A busload of trouble arrives in MIDNIGHT, TEXAS when Lem’s old friend returns to ask for new favors in “Lemuel, Unchained.” There is a lot of great story concept in tonight’s episode which entirely eclipses all the questions they didn’t answer from last week’s story. “Lemuel, Unchained” is Lem’s story all the way. We learn his vampire origin, which is fantastic, and see how it plays out in modern day Midnight. We don’t learn any more about Aubrey’s murder case or her angry, vengeful, hatemonger husband Pete Lowry. There is no mention of blowback from the Sheriff’s murder or missing deputy. Manfred doesn’t receive any nasty calls from his nemesis, Hightower. All hanging threads.
“Lemuel Unchained” kicks off when Creek sneaks home after a secret make-out session with Manfred. A vampire named Zachariah attacks Creek on the street, but Lem rushes to her defense. Lem recognizes Zach, they go way back but had a falling out in 1959. These two have an interesting relationship, Lem was a salve in the mid-late 1800’s and Zach was a Native American who was known for freeing slaves. There was talk about Zach but nobody was using the “Vampire” label. Lem, seeking life and freedom, breaks away from his plantation and finds Zach. Zach warns there is a cost to what he has to offer, but it’s Lem’s only shot at a life; he accepts the consequences and Zach sires him. Cheers.
When Lem’s owner hangs his friend Abraham, Zach leads Lem back to the plantation for a revenge feeding. I’m sure there is some direct vamp anecdote about a dish of revenge that applies. Lem learns that feeding makes him feels strong. Blood, good. Killing people, bad?
Meanwhile, in modern Midnight, Olivia doesn’t see Zach’s charm and she isn’t ready to friend Pia, Zach’s wife. Zach travels on a tour bus with a whole nest of vampires. Manfred doesn’t trust Zach and convinces Olivia to help him search the bus, if the vamps killed people on board, Manfred can reach them. He doesn’t find any displaced spirits, but he does find Tiffany, a hitchhiker the vamps are using to fill their blood bags. Tiffany claims it’s all concensual.
Olivia and Manfred confront Zach in front of Lem. Zach claims they don’t kill anymore, they get their blood humanely from vampire groupies. Lem confirms it’s a real thing, Tiffany will be fine after a stop at the pancake house. This is a story bump for me. If this is so, why did Zach attack Creek on her way home? I’m not the only one that has a difficult time accepting Zach’s credo. Creek starts sharpening stakes, Bobo rigs a crossbow to fire stakes and asks Fiji to conjure some anti-vamp witch weaponry.
Fiji has this really cool rock she calls “sunlight quartz.” Hook a flashlight up to it and it produces sun-like UV. The imminent fight sends Joe Strong, the fallen angel, to the town chapel where he tells the weretiger reverend how he now lives in peace with someone he loves and will fight to protect his life on Earth. Nobody believes Zach. Lets peel another layer off Lem’s tale.
Zach and his crew hit Midnight back in 1959 to feast on the innocent townies. Zach saves a young girl for Lem, a gift to perk him up. Lem takes the girl into a hotel room and preps to feed. He tells her to close her eyes and he’ll make it quick and painless as possible. Thing is, Lem doesn’t want to do it. He mutters something about still being a slave, only now it’s for blood. He tells the girl to wait in the room until dawn and sneak away when the sun rises. She’s thrilled he plans to let her go. Then, Lem says maybe he’ll sneak into the sunlight with her, end this joyless life. The girl introduces herself, Xylda (Manfred’s grandmother,) and promises she can help him with the curse a different way.
Xylda makes Lem the most powerful of vampires, an energy leech, capable of sucking the life-force out of any other vamps. Lem confronts Zach and tells him to leave Midnight. Zach gets angry and orders his friends to attack Lem. When he sees Lem dry them out with a mere touch, he wants that power too, but Xylda won’t give it to him. Zach leaves and Lem stays in Midnight for the rest of his life.
In modern Midnight, they reach the same discussion during a much friendlier sit down. Zach says it’s too dangerous for his nest traveling in contemporary America, he wants his whole bus load to stay in Midnight. Lem tells him they must move on. Zach smiles, says he doesn’t want to leave on bad terms again and proposes one last toast with shots from his special blood bag.
Zach doesn’t drink his, but Lem does and immediately feels the effect of the silver poisoned blood. Pia and the others attack while Lem is weak. Olivia kills Pia and escapes to warn the rest of the town who are already hiding is safe spaces, like Fiji’s house.
Zach chains Lem to the floor in front of an uncovered window while his nest hunts. Lem will be burned out of existence when the sunrises. Olivia uses the special sun-light Fiji made to kill an attacker, but she gets hurt in the fight and can’t save Lem. Manfred steps up and convinces Zach he can give him the same power Xylda gave Lem in trade for safe passage. This buys fallen-angel Joe time to fly to the bell tower with Fiji’s sun-light weapon. When Zach and the other vamps surround Manfred in the street, Joe lights them up and turns them all to ash.
Olivia saves Lem in the nick of time with the help of a few ounces of her blood. These kids and their crazy love. Things don’t work out as well for Manfred. Even though he saved the whole town including Creek, her brother and father; Shawn still warns her to stay away from him. There has to be more here than meets the eye. Could Shawn be Manfred’s father? If so, I hope Creek isn’t his real daughter. He made a big deal about whether she’s already slept with Manfred or not. So, you know, something dark and embarrassing is going down.
The episode ends with Tiffany hitchhiking out of town. A truck pulls over and she hops in, then the driver attacks… screams, death. “Midnight, Texas” is all momentum at this point. There are still many story points to sew up from last week, but this Lem origin was fantastic.
Season 1, Episode 03 (S01E03)
Midnight, Texas airs Mondays at 10PM on NBC
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor