‘Dead of Summer’ Review: “Home Sweet Home”

Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 9: “Home Sweet Home”
Tuesday, August 23, 2016


After watching “Home Sweet Home,” my first thought was, “This was the best episode of the season.” After thinking more about it, I amended it to, “This was my favorite episode of the season.” I think this is an important distinction. Learning that Amy is a fucking psychopath and the person behind the wooden horse masked killings is probably one of my favorite reveals. While I was shocked and blindsided, it also made complete sense. And I think that is what makes a plot twist in a thriller work. Amy being the killer, I didn’t see it, but it made sense.

Amy was shady as hell in the pilot of Dead of Summer. I was suspicious of her innocent good girl routine, and that suspicion somewhat bled into the second episode. By episode three though, Amy had convinced me that she was no threat. While she showed concern for the supernatural things going on she was never over eager. She did not pursue finding answers. Instead, she would leave little innocuous hints and wait for another person in the group to dig. She was good at her job, she showed concern for the kids. Actually, thinking back now, that should have been a major red flag. In a place like Camp Stillwater you have to be a demon loving psychopath to give a damn about the campers.

Amy actually being a psychopath felt rewarding. Learning that she was a psychopath who killed everyone while wearing a wooden horse mask was fascinating. But the thing is I am still confused as fuck about so many things and a lot still doesn’t add up for me. And that is why I would say this is my favorite episode and not the best (the best was “How to Stay Alive in The Woods”).

Amy’s Past

Amy did not have an easy childhood. She had a jerk brother and an asshole father. As a child she just wanted to play with her brother’s pet mouse Ralphie but her parents forbade her. But young Amy didn’t listen and one night her parents discover she disobeyed them when they see Ralphie pattering away in the living room. When she tells her parents that she doesn’t think it’s fair to keep Ralphie locked up in a cage and just wants him to be free her father yells back at her:

Dad: “Amy! Why don’t you ever listen? What’s wrong with you.”

Later that night, as young Amy washes the dishes, her asshole brother tells her that their parents are planning on sending her away because they don’t want her anymore. As they are fighting she realizes that something is wrong with the garbage disposal and when their mom checks it out, she pulls out a mutilated Ralphie.

A few nights later Amy’s brother lures her to the garage and locks her inside so she could feel what it is liked to be locked up in a cage, just like Ralphie. She screams and cries but finally falls asleep. The next morning she is awoken by a firefighter who lets her know that her whole family died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the flue of the fireplace being closed.

Over the next nine years Amy is moved from foster home to foster home, living in a total of seven different homes. The woman running her current group home says that hopefully she will have a fresh new start at Hunter High School. And a fresh start she has.

Camp Stillwater, 1989

Garrett, Jessie, and Alex are in Holyoke’s cabin where he has conjured up a basin of pure Lake Stillwater water, to purify and save Amy’s soul. Holyoke thinks that Malphus picked Amy as a vessel because she is the purest of pure. Amy is pleading to the others that she isn’t really possessed but Holyoke assures them that “The demon is a master of deception.” So basically don’t listen to anything that comes out of Amy’s possessed mouth. Holyoke also warns them that under absolutely no circumstances to open the door or the demon will escape.

Apparently, Amy is the first vessel that Malphus has ever accepted and purifying her will take every bit of strength they have. They need to call to the spirits of light because it will give them the strength to fight the Malphus. Did I miss something? Am I supposed to know what the spirits of light are? Is this like the City of Light over on The 100?

Holyoke heads over to his piano to summon said light but as he does, a bloody smoke monster emerges from the lake and zooms around camp until it reaches Holyoke’s cabin. At first, I thought the light went into Jessie, but I was proven wrong when it started pouring blood outside of the cabin and Holyoke turns into blood and disappears.
The song didn’t work because a demonic engraved piano key rendered the piano useless. Jessie takes control of the situation and informs them that they will have to be the spirits of light and save Amy themselves.

All the while Amy is begging for them to untie her. Pleading that there is no evil inside. But seriously Amy thou doth protest too much. All they are doing is saying some old incantations and throwing old pure water on her. If she wasn’t possessed the worst thing that could happen is she would get wet. The only reason she would freak out this much is if she was possessed. Jessie knows this and she is determined to save Amy’s delicate, sweet, pure, virgin soul.

