Season 1, Episode 3: “Black Stockings”
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Written by David Chiu & Patrick Wall
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Echoes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Passing Notes” – click here
June 2009, Ithaca, NY. A couple were running on a wooded path. Suddenly, the husband started believing his wife wasn’t her anymore, that she was an “impostor” who was trying to “destroy him.” He had Capgras Syndrome. He cut his wife’s throat, killing her. Hearing Aaron Mahnke narrate is one thing, hearing the killer himself and seeing his picture is another thing altogether.
100 years before, that wasn’t so crazy, to think somebody could take another’s place. This takes us back to Ireland for another episode of Lore.
In 19th century Ireland, “magic and superstition” were often the cause. Specifically, the changelings. We go to 1895, Ballyvadlea, a village in Ireland. Bridget Cleary (Holland Roden) was what you’d call a “modern woman.” She lived with her husband Michael (Cathal Pendred) who worked for the local creamery. She sewed, tailoring clothes that helped she and her husband do better than most in their area.
Of course, back then, a woman like Bridget drew rumours. That she was stepping out with another man. Her own husband listened to them, too. But that was no bother, she was her own woman. Michael worries about the changelings, that she’s temping them by going to a place linked with her mother, that they could take her away. Not only that, he’s quite possessive, as men so often get. Also, that’s part of the Irish cultural tradition: a man owned his wife.
Lots more superstition surrounding Bridget, driving Michael further into the belief his wife’s been stolen by the changelings. Jack Dunne (Richie Stephens) and the others do nothing to deter that belief. Meanwhile, Bridget’s terrified they’re turning her into a fairy herself. As it is with misogyny, we learn of the man’s prior abusive tendencies, like nearly burning her face with a poker from the fire once. Her husband is sure this is the eighth day, one more to go.
What will he do? Oh, you know.
“There are no such things as fairies. And if Ireland is ever going to become a part of the world, they need to go away.”
The men plan to force feed Bridget a cure. They hold her down, even dear ole dad, and Michael asks the changeling to let his wife free. All gripped by folktales and cultural misogyny. When it won’t work, they decide on using a remedy meant to be used on the verge of day nine.
So Bridget pleads with her husband, playing to his superstitious mind, saying anything she can to try thwarting him and the patriarchal plans of the village men. Anything to save herself. Ultimately, day nine came, and Michael had untied her. Father Ryan came around for a bit of mass. They tried relying on faith.
Except the husband wasn’t strong enough to have a strong woman such as Bridget as a wife (unlike Annie Oakley, whose husband Frank was beyond loyal to her and proud, too). He couldn’t handle her free spirit. It wasn’t long until he reverted to the superstitions.
He beat her, slamming her around the house. Then he lit her on fire in front of everybody, burning her while she was still alive. The Fairy Trial put Michael in the international eye, giving way to ugly Irish stereotypes.
“Are you a witch? Or are you a fairy? Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”
Another fantastic slice of Lore! God, they do such justice to Mahnke’s podcast and accentuate the strongest elements of his narration, adding in the scenes, plus those bits of montage from pictures to animations and everything else. One of my favourite new shows.
“Passing Notes” is next.