Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about episode 2 of Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter: “Neon Nights”, in which we learn more about our lead character and his backstory. Though perhaps it’s just scraping… the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
The episode opens with Neon Joe grabbing a slice of pizza from Brooklyn Bobby at the local pizzeria. He offers to tell his backstory to Bobby, but quickly refuses because of reasons. He then catches Sheriff Dalton arresting Cleve after he apparently attempted suicide by trying to swallow a van.
Neon Joe goes to visit Cleve at the hospital, where he begins to vent about his desire to kill a werewolf so he can feel good about himself and start to feel important to the town. Joe attempts to cheer up Cleve on the spot, but he just ends up bragging about himself and not helping.
Over at the Garrity Meadows B&B, Joe has called a meeting with Barry (the owner of the local market), Sunny, Sheriff Dalton, and Jane, the owner of the B&B. He starts laying out his plan to stage a fake werewolf hunt to help Cleve and boost his self-esteem, with Barry acting as a fake werewolf and Sunny and Jane being the “victims” that Cleve will save. Sunny’s bugged by this since he believes he’d make an excellent werewolf (gee, I wonder why), but Joe goes through with his plan, and even delivers a monologue which seems to get Jane’s attention. Joe then proceeds to lay out the plan in greater detail using a map and several action figures: Sheriff Dalton will meet up with Cleve at the pizza place in the morning claiming that Joe found a werewolf hiding spot, the two will meet up with Joe near the forest, the rest of the crew will come out of the woods, and Cleve will shoot Joe’s guns at the “werewolf” (they’ll be rigged to fire blanks). Everyone except Jane and Joe leave the room, and she proceeds to inquire about the plan, eventually addressing him by the name “Halston Thromboux”, which immediately gets the attention of our hero.
As it turns out, Neon Joe used to be a writer of a popular series of erotic fiction novels, The Adventures of Tip Shades. Jane was apparently tipped off by his monologue earlier, which sounded like dialogue straight out of a Tip Shades novel. She asks why Joe never finished the series (apparently meant to end at 69 novels instead of 68, because of course), to which he doesn’t give a direct answer. She then invites him to her erotic fiction book club later, and Joe agrees to attend.
Meanwhile, in the mysterious red surveillance room, the mayor and the doctor are performing some kind of ritual while Sunny complains about not being cast as the werewolf in Joe’s plan, but the two are dismissive of his complaints.
Joe shows up at the erotic fiction meeting… and no one else is present but him and Jane. While they wait, Jane reads the final paragraph from his final book, One If By Land, Two If By Tip. Once she finishes the excerpt, she shuts the book angrily and again demands to know about the fate of the last book in the series. Joe attempts to respond, but he begins to feel delirious, likely because his tea was drugged with something.
Over at the pizza place, Sheriff Dalton is in place for the plan, trying to keep Cleve in place, but he’s impatient waiting for Joe. He attempts to leave, but Dalton tries to stop him by saying that he can’t hunt werewolves without recording a theme song.
Joe wakes up and eventually finds himself in a wheelchair sitting at a desk with a typewriter. Jane comes into the room and sees that he’s finally awake. Joe’s phone rings, she goes to answer it, and then immediately smashes it in the hopes that he can devote his full attention to writing book 69. He asks her to pull a photo out of his jeans, and we see an old picture of Joe and another woman. The woman in the photograph is Joe’s love from long ago, who apparently died helping him hunt werewolves, and this death is what made him lose the motivation to finish the Tip Shades series. Jane tears up the photo in frustration and begins to tell Joe about the legend of Achilles before duct-taping his mouth shut and slicing his heel with a knife. As you can probably guess by now, the episode is spoofing the Stephen King classic Misery.
Out in the woods, Barry and Sunny are waiting around for their cue as Barry runs around for a bit in his werewolf costume. The two get into an argument about who would be the better werewolf since Sunny is still pissed about not getting to fill the role himself.
Back at the B&B, Jane bursts into the room Joe is being held captive in and is furious at what Joe has written so far. She throws that chunk of the novel in the garbage and demands he start over, putting a pair of sunglasses on him to help with the writing process. She leaves the room, and Joe notices she left a cell phone behind, so he attempts to get out an emergency message, having to text with his tongue since his hands are tied up. Jane returns to the room, interrupting Joe’s ability to finish the message, and he goes back to typing while she takes the phone with her.
