18 February 2015

Dark Shadows: Bloodlust viii


Although on the face of it a quieter episode that some instalments of the series so far, Part Eight of Bloodlust is anything but uneventful. Will Howells wisely chooses to explore the implicatiodans of the chaos created by Alan Flanagan and Joe Lidster since his last contribution. I've been led to believe that the original television series was a kind of supernatural soap opera, and Bloodlust seems keen to stick to that remit (even down to the twice-weekly releases).

Adhering to soap conventions, we're allowed a character-based episode that begins the cross-examination to kick start the final act of the series. Despite the fact the (former) figurehead of the family has been bumped off, the Cunninghams are still very much at the heart of the series I feel. Harry's secret (surely what Angelique was referring to previously) is relatively unexpected, but the seeds have clearly been sown throughout earlier episodes, particularly in some of Andrew's dialogue. Although Amy pleads her innocence over the voodoo doll, I'm still in two minds. There's something about her that doesn't quite fit, and she is awfully keen to leave Collinsport. For fear of being discovered? We'll have to see... And Tom's transformation will surely prove to be dramatic (and fatal for at least one character) in the next episode. 

Given that this is an episode focused more on character and interaction than incident (although there is still a healthy amount of that, it should be noted) it seems a good time for me to deal Bloodlust's strong cast due credit. All are now at the stage where they're delivering consistently excellent performances, and the regulars all seem comfortable in their roles. I must single out a few members of the cast for individual praise though, so strong are their performances. As Reverend Isaiah Trask, Jerry Lacy has been quite superb. At first, he was an outsider in almost every sense, but since we've learned of his devotion to Angelique, Trask has really become quite likeable - even more so in the wake being attacked. Indeed, in the opening portion of this episode I found myself warming to him, something I wouldn't have expected at all three or four episodes ago. It is of course quite hard to warm to him in the latter half though...

Also deserving of especial credit are Lara Parker (Angelique) and Stephanie Ellyne (Amy). The former is effortlessly overwhelming as the banished witch, and the latter is especially good at disguising Amy's true feelings and confusing the listener further still. I love how boundless Bloodlust feels. It's not afraid to defy expectations, quite the opposite, and refreshingly features a lot of powerful female characters without over-stressing the point and offhandedly reveals characters are gay. In this way, it feels so new and exciting. The three writers aren't afraid to upset the balance either, and insecurity is a subconscious theme traceable throughout. This is probably the most innovative and exciting serialised drama Big Finish have ever produced.

Lots to look forward to then, as we enter the final stages of Bloodlust. It's come about so quickly. The series isn't perfect of course, and falls victim to the soap opera trope of wooden acting for the first time in this episode; the nurse not only has a questionable accent but her dialogue sounds like it is being read directly from a script. It's notable as being the only instance so far where I think the acting has let the script down - not that she anything of much significance to say. Or does she? I'm intrigued to find out who this man who was stabbed in the leg is, and his relevance to the mystery. Another question raised by this episode was of who had the power to forbid Angelique from seeing inside Collinwood? The name David Collins has been bandied around a fair bit without the character himself showing up for very long so far, so my money's on him. The town seems convinced there's only murderer and although I am coming around to that viewpoint, I'm still more confident there's more than one culprit. 

We'll see...


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