As Jessie shoves the purified water down Amy’s throat the demon inside takes control. Jessie urges Garrett, the assigned Amy Whisperer, to remind Amy of who she really is so that Malphus doesn’t win. He says some platitudes about how she is a good person and this is her home. This doesn’t work though, instead it causes Malphus to show himself. When Garrett tries to talk to Amy again she responds by viciously biting his neck which was absolutely amazing.

Home Sweet Home_Amy

They say more incantations and finally they think that Amy is cured. So, when they hear Deb knocking Jessie decides it is safe to open the door. But it wasn’t Deb, it was Malphus pretending to be Deb. This was really confusing because I thought Malphus was inside Amy and we soon find out Deb is aimlessly running through the woods so I am not sure what actually just happened. Whatever it was, it made Malphus inside Amy strong again and Amy threatens to kill Garrett if Jessie does not open that damn door.

Jessie, proving yet again how brave and badass she is, decides that she is not going to let anyone else get hurt. She offers herself to be Malphus’ vessel in Amy’s place. She knows what it is like to have the lightness in your heart snuffed out and doesn’t want Amy to endure that. Oh, Jessie, I couldn’t love you more. Once Malphus transfers into Jessie’s body, Alex carries Jessie to the basin of purified Lake Stillwater Water to finally destroy Malphus. And after drowning her in the water all of the blood on the windows disappear.

When Amy comes to she is devastated that Jessie sacrificed her life to save everyone and rushes to give her CPR. Alex whines “But AMY, Holyoke said no one was pure enough to survive that water.” Lo and behold, Jessie is indeed pure enough, and she comes back to life!

As they are leaving Amy tells the group:

Amy:“No matter what happened here this summer, this place will always feel like home”

and asks for a few minutes alone to say goodbye.

The Campers

This storyline is so ridiculous it pains me to write about it. The campers are being rushed in the middle of the night to get onto the bus. You know, that bus that Deb said would take at least 24 hours to arrive at camp.

Blair and Drew are there to help because they weren’t cool enough to be invited to Amy’s exorcism. Deb is also there staring out at the camp and being incredibly useless. She says “I never imagined this is how I would say goodbye.” How the fuck are you bringing this fiasco back to you Deb? You have a demon on the loose with campers who need to be evacuated and you are just staring out reminiscing about ghost sex?

Blair asks if the other counselors she cares about will be okay, and she just says “I hope so” and gets on the bus. It is ridiculous that Deb is peacing out while members of her staff are still in danger at camp. While Deb’s main priority should be the campers’ safety her presence on that bus is neither helpful nor necessary. It already has two counselors. Instead, she is leaving four of her staff members, who she is also responsible for, in a cabin with a demon.

Anyway, they are driving along when a fog overcomes the bus and then bam, blood starts pouring down all the windows. As the kids are screaming Deb turns to the driver and asks “what the hell did we hit?”

Home Sweet Home Hellstorm

Really Deb? REALLLYY? You think that the gallons of blood that just poured down on the bus came from hitting an animal? Really? And then the driver decides to go outside to assess the situation. Again…. REALLY DRIVER?? REALLY? Obviously the driver dies, but not before he smudges his face against the bloody window so all the kids see that he is about to die.

The staff is just chilling in the front of the bus waiting for the literal hell storm to pass over while the campers quietly sit in their seats. No big deal the campers just saw their bus driver get murdered and every window of the bus is covered in blood, but they are just fine. Then the entire bus starts shaking and everyone starts screaming again. Once it stops, young Francie asks the question all the kids must have been thinking “What’s out there.”  Home Sweet Home Francie

(Oh sweet little Francie, I hope you brought that inhaler with you because if Alex jumping out of a bush caused an asthma attack, a blood storm most definitely will.)

Blair tells them he doesn’t know because truthfully, I don’t think anyone has told Blair and Drew what is going on yet. As he says this a message appears on the blood soaked window:

Let Me Out Home Sweet Home

Deb decides to take action and leaves the bus to assess the situation. She charges Blair and Drew with starting the bus up and driving the campers to safety. Once she leaves Drew tries to start the ignition by turning the key a bunch of times, flipping a bunch of switches, hitting a bunch of buttons, and banging on the dashboard. Finally, it works and he drives the campers to safety.

The Axe Showdown

Meanwhile, Deb is running around camp trying to bait the demon when her dead ex Keith comes and strangles her. He says that she is the reason the perfect vessel came to Camp Stillwater this summer and that everything is Deb’s fault. Keith disappears though once Jessie is purified and I am still very confused about what is going on with Keith and these ghosts.

