in the face. He explodes into a pile of green goo! Isabella screams, prompting the parents to rush in. She tells them that James exploded. “I what?” She turns around to see James standing there (or a dupe of him), saying that a slime gag went wrong. Isabella’s mom Victoria (Francoise Yip) yells at her, blaming her for the mess. Victoria apologizes to James’ mom Eliza (Laura Mennell), who tells the James dupe to clean up the mess. After Victoria and Isabella leave, Ben (Leonard Roberts) asks Eliza what that was. “Just kids being kids, don’t let Nora get in your head,” she responds.
That night, Isabella is in her room when she hears a crash outside. Going to the window, she sees a James dupe motion for her to be quiet. She goes to grab a baseball bat. When she returns to the window, the James dupe is gone.
In the morning, Isaiah and Margot sit on his couch talking about what happened at the Harbor Stop the night before. Margot thinks Lucas was attacked by a monster, a thought Isaiah thinks is nonsense. She brings up the ghost and camera from the Biddle house as examples of recent events that defy logic. They’re sitting a little too close for Isaiah’s dad’s comfort when he walks in. Ben clears his through to make his presence known. “Don’t you guys have school?”
As Isaiah and Margot arrive at Port Lawrence High School, they’re confused to see James walking out of the building. He says he’s skipping class. Isaiah asks James why he hasn’t answered any of his text messages. Isaiah asks James if he’s still mad about his Jeep. Instead, James tells Isaiah he blew the big game because he’s not good at football, and accuses Margot of pretending to believe in ghosts just to get Isaiah to like her as more than a friend. Isaiah demands that James apologize. “Or what, you gonna hit me?” Just as James asks this, Isabella comes from behind and hits the dupe in the back of the head with a bat. Isabella and Margot are shocked when James explodes.
In the A.V. Club, Isabella comes clean that she was Allison’s troll, but saying it was really the mask, which she found in the Biddle house. She believes the real James is missing and has been replaced by duplicates. She wants to learn more about Harold Biddle. Margot thinks all of the weird things that are happening are connected.
Isaiah, Margot, and Isabella go to the Harbor Stop to ask Nora (Rachael Harris) if she knew Harold Biddle. Margot returns the photo she gave her. Nora says she made a mistake passing it along, she doesn’t want to talk. Isaiah demands to know why his dad doesn’t want her to talk to him. “I’ve seen him, Nora, and you’ve seen him too, haven’t you?,” Isaiah asks. Margot announces that James is in trouble. “You want answers?,” Nora asks, directed at Margot. “Ask your mother.”
Inside the Biddle house, possessed Nathan Bratt (Justin Long) puts a CD in an old stereo and “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers begins to play. He places the mask on the desk next to the camera, and feeds worms to a pet inside a fish tank. He dusts off an old scrapbook. He goes to the kitchen and fills a bowl with live worms, sprinkling cocoa powder over them. As he eats, the CD starts to skip. He goes to the player and beats it with a broom, breaking it into many pieces. When the doorbell rings, he sweeps the pieces into a pile and answers it. Colin (Rob Huebel) came to pay him a visit, asking if everything is ok since he heard loud noises outside. Nathan pretends to not know what he’s talking about. Colin points out that Nathan’s face is covered in brown powder. He invites Colin in.
Nathan offers Colin milk or water, keeping the milk for himself and slurping it through a straw as they sit. Colin came on behalf of the students to ask how he feels about his house being broken into for a Halloween party. Colin tells him that if he’d like to discipline the students, there are official channels he can go through. “If I wanted to discipline the kids, I don’t think I’d go through official channels,” Nathan says. Colin says “Kids will be kids,” sharing that he and his wife, Sarah, used to get crazy, too. Nathan becomes visibly concerned when he hears Colin’s wife’s name. “Is Sarah from Port Lawrence?,” he asks. “Oh yeah, she’s old school Port Lawrence High,” Colin confirms. “But that was before things got complicated.” Colin reveals that he and his wife are separated. Nathan says they should do this again sometime.
Isaiah, Margot, and Isabella hide in the bushes outside of James’ house. One of the dupes exits and gets in James’ Jeep. They follow in Isaiah’s truck and end up at the mine. They wander down dark mine shafts only to discover that the James that led them there knew he was being followed. He sends a minecart at them and they have to run back the way they came. They end up in a dead end, starring three of the James dupes down. They’re all wearing the same outfit, except another James rushes in wearing something different. “It’s me,” he declares. “I figured out the tunnels! Let’s go!” As they follow this James, he tells them about the cuckoo clock time loop and how it created duplicates of himself. When the shaft opens up, another James is there, declaring himself to be the real one. Isaiah doesn’t know who to believe, but he grabs a piece of wood nearby. He ends up hitting the James closest to him, the one they followed there, and he explodes. The other James smiles, sharing that none of them are the real James. For Isaiah, everything goes dark.
The James dupes toss Isaiah into the pit with the real James, who pulls the bag off Isaiah’s head and can’t believe his best friend couldn’t tell the difference between the real him and a duplicate. They get into a fight about it, with James lamenting that it’s hard being one of six gay people in Port Lawrence. As they quarrel, Margot and Isabella break through a section of the pit that was filled with rocks, saying they followed the sound of their voices. Running through the mine, they all end up in a dead end surrounded by James dupes. The real James and Isaiah team up to pop all of them. “Am I crazy or do these guys smell like watermelon Jolly Ranchers?,” James asks.
James was stuck in that pit for a week, so they head to the Harbor Stop for pancakes, still covered in dupe goo. Isabella begs Margot to call her mom. “I think my parents are separating,” Margot tells her friends, revealing why she’s been so hesitant to talk to her mom. She puts the call on speaker phone as she calls her mom, Sarah (Lexa Doig). Margot tells her what’s been going on since they threw a party in the Biddle house. “Do not talk to anyone else about this,” Sarah warns her daughter. “The other parents can’t be trusted. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
In Seattle, we see Sarah pull out a memory box. After opening it, she rummages through a few items before producing a photo of Harold Biddle.
Nathan Bratt is in his basement, looking through the scrapbook. He finds a page with a picture of Eliza and uses a Sharpee to cross out her face. Someone comes downstairs to join him. “Not all of us made it, but we found what you were looking for,” says a James dupe, who is holding a chest. Nathan grabs it excitedly and opens it up. “What is this?,” he asks in confusion. “Is this a joke?” The chest is empty. “Where is he?,” Nathan demands. “WHERE IS HE?” In anger, he hits the James dupe in the head and he explodes.
Who is Nathan, aka Harold Biddle, looking for? Why can’t the other parents be trusted? Are there any more James dupes out there? Hopefully, we’ll get some answers soon. But for now, it’s time to move to the next episode.
Lucas aspires to be a daredevil, just like his dad used to be, but his reckless stunts make people nervous and they often result in broken bones and damaged property. At the Halloween party, he finds some worms at the Biddle House and he takes them home with him. He soon learns these aren't just regular worms.
Songs Featured in This Episode:
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