Friday, June 8, 2012

Bedlam, Season 2, Episode 1: The Long Drop

Bedlam is back for another series. Prepare for much spookiness and amazing atmospherics which so characterised the first show in this story of the haunted London asylum

And we start setting the tone well with the spookiness ratcheted up to maximum levels, running through the dark, abandoned and deeply frightening building – to a man with something carved into his head.

Now there’s an introduction for you.

Back jarring to reality and in a block of flats a paramedic (Ellie) is trying to resuscitate and old lady, which doesn’t seem to work. Especially when the old lady’s black-pupil-less-eyed ghost gets up to make the tea (of course British ghosts make tea. Just because you’re stuck in the purgatory of limbo is no reason to be denied a brew). The paramedic isn’t having these ghostly tea makers and runs out of their pretty sharpish. At the hospital her fellow paramedic, Andy, advises her to go see the doctor again, presumably for seeing things; she’s not thrilled because the pills et all are doing nothing after 6 months – maybe she’s really seeing the dead

Of course, paramedics playing the “I see dead people” aren’t well looked upon (especially since they’re trying to stop the dead people being, y’know, dead) so back at the hospital it seems Ellie’s been put on indefinite leave. But her friend, Laura, knows they had a patient on the psych-ward who had similar symptoms but was discharged – if she gets the address then maybe Ellie will be able to talk to him and find a way to make the ghosts go away.

Using the door code from Laura (which could get Laura in a lot of trouble) Ellie sneaks into the records. Outside she tells Andy how amazing it is that the person in the psych-ward apparently saw exactly the same things she does. Andy, who she is marrying in 2 months, is not reassured that she is pointing out she has identical symptoms to someone who was detained on the psych-ward. Andy leaves, angry that Ellie won’t help herself, won’t get help and won’t admit that she needs help.

In tears, Ellie puts away her engagement ring and examines the file some more – it’s the file of Jed Harper, the man who could see ghosts in the first season. Lacey tries to call him but his numbers are disconnected.

We get another quick introduction to Max (the bar man in the building) and his apparent flat-mate Dan who is saying goodbye to his latest female companion and rushing out the door to Bedlam Heights (now being renamed Brightmoor) – it seems he’s the new building manager, taking over Kate’s old role in season 1. He goes to work trying to convince Lisa that there’s no-one else – shame he calls her Leanne. He runs into Kate (though it’s apparent he doesn’t know her), laden by a huge backpack who expresses cynicism at him being able to save the place with a simple re-branding.

Kate returns to her old flat warily, exploring it fearfully like there are monsters behind every door. Which is pretty understandable. She looks regretfully of old photos of her and Jed together. She then goes wandering looking for her father and instead runs into Keira, another new character. Someone she’s apparently known forever, who is in her dad’s flat painting and recounting her chaotic past with Kate.

Kate goes to the office and finds her dad telling Dan to try and shut down a website which purports to prove their building is super-duper haunted which isn’t the best PR in the world. She says the building an’t work, not with its history (and ghosts) and think they should sell the land for cheap social housing and cut their losses (and probably make a fair whack of money). But Dan protests – why aren’t Kate and her father fighting for their family history, this is their family business after all. Kate is less than impressed by this since it’s clear he doesn’t know the family history (that would be granddaddy Bettany performing sickening experiments on the inmates and then murdering them). But her dad sides with Dan, he’s going to make it work. And she leaves.

Lacey has arrived at bedlam heights and is instantly presented by both the awesome d├ęcor and the immense amounts of spookiness including random glass marbles and a child ghost (said child ghost was around a lot in the first season) who calls her by name. She follows her into a roped off section of the building that is still under construction (where a lot of spookiness happened last season). She enters one of the abandoned rooms and decides to open a cupboard (not quite sure why) and a desiccated body falls out on top of her, giving her visions of a man being restrained. She flees, straight into Dan’s arms. Dan and Mr. Betanny (Warren) question her on her presence there . she tells them she’s apartment hunting.