Meanwhile, Cleve is recording his theme song at Dr. Goofington’s while Dalton waits around. After Cleve finishes, he’s pumped about the experience of recording and his hopefully soon-to-be killing of werewolves, but Dalton lets him know it probably won’t happen. Cleve confesses that he’s okay with this and that all he needed was some cheering up to get over his depression, but then Dalton gets a text from Joe. Believing this to be the signal for the plan, he and Cleve start heading to the rendezvous point.
Back in the woods, Sunny and Barry receive a pizza delivery from Brooklyn Bobby, and Sunny tries to convince Bobby that he’s a more convincing werewolf than Barry. However Sunny gets a little too into it, and he scares Bobby to the point where he falls back and gets impaled on the sharp end of a log, killing him. The two, in a state of panic and fear, agree to bury Bobby and not speak of what happened. While this is happening, Cleve and Dalton are waiting by the rendezvous point, with Cleve being extremely anxious about killing a werewolf. Suddenly, Barry and Sunny come out of the forest, with Barry in the werewolf costume, and Cleve immediately springs for Dalton’s gun and shoots Barry. The mask comes off, revealing who’s under the costume and he is immediately struck with horror at what he’s just done.
Joe is still trapped typing as he gets an idea for his escape, attempting to carve something sharp out of the tips of his sunglasses so he can slice through the tape holding his arms down. While still working on his escape, he manages to finish the novel and calls Jane in to read the final chapter, which consists of Tip and a woman, coincidentally, named Jane in a highly erotic scenario. He attempts to seduce her for a kiss, but he then slashes her face with makeshift blade carved from the sunglasses and starts to fight.
Dalton is patching up Barry’s gunshot wound, and Dalton asks if Barry and Sunny saw Brooklyn Bobby anywhere, noting that his car is parked right next to them, but the two play dumb and pretend to not know what happened. They ask about where Neon Joe is, and Dalton shows them the message he sent. Sunny and Barry immediately notice that it’s actually a call for help not his trademark “he-yump”, and Cleve then asks about Jane’s involvement in the whole ordeal.
Joe manages to grab his guns and takes aim at Jane, but this doesn’t work, as he remembers the blanks in his gun. Jane pulls out a small pistol to kill Joe, but the sheriff and Cleve (in the werewolf costume) show up and distract her just long enough for Joe to fling the sharp end of his shades into her chest and killing her.
Back at the red room, the mayor is furious as Sunny’s inability to get Joe to leave town, threatening to leave him behind on Earth due to his softening views on humans. She then leaves to go be with her current lover.
Later that night, most of the town is at an erotic fiction night (the mayor and her current lover included) where Joe is reading from his novel. After finishing, he sits at a table where the gang is at. They all propose a toast to Cleve for successfully getting to be a hero that day, and the episode ends on a shot of a werewolf claw tearing down a missing poster of Brooklyn Bobby.
Well that was certainly… some kind of a backstory for Joe. I never would have pegged him as a writer of any kind, let alone erotic fiction. It’s a gloriously absurd way of filling in the blanks behind his character, but it also leads to some oddly sympathetic moments for him, especially with the reveal of his dead wife. It adds a strange level of depth to a character as highly one-dimensional as Neon Joe. The plot of Joe and company trying to cheer up Cleve after his suicide attempt is wonderfully absurd, especially with the constant miscommunications and offbeat relationships between all of them. Cleve’s subplot is also oddly sympathetic as well, wanting to feel useful in a town that sees him as a disposable no-one. We also get a bit more unravelling of the secret underpinnings of Garrity, and we definitely know now that the Mayor and her associates are some kind of an alien menace. Speaking of which, this reveal along with the Joe/Jane plot reveal what I find to be a neat aesthetic choice for the series: Neon Joe appears to draw pretty heavily on the aesthetic and storytelling sensibilities of the legendary Stephen King, especially with the notion of a small quiet town where supernatural forces beyond human understanding operate in secret and prey on humans and their collective fears and emotions. This was a great follow-up to the first episode, and I’m looking forward to what happens in episode 3.