Goosebumps season 1, episode 10 recap: “Welcome to Horrorland”

In the season finale of Goosebumps the mastermind behind everything is finally revealed.
Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023.
Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023. /

In the previous episode of Goosebumps, Nathan, trying to come up with an ending for his book, ends up not only bringing back Slappy the dummy, but returning the soul of Kanduu who had been trapped in the doll, back into its original body. 

As the final episode of the season opens up, we get a little bit of backstory, revealing that Kanduu was a British soldier in 1879. When he's shot in the middle of a battle, he stumbles into a hidden ancient temple where he discovers incantations that heal him and give him an assortment of other powers. 

With his new powers, he begins to travel the world under the name Kanduu and arrives at a circus where he befriends a puppet maker. There, he begins work on a giant tower that's big enough to hold a thousand people and looks suspiciously like the tower that we've seen in the terror visions from earlier episodes. 

The process takes a year, but eventually, the puppet maker realizes that Kanduu is turning people into puppets and plans to kill them all. Ashamed that he helped Kanduu in his evil plot, the puppet maker makes a doll and, with his dying breath, traps Kanduu's soul in the doll, thus making Slappy as we knew him. 

Meanwhile, back in the present, the group of teenagers minus Lucas return home from their trip to Seattle. Under the advice of James, Isaiah tells Margot how he really feels, but tells her she doesn't have to answer yet. Then each of the four of them go to their respective homes and they all discover something that they had been hoping for. (Isaiah: a scholarship, James: a prom date, Margot: her parents getting back together, and Isabella: her mom being nice to her.) Isabella and Isaiah both realize the fantasy isn't real and rescue the other two in time. They head to find Lucas. 

When they get to Lucas' house, it seems like nobody is left in the whole town. Lucas seems to quickly drive by on a dirt bike, but chasing after him, they realize when they get to the school that Lucas has been turned into a doll. In fact, the whole town has been turned into dolls, and the doll people throw the teenagers into a tent with Nathan, the one remaining non-doll person in the entire town. 

Kanduu's grand plan is revealed

Nathan confesses to having gotten Slappy and bringing him back to life. Then Kanduu himself shows up to reveal that he's been the show's main villain this whole time to the teenagers. He gives them a little bit more of his backstory and reveals that his plan is to bring back an age of monsters by sacrificing a thousand souls, which is why he needs the giant tower to set aflame. He offers the kids a chance to get on board with the idea, but when they don't, he commands the demon dog to kill all of them. Nathan ends up having to kill his own dog all over again to save the teenagers. 

It turns out that Nathan was able to find Kanduu's spell book while he was trapped in the tent, and the group tries to use the "turn into a doll" spell on Kanduu to stop him, but it doesn't work. What does end up working is reciting Kanduu's original spell backward. It reverts Kanduu back to a British soldier from all those years ago and even redoes the fatal bullet wound that he had received just before finding the hidden temple. 

As Kanduu dies, he fires his gun (he has a gun because he's a soldier again) at Margot who reads the words. Isaiah steps in the way, taking the bullet for her. With Kanduu gone, the rest of the town turns back into people, and the whole group of main characters quickly rush Isaiah to the hospital. They wait for news, but it isn't good, and the doctors tell Isaiah's parents that there's nothing more that they can do. Margot sits beside Isaiah's bed as he passes, telling him that she too has feelings for him and wants them to be together. She doesn't want him to die, and she still has Kanduu's book, so she reads the magic words, bringing Isaiah back to life.

As Margot brings Isaiah back, Nathan is in the bathroom, processing his part in this entire ordeal. He splashes some water on his face and looks up to the mirror to see that his reflection isn't himself, but that of Kanduu, suggesting that all of this isn't over yet as the season comes to an end. 

Goosebumps is a fantastic modern take on the 90s kids books

From the beginning of the series, the thing that this show has consistently done so well is figuring out how to adapt the Goosebumps series of books into a TV show format. The anthology approach seems to make the most sense, given that the books were an anthology series, so it's understandable why the original series took that approach. 

But this new series took what could arguably be a riskier move by trying to tell a single cohesive story. In the end, they were able to pull off something very impressive. Not only did they manage to put together an interesting, entertaining season of television, but they did it while making it feel like a genuinely good Goosebumps adaptation. 

The slow build of the first several episodes helped to establish not only the story the show was telling, but also helped establish how the show would be approaching the source material. The show was able to pull some of the more iconic characters and images from the books creating something that both worked as an adaption of a book series from the 90s and a TV shot that works in the modern era of streaming. 

Even the final moments of the show feel like the end of a Goosebumps book with the twist that reveals that things aren't really resolved yet. It's a pretty standard part of the Goosebumps book, and pretty much a requirement for the ending, even if this was only ever going to be a single season. 

In a world where nostalgia for the 90s is growing bigger and bigger, Goosebumps has done a pretty impressive job of creating something that builds off of what made the original books so popular but updating it in a way that works for modern audiences and in a modern era of streaming. It's hard to compare it to anything else, given how unique the source material is when it comes to trying to update a property, but if there is a lesson to be taken from the series, it's how the show has been able to evoke the feeling of Goosebumps while still creating its own story to tell.