Hunderby: Mother Issues

Previously on Hunderby: Helene (who turned out not to be Helene after all but a stowaway named Elizabeth) washed up after a shipwreck and quickly married the local reverend/resident weirdo and went to go live in his creepy house with his super weirdo housekeeper, Dorothy, who still seems to be carrying a massive torch for the rev’s late wife, Arabelle.

Helene takes one last look at the locket before burying it out in the woods. As she’s walking home, she comes across Dr. Fogarty’s horse, and then the doctor himself, who’s out there helping a dog birth some puppies. Because, remember, he regularly spends his time out in the woods helping injured animals and collecting bluebells for the sick. Helene is touched that the man would stop to help a “suffering bitch.” He figures he’ll be able to house the puppies but thinks the mother will just be killed. Helene eagerly agrees to take command of the dog and names her Susan.

Back home, Dorothy’s getting Matilda ready for a walk and comments that the house is so terribly quiet without Bird Raymond chirping away. She tries to lay the blame on Helene but Edmond says that they must take Helene’s word for it that she didn’t kill Raymond. And then, of course, when Helene comes in he calls her the “Avian Executioner,” so, so much for that.

Outside, Matilda complains and wails, so Helene produces the dog in an effort to cheer Edmond up after losing Raymond. Edmond’s horrified—I guess he’s a cat person or something—and Helene bursts into tears, so Edmond unbends and agrees to keep Susan. Helene asks Dorothy to look after Matilda while she goes off to play with Susan.

Matilda and Dorothy drink tea together and Dorothy tries to pump Matilda for praise and some sort of monetary reward for her loyalty and for keeping the “secret in the tower.” But Matilda’s asleep, so Dorothy goes inside and just leaves her out there. All night. In the pouring rain.

The next morning, Edmond’s displeased with his overdone egg and complains to Dorothy, who apologizes and then says his mother’s unwell. Edmond goes up to see her and stands at her bedside nibbling a sausage plait as Dr. Fogarty examines her. Doc’s surprised at her taking such a sudden turn, so Dorothy “explains” that Helene left her outside all night. Helene, of course, protests, as well she should, and asks Edmond for backup, but for some reason he won’t support her story even though he knows it’s true. Does his memory not work? Whatever. Dr. F leaves a draught and warns Dorothy to only give her a tiny bit, because any more will bring on curious behaviours. As soon as Dr. F is gone, Dorothy gives Matilda a whole lot of the draught.

Outside the room, Helene pleads with the doctor to believe that she didn’t leave Matilda outside. He does believe her, of course. He also notes her mole, but though she’s sensitive about it, he insists that it’s wonderful and its height brings her closer to God. Uh huh. In fact, he has a “small imperfection of his own: several moles over his torso. Lovely. Also, that felt like a really forced joke.

That night, Helene goes down to the kitchen to talk to Annie and finds Annie’s boyfriend, Tom, “looking for a pan” underneath Annie’s skirt. Riiiiight. Helene wanted to introduce Susan, but Susan’s more interested in sniffing around some cupboard than making new friends. Helene opens the cupboard up and reveals Jeff hidden under there. Helene’s aghast, because Jeff knows who she is (not that he’s going to tell, though, right?) but Annie wants to keep him because he has a lovely smile.

Susan’s next stop is that mysterious door with the wailing on the other side. Helene scoops the dog up and goes to see Matilda, who’s wailing too. Matilda’s completely out of it but asks for more of her draught, which Helene gives her, not knowing, of course, that Matilda’s basically already OD’d. Matilda suddenly tells Helene to take care and not to go the way of Arabelle. Helene looks a bit freaked out, but then she’s distracted when Susan poos on a nearby dresser.

In the kitchen, Annie gives Jeff a slate and bit of chalk so he can draw whenever he needs something.

Helene hurries outside with Susan, although it seems a little late for that.

Edmond goes to see his mother, who asks him to hold her. When he goes to her, though, she grabs him and shoves her breast into his mouth, apparently thinking he’s still a baby that needs to be fed. Edmond, for some reason, can’t fight off a frail old woman and yells for Dorothy to help.

Dorothy, meanwhile, runs into Susan in the hallway and discovers the locket, which Susan went and dug up and brought home. Damn dog.

Dorothy takes the locket and hurries to Matilda’s room, where she pulls her off of Edmond. Edmond and Matilda have, by this time, tumbled onto the floor, so Edmond and Dorothy bundle her back onto the bed, pushing her a little too hard to get her into the middle of it. She rolls right off the other side and lands with a thud. Dorothy stares in horror for a moment, then goes to check on Matilda and confirms she’s dead. Outside the window, Jeff sketches frantically.

Doc’s back, surprised to see Matilda now dead. She’s been placed in bed, as though she died in her sleep. Dorothy spots Susan’s little mess and thinks Matilda must have gotten out of bed and gone to the bathroom on her dresser. The Doc seems skeptical. He notes that her head’s floppy and Dorothy and Edmond both rush to come up with reasons for a broken neck: fit? Suicide? Because breaking one’s neck in bed is apparently a popular method of suicide. Doc thinks this is all very peculiar and says they should report this to the Justice of the Peace. That’s Edmond, as it turns out. “Well, consider it…reported, then,” says the doc. Hee!

As he goes to leave, Jeff intercepts the doc and shows him a picture of Matilda trying to suckle her son, plus Matilda getting her neck broken, equals dead. “Well done,” says the doc.

Inside, Helene confesses to Edmond that Susan is to blame for the messes in the bedroom. Edmond flies off the handle and throws a bible at the poor dog, hurting her. He grabs the dog and goes to kill her, despite Helene’s sobs, but Jeff intervenes, tackling him. When he and Edmond get a good look at each other…well, it seems rather clear they’ve met before. Edmond runs back inside and Jeff revives the dog, just as Dorothy comes running out.

Doc’s back, yet again, seeing to Edmond’s apparently busted knee. Edmond thinks he had a stroke, which Dorothy supports, saying it wouldn’t be surprising, considering the shock of seeing Jeff. She wants him clapped in irons and shipped back to Africa, but Jeff tells them (via slate) that he’s from Bristol. Doc puts a tiny amount of salve on Edmond’s knee and bids him good day. When it’s just the two of them, Jeff removes the poncho he always wears and bends down beside Edmond, waiting to be whipped.

Doc, meanwhile, is seeing to Susan, who’s got a little bitty cast on her back foot. Helene weeps for joy and doc tenderly dabs her tears.

Up in her room, Dorothy takes out the locket and looks at it, no doubt thinking evil thoughts.



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