Monday, June 4, 2012

The Dresden Files, Season 1, Episode 10: What About Bob?

Harry is lying asleep in bed with Tara. Tara decides to handcuff Harry to the bed during the night (alas, not for kinky purposes) and then sneaks out with Bob’s skull. Of course the handcuff doesn’t hold a wizard very long, but the ward she puts on the door does. In his tantrum, Harry also fries his ringing phone.

Tara reports to – surprise, Justin Morningway, Harry’s supposedly dead black magic uncle! Justin is displeased that Tara left the handcuffs behind, after all a wizard can use a possession for tracking. So he kills her – which is rather dramatic and nicely establishes that Justin Morningway is a very very not nice man. It also messes up Harry’s scrying.

In his conversational sparring with Bob it seems Justin Morningway made a copy of himself – Morningway lite(ish) and he wants Bob’s help with some black magic. He wants Bob to bring the original Morningway back from the dead. In return Bob will be returned to mortality – using the weapon that killed his lost lover, Winnifred.

Meanwhile Harry speaks to Morgan, warden of the High Council, who gives him a nifty Bob Skull detector – if the skull is ever unshielded.

Through the episode we get several flashbacks into Harry’s childhood, including when he saw his father die from an apparent heart attack. And Harry then being taken in by Justin Morningway, his uncle and the first time Harry met Hrothbert of Bainbridge (Bob) who Justin used as Harry’s tutor. Including teaching Harry the basics of black magic to defend himself against it. And that Morningway was on the High Council, that Harry comes from an extremely powerful bloodline including Harry’s mother.

Which leads us to an adult Harry, on the night of Morningway’s death, planning to go to as High Council shindig – and he sees that Morningway is wearing the ring his mother gave his father (and probably a shield), the ring his father lost before he died. Bob urges him not to act but Harry finds Morningway’s poppet. Morningway pretty much confesses – he killed Harry’s father to save him from “obscurity” and that Morningway has a plan to “clear the weeds” of the High Council and to kill Ancient Mai. Ther eis a powerful confrontation and Morningway is almost accidentally killed by dark magic.

We also have some flashbacks to past episodes – reminding us that Harry “self-defenced” Morningway to death, that Bob served him and that Bob was cursed into a skull for trying to bring his true love, Winnifred, back to life.

While we have past been dragged up, Detective Kirmani has brought Murphy a closed case – the death of Justin Morningway, Harry’s uncle. He had been listed as a heart attack but an anonymous phone call identifies Harry as the murderer (which he is, albeit in self-defence). Since both Kirmani and Murphy both know about Harry’s magic, they can look past the heart attack excuse.

Which Murphy takes to Harry, pointing out that she’s seen a lot since she’s been with Harry and knows that a crushed heart in an intact chest does not mean heart attack. Harry doesn’t want to talk about anything to do with his family history and stonewalls – so of course Murphy investigates further and a new autopsy on Justin Morningway’s body. Time for more questioning with Murphy – and the revelation that Murphy is on pills to help her deal with what happened to her when she was possessed. It also gets her Harry’s finger prints – which matches a print on Morningway’s cufflink.

Bob is made mortal with the weapon – and is physically able to pick up the skull he was trapped in – which also triggers Harry’s magic skull detector. To the old Morningway mansion! Where he finds the newly embodied Bob who uses his magic to put Harry to sleep.

To raise Morningway’s body, Bob uses Harry’s power (and his Hockey stick) and using Harry’s life force. Morningway awakes, his copy goes back into his coffin. He’s now free to perform his nefarious plans and take over the wooooorld (well, the magical one).

Except Bob isn’t on Morningway’s side. He is ever and always on Harry’s side. With the copy disposed of (and now being the body in the coffin), he channels Morningway’s magic and life force back where it belongs – into Harry. The effort of which kills Bob as well. Of course, Bob has been dead a long time and just returns to his skull as a ghost (the curse hasn’t been broken, after all) so he can poke fun at Harry’s touching grieving over his death. Yes yes he does, of course he does, he’s Bob

Time for a meeting with Murphy (who is upset because the body no longer has marks of a crushed heart any more). He also tells her that he killed Morningway and what happened with her possession.  And that his father was killed by Morningway. There follows a powerful scene where they discuss how Murphy can be part of Harry’s world – where her rules don’t apply.

I do like a reference to Murphy’s pills. She takes pills to keep her clam and help her sleep after a traumatic incident. There’s no shame about it, it’s not something Murphy should be embarrassed by, it’s presented as a fact and done well.

The flashbacks were really well done – normally flashbacks risk being boring or irrelevant. These were weaved well into the storyline and at each stage they were relevant to the plot at that point. It was nicely integrated

Yes, Bob had me going, he really did. That was some really good acting – and it was plausible that he would turn on Harry as well.

All in all, yes I’m impressed - one of the good ones.