Well, this was a weird one.
Season 2 of Are You Afraid of the Dark doesn’t really start off with a bang. Instead, it opens with another stylised tale from Kristen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably a Kristen if I was any member of the Midnight Society (unaware, easily irritated by others, unnecessarily dramatic). Though her stories don’t always work.
“The Tale of the Final Wish” is one that actually makes me a bit sad. Kristen dons a princess dress and brings a book of fairy tales to the meeting. Frank is not a fan. But the others quickly correct him, tell him about all the gruesome things that go on in the real fairy tales.
And Kristen tells them that her tale is what happens when a fairy tale becomes a scary story. At the centre of things is Jill, a 13-year-old girl who is still obsessed with fairy tales, sleeps with a stuffed animal, and doesn’t seem to be growing up as fast as her friends.
Her love for stories does everything to help her imagination run wild. She purposely tries to scare herself by convincing herself that there is something hidden under her bed. Her brother does his best to rile her up by wearing masks and playing other jokes on her.
Her “friends” at school aren’t really that great of friends. They laugh at her behind her back for being “immature” (because apparently being mature = wearing ugly jackets and being bitchy). The girls get worse when they think their crush is checking Jill out. When the boy comes to sit by them in the library to ask Jill about their homework, Jill’s friends take the opportunity to pull her fairy tale books out of her backpack so they can laugh at her.
Jill isn’t perfect, and not necessarily a complete victim either. She’s not exactly considerate of others, though I do think she’s trying. Like she does make her mother late for work, again, but only because she’s attempting to get ready to be more like her friends.
One night, after her brother plays another joke on her, Jill climbs up to her windowsill and holds on to her copy of The Sandman and Other Tales. The girl wishes upon a star, saying she just wishes people would leave her alone. Jill then climbs into bed to go back to sleep, but when she awakes again – things aren’t quite right.
Jill searches around her house and cannot find her family anywhere. That’s when a man crawls from under her bed, and with a gust of wind, sucks the girl down under with him.
Jill then finds herself in a vast space of a surrealist world. When he goes through a doorway covered in clocks, she finds a room filled with the floating bodies of sleeping people.
The man who brought her under the bed, tells her that he is the Sandman and they are in the Land of Nod. The people that are there will be trapped in his land, where they will leave Jill alone. He was the one that granted Jill her wish, that everyone would leave her alone. She then sees the bodies of her parents, brother and friends also floating in the same dreaming state.
Frightened by the weight of her wish, Jill tries to escape. She runs out of the room and tries opening several doors. She’s met with villains of other fairy tales like the Queen of Hearts and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.
But she returns to the Sandman, complaining that what she got wasn’t what she wished for. He tells her that fairy tales cannot change, and that she is stuck with what she wished for.
Jill then finds a large hourglass, which she begins to threaten to break. The Sandman tells her that he can put her to sleep as well, tipping Jill off to the fact that the fairy tale could change. She smashes the hourglass and awakes back in her bed, screaming.
Jill’s family race into her bedroom, and everything seems to be back to normal. Jill tells her mother that she is ready to give up fairy tales finally. The family go back to bed, and all seems to be well, until the Sandman’s voice-over.
“If only she knew…she would never have gone back in the bed again! The End.”
I’m not going to lie, I don’t actually think Jill needs to grow up. Being into fantasy is not a problem. The message of this episode is basically, “Like what we like, Jill. Conform. Grow the fuck up.” Which is pretty unfair. Plus she had the best outfits. If the episode had focused more on Jill being irresponsible, that might have been better. But equating the enjoyment of reading to being immature doesn’t really work.
Weirdly, the people mocking Jill don’t actually learn a lesson. They get put to sleep for a night (horrible, I know). What is the message to be learned here? Not that there needs to be a lesson, but the episode was clearly trying to convey something. “Be careful what you wish for” is a bit fucking old.
Anyway, Jill would totally be my BFF. Unicorns forever, bitch.