Hulu’s Into the Dark recap: Treehouse


Hulu’s mediocre horror anthology series Into the Dark nearly redeems itself with Treehouse.

Treehouse is a slow burn story of entitled celebrity chef Peter Rake (Jimmi Simpson) who endures a weekend of psychological terror after being captured and tortured by a coven of witches in revenge for the many sexual assaults he’s committed upon their sisters.

Peter Rake is a Gordon Ramsey-type celebrity chef who is very, very busy. So busy, in fact, that he often cannot give his pre-teen daughter the kind of attention that she deserves.

She is tolerant of this fact, mostly due to her long-suffering experience with her father’s broken promises and her advanced emotional intelligence. She has learned to manage her expectations.

Related Story. Hulu’s Into the Dark recap: Down. light

More from Show Snob

He promises her that next weekend will be all theirs, but this weekend he is too busy. He’s too busy avoiding the press coverage of the latest accusation against him of sexual assault — one of many in his long and privileged life.

Peter takes off for the weekend to meet up with his estranged sister at their childhood home — an opulent mansion left to them by their father after his passing. Along the way, Peter stops at the local bait and tackle shop to buy cigarettes.

He encounters a lively bachelorette party in passing and has an awkward interaction with Lonnie (Michael Weston), an old schoolmate who now owns the shop.

Peter is charming and friendly, but there is a distinct edge of superiority and judgment to all his interactions, and particularly with Lonnie who suffers through Psycho and Silence of the Lambs serial killer jokes.

To be fair, the shop does have a sign that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” but Lonnie seems like a quiet, good-natured guy.

Peter and his sister Gwen (Amanda Walsh) greet each other warmly, but as they catch up it is clear that there is a number of past resentments between them. Peter makes fun of Lonnie’s crush on Gwen, but Gwen defends him and says he’s a good guy who was just trying to be friendly.

Despite a weekend planned to catch up, Gwen is the District Attorney and has to leave to prosecute an important case. Peter is left on his own with his surly housekeeper Agnes (Nancy Linehan Charles). Agnes is a little creepy, but delightfully direct.

Meanwhile, Peter is twitchy as hell and might be hallucinating a bit. He sees a huge black goat that disappears before anyone else sees it, a really creepy painting of what appears to be an empty-eyed Felicia Day, visions of various insects infesting the house, and blood in the toilet.

There’s something subtle and psychologically disquieting about his experience that reminds me of Rosemary’s Baby. In fact, there are some Polanski-esque elements to the cinematography that makes me think that’s exactly what they were going for.

Late that night, Kara (Julianna Guill), a member of the bachelorette party, comes to ask Peter for some supplies. The electricity in their cabin went out and she needs candles and flashlights. What is it about this series and putting women in situations that they would never put themselves in?

Kara could have brought any of the four other women in her group as a backup, but she comes to the door alone. Peter is a perfect gentleman and understands that she might be hesitant to come inside, not knowing if he could be Ted Bundy or something.

She does come inside because it’s cold out. He finds her the supplies and she takes her leave. As he watches her go there is a smile on his face, which at first seems sweet but as it lingers begins to seem somehow predatory.

Peter goes for a run the next morning, sweatband and all. He runs into Kara outside his old treehouse. Something happened in that old treehouse, apparently, as Peter remembers echoes of whispered voices and a girl pleading.

Someone has put a disturbing mask on the door. Peter meets Marie, the bride (Shaunette Renée Wilson), and Elena, from Puerto Rico (Stephanie Beatriz) and who is very reminiscent of Rosie Perez. Peter invites them over for dinner, asking them to help him try out a few recipes for his new cookbook. Kara accepts on everyone’s behalf.

They arrive and Peter meets Lillith, Marie’s mother (Mary McCormack), and Morgan, the English one (Sophia Del Pizzo), and they have a grand old time. They drink, they eat, Peter thinks he’s qualified to weigh in on pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

Overall, Peter tries his best to charm but is out of his depth, and some of the ladies are understandably annoyed. Peter gets very drunk — more than drunk it seems, maybe drugged — and staggers off to bed.

He wakes up the next morning with Morgan in his bed, and while they’re both clothed she is absolutely unresponsive. Things are definitely off, as Peter hallucinates a cockroach crawling down the bathroom mirror and starts to hear old-timey music and peacock calls from downstairs.

When he investigates, he finds an old gramophone playing in Agnes’ room and a loose peacock. He is surprised by a creepy idol made with sticks and dripping with blood. He stumbles out of the room and is confronted by masked and hooded figures as Morgan calls for help from behind a locked door. Peter slowly begins to collapse, losing control of his limbs and becoming paralyzed.

He wakes up later in his underwear, chained to a bed, and still paralyzed. He is surrounded by candles with Morgan lying at his feet. She wakes up and acts confused, but it turns out to be an act.

Another creepy masked and robed figure approaches the bed, freaking Peter out. It turns out to be Kara. She is Becca’s sister, a girl Peter raped and shamed, who later committed suicide when no one would believe or stand up for her.

Peter shames her to Kara’s face, saying that she was a coward for taking the easy way out and saying they were just kids when it happened. Kid stuff. He takes no responsibility. Becca slit her wrists with a knife from Peter’s line of cutlery, so that’s quite a statement.