Once Keith disappears, Deb heads straight to Amy’s cabin to rummage through Amy’s chest. Inside she finds an immaculately hand drawn map of Camp Stillwater and a knife.

Home Sweet Home Map

(I am not going to lie, I find Amy more attractive after seeing how perfect her handwriting is). Then a random girl from the pilot appears in the doorway to warn Deb that Amy is a psychopath. And then just like a psychopath, Amy comes up from behind and kills the girl with an axe.

Home Sweet Home Axe

As Amy searches the bunk for Deb, she asks if Deb remembers the first time they met. When Amy drove up to Camp Stillwater to follow-up on her job application. When she told her that this camp could be her new home and Deb just responded with “Sorry we are fully staffed.” And that barring the inexplicable death of someone already hired, there is no place for her at Camp Stillwater. So Amy did what any person would do in this situation: murder someone to take their place.  

She continues to tell Deb that Malphus is the only one who has ever understood her. Her family kept her caged so she killed them. But Malphus found her and wanted her for exactly who she is: a psychopath.

Amy: “[He] didn’t want an innocent, he wanted someone just like me. I spent my life looking for a place where I am free to be me. The real me. This is where I was meant to be.”

Deb comes behind Amy and stabs her at the tail end of her speech declaring:

Deb: “I saved the kids.”

Yes Deb, you should receive the Camp Director of the Year Award. But the knife in the back doesn’t stop Malphus/Amy. Instead, she just pulls that shit out and keeps on talking. And when Deb staggers back a wooden horse mask falls out of Amy’s chest and she asks Deb:

Amy:  “Do you remember now? The real reason you came back here? You’re not so innocent either. Thank you for bringing me home Deb.”

Then she literally butchers the hell out of Deb’s followed by a montage of all of the wooden horse mask murders that  Amy committed.   

Questions: So I have ALOT of questions but I will only list a few because this is getting long:

  1. My main question is when did Malphus come to Amy?
  2. Who killed Ralphie the mouse. Did Amy put him down the drain because she wanted him to be free, or was their dad a psychopath and put him down to kill him. It was kind of unclear.
  3. How did Amy kill her parents if she was in the garage? Did she know her brother was going to lock her in the garage? I am just really confused.
Alyssa Berkowitz
Alyssa Berkowitz
Alyssa (TV Editor) likes long walks on the beach, Greek food, talking about television, watching a good sunset, and girls who wear glasses. Wait, this isn't a bio for OKCupid? Alyssa got her start recapping in college when her friends got tired of her constantly talking about TV and suggested she start a blog. The idea was if she wrote about TV she would talk about it less. Well her friends succeeded in one of their goals...she started writing about TV.

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  1. Random Thoughts…
    1) I guess I would agree this was my favorite episode so far, but perhaps I would say Modern Love gets my vote as “best”. A tv show or movie is always impressive to me if it elicits an actual emotional response from me. When Drew’s mom finally called him Drew, that cathartic moment actually choked me up for a second, hence my calling it ‘the best’ episode, although things like that are totally subjective.
    2) Again to agree, I think Amy being the killer was a great twist, and thinking about it after the fact, I am surprised that I never once considered that as a possibility. There was more than one horror movie in the 80’s where the innocent female star of the movie turned out to be the evil one…I won’t mention names in case this show inspires someone to go back and watch some of them, don’t want to be a spoiler! 🙂
    3) Continuing with the agreement trend, it was SOOOO ridiculous with Deb saying ‘what did we hit’!! I think I yelled out ARE YOU SHITTING ME!!
    4) Not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing, but without a doubt whenever I ever hear Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home for the rest of my life i will think about the Amy-killing-everyone montage.

