I have to admit, I really enjoyed the first two episodes of NOS4A2 but I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't more of a high school magical detective drama than anything truly terrifying. Thankfully, the incredibly dark (and adult) undertones in "The Gas Mask Man" swiftly disabused me of those fanciful ideas.
The Gas Mask Man is as slow as it is menacing but there are a couple of key developments. Before Vic McQueen and her bike, there was a young figure skater and her ice skates. She is an old, lonely and wheelchair-bound woman now - fair play for the morally bankrupt Charlie Manx. He pays her a visit to terrorise her before realising that she couldn't possibly be the one who has found the Shorter Way.
As Manx's icy grip on Bing Partridge deepens, we see Bing's decent into Manx's service, through the eyes of the gas mask he is wearing. I won't spoil it by going into detail of what he was doing and to whom, but suffice to say it is a far cry from the kind, slightly naive janitor we met in "The Shorter Way".
The most disappointing surprise in The Gas Mask Man comes with Vic's decision to throw her father under the bus in order to fulfil her dream of going to college, despite knowing full well what the consequences will be. Sadly enough, it will probably be all for nought because events in Here, Iowa and Haverhill, Massachusetts are about to take a very personal turn for Vic.