BingeWatched: The Horror-Comedy THE BABY

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Yes, you read that right and don’t ask me why I did so, but ever since I reported that this series was in development, I was curious about how this terrible infant was going to be manifested. Was it a devil spawn, demon child, or alien oddity? Not being a child-bearing female, I wasn’t really interested in the satirical look at motherhood so much as in the otherworldly angle. And when I learned I could figure all this out in just 4 hours, via eight 30-minute installments, I figured what the heck.    

#1 “The Arrival” – The Baby enters Natasha’s life and won’t take no for an answer.  

Setting up the story then we have Natasha (Michele de Swarte). She is trying to eke out an existence of substance but seems to be standing still while her friends move on in life. They are not even fully invested in a game night as they are focused on their infant or the soon arrival of one and motherhood isn’t even an option for Natasha. So, there is a disconnect and Natasha takes a long weekend away to clear her head, and evaluate her life. A cabin retreat is just the thing until it’s not.   

TheBaby_Pic01It so happens that a baby, no make that, The Baby, literally drops into her arms. And the baby is an immediate hit, at least with the viewing audience. Albie and Arthur Hills are credited as the little tykes playing the role and the tow-headed tots are great in their role. Kudos to the parents and/or baby wranglers for effectively making it all work. How did the little one get into ‘Tasha’s life? the police were pursuing a distressed lady with the infant. She toppled off a cliff landing at ‘Tasha’s feet with The Baby close behind. She catches the bundle and the relationship begins. But she tries to give The Baby to the authorities twice. Once to them when they arrive at the cabin and once when she drives back to town and leaves it at the police station. But The Baby leaves death in its wake. It cries when Natasha ignores it but giggles with glee when it offs someone. It causes the death of the cops at the cabin and a store clerk on their way home. The only one safe from its evilness is ‘Tasha and even though she finally gets to leave the child at the police station The Baby arrives once again at her doorstep in the laundry basket she originally placed it in.               

#2 “The Seduction” – Try to cope, try to reason, try to bond. 

TheBaby_Pic02Natasha isn’t going to be cruel to this tyke, whom she discovers is a boy upon changing his nappie. Hey, it is a British series so, British terms and slang have to be accepted here. She cleans and feeds him but is very wary of him as she knows what he is capable of doing, though she has no clue as to how; nor do we at this point. Natasha isn’t giving up. The child isn’t hers and doesn’t want it. She begins to track down the family. In a moment of perfect timing, a package appears at the door that just might aid her. What’s in it is a thumb drive. Natasha learns that she is like the 10th handler of The Baby as she rifles through pics on the drive. She breaks from that reveal because she is disrupted by his first words, “Mama”.  In desperation, she decides to abandon The Baby in a field away from town. She sets him down in the middle of it and strives to leave him. But his seduction on her is beginning to work, her maternal instincts kick in but she is turned around in the field, but eventually finds him and gets to the car. But a mysterious older lady is waiting for them in the back seat. 

# 3 “The Bulldozer” – Who is bulldozing whom?   

TheBaby_Pic03The woman surprising Natasha is Mrs. Eaves (Amira Ghazalla, pictured). She has been following her and The Baby. She appeared briefly at the cabin and was seen following her in Episode 2 as well. She also supplied the thumb drive too. So, she has a lot of explaining to do. All she offers up at first is the notion to kill The Baby in its sleep. But this bloke has stamina and nap time seems not to be happening. A busy day running around getting advice from experienced mothers at a Universe of Fun play area (is that a real U. K. thing?) annoys The Baby enough to wreak some havoc. Oops, that mother just severed her finger off!        

Also, in the episode is ‘Tasha’s estranged sister Bobbi (Amber Grappy). We learn that she and her lady partner Sam are going through an adoption agency to legally adopt a child. Uh, does Natasha have an easy solution? Or would passing The Baby off just lead to the death of her sister, estranged or not? No, that’s not the plan. Natasha does end up crashing on Bobbi just when the social worker is present and another silly little scene plays out. And it so happens Bobbi has the touch because The Baby falls asleep right in her arms. Mrs. Eaves is beside herself because the awaited moment is upon them. Remember, they have been trying to get the tyke to fall asleep all day. So now what? Well, they quickly get back home, with some mood music from Nina Simone, and Mrs. Eaves offers Natasha a butcher knife. The end result is a drag-out fight between Natasha and Mrs. Eaves. Who wins at the end of the day? The Baby!    

# 4 “The Mother” – The joys of motherhood 

Mrs. Eaves did not get to kill The Baby, naturally. Why? Because at the end of the last episode Bobbi showed up at her sister’s place. When Mrs. Eaves bested TheBaby_Pic04Natasha she went to kill the brat but he was gone. In this episode we learn that Bobbi took him for safe keeping; little does she know. And we continue our playful/macabre examination of motherhood with the introduction of Barbara (Sinead Cusack), Natasha & Bobbi’s mother. I actually thought that at the season’s mid-point we’d look at that family dynamic more than we actually did, but The Baby is still at the forefront here.  

The episode takes place at Jupiter House, a commune where Barbara resides. Bobbi took the infant there because Bobbi sensed distress between Natasha and her “older girlfriend.” Little does Bobbi know she could be in danger as The Baby nearly has her choking on a cookie just like the one previous mother did. Natasha arrives just in time. They try to leave, as ‘Tasha really doesn’t want to be near her mother whom she hasn’t seen in fifteen years. But The Baby touches the dashboard of the car and it gives up the ghost causing Natasha, the child and Mrs. Eaves to have to stay at Jupiter House. While there, Mrs. Eaves finds the opportunity to try to suffocate the infant but learns that Natasha is the one gasping for air. It is also revealed that Mrs. Eaves has been connected to The Baby all her life and a nightmare-ish montage during a summer solstice bonfire reveals it all to us. Oh, this adorable child is so wicked. But why and how still remains.      

