Goosebumps season 1, episode 6 recap: “Night of the Living Dummy”

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

In the last episode of Goosebumps, the 5 kids discovered that it’s a real possibility that their parents might be murderers. Which is never a great thing to discover.

At the end of the episode, Mr. Bratt, who is secretly the spirit of Harold Biddle, promises to tell the kids all the information they need to understand what’s going on, with the bulk of this episode being a flashback that gives them all that information.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 6 recap – Going all the way back to the 1920s…

Mr. Bratt’s story starts in 1925 with his great grandfather, Ephraim, a failure of a magician who can’t make enough on his act to support his wife and child. In an attempt to try and breathe new life into the act, he buys a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy, who comes with a magic incantation that Ephraim reads out loud.

While it seems like the incantation does nothing at first, Ephraim later learns that the magic words brought Slappy to life, when the dummy takes over the act on stage and starts talking on his own. The audience, thinking that Ephraim is actually showing off incredible ventriloquist skills, love the new act.

Thus, Ephraim and Slappy become incredibly successful, taking the act on tour. However, as the success grows, Ephraim becomes more and more obsessed with Slappy, eventually abandoning his family in favor of the dummy.

For several decades the two of them perform until the 1960s where business starts to take a downward turn, likely because ventriloquist acts aren’t as popular as they once were. When one manager tries to suggest changes to the show, Slappy tells Ephraim that it’s time to use the spell, which reveals that Ephraim has the power to turn real people into dummies.

Slappy then has Ephraim recover the coffin of a man named Kandu, that contains another spell that Ephraim is meant to read. But as Ephraim is about to read out the spell, he has a vision of the terrible future it will bring and refuses to read it.

Instead, Ephraim takes Slappy to a secluded house in Port Lawrence where he hides the dummy in his case and buries it behind a brick wall in the basement, to keep anybody from ever finding him.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 6 recap – The same tragic tale, but in 1993 this time.

Flashforward to 1993, Ephraim has died, and the house has been passed on to the family of Harold Biddle and his parents. It seems that Harold has been having some trouble with the kids at his old school, and his parents are excited about the new house, which could mean a fresh start for Harold at a new school as well.

At school Harold meets Sarah, and immediately develops a crush on her. The two of them strike up a friendship where she tries to get Harold to hang out with the rest of her friends.

But he’s convinced that they won’t like him because they’re cool and he isn’t. Sarah invites him to a party, and he almost goes but backs out at the last minute.

Frustrated with himself, he throws something at the wall in the basement, knocking a brick aside and revealing the case with Slappy inside. Harold begins to play with Slappy and just like before, Slappy takes over a performance in Harold’s theater class.

But everybody laughs thinking it’s all Harold, and Harold, wanting people to like him, doesn’t stop Slappy. The further this goes on, the more time Harold spends with Slappy, causing his parents to grow concerned.

After they try to confront Harold about the change in his personality, he lashes out at them, and they decide it’s time to get rid of the dummy. They try to burn it, but Slappy won’t burn.

Harold catches them, and at the command of Slappy, turns his parents into dummies using the same spell. With his parents out of the way, Harold goes to school with Slappy for a new routine, one that goes too far and reveals all the secrets of Sarah’s friends.

Everybody is mad at Harold, and Nora thinks that she saw the doll talking on its own, which makes it evil. Though they have various reasons, the group agrees to steal Slappy away from Harold.

That night, they sneak over to the Biddle house and steal Slappy. Things go wrong in the heist and Harold ends up dying in a fiery explosion, despite the other kids’ best attempts to rescue him.

They agree not to talk about that night and are shocked when Slappy comes to life on his own with plenty to say. They pull Slappy apart, and go their separate ways, as Mr. Bratt’s story comes to a close.

Back in the present, the 5 teenagers digest the story that they’ve just been told and are relieved to learn that their parents aren’t murderers, but are instead, people thrown together by a series of tragic circumstances. Mr. Bratt on the other hand, is very upset that the takeaway from the story wasn’t that the parents are fully responsible for the death of Harold.

As a final shocker, he reveals himself to be Harold Biddle all along as the episode comes to a close.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 6 recap – A standalone episode…almost

This episode has a lot of backstory to dump on us in order to finally explain everything that’s going on (or at least a lot of it). As a result, that makes this episode almost entirely removed from the rest of the series so far.

The story is told in two segments, and in both cases, there is almost a completely new cast, other than Harold taking center stage in the second half of this episode. We also get our first real look at Slappy, who has been teased for a few episodes now, but was always going to be a big part of any series with Goosebumps in the title.

It’s nice that he got a good amount of screen time in the flashback episode, especially if he’s still in pieces in present day and it will be a while before we see him again. When we get episodes like this that are so far removed from the setup and characters from the rest of the series, they tend to be really polarizing.

Some people like the change of pace to keep things feeling fresh, and some feel like this isn’t the show they signed up for. Neither outlook is necessarily wrong, but what ends up being important with an episode like this is how necessary it is.

For this series, it felt incredibly necessary to take the time to give the audience this amount of information. While the teenagers are the main characters of the show, the sins of the parent’s pasts have become more of a narrative driving force as the show progresses.

The adults are more than the side or background characters that adults tend to be in shows like this. So, it’s worth it to take the time and really spell out their relationship with Harold and the events that led to this story taking place.

Also, it’s pretty impressive that in an episode where most of the runtime is dedicated to flashbacks, the show is still able to pull off a Goosebumps-style twist at the end of the episode the way that it did.

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What did you think of Goosebumps season 1 episode 6? You can watch Goosebumps season 1 on Disney Plus.