12 February 2015

Dark Shadows: Bloodlust iv

What an interesting episode. With tempers well and truly frayed, and more grudges than you can grind an axe at, I'm becoming more and more convinced we'll see another murder before the first half of this series is out. 

I can't help but feel it'll be Andrew Cunningham who'll meet his maker before too long either. The Cunninghams are quickly becoming the central characters of Bloodlust, and the more the father of the family is built up, the more inevitable it seems he'll soon get his comeuppance. Any opinions listeners may have formed about the slimeball in previous episodes are reaffirmed here. Although he has a good eye for a one-liner ("Hardly your greatest trick considering I said I'd be here."), there is undoubtedly too big an ego between those ears. He's condescending of his wife, attempts to control Angelique, and as always, more concerned about Tommy than Harry. I can't wait for this toe-rag to get what's coming.

However, Amy may not be as squeaky clean as she'd like us to think. With an ominous line about not being a good girl, and her history in Salem once again rearing its murky head, she's one of the most intriguingly-written characters for my money. The cracks in the relationship (which, for us, is only two episodes old, but I can already tell how the last few years have gone) are there for all to see as the new mother begins digging around in Andrew's past. As we found out in Part Three, his motives for coming to Collinsport were entirely self-interested. He came to extract money from Angelique, leaving his old job in a hurry and his boss in the lurch. This man certainly knows how to make enemies.

And the way this episode ended... It succeeded in making me want to stick the next one on straight away!

Elsewhere in the town that time tries to forget, there's some really nice character work as Frankie learns the truth of Susan's current existence. There's clearly history with these two, deliberately unspoken. By that token, I look forward to their secrets being exposed in about three or four episodes' time. The implication of course is of infidelity, but given this is Dark Shadows, I don't expect such a straightforward explanation. The way Ed tells him the news, and the way Frankie handles it, felt refreshingly unclich├ęd, in a moment which almost any writer could knock-out a much poorer incarnation of in their sleep. I look forward to seeing how the relationship between these three characters (one of whom is dead!) develops in future episodes.

It's good to see the police investigation ticking on too. It's hard not to make the comparison, but the way Rhonda is conducting her investigation mirrors what I've seen on fan sites and the Big Finish forums. She attempts to minutely pinpoint everyone's location at the crucial moment, and comes up with three unrelated lead suspects: Trask, Kate Ripperton and Ed Griffin. I've seen some listeners come to the same conclusion, and it's a tribute to this show's television run and Big Finish's revival that it has such a dedicated following. I suppose given we're nigh-on a third of the way through this serial's runtime, I ought to have a guess at the murderer's identity. With all we know about the characters so far, I'd say that of those we've met, Jackie Tate actually seems the most likely.

I think Trask and Mike Devereux are the more logical culprits, but for different reasons. Trask is clearly being built up to be a creepy old man (a direct quote) with supernatural abilities, saving Angelique from Andrew. And from what I've learned of murder mysteries, never trust the one person it can't be. In this case, no-one's even considering that Mike may've had anything to do with it, thus sending him up my list. Jackie seems to have another layer to her that we're not seeing, and her penchant for going out late when she's not supposed to doesn't help her case. It would be quite a Broadchurch-style twist too, with the investigating officer not realising the murderer was living under her roof. I'm using a bit of the same reasoning as before here too, because no-one has even suggested the notion that either of the teenagers that were in Collinsport on that night might be involved.

No doubt the opening seconds of Part Five will cause me to change my mind completely.

This is a very sound production too. David Darlington's effectively created a world with its own sonic identity that even after just four episodes is immediately recognisable. His score is evocatively unnerving and suits the script of Will Howells down to the ground. One thing that's undeniable about this series is that it gives the impression of a very consistent brand. Each episode belongs to the same world, carved out in its own little corner of the universe. It's thanks to the way everybody embraces extraordinary tone of Dark Shadows that it works so well. 

I think in narrative terms the most exciting scenes in this episode are those in the cave, with Andrew and Angelique. The power games played between the pair don't bode well for any future encounters. Of course, if Andrew does survive long enough, one interesting way of developing the relationship would be to turn it on its head and force these two into a situation where they have to work together. Either way, I can't wait to see what's next. Perhaps most revealing is the moment when Trask frees Angelique and suddenly Cunningham cowers in terror, apologetic and repentant. A gripping addition to the series, and I look forward to seeing where Joe Lidster takes over the next fifty minutes - especially after that cliffhanger. 

Buy Bloodlust here. That's not an invitation. Read Joe Ford's review of this episode here.

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