Dan goes into the big tour and sell (dodging any questions as to what the building was before) and Ellie gets more visions of the man whose body she found running through the halls and hiding in a cupboard. With the visions getting worse, Ellie calls Andy, but he hangs up on her as it becomes clear again that she’s not willing to treat her visions as a delusion – while a very unpleasant silhouette seems to be following her.

She ends up in the bar (first sensible thing she’s done) ordering G&T from Max. She learns from Max that Jed Harper is dead. Since Max lives in the same flat Jed used to, he has some of their things lying around and offers to take Ellie up to see them, believing she was a friend. It also seems that a photograph she has of her and Andy now has a blurred figure in the background. Ellie decides to look around Max’s flat in a thoroughly cheeky fashion and finds Jed’s drawings of ghosts with black eyes. Max tells Ellie that Jed died in an accident in the basement – but Kate arrives and chases them out of the room.

Kate goes to her father, asks if he thinks a remodel would really cover up how awful the place was and what happened there. She doesn’t want to stay and thinks they should walk away. Knocking the place down isn’t just business to her, but the right thing to do.

Ellie has another vision – the man who hid in the cupboard hanging himself with his belt. And then sees a belt fashioned into a noose hanging from the bathroom window. This freaks her out and she ends up staying in Max’s flat until well into the night. Until something bangs on the door – something she doesn’t see through the peephole. When she looks again she gets a sudden frightening close up of a ghostly, rotten face. Then the door opens and Kate comes in.

The whole gang gathers, Kate, Ellie, Max and Dan. Dan and Kate snipe, Kate pokes holes in Ellie’s stories. Kate and Dan argue until Kate goes to speak to Warren to get him fired (which totally doesn’t make Kate look like a spoiled brat, not at all) and finds her father, Warren, in a compromising position with Keira on top of him. This adds to the various issues she already has with her father from the last season and the camel’s back is well and truly broken. She leaves, declaring that Warren will never see her again.

Ellie is sleeping on the sofa of these complete strangers in the ultra-haunted house (because this? Makes sense) and explores some spooky noises – but it’s only Kate packing and leaving and telling Ellie that this is the last place Jed would ever want her to be. Kate leaves the building in the middle of the night but senses she is being followed. She turns around and a man appears, we only see him from the back and see the symbol carved into his bare head. Kate runs (burdened by her huge backpack) but the man has disappeared – until someone in front of her grabs her.

Ellie decides to show more good sense by finding a torch and going to explore the part of the building still under construction and check in on the body she found (shouldn’t someone be talking to the authorities about that? One can’t just have bodies lying around. It’s untidy) which is still there and hasn’t got up and walked (and, frankly, if you suspected that then going to it’s immediate vicinity in an abandoned and spooky part of a large old building you know nothing about isn’t that great an idea).  She then turns and sees a hanged man. Who moves and then staggers after her, trailing the rope that hanged him behind him… and yes my spooky, creepy meter just exploded. Ashe runs through wires that entangle her and start to strangle her as the man staggers closer…

And then Warren arrives, having seen her on CCTV and gives her her marching orders. She returns to Max’s flat and sees that the blur behind her in the picture of her and Andy has now got closer and can now be seen to be the hanged man. Max, meanwhile, is snooping through her things and has found her picture of black eyed ghosts. She chews him out for it they have a mini argument before his ultra-niceness encourages her to confide in him.

Later Max reports this incident at the ghostly website Warren and Dan were talking about. And warren falls asleep in front of the TV where he has an odd dream with bodies and wakes up in a different part of the building (just as Kate did in season 1).

The next day Max and Dan discuss Ellie – Dan as a target for his flirting and Max oozing niceness everywhere. Ellie calls Andy to tell him that Jed died the very same day that Ellie started seeing ghosts. And then she sees the ghostly man with the lolling neck – runs to the lift and closes it just in time. She has another vision of him hanging himself. In  the lobby she steps out of the lift – but the lift doors slam close on her scarf and drag upwards, strangling her while the ghost looks on, twisting a ligature. She manages to get her scarf free but then is backed into a corner as the hanged ghost stands over her twisting the belt.

