Stan’s The Gloaming
1×01: “The Dying of the Light”
Directed by Michael Rymer
Written by Victoria Madden
“And sleeping, dream of ‘morrow‘s mess,
And leave the day to rot and rust,
As, unaware, we take our rest,
The Gloamers, silent, come to us.”
July 11th, 1999 in Highland Lakes, Tasmania.
Two young people— Jenny McGinty and Alex O’Connell— are in the woods. They eventually come out of the trees to an old house where Jenny lived as a child. The place looks ageing and Gothic. Out back is a small gravyard with members of the Belfour family and others buried together. Strange symbols hang in the trees, and the whole property has an eerie atmosphere. Not to mention there’s a masked man wielding a gun. He takes a shot as soon as Jenny catches up with Alex.
Present day. Hobart, Tasmania.
Molly McGee (Emma Booth) is staked out in her car eating takeout chips and keeping her eye on the property of Gareth McAvaney (Martin Henderson). When she sees him leave she sneaks her way inside. An alarm goes off, but she’s able to shut it down. The place is a sprawling mansion. She finds empty, suspicious vials in the kitchen sink. She purposefully moves things around all over the place, like the Manson Family did when creepy crawling. She sees a few official documents for land titles and a business card for Jacinta Clunes (Nicole Chamoun).
Someplace else, Daisy Hart (Markella Kavenagh) is crying, worried about going to jail for something. She’s comforted by Freddie Hopkins (Matthew Testro). She mumbles to herself: “We leave the dead to bury the dead.” She keeps thinking back to videotaping him as he committed what looks like a murder. She rushes off alone, but it’s like she’s surrounded, or chased, by a dark force. Freddie burns clothes and other things, likely with DNA/blood on them.
At home, Molly puts a bunch of items together on a cloth on the table. She hides them, then she tests her memory, writing down everything she can remember. (Possibly worried about early onset Alzheimer’s?) Is someone lurking in her home? A dark shadow appears behind her, watching from the window as she drinks and dances in the yard.
Is it real? Or just a dark shadow of her imagination’s making?
Molly’s a cop. She gets called the following morning to head out to a crime scene in the woods. Near a waterfall, a dead woman is found wrapped in barbed wire. Molly and a couple others take a look at the corpse. She finds a piece of blue wood in the woman’s hand, appearing to have been placed there postmortem. There’s an ID, too: it belongs to Jenny McGinty. Whoa!
What’s the connection?
In a Melbourne art gallery, a grown Alex (Ewen Leslie) stares at a painting: Anguish by August Friedrich Schenck. He soon gets a call from his boss— he’s also a copper. He’s being sent to Hobart. This doesn’t thrill him, considering the macabre history. However, he has no choice, headed home to face his demons. He already can’t shake the memories of Jenny’s murder. And, curiously, he owns a cat called Molly(!!!).
Molly the copper, not the cat, is off to look into Jenny’s ID, going back to the school from which it came. She digs around to see if there are any older staff members who didn’t make it into work. It’s all a dead end, really. There’s something to the headmaster, William Fian (Anthony Phelan). Does he know more than he’s letting on? The mention of 20 years ago seemed to spark something. Father Gore can already tell there’ll be a few red herrings along the way in The Gloaming.
And who are these shadowy figures popping up everywhere?
First, Molly nearly sees one. Then there’s Freddie who DEFINITELY sees a bunch.
When Alex gets to Hobart he stays with his older brother. Curious again: he’s not willing to tell big bro the cat’s name, so there’s definitely a big HMM. Elsewhere, Molly’s gotten a visit from Daisy, obviously a troubled young lady. She does her best to help the girl, even if most of the help doesn’t seem to ultimately help much. She also has a quick run-in with Gareth. He spots her in her car, after finding things displaced at home a little while ago— what’s their connection/relationship? Certainly troubled. He’s likewise got a complex relationship with Ms. Clunes. They’re making big, devious plans.
An awkward reunion for Molly and Alex, meeting at the scene of the old woman from the waterfall’s actual murder, where they’ve found her ID. She’s quite shocked to see him back in Hobart. He clearly knew this was coming eventually. Inspector Lewis Grimshaw (Aaron Pedersen) doesn’t have much sympathy for Molly’s discomfort, sending her and Alex off on a drive together to “catch up.” That’s the worst part of small, isolated places: everybody knows everybody else’s business. Molly has to break the news to Alex about Jenny’s school ID being found at the scene of the murder.
Is it mere coincidence Alex’s been drawn back home after all this time?
At a place called The Door of Salvation, Molly searches for Daisy. She asks Grace Cochran (Rena Owen), who hasn’t seen the young lady. Grace tells Molly to take care of herself, claiming she appears “worn physically and spiritually.” Nice gesture slash not so much. We see Molly’s got a daughter, Lily Broomhall (Josephine Blazier), who’s been coming to The Door of Salvation for dance class. Their relationship’s not bad but it isn’t entirely perfect, either. Molly’s ex Toby (Ditch Davey) is the favourite parent, judging by how Lily stands close to him while avoiding any contact with mom. More troubled histories.
The place where Molly gets her chips constantly is run by Fredie’s mother. There’s a pattern of instability in her life we can see develop throughout the episode: she eats greasy chips constantly, she’s got an obsession with McAvaney for whatever reason, her car’s old and has trouble running, and she generally seems out of sorts, caught in the past. There’ll be more about her possibly damaged psyche as this series unfolds.
Apparently William knew Dorothy Moxley, the woman in the barbed wire. The news reports her identification. This prompts Gareth to make a phone call, contacting Grace. She advises him: “Say nothing.” Oh, my. Not only will there be red herrings, there’ll be plenty of twisted mysteries throughout The Gloaming. What about all that barbed wire wrapped up in Ms. Hopkins’s garage? Did her boy Freddie use that on Dorothy? More on Freddie also shows us more about Lily— she has a secret life online as a cam girl.
That night, Molly senses something wrong.
She goes outside to discover Daisy hanged in her shed.
Highly interesting premiere. Victoria Madden already did a fantastic job writing and producing on Stan’s The Kettering Incident, an exquisite show. This series has begun with much Gothic, grim, and mysterious excitement. Onward!
“Hell’s Black Grammar” is next.