I got really hopeful when I saw the title, At the Mountains of Madness, because they mentioned the Mountains of Madness in a previous episode and it’s the Lovecraft story with monster dinosaurs and so… monster dinosaurs are probably going to be cool.
There are no monster dinosaurs in the episode. There are the Mountains of Madness but they’re pretty boring and during the worst part of the episode, when the action leaps ahead two weeks and we lose Kiernan Shipka as lead of her, you know, own show. She has to go the Mountains because she’s become a danger to herself and others, but mostly others. See, she tries to take on the last Eldritch Terror herself because she’s feeling guilty about bringing about the end of the universe.
Things do not go well.
It even messes up Shipka’s seventeenth birthday party, which should be a book end to the series but isn’t really important. Not much in the episode works out being important, including Michelle Gomez’s resolution with Luke Cook. Gomez—in her Earthly variation—narrates the episode from a pulpit, where it quickly becomes clear she’s narrating in the past tense, making some of her statements all the more ominous.
Trying to help Shipka, the witches get into shenanigans to piss off Cook and the rest of Hell, leading to an utterly disappointing big fight scene. More risible than disappointing, especially since Sam Corlett makes a big deal out of the soldiers he can muster for Cook’s cause and then they’re… well, no spoilers, but it’s a pretty weak army and seemingly only there to gin up some more angst for Shipka and the supporting cast.
The finale goes on way too long—with one heck of an epilogue—but some nice homage to the original comic series and a few resolves for the supporting cast. Not most of them. Ninety percent of the supporting cast get no closure in the final episode, though since the show hasn’t given any of them significant subplots for the season it doesn’t really matter. They’ve all just been hanging around waiting for the show to finish apparently. Episode writer—and show creator and original comic (Chilling Adventures comic not, you know, in sixties Archie Comics) creator—Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa really doesn’t come up much for the finale.
It’s not the worst, but the episode is rushed, wastes everyone—including Coyle, who gets an unexpected big role—and doesn’t even provide a good finish for the Eldritch Terror storyline. My impulse was to blame it on Netflix, like maybe they cut the season order (before cancelling the show all together) but maybe Aguirre-Sacasa really just didn’t have it.
Rest of the show’s pretty good if not better. And, I guess at least there’s not one of the bad musical numbers.
But it’s a definite miss.