13 February 2015

Dark Shadows: Bloodlust v

Wowee. Will Howells and Alan Flanagan have been giving us some highly enjoyable setup over the last four episodes that has helped build up a solid idea of the world Dark Shadows comes from and lives in - one of screams in the night, men in the shadows and the supernatural lurking on the periphery all the while. But now Joe Lidster takes all that, tears it up, puts it back together and apparently kills off two main characters.

From what we knew of Amy Cunningham up to this point, we had no real reason to think any more of her than her husband did. Sure, she had history with Collinsport (although that stayed a mystery to newbies of course) but she seemed like a satisfied housewife. Now we know that she is so much more though. Breaking free of the shackles Andrew tried to force on her, which we saw as recently as the last episode, she forces him to face up to the consequences of his actions. It was clear from the start that there was more to Andrew than met the ear, but we learn here that moving to Collinsport was a move a long time in the planning. In fact, the marriage at the heart of Bloodlust was one of convenience only.

Casting him out into the night, Amy, Harry and Tom (now an adult) make for the cave at the bottom of Widows' Hill to confront Angelique Bouchard. Or more accurately, the former goes to try and undo her husband's wrongs, and the boys pursue in the hope of stopping her. The scenes in Bouchard's hideout are as intriguing as ever, and leave two questions in the mind of this reviewer. Firstly, where was Trask (deliberate fan-baiting on the part of the writer, no doubt)? And secondly, in the wake of the closing murders, was Angelique's comment about what was to come simply a foretelling or something more sinister? Questions that will undoubtedly be answered, but you can also rely on not getting anything for a good while yet.

Turning our attention for the mob arguably at the forefront of this mini-series, there's a lot else going on in midnight Collinsport. By necessity, some characters are conspicuous by their absence (the Tates spring to mind). It serves the story most favourably though, and so setting it at night not only fits the twisted events Lidster has planned for the cast, but also adds another layer of atmosphere. The plot following Kate and Frankie was very interesting, especially for someone new to the series. For long-term fans, it must've been a great treat, and surprise, to get so many explicit references to the past, but I never felt lost. The way the writer subverts your expectations during the couple's seminal scene is worthy of top television drama and I especially liked how Frankie's "You need help." was more of an offer than a closing statement. Some of the best material from this series so far was included in these moments, and I really look forward to seeing all their secrets laid bare. As if the mine didn't seem odd before, Lidster ramps our suspicion up to eleven.

Elsewhere, Ed's finally plucked up the courage to tell his mother about Susan's return. She of course doesn't believe him, and so rings Frankie for assistance. The simultaneous chaos of the situation reminded me of the first episode of Cucumber, with everything that could go wrong, going wrong all at once. This all culminates in one of the most tense passages of audio drama I've heard this year, as an array of characters are all out in the darkness, and before too long two are seemingly dead! Matthew Waterhouse has proved a revelation over the last four episodes, and although his demise seemed almost inevitable given the man's pure nastiness, I didn't expect it to be quite this soon or in this way. I will miss Andrew, simply because he's such a great villain to hate, thanks to all three writers, the directors and Waterhouse's performance. 

But then it seems poor old Mrs Griffin's been bumped off too. The absence of some of our central characters on this fateful night really doesn't help, because it could either be significant, and reason enough to justify their guilt later on, or it could be nothing. Oh, evil writers! Whilst Mrs Griffin wasn't a favourite of mine, I certainly didn't expect her to be next. There's no guarantee of the number of murderers at this stage, but at the moment it seems likely to me there's two. As if all this pandemonium wasn't enough, Quentin Collins turns up at the cliffhanger. I obviously don't know the significance of the character, but the Collinses have been mentioned more times than beer this series (quite a feat) so I'm expecting - even more! - fireworks from now on.

Everything is in flux, and more exciting than ever. This is truly edge-of-the-seat stuff, and it's a tragedy this series will inevitably garner such limited listenership.

Buy it. Buy it now. Click here. Read Joe Ford's review of this episode here.

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