    As to your three questions, here are my thoughts…
    1) I took it that when Amy went to visit the camp a month before it opens, and Deb first sees her wistfully moving her hand over the surface of the water, that that was when Malphus first ‘came’ to Amy. Prior to that, she was just a psychopath with no plan…after that she had a plan.
    2) I took it (after watching the whole show, not at the time we saw it) that Amy was the one that put the mouse in the disposal. Although her psychopathic tendencies could well be inherited, it wouldn’t be fair to judge the dad as being horrible just because he yelled at her one time. As we can now imagine, i am sure she could have constantly been breaking the rules, being a pain in the ass, not following reasonable rules, etc. But agreed that it wasn’t totally made clear.
    3) I took it (again, after watching the whole show, not at the time) that Amy had already closed the flu in the chimney before her brother locked her in the garage. I assume that she was either planning to go upstairs and open her window, or go outside, or something, in order for her not to die, or that she was planning to die right along with them. She did not know her brother was going to do that..luckily for her it just happen to fit into her plans perfectly, giving her a totally believable story for the cops! When the brother said come with me I want to show you something, her parents were already passed out on the couch, and she looked over at them, then the camera showed and lingered on the fireplace after she left the room.

    Elizabeth Lail did such an awesome job as Amy is this episode, the whole series really, but here she had to display a wide array of emotions and behaviors, all great! The ‘innocent act’ that she projected for most of the series really reminds me of the main female protagonist in Friday the 13th Part 8, Jason Takes Manhattan. That movie is clearly the worst of the original 8 Paramount Friday movies, but the main girl is so sweet and innocent, Amy in Dead of Summer totally reminded me of her.

    Can’t wait for next week!

    • Hey Evan!

      I guess I saw “Little Amy as a Psychopath” story in a bit of a different light than you. I truly believe that Amy wanted that mouse to be free, and after re watching the pilot last night I feel more strongly about this. In the first scene when they get to camp, Amy is horrified when she sees a mouse get trapped in a mouse trap and sets it free. And that is why I don’t think that Amy would have intentionally killed Ralphie. If she was the one to put him down the drain I think it would have been in her warped way to set him free not thinking that the garbage disposal would kill him.

      The reason I viewed the father as an asshole is partially because of the brother. Her brother was cruel. He locked her in the garage overnight as soon as his parents fell asleep. I think this combined with her father yelling at her made me assume that in some part this must be a learned trait. This may be a wrong assumption, but it was my interpretation.

      The timeline of Amy applying to camp, and killing Margo at the party, and its relation to Malphus is still bothering me. Something feels like it doesn’t add up. I am going to try and rewatch the whole season and write a post about this before Tuesday’s finale.

  2. I agree that little Amy wanted Ralphie to be free. But when it became evident that he was not going to be able to be free, she killed it. Is that logical? Maybe not to you and me, but to a psychopath, yes. In real life, there is a psychopathy known as a “family annihilator”, which as we unfortunately hear about on the news every once in a while, it when someone kills themselves and their whole family, including little kids. The reason doctors say they do this is not out of malice, but in their minds they know they want to kill themselves, and certainly without them their families would suffer greatly, so they kill them in order to ‘save them’ from a life without them. I am not saying Amy suffered from that, but something like that, which made her want to kill the mouse. Interesting to speculate for sure.

    For sure the dad seemed to be an asshole in the short time we see him, I was only suggesting that to jump from ‘hes an asshole’ to ‘he kills living creatures’ based on one interaction isnt fair. If you only saw certain interactions in my life, who knows WHAT conclusions might be drawn when seeing something out of context. But as I said, a lot of mental issues are inherited, so perhaps Amy and her brother inherited bad shit from daddy, hard to tell from the little bit we have seen.

    The title of next week’s show is titled ‘She talks to angels’. I assume it is titled that because at some point we are going to hear that song as sung by the Black Crows. If you are not familiar with it, you should google the lyrics. Good song in general, interesting lyrics when thinking of Dead of Summer.

  3. Amy was crazy before Malphas. She knew how to mess with the fireplace flue to produce carbon monoxide. She killed the gerbil. She was born evil and killed Margot to take her place. There was never an innocent Amy. She even killed that deer in the pilot.

    • I’ll respond to both of your comments here.

      I agree that Amy is evil, she killed a ton of people, but I do not think that the show has given enough proof to say that she was born evil. My conflict is not about whether Amy is evil, it is about her motivations behind certain actions. The reason that Amy called Malphus back to herself was because serving Malphus gave her a purpose. It was an evil purpose, but still a purpose. And that is what I am struggling with for some of her earlier actions.

      Also, about the deer, I thought that Damon and his crew killed the deer. Isn’t that how he got the heart for the ritual in episode 3? But then again you have to look at that in context. The deer was killed as part of a ritual and not just for the killer’s enjoyment. I am not sure if I would call the killing of the deer in and of itself a reason to call Amy evil.

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