Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, Episode 9


Suzy Banyon decided to perfect her SPOILERS AHEAD at the most famous school of dance in all of Europe…

Episode 9 of Bloodlust gives one of it’s best supporting characters some much appreciated time center stage...before possibly making her a meal of Barnabas Collins’. Yes, my beloved Kate Ripperton really goes through it this episode, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to listen to. Even beyond Kate, most of the supporting cast gets a really fun turn this installment. We get a bit more action regarding the warding of Collinwood, the thunderous return of David Collins, and some choice monster action surrounding our Trinity, who still lie plotting at the base of Widows’ Hill. Enough of the preamble, let’s get to the getting, shall we?

Click HERE to get the episode.
Death has once again come to Collinsport and this time it has claimed the life of Isaiah Trask. Now the monsters the town faced a few episodes ago have a real deal motive for revenge, especially the mercurial Angelique. Maggie Evans first week as sheriff has certainly gone swimmingly, right? I talked a bit last column that I think it is a really bold choice for writer’s Joseph Lidster, Alan Flanagan, and Will Howells to make Maggie the human antagonist for this series. But this episode they take a different approach, detailing how Maggie is dealing with the badge and how it is directly affecting her, just on an emotional level. As a listener, this really softens Maggie’s new position in the town and in the story overall. Kathryn Leigh Scott really sells this too, harkening back to the maternal, yet steely Maggie that we all fell in love with, even as she continues the office’s march toward condoning racism against monsters. Monsterism. Occultism? I dunno. We can workshop it.

But the real star of this episode is Asta Parry's Kate Ripperton, who gets a really great turn in the spotlight, before maybe (hopefully not) getting it in the neck thanks to a blood horny Barnabas in the episode’s cliffhanger. Parry is a presence that really popped for me in the early installments and Episode 9 starts to peel the layers of her character away in interesting ways. The episode’s script picks up directly after the last’s cliffhanger, which found Kate facing down some uncomfortable questions from Rhonda. Though the revelations this scene brings aren’t THAT big a deal (Kate’s absences throughout this serial have been due to her getting soused and wandering around Eagle Hill Cemetery), it reveals a dark vulnerability to Kate that has slowly been eroding away at her over time. Parry absolutely nails this scene, presenting Kate as a woman on the edge, haunted by her brush with the supernatural and driven nearly to ruin in her quest for answers.

Parry even gets to double down on her intriguing characterization when she goes a’snooping. First she investigates the crime scene of Trask’s death, but then heads up to the Collins mine in order to finally get the story Andrew was suppose to before his eventual ganking. This scene provides our first real clues as to what is happening at the mine. As Kate Nancy Drews, she finds that all the filing cabinets are empty and there is absolutely no paperwork detailing the nature of the work. This naturally brings about David Collins, who gives her the heave ho and fires poor Frankie just to spite her. This scene is filled with some choice verbal sparring from Parry and Alec Newman (who I don’t think has been in this story NEARLY enough. You don’t bench the Maud’dib) and finally starts to move the mystery of the Collins mine forward. I am less enthused about the personal developments for Kate and Frankie, mainly because I think Frankie is kind of a drip, but I am really glad that if this is to be Kate’s last episode that she at least got a really juicy one before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Episode 9 also finds our favorite monsters getting some great material as well. While Kate investigates, Angelique, Barnabas, and Quentin all get some forward momentum in their respective plots. Quentin having to leave Tom in the Collins Mausoleum as he transforms is downright harrowing thanks to David Selby’s brokenhearted performance and the excellent sound design from directors David Darlington and Ursula Burton. That design spreads it’s spooky resonance into Angelique’s plot which finds her attacking the wards that have been set up around Collinwood. What she finds behind them is truly shocking and, should it be proven true and followed up on, could shake the very foundations of the great house and give a major TV character a dark new direction. Barnabas gets the short straw this episode, mainly because most of his action is centered around a tense reunion with Maggie Evans. But that said, I am really warming to Andrew Collins portrayal of the vampire and I am excited to see him become much more of a presence in the serial’s back half.

To be honest, I am kind of running out of ways to say “Bloodlust is Good”, but Episode 9 was an unexpectedly emotional turn from the series. One that put some characters into focus that I wasn’t expecting and better still, did so in a way that put their emotions and mental states first, giving the supernatural elements of the story a rest (for the most part). I have really grown fond of this whole cast, beyond the major players of the universe, and it is nice to see that the show isn’t allowing it’s pathos to get lost in all the murder, monsters, and magicks.

NEXT TIME! Episode 10! Double digits, creeps! We are in the home stretch now. Please let Kate be okay. 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 Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.  

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