Last-minute gift traps Mark in a trippy death-bound adventure in latest Ugly Americans
This week’s episode of Ugly Americans finds Mark Lilly struggling once again to fit into Callie’s demonic traditions, only to realize he’s once again in way over his head, which he might lose this time.
Mark gets his invitation to Callie’s Zechalech ceremony an hour after it started thanks to Randall’s slacker/passive-aggresive behavior. What the hell is a Zachalech? Mark has no idea as he runs to the Satanic Church in New Hell, passing by a Hellmark store to pick up a traditional Zachalech present: a puzzle box. When Mark goes back to his social work case — a robot that keeps spitting human semen over everyone it sees — he soon finds demon carcasses trailing him everywhere he goes. Leonard picks up on this phenomenon right away and explains to Mark that the puzzle box has locked him into 3 ordeals. The first, it seems, involves Callie killing her ex-boyfriends and dumping their bodies around Mark as a sign of affection. Before Mark can ask her WTF is going on, the box moves in Callie’s hand telling them that the second ordeal has begun.
Riding the subway home, Mark quickly realizes he’s naked. Leonard appears right away to explain that second ordeal involves living out last night’s dream. Mark makes his way back home where the Koala man is riding the police chief like a horse. The setting drifts away to Mark, now clothed, talking to his undead-American social services group, who are all naked, in his room. The background squiggles to Mark giving his boss Twayne a back massage, and then he gets a back massage to Callie who turns out to be his mom, and all of this spirals down to Mark being anxious about getting his suit on for his wedding with Callie. This last part bleeds into reality as Mark moves on to ordeal 3: getting his soul sucked out and placed into the puzzle box. Angry about Mark’s unwillingness to give up his soul by way of getting his head torn off or getting his soul “sucked off,” she takes the Cabby to the prom-like event instead.
While tracking down the semen-spitting robot, Randall and Mark stumble upon the cryongenically frozen body of an early Cold War-era scientist. It turns out that the scientist built our too-friendly robot friend to carry on his genius after the inevitable nuclear holocaust occurs. The robot rapidly defrosts the scientist from the crygenic tube, killing the doctor instantly. Nevertheless the robot tries to pump a fresh batch from his creator’s dead body, leading up to the disturbingly funny/slightly sad scene of the robot perpetually pouring wine into a glass and lighting candles as his suction device tries to do its thing.
When it’s Callie’s turn to tear the head off her concubine and deposit his soul into the puzzle box, she decides to offer up her own human soul. Mark gets there in the nick of time, snatching Callie’s soul from her now hulking demon claws. He convinces full-demon Callie to reimbibe her soul, and she decides to break with tradition and slow-dance with Mark instead.
Smart horror film references stand out as some of the cleverest trims of “Soul Sucking.” Callie’s parents, the Devil and “Rosie” (obviously short for Rosemary) bicker the whole time over what Callie should do. With these scenes, the allusion morphs into a possible explanation of what happens 25 years after the chilling final scene of Rosemary’s Mary. In the end, Leonard gets mark Mark to Carrie Callie. Instead of driving her into a telekinetic rage, however, she thinks covering her in a bucket full of pig’s blood is the nicest thing anyone has done for her.
Compared to the robot side plot, the horror references reveal a general formula Ugly Americans seems to follow. The show twists the horror canon so it can defuse the plot’s tension as it deconstructs the subject’s premise. Its original attempts at horror comedy, though, usually vacillate from intense and ultraviolent frames to some of the most fucked up scenes on TV right now (Read: robot scene above.)