“Putting Down Roots” Uses A Standard Horror Plot
“Putting Down Roots” is firmly a middle-of-the-road episode of The Magnus Protocol—if I use the benchmarks of the previous series as a reference point. No big plot moments obviously occur, and the horror story likely isn’t introducing any returning characters.
The only thing that stuck out to me was how technology was talked about. The way Colin rants about FR3-D1 is very cosmic horror, taking about the system as an intelligent being that should not be treated nicely. FR3-D1 might even have some level of power, maybe a personality, but FR3-D1 is certainly inscrutable and labyrinthian. Between that and Sam jokingly saying he’d be force-fed a keyboard, I couldn’t help but think of the episode “Binary” and The Extinction. There’s one or more big plot points about technology simmering here—I don’t think anyone can deny that. The logo has a computer with raining sparks. Character’s voices are inexplicably part of the software. FR3-DI knows what it knows somehow—even though it would have to be scouring the entire internet to find stuff. There’s a god at work, if not multiple.
On that note, this also might be the first time we’ve seen a Buried avatar. Unless the gravedigger counts, of course. There are enough references to dirt and body parts being underground. The only other gods that would make sense are The Flesh or The Corruption, and only because of specific descriptions.
The Lore Implications Outshines Its Other Aspects
It is a shame, though, that while the story is interesting, it wasn’t terribly scary. It was quite reminiscent of the also subdued Flesh plant domain in the post-change world. And it didn’t help that the story relies heavily on characters writing moment-to-moment thoughts down. It just strains credulity. I’m unsure if anyone in that amount of pain would be able to manage such detailed prose without The Eye helping things—unless, of course, The Eye is helping things. Don’t get me wrong, “Putting Down Roots” is quite well written if you suspend that avenue of disbelief. There are a few descriptions that really communicate the gore of the scenario. I won’t spoil why “blanched tomatoes” is a top-ten for horrific comparisons, but the nauseating implied visual popped right into my head. But after “Making Adjustments” delivered such a visceral reaction, even moments of comparable horror can’t quite match that episode’s overall effect. There’s no shock factor. Limited cosmic weirdness. You can easily guess the end result of “Putting Down Roots” from the title alone; it’s only wondering how the horror pathway will go that holds attention.
All of this together heavily suggests that “Putting Down Roots” marks a full establishment of a “comfy” continuum of things boiling to the surface. Colin’s increasing obsession will probably spark something, perhaps kick-started by Alice’s meddling. Sam and Alice continue to bicker in ways that could spiral into genuine conflict if, say, a monster attacked. There’s even a potential threat of “Central I.T.” being actually villains of some sort. But, connected to what I said in my last review, I think we’re in for some anthology horror—with variations in quality and subject matter—for a while before any substantial meta-plot gets going. “Putting Down Roots” is too good to be called filler, too specific in its narrative clues to not be important later, but by the high standards of this series, filler is what it feels like.
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- The Magnus Protocol Reviews: “Personal Screening”