Episode 3: “Reveal Their Guilt, Eat Their Flesh”
Directed & Written
by Patrick Graham
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “The Nightmares Will Begin” – click here
Faulad Singh’s been brought to do more interrogation work on Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj). He’s the last resort-type of man. Nobody keeps an eye on him, either. He prefers to work on his own. That doesn’t mean Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) won’t be curious. She hears the sounds of Singh at work, the grunts and the beating. She chooses to go speak to Maulvi. She knows Saeed is “not a human.” Maulvi doesn’t think she’ll believe him even if he talks. The other prisoners urge him to speak. So he tells her of the “Ghul” from “Arabic mythology.” A Ghul – or a “djinn,” a monster – has taken over the terrorist prisoner. These creatures reflect the sin of the beholder. It seems Ahmed called it, so say the others. But the evil spirit’s gone mad.
That’s when Lt. Col. Sunil Dacunha (Manav Kaul) is told over the radio they’ve found Ali Saeed’s body in one of his safe houses. Military personnel tell him the body was “partially eaten,” too. Simultaneously, Maulvi explains how the spirit takes over those whose flesh it eats last. You know what that means? Bye, bye, Singh. Or, at least the Singh the others knew. The djinn’s taking over his form now, unlocking the cells of all the other prisoners in Meghdoot 31. The real Singh is decapitated in the interrogation room. And Nida’s left to confront the Ghul herself. She initiates the alarm before making a run for a different cell block. It’s a terrifying sequence, to see a man the size of Singh inhabited by a evil entity, relentlessly pursuing Nida. She manages to get away, though only barely. That’s ONE HELL OF AN INTENSE SEQUENCE! Christ. Gotta love it. Director-writer Patrick Graham’s done a bang up job creating suspense and tension with atmosphere rather than a ton of jump scares. I love a good jump. All the same, it’s nice when the scare’s earner through a build up instead of a random thing popping into frame. The steady dread watching a possessed Singh come over those stairs? Enough to make a heart stop.
Problem: nobody believes Nida. She knows the Ghul has taken over Meghdoot 31. The soldiers are terrified when they find a “butchered” Singh and a missing Saeed. This is when Major Laxmi Das (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee) decides it’s Nida who’s done everything, believing her a traitor there to “avenge her father.” Weapons get drawn from each side. Dacunha pulls his pistol and Laxmi does the same. The lieutenant colonel orders his men arrest Mjr. Das. But not all the soldiers are on his side, either. They force their superior to drop his weapon, then they take Nida into custody, locking her and Ahmed away in a cell with other prisoners. Oh, shit. This is gonna get real bad.
Nida’s wants to know how to stop the Ghul. We hear the real story of Ahmed, whose family was brutally murdered by the interrogators. Following that he lost his voice. The once fully patriotic Nida is starting to see the full picture of the Force now and her government. She not only sees Ahmed’s story, she sees the story of those interrogated. After the prisoners are interrogated, they’re brought to the very room where she stands to be murdered— the “execution chamber.” She realises her own father’s dead, as well.
Bodies are turning up across the facility. The prisoners in the chamber and Nida try to pile whatever they can in front of the door to stop the soldiers from coming back in. When an “unidentified body” turns up, they understand one of them is the Ghul, it’s taken over another form. Holy shit. This has got the remaining prisoners on edge, turning against one another. In the meantime, Nida takes Ahmed with her, not waiting for anybody else to help her with a way out of that place.
And who has the Ghul taken? The old cleric, Maulvi. As Ahmed and Nida run for it, and the soldiers wait outside hearing the horror inside, the evil entity tears the other prisoners to bloody bits. Then it takes another form, running after Nida. She’s pulled back through the tunnels, leaving Ahmed alone. She reappears moments later. But is she herself? Has the Ghul taken her form?
The Ghul bit Nida earlier, consuming her flesh, yet it left the actual Nida alive, too. We see how the Ghul Nida and Ahmed sneak back through the halls and into the colonel’s office. It’s choosing to protect Ahmed, killing one of the soldiers. Maybe it’s not actually helping. Maybe it’s using Ahmed for its own purposes.
Back with the others, Nida’s interrogated by Laxmi, who wants to know the truth. The woman does not believe in the Ghul. Nida lulls her into complacency, then bites into her. She gets on top of the major, locking her around the neck.
It’s revealed by Laxmi what Saeed said to the captain in the initial episode when they found him: he was repeating Nida’s name, asking for her. The Ghul was summoned by her father. He’s the one we witnessed at the very beginning performing the ritual “out of the smokeless fire of hatred.” I’d not thought of that for a minute. Amazing, and dark as hell. Dig it. This all doubles as allegory, about the horrors war and terrorism bring on normal people, turned against one another – like they are when the Ghul inhabits a person’s form – by their government, believing anybody can be a terrorist, or, to follow through on the metaphorical level, a Ghul.
Nida and Lt. Col. Dacunha, hoping to atone for their sins, are left searching Meghdoot 31’s facilities for the Ghul. They come to the colonel’s office, where soldiers and Ahmed are waiting. One of the soldiers has already killed another, too. Suspicions are high amongst them. Nida tries taking charge, urging everybody to stay paranoid, keeping their weapons drawn in case the Ghul emerges. She then has Ahmed go to the colonel’s tapes, finding her father Shawanaz’s recording. She hears her father speak of her as his “betrayer,” calling for the Ghul. It is the punishment for all the sins within Meghdoot 31’s walls. We hear Dacunha on the tape, ordering a “confused old man” to death knowing full well he wasn’t a terrorist.
Then Nida urges the Ghul to finish its task with her help. She puts out the lights with her shotgun, and everybody cowers in fear. The evil being starts terrorising the soldiers, biting into them. Guns fire off all over the place. Nina takes this chance to bust a window and get herself and Ahmed outside. Dacunha pulls the pin on a grenade inside, killing himself, and, he hopes, the Ghul.
Outside, Nida tells soldiers waiting with guns: “Everyone is dead.” Exactly like the man from the first episode they found in the abandoned building. Not long after, Dacunha emerges, bloody and hurt. Nida tries to tell them it’s the Ghul. Armed soldiers urge her to drop the weapon, or they’ll kill her. Ghul or not, Nida knows the colonel is “a monster.” so she blows his head off and surrenders.
Nida is taken in and obviously nobody will believe her Ghul story. She’s charged with executing a “war hero.” She insists the whole place was corrupt. The authorities insist she’s the one who’s not followed rules. In the end, she’s considered a terrorist, and the “daughter of a terrorist.” Through it all, she’s wound up right where she put her own father.
So, what’s left to do? Summon another Ghul. You bet!
Fuck! I LOVED THIS SERIES! Netflix did great here. Loved the cast, loved the cinematography. The story and directing from Graham was truly top notch. I’d enjoy another extension of Ghoul in some way. Doesn’t have to be a direct sequel series, but I dig the mythology being used, and the end of this one with Nida in the cell is SO DAMN GOOD. I could watch these three episodes over again, back to back. I hope others will enjoy it as much as Father Gore.