28 January 2015

Dark Shadows: Bloodlust iii


The plot thickens...

Being completely honest, I did find this episode quite difficult to follow, but not because of any incomprehensible scripting; it is purely my lack of experience regarding Bloodlust's characters. If they weren't named explicitly, it often took me a while to work out just who was speaking. 

But that aside (the quality of the episode won't be judged on my ineptitude, don't worry!) this was a very satisfying episode. Whereas the first two episodes laid the foundations for the series, Alan Flanagan's third instalment kicks things up a gear and starts weaving plots that look set to shape the rest of the series. We're still learning more about our environment though, with characters and locations being introduced.

What a piece of work Andrew Cunningham is. It turns out in this episode that he has brought his family to Collinsport not on the promise of a job (which he is immediately dissatisfied with) but in order to seek out the witch Angelique Bouchard, in the hope of forcing her to massage his financial situation somewhat. You can tell already that he's used to getting his own way, making a big song and dance when he doesn't. The laddish performance Matthew Waterhouse gives is perfect for the role, and any reservations I may have had about the differences between Andrew and the rest of his family are entirely remedied by the assurance they were deliberate. 

The scene in the cave really is the backbone of this episode, with most of the strong material heralding from it. I especially enjoyed Harry's conversation with Angelique, which highlighted a depth to the character perhaps we weren't afforded up to now. In fact, that is a particular area of strength for this episode. Whilst it is concerned primarily with advancing the plot of the series, it achieves this through a series of character examinations, by putting Bloodlust's players in situations out of their comfort zone.

Another storyline I'm enjoying hearing develop is that of Mike and Amy. Of course, it was structured last time so that the revelation they were already acquainted made it seem like there was a malevolent streak in the widower. After this episode though, I'm utterly convinced there's nothing of the sort going on. Playing on similar themes of grief is Ed Griffin's story, the difference being he can still communicate with his dearly departed. This is sensitively handled and played for real. Although this kind of thing has been done before, it's intriguing it should occur here soon after the murder of an innocent (?).

The case really has been thrown open now. Anyone (the Cunninghams, minus Andrew, and Mike aside) could be the killer. The references clearly implying vampiric connections could be be red herrings, but I accidentally read that Barnabus Collins was a vampire whilst reading the Big Finish forums... Could these things be related? Whilst few motives are currently known, there is certainly the means and opportunity for practically any of our leading characters to have murdered Melody. This is turning into quite the intriguing mystery. It's when characters start giving each other false alibis that the shit really hits the fan, so I look forward the chaos of the coming weeks.

I'm aware that Angelique is some kind of big villain from the original TV show, so her showing up here must have been quite the thrill for the seasoned Dark Shadows fan. Whilst I couldn't enjoy the moment in that respect, I could still sense a tangible tension that arrived with the character. I might sound like a broken record but the lack of sound design (beyond echo/reverb) is really standing out to me. I assume it's a deliberate choice, but it's not one that's working so well for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for the assault on the ears that some productions deliver, just some audible atmospherics. But that doesn't bring this episode down, far from it.

In a Nutshell: The most interesting episode yet as pieces begin to fall into place. I can't wait to see where this is taken next.





The number of ways Big Finish are selling Bloodlust almost exceeds the number of clues dropped in this episode. Check them out hereRead Joe Ford's review of this episode here.

2 comments:

  1. I'm really not hearing this lack of sound design, you seem to be out on your own on that one. I'm hearing loads. In the cave scenes for example - there's echo, dripping water, background whispering,...

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    1. Hi, 'Anon'. I wouldn't want to unfairly criticise anyone, so I'll give the whole lot another listen. It may be my headphones. If I note anything different, I'll be sure to update the relevant posts.

      Apologies to Davy if there's been a miscarriage of justice (ie I wasn't paying enough attention!)

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