Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: The Tony & Cassandra Mysteries Series 2, “The Mystery of Apartment 493”

Editor's note: The Tony & Cassandra Mysteries Series 2 is now available at Big Finish!


“This isn’t Collinsport, Tony. People don’t check on their neighbors."

Cassandra Collins throws the dinner party from Hell in “The Mystery of Apartment 493” by Alan Flanagan. Co-directed by the man himself along with Darren Gross, this penultimate installment of Series 2 brings back a wonderfully creepy bottle episode gimmick from Series 1 and then uses it to deliver what could very well be Series 2’s breakout episode. Usually I try to delve into all aspects of the episode, down to even the slightest spoiler, but to do so would really undercut this episode’s incredible and insane turns. So this column is going to be a little different but rest assured when I say, “The Mystery of Apartment 493” is a stunningly fun night in with Tony and Cassandra.

So last series Alan Flanagan mucked around and delivered an absolute dynamo of an episode with “The Mystery of Flight 493”. Though my review was of the entire series, I heaped praise on to the episode and quite right too! The concept of the episode, a gut-wrenching time loop, really popped, as did the confined nature of the setting. So naturally I was really excited to see that Series 2 also had a “493” episode from Flanagan! I became doubly so after I listened to it because this episode takes the confined spirit of that first one and vastly improves on it, both in terms of emotional stakes and sheer terror.

Like I said, I am going to try to completely avoid outright spoilers because the twists and turns this thing takes are just way, way too good for some former Collins Cannery rube like me to talk about here. But what I CAN talk about and will at length is the sparkling chemistry of our two leads and the way the production really makes the space come alive. Easing back into barbed banter and genuine shocks, Alan Flanagan’s script displays a keen sense of Tony and Cassandra’s relationship and uses it as a solid foundation for the centralized plot. While “Flight 493” had the novelty of the time loop, this episode has no such ticking clock. So I was wondering how the script and direction would get an entire hour’s worth of story out a single room. Thankfully, the story proves pretty early that it can do a lot with just a little spearheaded by the performances of Lara Parker and Jerry Lacy.

If this sounds like I am being cagey, I promise I’m not. This episode really does impress and allows our core cast, which now includes the effortlessly endearing Sydney Aldridge, a great chance to showcase their skills. I am a bit let down that newcomers to the show Jake Wardle and Abi Harris don’t get much to do as their characters are largely there for atmosphere. But, that said, they really make a meal of their repetitive roles, amping up the episode’s scares and eerie vibe every time they are unleashed on our unsuspecting heroes. Aldridge also gets to display a bit of evil range herself, as Alice is a presence in this episode, but not in the way that you might think. This allows her a bit of free reign when it comes to her characterization this round and she really runs with it. Again, you know by now how amazing Lacy and Parker are but hearing them bantering so casually, only to be pushed nearly to their breaking point is a great turn from the pair and they more than rise to the challenges of this episode throughout.

So I think I should wrap this up before I go and blab something and give away the whole game but trust me when I say that “The Mystery of Apartment 493” is the episode to beat for Series 2. Led by it’s stalwart core cast, blessed with a truly tremendous script, and out of this world production values, this penultimate episode absolutely knocks it out of the park, sending Series 2 into it’s finale on the highest note possible. But enough of my yaking, go listen for yourself and you will see what I mean. I suggest leaving the light on.

NEXT TIME! The Series 2 finale! “The Mystery of the Soulmates Hotel” by Grace Knight. If Tony and Cassandra finally kiss this episode I am going to lose it. 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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