For in Point Pleasant, a new arrival in town -- Christina Nickson (Elizabeth Harnois) -- is not merely a prospective hot date...she's the Anti-Christ.
In the first episode of the series (which aired January 19, 2005), Christina literally washes into town, having fallen overboard at sea, and is rescued by a hunky life-guard, Jesse Parker (Sam Page). Immediately, he feels drawn to her, and Jesse and Christina begin dreaming of one another.
Specifically, Boyd comes to the quiet New Jersey beach town because Christina's powers have "started to manifest." As the Devil's daughter ("the child of darkness," according to Boyd), Christina faces an important test of character and Boyd knows it and hopes to guide her. She has seen the birthmark -- the 666 in her eye -- and she knows what she is; biologically-speaking. But she also knows how she feels...and it isn't evil.
|Christina Nickson (Elizabeth Harnois): The Anti-Christ?|
And that's the rub -- and the dramatic meat -- of Point Pleasant. Christina is not all "Carrie-at-the-Prom," fire-and-brimstone, from the first episode.
Rather, she is simply a confused teenage girl who was "born of a human woman" and therefore boasts a "choice" about her destiny. Christina seeks her identity on her own terms, beyond how others want to see and pigeonhole her.
In other words, if Christina becomes part of a family, part of a community, part of the human race itself, she can be a powerful force of good in the world.
If, on the other hand, Christina follows Boyd's wishes and comes to see humans only as self-destructive "cattle," she will become the fearsome harbinger of our doom. Throughout the series, Boyd does his job with glee, always separating Christina from those she loves; from her ad-hoc family, from her would-be boyfriend, even from the young Priest, Tomas, who sees tremendous "good" in her.
Marti Noxon, who did so much good with Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, works in a familiar and efficacious venue here too. The metaphorical underpinnings of the show work well. At Christina's young age, we all undergo the process of deciding "who we want to be," often over the desires of our parents. And as we start deciding who we are, those choices dictate our direction....towards the light or towards the dark.
But there's another interesting aspect of the program's creative equation too. And it is relevant, in particular to the "reality tv" times of the 2000s in which people like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians or Bristol Palin became famous because, well, they are famous, right?
Christina is the daughter of a very famous personality, a "celebrity" (Satan) and so she is constantly measuring herself against others' expectations of her, given that heritage. With the involvement of the Devil, of course, Point Pleasant is an exaggeration, but in Christina we see what it means to be Jenna Bush, or Chelsea Clinton, or any young adult who has to live up to -- or live down -- the reputation of her parents or family.
In this Point Pleasant premise one might also recognize a bit of Stephen King's great novel, Needful Things. Here -- as in that tale -- an evil wind blows into a sleepy little town and the denizens begin to suffer because of temptation; because of their material desires. In this case, it isn't materialism per se, that drives the locals of Point Pleasant, but rather all the typical human foibles: vanity, loneliness, sexual desire, jealousy, etc.
Like his spiritual predecessor, Lucas Buck in American Gothic, Lucas Boyd in Point Pleasant does his job with great glee, watching with cynicism as he topples over human souls like dominoes. His motto: "We're all basically bad."
Point Pleasant's greatest weakness for horror fans is likely the soap opera, O.C.-component of the series. It's easy to take one look at the buff, gorgeous, young, sex-driven characters on the series and see this as a callow, empty-headed affair created purely to titillate.
Yet, after a few episodes, the attentive viewer will get sucked in -- at least a little -- by the mythology, and by Boyd's constant efforts to bring diffident Christina to a boil; to bring about "The End of Days." Harnois is appealing as Christine too: she has enough edge to seem like she could truly go dark; and yet she has a familiar, Sarah Michelle Gellar-ish winsome side that akes you want to take care of her and guide her to the light.