Earlier in the third season of SyFy’s Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block passing mention was made that protagonist Alice Woods (Olivia Luccardi) does not care for remarks about Alice In Wonderland. So it goes without saying that an episode entitled Alice In Slaughterland is going to be traumatic. Having emerged from the staircase into the surreal world of the Peach family and their servitors, she searches in vain for her sister Zoe. Along the way she encounters “vegetables” that are actually flesh and the literal embodiment of her own schizophrenia, yet remains seemingly blind or indifferent to just how cruelly her guide on this journey, Joseph Peach (Rutger Hauer), is manipulating her.
Not that Zoe (Holland Roden) is fairing any better. Having already succumbed to Joseph’s temptations, she must suffer through a cannibalistic feast, and a great deal of the horror in this already-horrific episode comes from watching her suffer through each grisly course while fighting the temptation to devour human flesh. Both Luccardi and Roden have to do a great deal of reacting in this series and they really shine as actresses in this regard, taking the audience on a surrogate journey of revulsion.
Special mention must also go to actors Krisha Fairchild and Brandon Scott as Louise and Luke, respectively: the amateur investigator and timid cop who’ve drawn the ire of the villains while aiding the Woods sisters on their journey. The previous episode saw them run afoul of the maniacal Robert Peach (Andreas Apergis) and while it seemed like Robert met his match at that episode’s close, in truth Louise and Luke’s woes are just beginning. What happens to them takes a darkly comic turn that the two actors play through with malevolent glee. In an episode full of violent gore and twisted visions, the bloody-spraying mayhem Louise and Luke go through is pure joy to witness.
This episode ends on an incredibly dark note. Whatever the Peach family are, they’re clearly winning. They feel like the most potent villains Channel Zero has created yet, which is saying something given its the show that brought us the Tooth Child and the Skin Taker, followed by the Father and the No-End House. Perhaps the Peaches feel more evil because they are so cheery and comforting. They take a sick glee in their work that those other antagonists simply didn’t. The previous villains simply were, but the Peaches choose to be.
To that end, it’s a tough act Channel Zero has given itself to follow. It will be interesting to see how the final two episodes build on the sickness delivered here.