Stan’s The Gloaming
1×07: “The Mark of the Witch”
Directed by Greg McLean
Written by Victoria Madden
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Heathen Dogs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “The Night of the Mothers” – click here
We begin in Van Diemen’s Land, 1851.
A group of British officers were taking a couple Scottish women into custody for “preaching blasphemy,” charged with 21 years imprisonment. The women were beaten and nearly raped, before one of the officers noticed a strange marking on the flesh of one woman’s shoulder— like the tattoo Jenny had and the symbol on the back of Molly’s mirror— then backed off.
Grace has one on her shoulder. She tells Stephanie it’s “the mark of your destiny.”
On the property near Grace’s place, Alex and Lewis watch over a forensics team in the field looking at bones. Meanwhile, Molly and Lily are with a therapist. The daughter’s pretty honest. Their relationship’s tough. Lily makes clear it changed when Molly’s friend Elizabeth was killed. They’re trying to heal. Afterwards, Molly also asks her daughter why she drew on the mirror with the lipstick. Lily says she has no clue about any mark. Who was in the house?
Alex goes back to the hospital to speak with Freddie, who’s continuing to feel / see the Gloamers. The detective can feel their presence, he just can’t see them. He questions Freddie about Grace and whether she was involved in Jenny’s murder, as the girl’s ghost lingers nearby. All Freddie says? “I did it for the children.” Father Gore’s had a theory for a few episodes now, that there’s a sacrificial thing going on, or something equally as creepy, with the children of people from the Star of the Forest Church. And maybe that’s why Freddie killed Dorothy, attempting to somehow stop them. (We’ll see.)
“Only fools chase shadows…”
Further info on Marianne Gowdie. She was born in 1956, has two sisters, Alma and Shirley. The whole family was from “convict stock” and are scattered all over. After Valerie’s murder, the family seemed to disappear. A perfect cut, for Father Gore’s theory, takes us directly to Gareth, who may or may not be Ricky Jones, or at least someone related to him, under a new identity. He’s having troubles with the cops dropping by, serving a search warrant on him, including taking him in for questioning at the station in relation to the death of Jacinta. Oh, mercy! He’s got himself trouble.
Dts. Bennett and O’Connell sit in for an interrogation while Gareth denies everything thrown at him, albeit with the help of his lawyer. After a bit, Alex throws Dorothy’s name out there, then Marianne Gowdie. He brings up the familial match to Marianne, along with the church, and then Valerie, as well. Gareth pleads ignorance and leaves.
Quick flashback to Van Diemen’s Land in 1851.
The Scottish women slaughtered a few British officers. Grace’s current day point about thorns and roses is well taken. Not to mention there’s a clear indication of a long line of witchcraft in Tasmania, deepening the Gothic vibes of The Gloaming. We further see Grace’s “power of retribution” brewing today. She teaches Stephanie a little about her practises and those of their ancestors. Is she plotting revenge on Freddie? Jumping back, we watch the Scottish women hanged at the gallows for all to watch.
Ricky Jones was a foster kid. He and other kids from the area near the lakes all disappeared. Molly notes they were similar to Daisy. There are potentially more. And what about Lewis? He stares at a drawing of Jenny strangely. He was on the case as a young man back then. Was he already a part of the church?
Molly notices the picture of Ricky and realises it’s the same boy in a picture at Gareth’s place. The plot thickens EVEN MORE when they discover “Valerie Gowdie and Jenny McGinty are related.” Their family tree begins to come together from what they already know,connecting Eileen and Grace, who’s Alma.
In the meantime, Lewis is coming clean to Alex about the past. He was a foster child after his parents died, which is how he wound up in the clutches of the Star of the Forest Church through a foster family. He got rid of Jenny’s backpack and dumped it out by the waterfall, where a “day of reckoning” caught up with him recently after Dorothy’s body turned up there.
“They were the riders of the border
between this world
and the other”
Grace is preparing for the winter solstice, “when the world is at its darkest and most dead.” She talks of “the Winter Queen” dropping stones from her basket long ago, which carved out the landscape, from valleys to lakes. She speaks of their ancestors surviving in the hardest conditions the Winter Queen had to offer.
Trouble for Molly when Gareth’s lawyer puts in a formal complaint. She’s being suspended from work, though Lewis tries to do what he can for her legally. He has to rush off after getting word about Freddie, who went into cardiac arrest supposedly. At the hospital, he sees someone who catches his eye. Does he recognise somebody from Star of the Forest? The whole thing leaves Molly in a strange way.
She calls Alex but he’s busy out searching near the waterfall. For what, exactly?
Lewis goes to see Grace, telling her the others know her real identity. She remembers his “searching for salvation” as a younger man in the church. She claims he didn’t have enough faith like the others. It’s more than obvious Lewis sort of fell into it all, never actually wanting to be part of the church. Grace tells him he’s served his purpose for the church: “We don‘t want you anymore.”
In the woods, Alex recalls the day he and Jenny were heading up to that old house. And that’s where the path beyond the waterfall brings him once again. He sees all the markings, the strange occult shapes in the trees. All the memories start coming back to him— that statue out front is also the statue we see standing there 150+ years ago in Van Diemen’s Land— and he approaches the door.
Inside, more memories come back. He remembers coming to with a bag on his head and his hands tied. He walked through the hall to that familiar blue door from his nightmares. Now, he comes to the blue door again. Behind it is William, wearing a terrifying wicker mask, like the one the person who killed Jenny wore. Alex is in a bad way. So’s Molly when Gareth sneaks into her house and knocks her out cold.
“You really shouldn’t have come back here”
Another wild episode. Probably the best so far. The story all coming together is excellent, but there’s more to it yet, which savours things right to the last drop. Will this all clue up as one season? Or will we get more of Victoria Madden’s wonderfully eerie, engaging, and powerful Tasmanian Gothic? Here’s to hoping for the latter!
“The Night of the Mothers” is next.