At that point Max runs in and asks her what’s wrong, what does she see – and guesses ghosts (this could be his research or her saying “you’re dread I saw you die”). They return to Max’s apartment (why are you still in the building, woman?! RUN! RUN!) She describes how ghosts look – outside of Bedlam they look lost and confused. But in the building it’s all hatred and anger. Max says he believes her and knows what she’s seeing is real and that this killed Jed as well (why are you still in the building again?) and is sure he can make it stop. They wonder how to stop this ghost, where was she when it first happened – why under a skeleton in the old part of the building of course. Could that be connected to the haunting? (No, really. They act like they have a Eureka moment over this. I kid you not). They decide to stop the haunting they need to put the bones back – as hiding and hanging himself in the cupboard was the only place this man found that was safe from his abusers in the asylum. (I think you should contact the proper authorities, personally, because dead people in the walls is just unhygienic. Especially if someone opening the wrong cupboard can end up with a murderous hanging ghost chasing them around).

To the old part of the building (Warren’s going to be pissed) and Ellie checks her picture of her and Andy. She isn’t in it any more – and in a flash she is yanked up to the ceiling by her neck, hanging from a belt, the ghost is above her, strangling her. She gasps at Max to get the bones. Max puts the bones back and the ghost disappears.

Back in Max’s flat Ellie examines her neck in the mirror with the thick red mark around it and tells Max that she hears Kate has moved on so there’s a room free. Which means she could move in, because after the ghost in the building repeatedly tried to murder her that proves this is the place she should be! (Please join me in screaming at the sheer ridiculousness of this) this is reinforced by the glowing, shining girl ghost that also tells her not to confide in Max.

We get a lot of spooky concluding images, including the little girl when she was alive being kept in a  cage and dropping black marbles (like the one Ellie found) when being collected – and Ellie noticing a new mark on her shoulder, identical to the one the bald headed man had carved into his head.

This isn’t so much a second season as a complete reboot. We have the same plot, the same setting but most of the characters are missing – Ryan is who knows where (no-one seems to care or make an attempt to make a reason for his absence). Jed is dead, Molly is in Thailand. The only characters from the old series remaining are Warren and Kate - and Kate has just been icked, and since her actress doesn’t appear in the credits I assume she’s not going to make a return appearance. Still, what I’ve seen means I do like the new season so far, but I’m not happy with this level of reset and I hope we get some resolve of what happened at the end of the last series.

I did, however, forget how spooky this show could be and I think that has been increased as well. It has great atmospherics, wonderful theme, amazing tension and I jumped out of my skin at least 3 times. Maybe 4. Or 5. Yes, it’s spooky, very very spooky.

Characterwise I’m interested to see a greater level of inclusion of POC with Keira and Dan (I’m assuming Laura was just a bit role) who both seem to have their own stories and goals as well. I think that may be our only axis of inclusion though.

My main concern is that Ellie annoys me. Ellie doesn’t make any sense and she is dripping in Spunkiness. Her coming to this place to see someone but staying even when he’s not there – her visions got worse when she went into the building, if she’s trying to stop them, why stay? And why go exploring the spookiest part? She then stays the night with complete strangers (I’m frankly bemused they even offered) and then decides to explore the spooky spooky place during the night? And then, after all that, she decides that this is the place she’s meant to be? A building that killed someone else with her abilities, a place she knows is full of anger and rage, and a place that has tried to kill her at least twice? Go back to being a paramedic with the confused, tea-making ghosts! Anyway, she has said on multiple occasions that she can’t afford it – she’s on indefinite leave as a paramedic. How much does that pay? Yet suddenly she can afford a room? Or is this all going on credit or relying on these complete strangers she’s now rooming with to let her stay?