Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cult Season 1, Episode 7: Suffer the Children

On the show, Kelly has taken her nephew, Andy, to a psychiatrist because he’s having problems after being held by the Cult – including pulling his hair out. It’s hard to get him to talk but he draws a picture of his mother with blood on her head saying she cut out her hair.

Skye is back at work, dressed up for an event, and Peter-who-has-a-crush-on-her is at her computer because his laptop broke and he’s in no way checking up on her, honest. He’s still curious about the clothes and she says she’s going to her friend Jeff’s boss’s funeral (Bert, yup, they killed him).

To the funeral where Jeff describes Bert as the closest thing he and his brother had to a father when their parents died. After the eulogy,  E.J. approaches Jeff and tells him she knows Bert didn’t die by accident (people shot him E.J., that kind of goes without saying). She has made the connection between Jeff asking for Sakelik’s address and Bert dying – and hands Jeff a file; Sakelik’s personnel record. Nate’s missing and Bert’s dead, if Sakelik is responsible E.J. wants a piece of her.

Which is when Sakelik arrives at the wake. Now that’s just tasteless. She informs Jeff that she is personally taking charge of the investigation into Bert’s death. Jeff gives her her marching orders and she leaves with another veiled threat

Jeff and Skye check through the file and Jeff worries about her again since Sakelik is so threatening and she reminds him of her personal stake. Digging through her file they find she has a glowing record as a detective, but she also has a sealed file as a juvenile. A record she has tried recently, repeatedly to get expunged suggesting it may be currently relevant. He vows to get that file no matter what, even if it is a sealed government file.

Time for an illicit and totally not suspicious meeting in a car park. The guy he’s meeting apparently tampered with a jury and Jeff has proof of that – and uses it to blackmail him into giving up Sakelik’s file. The man is surprised that Jeff would stoop to such a level but Jeff says things change.

Am I supposed to gasp at how low Jeff has fallen in fighting the Cult? It may have helped if I’d seen him be a paragon of morality to begin with; he was cut from the New York Times for lying in a story, we know he’s a journalist who believes in ends justifying the means. Also, why else would he sit on evidence of jury tampering?

On the set, the mysterious Stuart arrives with an expensive classic car and runs into Roger, the man who plays Billy. Stuart’s there because he’s opened offices and wants to become a producer – a somewhat indulgent ambition of a man who comes from a lot of money. And he wants Roger to drop down sometime, having praised his talent in the past.

Sakelik sneaks back into the crime scene where Bert was killed and finds her partner already investigating. He wants to double check since they rushed through the scene so quickly. She tries to downplay it, it’s just a home invasion, but he’s not convinced. He doesn’t think Bert was wealthy enough to justify it – and it’s too neat, everything is set up too perfectly for a textbook home invasion. He continues to push for more investigation but she shuts him down. He doesn’t look satisfied or like he’s going to let it drop.

Skye and Jeff check the file which is definitely about her. It’s not a criminal record, it’s a report on an abandoned child, abandoned at the age of 14. But there are lots of photos of other kids that are not related to Sakelik’s abandonment – and why would Sakelik be so eager to have the file destroyed all of a sudden. Looking for a connection they plan to track down the other kids’ names – and they find an address.

In a video shop, a man in a wheelchair, Lewis, is putting away videos when Sakelik – who he calls Rosalind – arrives. He doesn’t seem thrilled to see her, assuming she’s done something . They sit down over a tea and, visibly upset, she tells him she murdered a man, a completely innocent man. She says she did it for them, to send a message to someone who was “threatening what we are doing.” She’s upset and grabs his hand, he touches her with an equally shaking hand and asks what Stuart had said – she hasn’t told him. She’s also certain they’re close – it’s almost here.

Skye and Jeff arrive at the address, finding the house unchanged despite 25 years, now owned by Annabelle Cruson. They find quickly that she knows little about the history or previous owners of the house and she has no neighbours. Yet while she claims ignorance, we see she has a tattoo on her arm of 3 lines, not the Cult square.

Back to the show – Billy is making a big speech about some children’s initiative he’s pushing while Kelly and Paz search his car – and find the blonde hair her nephew told her about – the hair she deliberately cut to hide in the boot of his car when they were both trapped inside to prove she was there. Which means Kelly has a chance to take Billy away.

In the real world, Annabelle goes to Lewis to tell him about Jeff and Skye’s visit and she’s worried about what Rosalind has done to attract attention. He’s watching a home movie of them together at a house, including Sakelik, he says she protected them, the younger ones. But Annabelle talks about what she’s “capable of” and what she did “that night”.  She bares Lewis’s arm showing the same 3 line tattoo and talks about worrying Sakelik is going to snap. He talks about how they’re all haunted by the past (her buying the house, Lewis watching the old movies). Lewis tells her that Rosalind confessed to murder – which horrifies Annabelle and even Lewis’s appeal to what Stuart is doing doesn’t move her, until he says it’s happening at last, what they’ve always wanted and her hands shake.

