Lore – Season 2, Episode 1: “Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science”

Amazon’s Lore
Season 2, Episode 1: “Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Carlos Foglia

* For a recap & review of Season 1 episodes, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Elizabeth Bathory: Mirror, Mirror” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 9.28.58 PMThis episode is based on the Burke and Hare murders.
We begin in Edinburgh, Scotland— perfectly fitting, it’s October. The year’s 1827. In a graveyard, a bell rings at one of the graves, and the cemetery caretaker went to try digging the person up, assuming they were alive. Except he fell into a hole below, where he saw someone dragging a corpse away through a tunnel.
Two lads, William Burke (Emmett J. Scanlan) and William Hare (Emmet Byrne), were Irish immigrants, each a “secondclass citizen” in their own right to many around them. They spent their time drinking at the pub and looking for ways to get ahead.
When they were collecting on a debt from a man called Sholto MacDonald (Stuart Bowman), they were made a “business proposition“: steal bodies “in the name of science” to make money. Dr. Robert Knox (Doug Bradley a.k.a Pinhead[!!!]) needed corpses on which to experiment, and Sholto felt his two Billies were the right lads to help him get the job done. After getting home from the pub, the Billies discovered their pal Donald had expired. Instead of calling a doctor, they decided it was time to make a bit of cash. Didn’t even have to rob any graves!
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 9.33.43 PMBurke and Hare went over to the doc’s residence, where they dropped off Donald. It was a perfect specimen for Dr. Knox. The man of medicine – a Scotsman – wasn’t a big fan of the Irish, as evidenced by his patronising talk. Regardless, the two friends were paid for their time, and thus began their careers as professional body snatchers.
We get a nice slice of historical misogyny and domestic abuse in between scenes from Punch and Judy. This was a puppet show for children, going to show how some things in society have been ingrained for centuries into the minds of the young. No wonder domestic abuse, even to this day, isn’t taken as seriously as it should be when kids were taught to laugh at a husband beating his wife. Pretty telling how the man’s name is Mr. Punch and his wife is simply Judy.
At the pub, Burke started chatting up a woman coming down with a terrible case of “consumption,” Abigail Simpson (Andrea Gordon). This wasn’t for the companionship, of course. It was a way of not having to rob any graves yet. Why go digging when you can help a woman drink herself to death who’s already “all but embalmed“? Hare wasn’t as eager to finish her off, so Burke was the one to finally smother her to death. True ghouls, willing to commit murder to support themselves financially. When they went to Dr. Knox, they weren’t received so well, given the state of the body. The doc has to be able to show an “operating theatre” his surgical procedures, he can’t have mangled corpses. They kept up a deal, though it didn’t help Knox treated them like scum for being Irish.
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 9.43.42 PM

“You only get six pounds, and a free lesson in what we in Scotland consider the work ethic.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 9.52.09 PMAt the pub, Daft Jamie (Niall Wright) is accosted by a young woman called Mary (Hannah Morrison). Everyone runs her out. Burke and Hare head off with her, paying for a good time. Only this is another of their get rich quick schemes. Burke in particular is hands on, unafraid to get nasty to secure their next corpse, and he leads Hare into helping smother Mary to death.
On and on it went, as the two lads from Ireland found more victims. So much so the word ‘burking‘ came to refer to “murder, as by suffocation, so as to leave no or few marks of violence.” The man BECAME A VERB! Every corpse was another way for Dr. Knox to practise his craft, showing Scotland his skills as a surgeon. Burke and Hare became well known around the city. They were legends in the pubs, amongst the ladies and alcoholics alike. And every last person became a price tag to them.
The crimes were starting to take a toll on Hare, whose participation in the crimes was no less involved than his partner, but whose conscience continued calling out to him at every turn. He and Burke were dividing, yet bound together by their shared murders and fleshy capitalism. The two men were suddenly looking at one another in a very different, murderous light.
One night the lads stumble onto Jamie passed out. They go to try and smother him, and he fights back. The two men fight him off, and Burke chokes him out eventually. All their murders were hideous— none more hideous than this one. The juxtaposition of them defending his honour against Mary and their murder of him later is chilling.
Dr. Knox was not pleased. He couldn’t use a disfigured body like that of Jamie’s, so he sawed off the young man’s bad foot and his head, making the pair dispose of those bits while he made use of the remaining corpse. No payment, either.
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 10.15.09 PMWhen Burke’s cousin Margaret Docherty (Sinead Phelps) was in town, he invited Hare out with the two of them for a drink. The three sat around for a drop of whiskey. Gradually, Hare realised this woman wasn’t actually his friend’s cousin. He raged at his pal for dragging him back into the business he wanted no more part of, feeling the weight of the murders they’d committed crushing his soul. Nevertheless they killed Margaret quietly.
It wasn’t long before coppers came for the two body snatchers. It was a relief to Hare, who actually told the police about what happened to Margaret. He was given immunity. Burke was hanged for the murder in 1829. His body is still on display at the University of Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum— ironically, the most valuable remains in Scottish history. Go figure.
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 10.21.34 PMScreen Shot 2018-10-18 at 10.29.45 PMA fantastic opening episode for Season 2 of Lore! Aaron Mahnke is great, I love his podcasts, but Father Gore’s glad this season is going more for the dramatisations – at least so far – instead of too much of the narration and other jumping around. If you want to hear a different take on these episodes, you should seek out the podcast, if you don’t already listen. It’s enjoyable to see the podcast and TV series become two wholly different entities.
“Elizabeth Bathory: Mirror, Mirror” is next.

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