Morgan comes back with a crossbow and loads it pointed at Peter’s genitals. The rest of the bachelorette party arrive and reveal that they are, in fact, a coven of witches. And that’s when everything went sideways for me, and not even the reverse twist at the end could quite turn it back around.

On the second viewing, I admit that this angle makes more sense. I think it irked me that they had to be witches to claim any power over him, but that is, of course, the point. He never would have taken them seriously if they were simply angry women.

But this is when Peter starts to become quite scared. He believes what he sees and feels. Kara tells him his paralysis is due to a simple spell and the sisterhood does seem to be able to hold fire in the palm of their hands and transfer it to unlit candles. It is interesting how he could feign simple annoyance when being held captive by mortal women, but give them demonstrable power and suddenly he’s afraid.

They come and take nail clippings, hair samples, and blood all under the guise of cleaning him up before taking him out. He hallucinates a bracelet as a snake wrapping itself around his arm. He claims innocence, that they are basing his guilt on what they read about him online.

The problem is that there are so many accusations against him, so many settlements. How can they all be false? They act out the assaults themselves. Peter claims that’s not how it happened, but he still recognized the situation they were simulating.

A female journalist chased an exclusive interview with Peter for weeks. She finally got it, admitted to being a big fan before starting the interview. He made advances, which she rejected, and then bit him as he was kissing her.

He continued to assault her and claims that she was flirting with him the whole time, basically whored herself out to do the interview — which does not even imply or entitle him to her consent.

The sisterhood spends a great deal of time humiliating and shaming Peter. He wets himself from fear, is frightened more than anything by the threat of castration. I imagine they want to make him feel the shame and humiliation felt by the women he assaulted. As they put makeup on him and try to scare him, they try to talk to him about the female struggle.

Morgan calls it an international pandemic and they call him out for taking advantage of his female kitchen staff physically as well as economically.

Meanwhile, Peter is regaining mobility in his limbs and goads Morgan into firing a warning shot with the crossbow. The threat to his genitals eliminated, he overpowers Elena and makes for his escape. He gets to the phone and calls 911, but the line is busy.

He *69s Lonnie for help but doesn’t get too far in his explanation before the sisterhood catches up with him. They cut off his phone call and surround him. As he makes for the door, Marie catches him and puts him in a choke hold until he passes out. Go, girl!

Lonnie comes to investigate. Kara tells him that Peter invited them all over for dinner and that Peter was just yanking his chain when he called. Of course, all the light are off in the house and Lonnie isn’t dumb, so he insists on coming in to make sure.

Agnes, who happens to be Lonnie’s mother, comes along then and tells him to go home. He reluctantly leaves. Apparently, Agnes was raped by Peter’s father and Lonnie is the result. Agnes tells Kara to go back into the house and finish what she started.

Peter wakes up in the peacock cage. The sisterhood dresses him up in Becca’s clothes and gives him a head start before they start to hunt him down. Peter runs for his life and runs to the treehouse to hide. This is where he raped Becca and the walls are covered with newspaper clippings about his many assaults since then.

He just happens to come across Gwen, who is driving back to the house. She picks him up and listens while he tells her what he’s been through. Gwen apparently had an idea that something would happen to Peter, but not all this.

She had had enough of Peter’s behavior and entitlement and was ashamed of him and herself for what happened to her best friend Becca. She told Kara she could “fix you, but not fix you!”

Peter is furious that Gwen would use the word “rape” to describe what happened between him and Becca. He says he doesn’t even know what that word means anymore, “no one does!” It’s really not a grey area and the only people confused about what rape means are the people who commit it.

Gwen seems to get through to Peter with her argument though and he apologizes, saying she’s right. But while they’re parked in the car, Kara in her creepy robes appears, the car is surrounded, the windows explode, and both Peter and Gwen are dragged away.

Peter has weird visions, broken memories, or fragmented dreams of rituals and knives.

This is where you start to suspect Peter might have been dreaming the whole time, and he suddenly awakes in his bed, in the clothes he originally passed out in. He has a weird sort of Scrooge experience, wondering if he dreamed the whole thing or what.

But when the phone rings, it’s Kara calling, warning him to be good because the sisterhood is always watching. The burners on the kitchen stove suddenly erupt in flame as evidence of their power.

Peter runs to see his daughter, apologizing for not treating her with the time and respect she deserves and promises things will be different from now on. He seems genuinely remorseful and changed, but just in case, there’s one more reminder that he’s being held accountable.

A caterer at his ex-wife’s wedding stops him to let him know she’s watching him. She has the same tattoo as the sisterhood. The “witches,” including Gwen, reconvene at the house and celebrate a mission accomplished. It was all staged with the help of some clever practical effects and careful drugging with Datura.

Next. Things you missed during Season 1 of Game of Thrones. dark

I love the idea of a sisterhood that watches out for each other, keeps other women safe and holds men accountable for their behavior. It’s a metaphor for how the women of the world should look out for each other.

As for Peter, I don’t for a minute believe he feels anything but fear. I don’t think that anything they did or said to him could really make him understand the implications of his behavior, or that he feels shame or guilt about it.

I do just love Jimmi Simpson though and was more than excited to see that he was in this episode. His physicality and delivery are just so unique and compelling. All his little twitches and mannerisms, while strange, are somehow perfectly suited to the character.

And, despite my reservations about the sincerity of the character, Simpson’s transformation at the end is simply astounding.