Sorry Jack, Chucky’s back! Chucky returns for round three, albeit in a truncated, four-episode part one rather than a full course. Showrunner Don Mancini, overlord of all things Chucky, takes the series in a surprising direction. The killer doll at this point has been involved in all manner of body swaps, horrifying deaths, army camp, a toy factory, Hollywood, and last season’s Incarnate Lord Christian school. Now, his sights are set on the most evil house in America: the White House. Shifting to a new location, Chucky stays fresh while evoking the feel of the first Child’s Play, as another impressionable young child is brought into the fray. The soap-operatic boldness of season two takes a backseat to Chucky’s pared down, back-to-basics approach. Served up like a fresh plate of Swedish meatballs, season three of Chucky is sure to satiate franchise fans, even if it saves the main course for part two.

In a rather surprising move, Chucky opts to introduce us to the status quo of its presidential setting first and foremost. Before resolving cliffhangers, or catching up with established franchise mainstays, Mancini rolls out the red carpet for the first family of the United States. There is President James (returnee Devon Sawa), his wife, Charlotte (Lara Jean Chorostecki), and their two sons, little Henry (Callum Vinson) and angsty Grant (Jackson Kelly). Henry, Chucky’s newest “friend to the end,” has a Good Guy doll in tow, this one referring to himself as “Joseph.” Interestingly enough, the family has recently lost another little boy, also named Joseph. Surely, the name has to have some significance. As bizarre goings-on begin to happen behind the closed doors of the White House, not a single soul suspects Chucky may be involved. The C.I.A. and the secret service are in serious trouble.

Our trio of young survivors appear to be thriving, though still haunted by the trauma of previous outings. Jake (Zackary Gordon) has his own vlog now, and works at completing one last doll-based art piece to put the chapter to bed for good. The one missing piece is a Good Guy doll at its center. Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson) has returned to podcasting, promising to explore the truth behind the Good Guy doll murders. Meanwhile, Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) posts “thirst trap TikToks” twice a day, imploring her listeners to keep their eyes peeled for her still-missing sister, Caroline (Carina Battrick). All three are under the roof of their kind teacher, Miss Fairchild (Annie Briggs), who struggles to get their homeschooling under control.

Right about now is probably when the average viewer will be contemplating how any of these two disparate story threads could connect. Leave it to Mancini to make sense of it all—shortly after Jake, Devon, and Lexy get a cryptic call from Chucky, they notice him on television, in the arms of little Henry. Viewing taking down Chucky as their own cross to bear, the trio vow to do whatever it takes to infiltrate the highly-guarded White House. They urge Lexy to connect with Grant, hoping a personal invitation could be their “in.” Miss Fairchild insists she tag along to make sure they all stay safe.

Exploring Jake and Devon’s relationship further, the duo have a running gag of getting interrupted every single time they are about to get intimate. After their relationship troubles and being separated for the majority of the previous season, Jake and Devon have become quite the power couple—even if they have not consummated their relationship yet. Try not to swoon as the two recite lines from Call Me By Your Name. One of the best moments of the season comes when Miss Fairchild attempts to chat with the duo about practicing safe sex. Fairchild’s checklist presents parental cringe-comedy at its finest. I genuinely don’t think there has been another horror show of this caliber that has delivered a scene that will feel this real for many viewers. Being informed about safe sex practices, top/bottom dynamics, bathhouses, and more are conversation pieces that need to be more normalized, especially for gay people of all ages and genders. Mancini refreshingly pushes the envelope with this content.

Whereas season two felt like a love letter to longtime fans of 2004’s unsung franchise entry Seed of Chucky, season three is more in line with Child’s Play. At least, in the Jake/Devon/Lexy/White House story, Chucky is sparingly utilized, and befriending a new child feels eerily familiar. However, this would not feel like Chucky without Tiffany. The series waits until its third outing, aptly titled “Jennifer’s Body,” to catch us back up with Jennifer Tilly (or, technically, Tiffany in Jennifer’s body, if one is keeping track). Playing with voodoo has never been so maniacally entertaining. 

As per usual, Tilly is quite the scene stealer, be it begging for a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea, or rocking stilettos and smoking cigarettes in prison. Nica (Fiona Dourif) comparatively feels less important after her revenge arc came to its natural conclusion, but I have no doubt that Mancini has more in store for her in the season’s back half. Sawa back for a third time as his fourth Chucky character couldn’t me more ridiculous, exacerbated by the fact that he’s playing the literal president of the United States. If these first few episodes are any indication, the season’s MVP though is actually Alyvia Alyn Lind. With a drug addiction in her rearview, the death of her mother and the disappearance of her sister loom like a dark cloud over Lexy. She finds an unexpected connection with Grant over their shared trauma. Lind excels in these dramatic sequences that ask her to do more than just be a pretty face. What a journey this character has been on specifically: considering how abhorrent Lexy was in the beginning, her development becomes that much more impressive.

As for the return of other franchise vets, Chucky doesn’t take kindly to spoilers. Surprising cameos akin to last year’s WWE Superstar Liv Morgan are sure to have people buzzing. Ultra-gory deaths toe the line between creativity and excess. Stylistically, this season feels in line with the striking sleekness of Curse of Chucky; nothing experiments to quite the same level as immaculate Tilly-whodunnit “Death on Denial” from last season. All four of these episodes, filmed prior to the multiple strikes that led to the shutdown of most major Hollywood productions, benefit binge-watching, and fit together nicely. The natural expansion of franchise mythology maintains the overall consistency this franchise has maintained since 1988.

Creator Dan Mancini continues to color outside the lines of his kooky creation, still going strong four decades after its inception. The signature Chucky zany campiness is still intact, albeit shifted to a new locale. I will say that Chucky loses a bit of its edge this time around, and the focus on new characters can be jarring in adjustment to what came before. However, at this point, not putting full faith in Mancini’s vision seems like a fool’s errand. The series has proved time and time again that the franchise simply works in the television format, and this one is no different. Chucky does at least conclude here in a manner that leaves one desperate for more. Who cares if there is no endgame in sight when we are having so much fun? Wherever Mancini decides to take it next, Chucky remains a fascinating must-see for horror fanatics.

The Oval Office calls his name when Chucky season 3 part 1 debuts to USA and SYFY on Wednesday, October 4th. New episodes stream next-day weekly on Peacock!

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