GHOST WARS – Season 1 Epiaode 2 – SPOILERS
“Great ghost stories are arguments with mortality. They don’t accept death as the end of needing people and doing things.”
—- Aurora Stewart de Peña
Val and Marilyn McGrath-Dufresne (Luvia Petersen and Kristin Lehman) and their two kids, Isabel and Abigail (Sarah Giles and Allison James), get a surprise visit froom Val’s brother Billy (Kim Coates). Billy and his boat smuggled stuff into Port Moore from Canada. (We don’t know what he brought in, but it was meant for Dr. Barker at Lambda, whatever it was. We know it likely came from Canada because he also delivered Canadian over-the-counter muscle relaxants to Marilyn, the town doctor.) Val and Billy don’t get along because Billy was responsible for the death of their younger brother Trevor some years previously, and she believes (it turns out correctly) that he didn’t tell her the whole story of how that happened.
Soon after Billy’s arrival, Trevor’s body washes up on shore. This is quite impossible, since the fellow drowned ten years earlier, but Mayor Val, who does not believe in ghosts, suggests that someone kept the body on ice for all that time and then dumped it in the sea. (That sounds like an odd idea, but in all fairness, there is a lot of ice in Alaska. Also, there is the mysterious Lambda, Inc, and Dr. Landis Barker who works there, and with whom Billy is sexually involved.) Val says “Maybe he was kept in a freezer. There are tests you can do to see if that’s the case, aren’t there, Sophia?” And Sophia replies: “If I were a pathologist. But I’m a mortician.” If Sophia Moon had ever watched Star Trek, she would have phrased that differently. She is definitely not a Trek fan.
Billy is a Star Wars buff who always calls the first mate on his boat Chewie. The Chewie on this trip (played by Nils Hognestad) gets all chewed up when his arm gets caught in the ship’s engine while he’s trying to repair it.
Billy’s boat has a history. It originally belonged to Old Man Goler. Old Man McGrath scammed Goler out of the boat’s title, possibly in a crooked poker game. Val suspects that Goler might be behind the sudden appearance of Trevor’s corpse, so she and the Deputy Sheriff pay him a visit, only to find him hanging from a tree. Then Val sees her first apparition. (She shoots the deputy in the shoulder thinking he’s Goler’s ghost.)
When Roman takes a look at Trevor’s body, it becomes apparent that what is on the slab is the carcass of a dolphin. Cetaceans do not fare well in this episode, hallucination-wise. On the way into the harbour, Chewie and Billy navigate through what looks like an entire pod of dead whales.
Father Carpenter (Vincent D’Onofrio) gives Billy his own take on the afterlife, and tries to apply the notion of purgatory to the town’s plight. “Catechism defines purgatory as the final purification of the soul,” says the priest, “which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. Sort of more like a transit point where the body and the spirit reconcile separation before the soul goes to heaven. Or hell.”
What’s really new in Father Carpenter’s interpretation of Catholicism is the idea that some inhabitants of purgatory end up going to hell. Aren’t souls kept in purgatory until they’re ready to go upstairs, however long that takes?
Roman tells Billy that the Trevor ghost is something else pretending to be Trevor, and says he gets to see these creatures for what they really are. Roman describes the beasties haunting the town as angry, imp-like pranksters. If the priest is right, these pranksters could be busy purifying souls and preparing them for their final destination. (If that purification is happening in Port Moore, might it mean that everybody in the town is already dead?) Whatever they are, the creatures afflicting the town seem to behave like experimental psychologists using ghostly guerilla theatre as a therapeutic tool.
Billy tries to leave town on his boat but is turned back by some sort of energy barrier. Billy is a bit of an asshole. He reneged on his promise to take Roman with him when he left. Could that be why the barrier prevented him from leaving? Or maybe it’s like that for all new arrivals. They can check out anytime they like, but they can never leave.
Kandyse McClure (Dr. Barker) is Evelyn in MOVING PARTS a drama about human trafficking. Director Emilie Upczak described the film to Sydney Levine of Indiewire: “Moving Parts takes a fictional look at a very real issue. The film’s protagonist, Zhenzhen (Valerie Tian), is a Chinese immigrant who is smuggled into Trinidad to be with her brother Wei following the death of their father. A tragic event leaves Zhenzhen vulnerable and only through the help of a neighboring art gallerist, Evelyn, and the restaurant’s cook does she have a chance at life.” Set in Port of Spain, MOVING PARTS will premiere at the Denver Film Festival on 3 November at 6:45pm. A trailer is available on YouTube.
Leslie Hope, who directed this episode, also directs Episode 1.4 of THE FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES, a series that stars Lauren Lee Smith as a female private detective operating in Toronto in the 1920’s. FRANKIE DRAKE will premiere on CBC in Canada on 6 November, immediately following MURDOCH MYSTERIES.
And Hope will star, along with Paula Brancati, in SLASHER: GUILTY PARTY, the tale of a group of former summer camp counselors who are forced to return to a remote campground to retrieve evidence of a crime they committed in their youth. The series will be on Netflix in the US and Canada beginning 17 October.
Chance Hurstfield (Sophia Moon’s young son Marcus) is Wesley in THE PERFECT CATCH, the story of a single parent (Jessica, played by Nikki DeLoach) who operates a struggling diner. Jessica finds inspiration When her high school boyfriend (Andrew Walker), a superstar baseball player, returns to town. The film will next air on The Hallmark Channel on 23 October at 4pm.