#5 “The Baby” – Origin Story 

This is actually the episode that takes us away from the main plotline. It takes us back to the past and back to that cabin under the cliffs. This is The Baby’s origin story. A young lady, Helen McGregor (Tanya Reynolds), is unhappy in her married life and flees it to be with her lesbian lover at the cabin. One catch is – she’s pregnant. She is treated as a missing person and eventually returned to her husband, though, by now, is mentally addled. Under this duress and distress, we witness the birth of The Baby and Helen rejects him. TheBaby_Pic05

Helen’s story continues with her escaping from her husband’s house but only after two deaths occur. If they were prompted by The Baby or because of her psychotic state is unclear but, nevertheless, she flees back to the cabin under the cliffs and her lover. But, as is The Baby’s way, he always finds his way back to Mother and with that Helen’s story and life come to an end. She served her purpose; she gave birth to him. But that leads us to wonder, what is Natasha’s purpose?        

# 6 “The Rage” – Don’t make baby angry. 

We are back to the present day and still at Jupiter House, the morning after the solstice. There is a good yelling match going on between Natasha and Barbara over bad energy affecting the infant. The children of the commune pick up on the negativity and steal The Baby away to an old shed. Oh, no, they act as if possessed! The Baby, as always, is in control. The Baby causes the children to start hurting themselves when the infant’s demands are not met. One girl, Sally, explains that he wants his mother and he doesn’t mean Natasha, but his birth mother Helen. At least we now know The Baby’s wishes, but our players have no way of making his demands come true.  

TheBaby_Pic06Wickedly and distractively, Natasha’s traumatized past starts to play before her eyes just like it had done for Mrs. Eaves a few episodes prior. The Baby has an arsenal of tricks and Sally has now run off with him. And perhaps the most horrific scenes of the show play out with the children, under The Baby’s control, besting the commune adults. It is a standoff that nearly kills them all, with the cooing infant front and center. Ah, I just can’t spoil that sequence for you. In the aftermath of that chaos, the sisters and their Mom, who damn near died at the hands of the children, hash out their dramatic relationships while hiding out from the raging youths.  

At the episode’s end, the children are passed out and Mrs. Eaves shows up. While she was out in the woods hunting for The Baby she had another hallucinogenic spell and, this time, a heart attack along with it. It was revealed to her from Helen Mcgregor’s ghost that her husband Jack was still alive. She delivers that news to Natasha as if there is something in that to aid them in their dilemma. They put Jupiter House behind them.           

# 7  “The Curse” – Break it or forever live it…or not.

So, you’ll find that I intentionally ease off some of the details at this point so as not to spoil every little thing about this limited series. For example, there is a bit I TheBaby_Pic07have left out about Mrs. Eaves and her connection to The Baby. She is insisting on its demise for a reason. 

“The Curse” involves her continued efforts but, it is an episode, interesting as it is, that I don’t see being necessary. The crux of the matter is that Mrs. Eaves faults herself for the existence of The Baby because once, in anger, she spewed out a curse. That curse was directed at The Baby’s father and his progeny. However, in another one of her hallucinatory moments, Natasha learns that the curse is all hogwash. But we see Mrs. Eaves’s actions play out nevertheless. Her plans are to break the curse by breaking the connection, killing the now feeble father and herself. All I will say is that she fails at it. Real curse or not, her getting into the hospital and seeking out her victim and the tussle that ensues gets your attention. And, if anything it finally ties the story together better.     

# 8 “The Possession” – Has Natasha given in?

TheBaby_Pic08The final episode does sort of play out the exact way you think it should. Natasha has given in and is completely possessed by the gentle cooing of The Baby. She is focused on him and only him. We have a sense of time passing and, in her numbness, she has settled in on his care. But we know what has happened to all the previous mothers of this infant. They, at some point, have all tried to resist, at some point, have tried to give up. The result is that The Baby ends the relationship permanently. When ‘Tasha and little one end up at the same seaside cliff with the cabin below we fear that this relationship is now coming to an end. 

To reveal all would be cruel. Let’s just say Mrs. Eaves comes to the rescue and that The Baby gets to reunite ever briefly with his birth mother. Make it through the four hours to find out how it all resolves. Is the cycle broken? Is Natasha spared? Yeah, I know, rotten of me, right? 

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All in all, it was an interesting sojourn. In the end, I’m not sure how well it played up the satire on motherhood angle, but then I’m a male. In the end, I’m not too sure it could be called ‘horror’, though it certainly was macabre. Had The Baby been explained to us as a demon of sorts then okay, but that never happens. One element that did help keep the show feeling eerie & creepy was the odd yet, at the same time cool, soundtrack by composer Lucrecia Dalt. It added to the tone of the whole piece nicely. 

Now, this is a limited series. If you think about it, it can’t really move forward in the same way as Season One did. The Baby’s actors Albie and Arthur Hills would be too old for the role moving forward, right? Does the character become a demonic toddler? Do they devise a plot revealing more than one of these infant terribles?  

I think we need to be satisfied that this is all from THE BABY. Binge it, discover it for yourself then, come back here to talk about it. Find it on HBO Max!       

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