Them The Scare: Who is the Man with the Painted Face?

For eight episodes, Prime Video’s ‘Them: The Scare’ keeps the audience on their toes as it blends the genres of murder mystery and horror. It begins with a gruesome murder at a foster home in LA, investigated by Detective Dawn Reeve. The brutality of the act makes her stomach churn, but she has to find a way to get to the bottom of the case because the killer is in no mood to slow down. As the bodies start to pile up, Dawn realizes that the case is much closer to home than she had anticipated. She will have to dig up her past, a lot of which she seems to have forgotten, to prevent future murders.

At the end of the day, when the case has been solved, Dawn relaxes with her family. But then, she scratches the surface deep enough to discover that there is much more to her family’s history than previously imagined. Just as she realizes the depth of the situation, a ghost from her family’s past comes to haunt her. It’s a familiar face whose presence doesn’t mean anything good for Dawn and her family. SPOILERS AHEAD

Them: The Scare Ending Sees the Return of Da Tap Dance Man

While previously pegged as an anthology, the final episode of ‘Them’ Season 2 reveals an interesting connection with Season 1. We knew that Dawn and Edmund were adopted and had spent the first few years of their lives in the abusive environment of a foster home. But it left little to no information about the identity of their real parents. It is in the final episode when Dawn goes back to the foster home and confronts her lost memories, that a new thing is revealed to her. It turns out that her mother was Ruby Lee Emory, one of the daughters of Lucky and Henry Emory from Season 1.

At first, it appears that this connection is only superficial and kind of an Easter egg, but the final scene shows that the family history brings a lot of baggage for Dawn, which includes the ghosts as well. The one that shows up in the end is Da Tap Dance Man, who haunted Dawn’s grandfather, Henry Emory. Revealed to have been a white man with blackface, Da Tap Dance Man fed on Henry’s rage towards the mistreatment by the white people around him. The origins of the supernatural entity are questionable, but its only purpose seemed to be the instigation of violence. At every turn, it would try to make Henry act out of anger, to hurt the people who hurt him and threatened him and his family. His “What you gonna do?” rings repeatedly in Henry’s ear every time he is wronged.

Played by Jeremiah Birkett, Da Tap Dance Man feeds on this frustration and anger, and while it may seem that he is encouraging Henry to stand up for himself and protect himself, it is actually just a ploy to turn him into exactly what the white people around him see: a violent man who cannot be trusted. That was in the 50s, and Dawn’s story takes place in the 90s. One would think things would have changed in four decades to leave Da Tap Dance Man powerless. But it’s clear that the issues that trouble Henry have prevailed.

By the end of Season 2, Dawn has been through a lot. She has discovered troubling things about her childhood; she has willingly left the police department after realizing that no matter what she does, she will never be one of them. She has faced all sorts of things that would enrage any righteous person, and it has also left her feeling helpless in some ways. This is where Da Tap Dance Man comes in. It was either Dawn reconnecting with her roots or the simple fact that she developed a deep distrust of the system and completely lost faith in it that brought Da Tap Dance Man out of his slumber.

The last we saw of him, he was shot in the face by Henry, who was finally rid of him. However, rage is a very personal thing. While one can master it, the other might continue to struggle with it their entire lives. This is why Da Tap Dance Man cannot really be killed. Or at least, it has to be killed individually for every person. And that’s what Dawn will have to do. Like Henry, she will have to learn to direct her rage in a way that does not make her look like she is giving in to her wildest impulses and doing exactly what Da Tap Dance Man wants her to do. Having seen Season 1, we can say that it will not be an easy task.

Read More: Them The Scare: Is Edmund Gaines Inspired by a Real Killer?