BBC One’s Requiem
Episode 5: “Bessie”
Directed by Mahalia Belo
Written by Kris Mrksa
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Blaidd Carreg” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “Carys” – click here
4 weeks ago. Sylvia Walsh (Tara Fitzgerald) sees her TV snap on suddenly to an interview with cellist Matilda Gray (Lydia Wilson). The woman calls somebody telling them: “I‘ve found her.”
Back to the current moment when Matilda and Nick Dean (James Frecheville) have just stumbled onto the yellow flower wallpaper beneath the newer wallpaper in an upstairs room of the big house. A little later Stephen Kendrick (Brendan Coyle) drops by, he’s sceptical that there’s a link from the drawings to Carys, but he says he’s on her side.
Meanwhile, Hal Fine (Joel Fry) and Trudy Franken (Sian Reese-Williams) are getting much closer, bonding over music. This is when Hal gets a call from Cath back in London about Matilda’s birth certificate. Then he has it sent to his phone instead.
Later, Matilda goes to see Laura (Anastasia Hille) and tells her the things Bessie says are real. The woman’s been afraid it’s all just mental illness. Matilda convinces her not to take her medication, and let Bessie “come back.” God, that’s irresponsible, yet we know the voices are, in fact, real. Matilda takes Laura over to the Dean house, up in that room with the wallpaper. Bessie begins whispering, and what she says spooks Laura terribly. The voice says Carys was locked in that room; a man died in there, too. “The angels” at Blaidd Carreg are not to fear, says Laura. So, what IS to fear, then?
Hal goes to the house. He sees the smashed cello and starts worrying more about his friend. Matilda keeps talking about John Dee and the angels. Hal confronts her about the birth certificate, which states she is Matilda Gray. She refutes, claiming it’s “fake.” Naturally he’s livid. He urges her to give all this up, he feels they’re responsible for so much pain in that little Welsh village. Matilda erupts and says some nasty things, so Hal tells her he’s going to put an end to it himself.
Together, Matilda and Nick talk about the night she blacked out. She remembers seeing Sylvia, and she wants to know what the woman did to her. Nick seems adamant he doesn’t know, though we’ve seen the two of them speaking privately; red herring, or no? Hard to tell. Except the opening of this episode shows us that Ms. Walsh knows plenty more than she leads on.
Speaking of secrets, Aron Morgan (Richard Harrington) and Ed Fendton (Dyfan Dwyfor) pack up the former’s vehicle late at night, heading off somewhere together. They’re likely meeting whoever they were talking about in the last episode. Is it drugs? Something more sinister?
At the house, Laura goes into a bit of a fit and starts speaking strangely. It’s less a seizure than it is like a possession. Matilda records the words the woman speaks while convulsing. But they call Dr. Verity Satlow (Pippa Haywood) to help, as well, and the doc is not entirely thrilled Matilda’s talking to Laura.
PC Graves (Clare Calbraith) has kept a close eye on Aron and Ed. She follows them out to the woods. However, these are the same woods where those strange voice-like sounds emanate, everywhere on the air. Graves eventually comes to a building, almost like a barn, not too far from the Dean house. She’s attacked by Aron, but gets the upper hand and cuffs him. Although Ed gets away.
Determined to do more Hal wants to track down Matilda’s father from the birth certificate, a Ronald Gray who lived in Manchester. He also tells Trudy about the photo of Rose Morgan (Claire Rushbrook) and her father Harry (Ifan Huw Thomas). He thinks maybe the whole debacle is actually just about an affair. And this pisses Trudy off. Shit. He winds up finding out more about Mr. Gray – that he’s dead, and his wife + daughter were killed with him in a car crash. Hmm. He goes through some microfiche in a library finding that the Grays are actually dead – Janice Gray, the woman Matilda assumed was her mother, was actually a policewoman named Mary McEwan.
That same day, Trudy asks her father about the night Carys disappeared. Harry tries passing it off, yet his daughter’s not so willing to let it slide. She refuses to give up on it, because for a couple decades she’s been blaming herself for the little girl’s disappearance when there were so many other things going on in that village.
Matilda’s found out that Laura was speaking the Welsh words “pwll halen” which translates to “salt pool” in English. There’s no salt water near the village. There’s actually a caravan site with that name. A clue! They go out to the site, along with Nick. The two women have a look around, but for what? Matilda sees the hermonus hieroglyphica painted on one of the caravans. A man called Stan (William Thomas) tells them about bones being found nearby, belonging to a child; the cops tried claiming it was a sheep. He saw a bracelet on the bones with the hieroglyphica on it. He believes it was the skeleton of Carys Howell.
Poor Ed’s worried, so he runs to Trudy – he and Aron were growing a LOT of weed out behind the Dean home, which is why Morgan was tied up with Ewan. Ah, a few explanations are trickling out. Certainly not everything has to do with missing kids. Nevertheless, the Welsh village has secrets bursting from its seams. Plus, Ed now feels betrayed by Trudy, who’s taken up with Hal. That’s it, though, dude. Snooze you lose.
Up at the house, Matilda’s struggling to connect all the dots in the strange case. She begins wondering if there were two missing children instead of just one. Simultaneously, Hal gets in touch with Kendrick about Mary McEwan. He asks her about the woman; there were complains about her “mental stability,” and she left the village not long after Carys vanished. Hal’s whole story sounds a bit outlandish. But we know the difference, and Kendrick’s willing to entertain the idea. Or did Mr. Fine just walk himself into more danger? Maybe it isn’t corporeal danger, either. Maybe it’s something spiritual. Driving along a lonely road he flips the car after seeing one of the thin ones appearing in his rear-view mirror. Oh my god. They don’t to let their secrets go.
Matilda finds a little bear in the room at the house. She tracks it to a shop, which further leads back to the Satlows. They had a boy who “went into care.” Matilda also gets a call about the car accident: Hal is dead; or, well, he’s gone. No sign of him at the scene.
Simultaneously, we see that Sylvia and Lloyd Satlow (Simon Kunz) have a hand in calling the thin ones to do their bidding; she says they’re going to “call forth” something grand tonight, then quotes a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (perfect for the angelic themes).
But what scares me Little Davey Morgan is being given a bracelet by Ms. Walsh – one with the hieroglyphica. Lord, this is unsettling.
Requiem‘s mystery is relentless, and I love its slow burn. Others can feel differently, that’s fine, but this is one of my favourite supernatural mysteries as of late. Because it takes mythological stuff, occultism, a bit of John Dee, John Milton, and a whole slew of other inspiration, moulding it into one big compelling pot. As always, Lydia Wilson keeps thrilling me, she is magic!
“Carys” – the finale – is next. What’ll happen? Any guesses? Will Matilda a.k.a Carys evolve into an angel and fly away?