Flesh & Blood, Ep. 1: “Thicker Than Water”
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Written by Aaron Martin
* For recaps & reviews of previous seasons, click here.
* For a recap & review of Ep. 2, click here.
25 years ago.
Seamus (Christopher Jacot) was running through the woods and a voice called out behind him. He had his foot caught in a trap, but he was running as fast as he could anyway. He tripped, trying to get the trap off. He couldn’t get free. Then he saw Grace (Rachael Crawford) come from the woods, pleading with her to help him. All she said was “Nice try,” walking off to leave him there. After that Seamus’s sister Florence (Sabrina Grdevich) passed by, taunting him, then joining Grace in a nearby bunker where there’s a gold bar waiting like a prize. Florence tried to grab the gold bar and got shocked. Grace and Seamus then fought over the gold bar. From the woods, Florence heard her boy Theo (Josh Reich) calling out. The boy said someone took his brother Vincent (Judah Davidson) and hit him in the face.
What the hell’s going on? A wild opening.
In present day, Seamus and his wife Christy (Paula Brancati), along with their daughter Aphra (Nataliya Rodina), are headed to a big Galloway family reunion. More of the family’s there, like Florence and her son Theo (Alex Ozerov), as well as his non-binary, lesbian half-sibling O’Keefe (Breton Lalama). We see Aphra eating paint and she bites her mother’s finger when the parents rush over; she has pica. Then the family are headed off to a secluded island, where the bourgeois family patriarch Spencer (David Cronenberg) lives with his wife Grace. We get a glimpse of Spencer and Grace together, as he rails against her “PC bullshit” and makes clear his one concern is money. Soon the family are all there at the big estate, back together again. In the mix is also Liv (Sydney Meyer), daughter of Birgit (Patrice Goodman), the Galloways’ housekeeper, and she’s intent on not becoming part of that family by association. Then there’s Merle (Jefferson Brown), the resident handyman who looks after things around the place. He seems to have an interesting relationship with Grace; a very sensual one. And Aphra’s getting a glimpse of them fucking, too. Ooh, the secrets have begun in this season of Slasher!
Of course while everyone’s trying to enjoy themselves and go about their day, someone creepy’s lurking around.
Poor Merle is the first one to be dispatched, as he meets a gruesome end at the end of a hook.
He’s strung up like prey, except he’s still alive. Then the killer takes a knife to his abdomen and guts him.
We hear a story of “The Gentleman,” a ghost who lives on the Galloway property. He’s an angry ghost, apparently. Not everyone in the family believes in ghosts, such as Seamus. Soon we see Aphra come running for her father, telling him there are bad things going on there. The divide between the husband and wife is obvious, with Christy clearly not having as good a relationship with Aphra as the one the girl has with Seamus. A bit later we see Florence conduct a memorial, in honour of her son Vincent; some New Agey-type stuff that the rest of the family sits through patiently. She then unveils a creepy monument before smashing a couple eggs on her ovaries. Spencer cracks up laughing uncontrollably at the whole thing.
Afterwards, the family’s at the table and Spencer gives a brief speech about the 25th anniversary of Vincent’s kidnapping. He takes this time to tell everybody he’s dying; this is his last weekend alive. He’s decided on “assisted suicide,” with the help of Dr. Trinn (Jeananne Goossen). He has lung cancer and doesn’t want to die the way his first wife did, choosing his own way out. He talks about the game they used to play every year, until Vincent was kidnapped. He wants to revive their game into a “series of games.” Nobody’s thrilled, but then he says the prize is his whole fortune. That’s upsetting to Grace, who wanted everything. Many problems arising from everybody wanting to pick Spencer’s fortune clean. Spencer actually hates everybody at the table, from his original family to the family he built with Grace. He’s challenging everyone to earn their inheritance. Might just turn into a situation like Bava’s Bay of Blood. On top of that, there are potential other things at play, like when Birgit asks Spencer is all his descendants are eligible. They aren’t, but it suggests Spencer likely either had an affair with Birgit or forced himself on her. Is Liv his daughter?
Jump back 25 years ago.
It was the anniversary of Spencer’s wife dying. He was happily continuing a new life with Grace. He wanted to give everybody a “real treasure hunt” by putting up a prize of gold worth $180,000. We also saw Vincent and Theo rushing around, the former claiming his brother wanted to literally kill him. Spencer didn’t like having kids around, so Birgit sent the boys off outside together. The brothers kept on playing in the woods and it’s obvious Theo was a bit of a bully towards Vincent, tossing rocks at him and calling him “pussy” repeatedly. Theo ran off down to the shore, where Vincent soon caught up with him. There, they saw a raft come up near the beach. Two men grabbed Theo, and Vincent tried to fight them off. So, what really happened?
In present day, Theo faces the hateful wrath of his mother who blames him for Vincent’s disappearance.
Dr. Trinn tells Spencer there are other options, that if he’s doubting the procedure they can stop. But he’s prepared to die. She explains the process of injecting the drugs. She tells him about the cocktail used that’ll cease his breathing and eventually his heart. She says it’ll be painless, like falling asleep. Spencer is leaving Dr. Trinn in charge of the competition. And now he’s going to shuffle off the mortal coil. While the rest are preparing for the initial challenge in the competition, Theo’s packing a bag to leave. He’s interrupted by Liv, urging him to be part of the competition because he’ll actually help look after the rest of the family, whereas if Grace wins none of the others will be left with anything. Maybe he’ll stay after all.
As Spencer feels the drugs working away on him he sees a vision of his dead wife, Annette (Maria del Mar). She tells him to go with her, reaching out her hand. He reaches back. But it’s not Annette, it’s someone in a plague doctor-style mask holding a needle. The masked person injects something else into the IV, causing Spencer a great deal of pain. Spencer feels his insides boiling and a hole sinks into his chest, right to his heart.
Everybody goes down to the first challenge and they’re shocked when Vincent (A.J. Simmons) turns up.
“You are all in it to win it.”
Quite the start to this new season.
It’s already nasty, in more ways than one. Plus lots of mystery everywhere.