Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, Episode 11


We just cut up our SPOILERS AHEAD with a chainsaw. Does that sound like “fine”?

“Maggie Evans must DIE! TONIGHT!”

Welcome back, dark sprites, to this our final week of Bloodlust coverage. When we last left everyone, things had gone positively pear shaped as the darkness that has been infesting Collinsport since Snowflake gathered and aimed itself toward our heroes. Episode 11 is another table setting episode for the serial, but this one moves at a much, much faster clip than the few before it. It also has the added novelty of gathering our cast up, both human and monster, all together and finding some really interesting dynamics in the process. On top of all that, you have another shocking death for the series, one that definitely proves no one in Bloodlust is safe, not completely. The darkness has a face now, dear readers, and nothing much a motley crew of monsters and mortals stands between him and Collinsport. Let’s see how they fare.

Click HERE to get the episode.
After last episode’s vampiric, magickally infused cliffhangers, this episode wastes little time capitalizing on last episode’s bloodletting. From the jump writer’s Will Howells, Joseph Lidster, and Alan Flanagan have done a really great job of keeping most everyone’s plots clearly defined and largely separated, aside from the few that crossed paths with one another like the Cunningham family drama and how the murders were contributing to the uneasiness of the town. But now that shit has well and truly hit the fan, they have to start gathering up the whole cast in order to get them fully working on the problem of the plot and working toward the finale.

This kind of spins the wheels of the main plot for a touch, aside from two major events that we will get into later. Though this episode doesn’t really have the same forward propulsion as some of the others did, the writers still really entertain by finally positioning all of our characters together in one large ensemble. The cast and crew really did a great job of making the whole thing feel pretty filled out just in the vignettes in earlier episodes, but hearing everyone gathered together and bouncing off one another is a real treat and makes the show feel all the more like a largish repertory company.

But hearing that company of actors comes at the cost of forward momentum. You can kind of see it all over the episode. A character or grouping heads off one direction or place, only to head somewhere else once the plot necessitates they do so. It isn’t altogether horrible and the show did this kinda stuff all the time for the purpose of stringing some tension along the serialized story. I also understand why the production staff takes this sort of two steps forward, one step back direction in this episode, but that doesn’t make it any less noticeable. At the very least it provides our wonderful cast some meaningful stage time with one another, resulting in some really showy acting and banter. I will forgive a lot of things thanks to a charming, talented cast and thankfully Bloodlust has one of the best.

But my structural nitpicking aside, this episode does drop two major bombshells on us heading into the show’s final episodes. One of which is the mercy killing of Kate Ripperton by the hands of Maggie Evans. This really is a gut wrenching sequence and both Asta Parry and Kathryn Leigh Scott lean into the tragedy and cold horror of the situation, making it feel and sound all the more real. The next is the naming of this serial’s big bad, none other than Count Petofi, who has been pulling the strings all along thanks to his surviving HAND! I should have expected such a big marquee villain for this piece, but I sincerely love how the staff have been pulling from the property’s deep bench of characters, from even beyond the grave.

My problems with the somewhat scattered construction of the episode’s narrative and slight breaking of its momentum aside, Episode 11 is still another richly produced and spookily entertaining entry from Bloodlust and Big Finish’s take on Dark Shadows. Now it feels like we are headed toward a proper huge ending and literally no one is safe. I know they are recording the sequel to this sprawling epic as I type, but for the life of me, I have no idea who could even be left in the cast for it! Time and the rest of these episodes will tell and I will be fine as long as I keep biting my nails and breathing into this paper bag.

NEXT TIME! Episode 12! The Penultimate Episode! A motley crew marches on Collinwood and I really hope my faves survive. Be seeing you.

Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at justin@betweenthepanels.com Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.  

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