Ep. 2: “Memento Mori”
Directed by Burr Steers
Written by Jason & Peter Filardi
* For a recap & review of Ep. 1, click here.
* For a recap & review of Ep. 3, click here.
Faith Pringle (Briony Merritt) is having her baby but it comes out with flippers instead of hands and feet. And, of course, we know exactly what this will be blamed on: Chapelwaite, or the Boones in general. At least that’s where I’m sure it’ll be headed, eventually.
We see Rebecca looking through Charles’s things, snooping through a book on a law firm documenting Philip Boone’s correspondence with her father. This is when Charles walks in, catching her in the act. She reveals knowing about her father’s connection to Philip. And Charles doesn’t seem overly concerned about her sneaking around. Probably just as keen to find out more secrets about his strange family.
Rose Mallory (Joanne Boland) is asking around about her husband, who didn’t come home last night. She talks to Daniel in the street, mentioning her husband, and he promises to ask around at work. Meanwhile, Charles has brought his daughter Loa to see a doctor about her rickets. She probably has it due to being born on a ship, the lack of vitamins and such. The doc prescribes “a vitamin rub and elixir.” Charles wonders if there’s not a different treatment, however, conventional Western medicine says no. The Boones continue to face not only resentment but racism from the white townsfolk of Preacher’s Corners who don’t like Charles’s Indigenous children.
Charles goes to see Minister Burroughs, asking if he can address the congregation with “a business proposal” between himself and the town. The minister’s a little reluctant. He suggests coming by one of the church’s social events, like the one later today. A less formal setting than church might work better. Charles takes the time to ask the minister if the latter believes his family was responsible for the illness that took his twins. Burroughs says he doesn’t. When Charles heads off home on horseback he comes upon a ragged woman (Genevieve DeGraves) in the road. She doesn’t say a thing, only bites an apple and moves off the path so he can pass.
At school, Loa shows off her smarts when called in front of the class. But she’s tripped when she goes back to her seat, causing Tane to jump in and pick up for her. Sadly, a bully boy breaks Loa’s necklace, shattering it all over the floor. She gets down to pick up the shells—shells that belonged to her mother—and she starts to scream. Later at home she tells Tane she refuses to stay here.
In town, everyone’s talking about Faith’s child. People wonder who the baby’s child is; Alice talks lots of shit to her minister husband about the mother. Not long after they’re at the church social, where Burroughs pulls a fast one and introduces Charles, who tries to tell everyone about expanding production at the sawmill. Charles plans to build ships for the area; sail and steam ships. He wants to offer prosperity. Some actually seem to want to hear him out. Charles tells him he wants to mend bridges and dispel “old prejudices.” He wants to give “fifty men” top wages to work on starting the shipbuilding. Old Gallup’s suspicious, though a few men appear tempted by the offer of labour for pay.
That evening, Minister Burroughs goes to see Faith and the baby. He comforts her. A bit too much. Because he’s the father! Goddamn. It’s not being blamed on the Boones. Faith thinks God is punishing her for prior sins, but the minister doesn’t believe his God would do that. She says there “are other gods,” not only the Christian one. Burroughs thinks he and Faith can love the child together. She wants to leave, go somewhere with him and the baby. But he says they’re safe. Faith knows different about Preacher’s Corners and the dark hearts of the people who live there. We see how they treat Indigenous children. No telling how they’d treat a child with a facial difference, et cetera.
More important than anything, what’s going on at Chapelwaite? Who’s the creepy, shadowy man skulking around in the children’s rooms? Charles is busy having a drink with Rebecca. He talks about the exploitation of the whaling industry, hoping to share the profit from his upcoming sawmill venture. Rebecca knows all too well about “the paradigms others set” for the individual, particularly as a woman. She expresses her desire to support herself from writing fiction.
Late that night, Charles hears strange noises; scratching everywhere. He also can’t shake his traumatised nightmares of a psychotic father: “Blood calls blood.” He sees the woman from the road: “The worm is calling.” Then he beats on the walls, trying to stop the rats or whatever else is crawling around inside them. Outside, someone knocks on the door. Charles, the children, and Rebecca all go together to answer it. The person outside tries turning the doorknob, trying to get in. Charles sees it’s a child, opening the door to let them inside. It’s Susan Mallory, the sick girl from town. She keeps asking for her papa. She suddenly comes to, unaware of where she is, and Rebecca rushes her off back to town with no thanks from Rose.
While Rebecca talks with the children downstairs over breakfast the next morning, Charles is shaving and feels something in his nose. A worm drops out of Charles’s orifice. Then he feels more. He digs in his nose, pulling a worm out of his nasal cavity. He starts taking a straight razor to his nose as if compelled, mutilating himself But then, it’s gone; just a nightmarish vision courtesy of Chapelwaite. What a horror. In town, Faith sees the woman Charles saw in the road outside her house. Afterwards she gets a visit from Alice asking about the father of the child. Women in town are worried someone’s husband was tempted. Ironic that it’s Alice asking when it’s her husband who fathered the boy.
Charles visits a man named Joseph Palmer (David Rossetti—Tommy Bean from Trailer Park Boys) who works with steel and leather. He’s trying to get a contraption made. He also hears from Joseph about why the town is difficult to deal with, but he insists on giving things a try anyway. Then Charles gets chastised by Rose, accused of luring Susan to Chapelwaite and having done something to her husband. He runs her off, though she’s made quite the scene. Nobody comes to sign up with him and Gallup’s there to gloat about it, as well.
All Hallow’s Eve is upon Chapelwaite. Honor and Tane want to have a celebration. They’re even going to head back into town, despite Charles having a shitty day. Loa’s not that excited about any Halloween celebrations; she hates Preacher’s Corners. Her father brings something that might make her feel better. The contraption he had Palmer make was a new brace for his daughter; it’s less clunky, lighter, easier to move. He fits the brace on Loa and she’s a bit less reluctant about going out.
Preacher’s Corners is celebrating Halloween. Constable Dennison is off to patrol the town as evening comes and the streets are full of monsters, mostly just a lot of kids with bags on their head, considering it is the mid 19th century and it’s a working class to poor town. But the kids are having fun; all that matters. The Boone kids do their best to enjoy themselves, too. Though they’re fast attacked by racist kids. Able sticks up for them, allowing Honor to slap one of the kids in the face, sending the boy running.
At the Mallory home, Susan’s on her deathbed and she mentions Stephen Boone, to the shock of her mother and Minister Burroughs. She says they “have to wait,” that “my friend Stephen” will bring daddy home. Oh, my… that’s going to cause some shit. Soon as Susan dies her mother shambles into the streets, yelling about Stephen, claiming he’s returned. Rose wants Stephen’s body dug up. She says the family made “an unholy pact.” The constable calms everyone by firing his gun, ordering Halloween over.
At home, Constable Dennison’s wife Mary gets attacked by… someone.
Back at Chapelwaite, Charles rushes the kids inside with Rebecca. They’re on high alert. Charles goes out to Stephen’s grave himself, digging to find out the truth himself, one way or another, undead or not. He opens the coffin to see there’s nothing inside, just a velvet-lined box.
“Isn’t that what ambitions are, a form of madness?”