They say you can’t go home again, and when your hometown is the site of a demonic television show that led to the murder of a bunch of children, you probably shouldn’t go home at all. Yet Mike Painter, the main character on Syfy’s Channel Zero: Candle Cove, returned to Iron Hill, Ohio, the scene of his greatest childhood trauma. Paul Schneider, the actor who plays Mike, told reporters on Tuesday that it’s because town is “some sort of addiction” for Mike that he just can’t escape from.
It’s not just that Candle Cove is a supernatural show with mind control powers, although that’s certainly part of it. Schneider notes that upcoming episodes will reveal that there’s “some kind of compulsion growing in him that sort of draws him back home.” But the other reason why Mike returned to Iron Hill was because there’s something broken in him, and he’s trying to find out what it is by going to where it all started.
Schneider says Mike dealt with his childhood horrors by burying his trauma in his attempts to become a great student and successful psychologist. However, that sense of ambition was just a Band-Aid, and it gradually wore away.
“In his marriage, something started to disappear,” Schneider explains, saying it was replaced by an unexplained irritability. Fighting turned to drinking, which turned to prescription drug abuse, which led to “some things you couldn’t ignore.”
Like, for instance, “Him carving into his arm with a knife. I guess that’s a red flag?” Schneider jokes.
The success and relatively normal life that Mike had been able to forge for himself outside of Iron Hill caused problems when he returned, though.
“He’s kind of a black sheep in the sense that he’s done well for himself,” Schneider says. “Him coming back to his hometown is not the return of a prodigal son.”
On the other hand, despite the terror of it all, Mike can’t help but feel like he’s found a purpose after being so lost in the outside world. Schneider explains that, in some ways, being back where he grew up is an “appeal to his ego.”
“His expertise as a child psychologist is sought by this woman he used to be in love with,” he says, adding that he “absolutely” would have ended up with his childhood crush Jessica had Candle Cove not ruined their lives.
Mike may have come home partially to fight personal demons, but let’s not forget about the real ones Candle Cove is sending out into the world. “The real reason to why he’s back gets revealed in the coming episodes,” Schneider teases.