Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Lot 36): Review, Recap, Themes, Ending Explained- Was Emilia Aware of The Sinister Secret of Lot 36?

Published 10/25/2022, 6:17 PM EDT

When Netflix announced Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I expected dark content and an eerie build-up that would not flatter to deceive. Lot 36, the first offering of this eight-episode Netflix series, or rather, Cabinet of Curiosities, did not disappoint. Showrunner Guillermo del Toro provided a take on exactly what a Cabinet of Curiosities is. 

The Oscar winner called it a collection that can be lodged in a building, chamber, or piece of furniture. It is something in which every item has a story. 

What is Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Lot 36) about?


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Lot 36 began in 2003, with President Bush addressing the American people about the Iraq war. An old man was listening to this, and he went to chop his dinner. He dropped the head on the floor but collapsed once he went to pick it up. 

The episode then cut to an auction at a storage facility, where Nick, an army veteran, won a storage lot with a bid of $400. Once Eddie handed the keys over, a woman (Emilia) showed up and looked devastated that her lot was gone. She tried to convince Nick to let her take her stuff, but he rudely dismissed Emilia, handing her the padlock of Lot 36. 

Nick, annoyed at the size of the lot, tried to salvage whatever he could from within it to get the money to pay off his debt. He picked a candelabra, a table, a necklace, and chairs and headed off to Agatha’s shop. 

Agatha recognized the items and opened a secret compartment containing three rare books. She summoned an expert (Roland) who offered a pretty penny. However, he spoke about a fourth book that would result in a monstrous payout to Nick. 

Back in Lot 36, the two men discovered that it was actually quite a large space with a concealed tunnel. Nick dismissed Roland’s warnings and apprehensions about impending danger and they headed down the tunnel. The duo came across a room with a corpse and a book. Nick rushed to get the book, crossed a line, and awakened the sleeping monster within the corpse. 

Roland did what he told Nick to not do and got consumed. The army veteran fled with the gruesome monster in pursuit. He saw light and rushed to the door, which was locked. At that moment, Emilia walked up and ignored his pleas for help. She symbolically placed the Lot 36 lock on the door, leaving Nick at the monster’s mercy. 

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Lot 36): Review

The Netflix episode is infused with relevant present-day social themes that elevate the story, making it appealing to non-horror aficionados. This may convince them to sit through the 30-odd minutes before it becomes clear that a supernatural element is on its way. 

Building on del Toro’s story, director Guillermo Navarro uses eerie music to establish a sinister and unsettling vibe around the storage facility. As things build, we may expect something to just pop up. There’s no way del Toro would resort to such a puerile tactic, but he had to provide some payoff. The Oscar winner did just that with his writing, which also allowed his lead’s foul mouth to take center stage in this Netflix Original.  

Nick’s stance isn’t openly conveyed, but his introductory scene established the same. If it wasn’t clear, this comes out in each and every interaction. Tim Blake Nelson plays this character to perfection, with every word he utters driving the audience to completely dislike him with passion. 

A final thing to praise is the presentation of the monster. A norm in Guillermo del Toro’s work, this has massive expectations. Lot 36‘s monster wasn’t comical, but its tentacular presentation lent an aura of creepiness. It was something that could push audiences to feel for Nick and his impending fate; quite a tough task after seeing his behavior.  

Themes from Lot 36

Guillermo del Toro’s original story has layers to it. Discrimination and greed and the two primary themes in Lot 36. These add flesh to what would have been a pure horror tale. Aside from the eventual human vs supernatural battle, there is a thread of us vs. them. Nick sees himself as superior to an Asian woman, a black man, and an expert in his field. He rudely asks Emilia to take the effort to insult him in his language, brings up his status as a veteran and questions Eddie about his contribution, and dismisses a supernatural expert for not knowing anything about him.

Greed is another theme in this episode. Nick could have allowed Emilia to take her letters and leave. However, he spoke about the world and came across as extremely snobbish. This greed for the lot he fairly purchased proved to be his undoing. 

Also Read: “Completely personal to him” – When ‘Pinocchio’ Director Guillermo del Toro Praised Ryan Gosling’s Directorial Debut Film

He could have even been content with the $10k for the three books, but the promise of $290k more took him back to Lot 36.  

This eventually comes back to bite him quite literally as the demon consumes him. One can even look at Lot 36, as Nick’s demons (rather than a demon) consuming him 

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Lot 36): Ending Explained

Nick, with his disregard for others and selfish motives, awakens the demon. The veteran loses all his swagger and cowers behind Roland, who communicates and falls prey. Nick sprinted out of Lot 36 and into the corridor, with the demon in hot pursuit. He reached the door where Emilia did not hear him and placed the lock of Lot 36 on the door. As she walked away, the demon approached Nick and consumed him. 

Also Read: Netflix Lines Up Halloween Event With 8 Chilling Stories in Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ – Details Inside

Could Emilia hear Nick?


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Emilia had a conversation with Nick at the start. She also spoke to Eddie in his office, proving that she was not deaf. The door to the storage facility wasn’t soundproof, as the camera captured the scene from Emilia’s point of view and proved the audience could clearly hear Nick’s pleas. Hence, it is clear that she could hear him and chose to ignore him. Was it revenge? 

Was Emilia aware of the sinister secret of Lot 36?

This seems likely, as she had no reason to shut the exit to the facility. I say she shut the door, as her presence at that time of the night seemed too convenient. The moment Nick appeared at the door, she walked into sight and just stared at him. It’s almost as though Emilia was waiting for Nick to see him beg for mercy. 


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She also specifically carried the lock with her as though she had prepared for this. It seems far-fetched as elements like Nick’s greed and his chance discovery of the cordoned-off area of Lot 36 would have needed to be factored in. Perhaps Emilia kept watch and recognized Roland, pieced the happenings together, and just waited to see Nick squirm. 

Lot 36 from Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is streaming on Netflix. 



Reubyn Coutinho

43 articles

Reubyn Coutinho is an Editor and Film Critic at Netflix Junkie. This Mass Media Graduate from St. Xavier's has attended MAMI (2019) as a film critic.