Skye and Jeff do some research into the house and find there were lots of complaints about it back in the day – particularly that it had too many occupants, huge numbers of kids. A commune – or possibly a cult. They put the pictures of all the kids up on the Cult walls and they notice the house was called Moon Hill – something Annabelle insisted she named it when she moved in 2 years ago and they connect her to one of the kids.

Meanwhile Detective Zavala, Sakelik’s partner, talks to her ex-partner who had asked to be reassigned. He clearly has concerns about her, talking about a weird vibe and getting uncomfortable when Zavala asks if she’s capable of cooking a crime scene. The ex-partner shuts up and shuts down when he notices Sakelik watching him. Sakelik gets distracted because Lewis has come down to see her, to tell her about the people visiting Annabelle. He also tells her he tried to explain things to Annabelle but she didn’t understand – which doesn’t surprise Sakelike since he describes Annabelle as having run away from them, abandoned them.

Methinks Annabelle doesn’t have long for this world.

At the studio, Roger (Billy actor) meets Stewart again and Stewart gives him the car he so admired. Stewart adds that money is never an object to him – and he hopes that Roger will remember him in the future when considering projects for his company. Though he loves the car, Roger’s a little stunned by the scale of the gift.

Jeff and Skye arrive back at Moon Hill House, in the night and Skye can see the words carved in the door under the paint, as they were in the old pictures of the house. Annabelle arrives from the woods – with a rifle. She lowers the gun when they tell her they know she was there – she ran into the woods with a gun when he saw the headlines, afraid of who could be coming. He asks if she were part of a cult but she said it was a family, fully of love for all the abandoned kids, at first anyway. But one morning they woke up and all the adults were gone – just 20 kids; someone had to take over and that was Rosalind. Annabelle is still afraid of her – saying she could be very cruel.

On the show, Billy is in a cell and Kelly interviews him and tells him about the hair that DNA has matched to her sister. He claims he loves Kelly and asks why she left and she says he’s a lie and she now has him – but she’s willing to drop it if he’ll give her her sister back. At which point his lawyer arrives and she says he’s free to go – but she keeps the hair and tells him it’s not going away until she gets her sister back.

Back at Moon Hill, Annabelle describes how they started to steal for food – and then for anything they wanted and that Rosalind said they had to target the homes of the rich – and leads them to a statue in the gardens. Pushing it aside there’s a box hidden underneath, inside in a plastic bag is some papers including a map to movie star’s home. Annabelle refers to a well known murder of an actress, Olivia – whose home they robbed not realising she was home. Olivia’s blood is on the map.

They hear noises in the woods – and a gunshot followed by Annabelle collapsing. Skye and Jeff run to the car – and Sakelik emerges from the woods to shoot the prone Annabelle repeatedly in the head; Jeff and Skye drive off.

Y’know Sakelik, to keep the body count down you may want to shoot Jeff and Skye rather than everyone they talk to. For efficiency’s sake.

At Skye’s work, Peter searches her desk and work area. Not finding anything he calls Steven Ray, the show’s writer, to tell him he found nothing of interest and assure shim he’ll keep his eyes open for anyone who seems too curious.

Jeff and Skye discuss the ruthlessness of Sakelik, but that she’s still the only one who knows where Nate is. They have the map, but no corroborating evidence – but Skye adds that 4 kids were there when Olivia was killed, so there’s 2 more witnesses. To add extra confusion they see one of the 25 year old photos of the show with all the kids – and a car. The exact same car as is used in the show – even with the same license plate.

I’m glad to see some more emotion to Sakelik than just anger and threat – and some more depth to who she is especially with her engaging in murders and such overt threats. But that extra side to her I also further turning her into a menace – and not just a practical menace, but a strong suggestion of her being a murdering sadist.

I’m also glad to see the introduction of a disabled character to the show apparently playing an important role in whatever is going on.

Which is… I still don’t know – in fact I know less with each passing week, the plot is going from complicated to convoluted and slightly annoying. It’s also lost the creepy menace that made Cult such an eye opener to me when it started. In the first few episodes they were creepy, even chilling. The whole reason why we’re following this is the creepiness seemed indicative of a supernatural element. Now, it seems like we have less and less creepiness and more and more convolutedness. It’s less arcane, less unreal, more complicated yet more mundane – it’s less twisted, but more tangled.

And it’s not helped by Skye and Jeff pursuing the most incredibly convoluted of leads. The address of someone found in a 25 year old file of detective Sakelik relating to when she was a child?

The waters can only get so muddy before you have to clear some things up.