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Published on December 1st, 2014 | by Bean

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“Remember Me” Episode 2 Review – Michael Palin’s BBC Ghost Story

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SPOILERS!

Having watched the first episode of the BBC’s new original ghost story “Remember Me” last week, I found myself in the unenviable position of needing to brush my teeth before bed, and having to traverse my unlit home to do so. Facing the same challenge tonight, I’ll not fret on it too long, as any leftover chills have already subsided.

The second instalment of a three-part ghost story is a tricky conceit; keep the tension going and begin to reveal the causes for the mysterious goings on. “Remember Me” succeeds on both counts, though the pacing struggles to engage quite as forcefully as in the opener. What is essentially the second act must reinforce the dangers already known to us, whilst upping the ante and the stakes enough to heighten the drama. Leaving enough over for the finale is crucial however, or you over-egg the pudding; it’s soufflé storytelling.

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A languorous pace somewhat stymies the suspense tonight; plenty actually happens, but the need for explanation gets in the way. The best moments are, fittingly, the least explicable. Mark Addy’s police officer Rob finding the upright and soaking corpse of care assistant Shirley, apparently overdosed at the dinner table. The scene is shot brilliantly, lingering on the unsettling details like Addy’s character; unable to look away.

The show’s eerie content is used to good effect in the episode, building up the mythos of the narrative and a sense of dread for those experiencing them; a dripping tap, the ubiquitous shells, and the spectral echoes of the Scarborough Fair motif. As the voice becomes clearer, the need to discern meaning in the lyrics adds to the unnerving knowledge of Tom’s obsession with the folk song.

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Most satisfying and yet most easy to foretell are Hannah’s responsibilities as guardian to her brother being thrown into jeopardy in the final scene. The reveal of Tom’s Indian nurse Isha, a seemingly possessive and oppressive force in his life, and her new claim over young Sean lead us nicely into next week’s final act and what might lie in wait. Less could be shown of the contorting Isha for a truly gruesome quality, but she remains an unsettling presence.

Writer Gwyneth Hughes says of her tale, “All ghost stories must emerge from a sense of loss and loneliness” and each of her three central characters deal with their own grief; Jodie Comer’s Hannah suffers not only the loss of her father, but the security of her home life and the chance for an independent future; Mark Addy’s policeman Rob, we find out, has lost his wife to another man and his whole family to Australia, leaving him with only his job for company.

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Palin’s Tom Parfitt, who only appears in the last five minutes of tonight’s episode but whose shadow looms over proceedings, is the living embodiment of hardy, long-ingrained loneliness, and we also discover the demise of his young bride in the 50’s. There are sufficient riddles left in his story to tide us over, if that isn’t too ominous a phrase, to next week’s finale.

Review by Nina Clark

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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