Goosebumps season 1, episode 3 recap: “The Cuckoo Clock of Doom”

Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023.
Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023. /

In the first episode of Goosebumps, James briefly bumped into a Cuckoo Clock while everybody was getting the house set up for the Halloween party. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it turns out that it’s the starting point of this entire episode.

You see, after a long night of Halloween partying, James heads home only to be thrown back in time to the moment he touched the clock, the moment he tries to step out of the house.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 3 recap – Classic time loop shenanigans

At first James goes through all the classic time loop strategies. He tries to sneak out of the house in several different ways, including jumping off the roof.

But each time he’s thrown back to the moment with the clock. As he fears that he may be stuck at the Halloween party forever, his crush mentions the idea of making the best of a bad situation.

James takes that to mean that he can use the time loop to have extra attempts to impress his crush and hook up. After doing some research on pre-planned topics, James is successful in his plan, and Mr. Crush asks James if he wants to get out of here.

James very much wants to, but the whole time loop, trapped in the house thing will probably get in the way. Before leaving the party, James breaks the clock in a desperate attempt to try and escape.

Surprisingly the plan works, and this time James is able to leave the party with his new love, walking off into happily ever after. At least that’s true until the next morning.

James wakes up the next day to discover a dozen or so versions of himself in his house. It seems that every time he reset the time loop, he ended up making a copy of himself, and now all the copies have plans of their own.

The first step of the plan involves throwing the real James down a mine shaft. Then, while impersonating James, the copies start to be very mean and dismissive of all of James’ friends, alienating them so they won’t care that he seems to be missing.

The only problem in their plan comes when one of them has to pretend to be James to play pool with Isabella at the end of the last episode. It turns out that if one of the copies is hit on the head they explode, which is what happens when Isabella accidentally shoots the pool ball off the table.

Another James quickly takes his place in time to fool the parents, but Isabella isn’t fooled. Desperate to prove what she saw to be real, she explodes another James in front of Margot and Isaiah, proving to all three of them that James is somewhere in trouble.

The three of them catch each other up on the various supernatural things they’ve been dealing with, including the mask and the camera. Then, when wondering where they need to go for more advice, they decide to ask Nora, since she seems to be the other person interested in what’s going on.

Nora refuses to talk to them, but she does say that if they want to find out more, they should ask Margot’s mother. Margot, however, doesn’t want to make the call, so the next strategy is to follow a copy of James to see if they can find the real deal.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 3 recap – Not a great plan…

The James copy leads the three other kids to the abandoned mine, but it turns out to be a trap, and all the copies attack the trio. They’re able to explode one, but Isaiah gets kidnapped and thrown in the pit with the real James.

Isaiah and James have some mending to do on their relationship, since James is upset that it took a week for people to figure out he was missing. But they work it out and Margot and Isabella find and rescue them.

The group escapes after seemingly exploding the rest of the James copies. Once they’re free and James gets to eat real food for the first time in a week, they tell Margot that she needs to call her mother.

Margot doesn’t want to because she thinks that her parents are separated and not telling her, but she eventually agrees. Margot calls her mother and the second she mentions the name of Biddle her mother says that she’ll be on her way but to not trust anybody, especially the other parents.

She then mysteriously hangs up without saying anything else. Back at the haunted house with the possessed English teacher, Mr. Bratt is setting back all of the cursed items that were removed from the basement.

A remaining James copy shows up carrying a case telling Mr. Bratt that they were able to find his “friend.” Mr. Bratt opens the case only to find it empty.

In his anger, he destroys the copy while yelling about his missing “friend”, as the episode comes to a close.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 3 recap – We’re only getting pieces of the story each episode.

The non-linear timeline is a fun way to get to experience the story. James was barely in the last episode, but he’s the main character of this one.

Also, information we get in this episode provides context for earlier scenes. For example, when James took a picture of Isaiah with the haunted camera, causing him to break his arm, that must have been a copy of James.

We know that the copies were being jerks on purpose. It also suggests that the haunted items are, in some ways, working together.

This also sets up situations where confusing moments from this episode could very possibly be answered in future episodes. It seems like things moved a little too quickly in the mines where Margot and Isabella were able to show up at the right time without any real incident, making the whole escape a little too easy.

Maybe that’s the way the story goes, but with the set up the show is going with, there’s lingering wonder if that will be addressed in a future episode.

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What did you think of Goosebumps season 1 episode 3? You can watch Goosebumps season 1 on Disney Plus.