Ep. 3: “Legacy of Madness”
Directed by Jeff Renfroe
Written by Scott Kosar
* For a recap & review of Ep. 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Ep. 4, click here.
Charles is burying his own son Tane in the ground, alongside his daughters Honor and Loa. He’s piling their makeshift graves high with dirt that’s wriggling with worms. Just a dream, of course. Yet Charles wakes outside in the dirt, his shovel nearby. He’d been digging, just not graves for his children. He’s standing over the empty coffin of his cousin Stephen. Thankfully that’s all he did last night, by the look of it.
Charles goes digging in his desk for a letter from Stephen, who wrote to him before his death, telling his cousin about the trouble between their fathers; this is all why Chapelwaite was left to him in the first place. He’s interrupted by Tane, asking if they’re “safe here.” Then the father and son are further interrupted by a visit from Constable Dennison, coming to suggest the Boones stay out of town for a few days. The copper’s siding with the townsfolk, acting like Charles is somehow provoking people. But Mr. Boone knows that racism and lingering superstitions about his family is all that’s clouding the minds of those in Preacher’s Corners. Yet he somehow also thinks his kids can handle the prejudices they face.
Governess Rebecca does what she can for the Boone children, trying to tell them of the difficulties she faced for being an outspoken, educated woman in Preacher’s Corners. At the same time, Charles goes to speak with Mrs. Cloris at her home. He wants to know more about Stephen’s suicide. Mrs. Cloris says she was the one to find both Stephen and his daughter Marcella; the girl had a pair of scissors in her neck and her father was hanging nearby. Phillip Boone (Julian Richings) didn’t take any of it well, isolating himself, until he walked into the ocean to die as Mrs. Cloris watched helplessly from the shore. Charles thinks Stephen’s still alive, after discovering no corpse in his cousin’s coffin. So, is the old governess of Chapelwaite hiding something? Right now she’s not talking.
When Constable Dennison gets home he discovers a fire nearly started, the house half smoked out, and his wife Mary, pale and sickly, dazed by the window. We know where it’s leading, but what will be the fallout from Mrs. Dennison’s recent nightly encounter with a dark, shadowy stranger? She’s got “the illness,” a vaguely defined sickness in Preacher’s Corners. Surely more ammo for the townspeople to use against the Boones.
Minister Burroughs gets more pressure from Samuel Gallup to help turn people against the Boone family. But he resists. Though is it out of honesty and truthfulness, or is it more because Burroughs is a supposed Man of God who carries with him hypocritical secrets? Either way, he doesn’t want to play into Gallup’s game, which proves to be more about Old Sam’s leftover hard feelings about a land deal with a Boone.
At school, the Boone kids are being expelled because people are scared about the so-called illness. Then there’s Rebecca, getting flak from her mother because people around Preacher’s Corners have been talking about her working for Charles. A terrible place, Preacher’s Corners; full of resentment, racism, xenophobia, and more. Rebecca keeps thinking it’ll all die down, whereas now Charles has begun to believe there may be “something to fear” about Chapelwaite after all. She and Charles are having a talk when men start attacking the house, breaking windows; they’re dressed like the Ku Klux Klan, too. Charles goes out to confront the men with a gun, only to be blindsided by one and beaten. He’s saved by Honor and Rebecca wielding rifles, running the men off. This leaves the men running through the woods, where they get separated. One man crosses paths with the eerie figure we’ve seen before—the one killing and bleeding people, collecting blood.
When Loa wakes in the morning she has the necklace on again, back in perfect shape, and she notices the window’s open. In the meantime, her father’s getting help from Rebecca with the wounds he sustained in his beating the night before. He’s in rough shape, though managed to survive without any severe injuries. He also sees medicine prescribed to his cousin Stephen, finding out about an asylum nearby which Rebecca calls “a terrible place” and advises him against going there. Then Charles receives word from Able that nobody’s come to work. Seems the men are all busy drinking. So Charles fires them on the spot, and he warns that he’ll kill them all if they try to harm his family again. Daniel talks shit, getting a bottle broken over his head for the trouble, as Charles makes clear: you fuck around, you’ll find out.
Where does Charles go next? To the asylum, baby!
He finds a Dr. Frost, who knows of the Boone family. They take a stroll through the horrific institution, listening to the screams of patients ring out through the corridors. Charles tells the doc about opening Stephen’s grave, and the doc already sounds well aware of what he might’ve found. He explains to Dr. Frost about what happened with the child claiming Stephen was alive. The doc tries to tell Charles it’s just “persecution mania.” He says the whole Boone family suffered from various similar issues. He even mentions “the worms,” which the whole family supposedly saw; what the doc calls “vermiphobia.” He warns it’ll consume Charles eventually.
Back home in the barn, Tane comes across the remains of dead animals in the loft. He then meets the creepy apple lady, who tells him he should look for “the book.” The doc at the asylum mentioned the book, too, though said it doesn’t exist. Hmm. Tane tries to ask about the lady and her “Christian name,” but she says her Worm God doesn’t allow names. The woman goes on with an awful nursery rhyme about her god, then urges Tane to tell his father to “find the book.”
Later, Tane tells his dad about everything: the book, the apple with the worms. And this has Charles very concerned, worrying that perhaps the legacy of his blood has infected them all. At night, he continues to hear rats in the walls even though the man he hired couldn’t find any sign of rats on the property. This sends him into fits, smashing up the walls of his office with a pickaxe, tearing the place apart and waking up his family. He nearly puts the pickaxe into one of his children when they come to see what’s going on, and Charles starts to notice the effect this place is having on him. He decides an ice bath will do him well. He lies below the surface a moment then comes out to see the message BLOOD CALLS BLOOD written on the basement ceiling; the familiar, terrifying words of his father.