Previously on The Living and the Dead: Creepy things started happening as soon as Nathan Appleby came home, and it seems like it’s driving him pretty crazy.
At last, we get the story of Lara, or Red Coat Lady, as I’ve been calling her. The poor woman’s a new mum, currently living with her baby daughter in a mental health facility. She voluntarily checked herself in because she’s being haunted by Gabriel, who wanders into her room at night to stare at her all dead-eyed and demand that she help him. Naturally, she thinks she’s experiencing some sort of psychosis. She’s nervous for good reason, too: turns out this horrible dead child has been haunting all the women of her family for several generations now, and it’s implied that the experience drove Lara’s mother to suicide when Lara was only three months old.
Lara’s grandmother stops by for a visit and to tell Lara that she’s not crazy at all. She is, in fact, a descendant of Nathan’s. Granny even produces some pictures of Nathan and Gabriel and the notes Nathan was keeping at Shepzoy. It might have been helpful to get all this before Lara went into the mental health facility, Gran, because now she’s kind of stuck there. The doctors don’t believe her when she says she’s totally cured, so she grabs her kid, steals her partner’s car, and sneaks away to Shepzoy, leaving some very concerned people behind. For some inexplicable reason, Gran chooses not to tell Lara’s partner, the father of her child, where Lara and the baby are, even though the poor man is understandably a little frantic and granny knows that Lara’s being haunted by a nightmare ghost.
So, Lara and the kid arrive at Shepzoy, and I realise that poor decision making runs strong in this family, because it seems like a terrible idea to take your infant to a condemned wreck of a house filled with mould and mouse poo so you can commune with your horrible dead stalker who drove your mother to suicide. And, indeed, Gabriel proves himself to be one creepy-as-hell child, following Lara around, refusing to tell her what he wants, and freaking out her kid. Lara tries reasoning with him, telling him his dad loved him and didn’t want him to die and is super sorry that happened, but Gabriel’s not really buying it. While wandering around the house in the middle of the night, Lara briefly sees a woman in a bloody dress (Harriet, maybe?), freaks out, gets in the car, and tries to leave. But halfway down the driveway she sees Nathan just ahead of her and swerves to avoid hitting him.
In 1894, Nathan’s gone from crazy to just absolutely horrible person. He’s relentlessly nasty to Charlotte, who’s totally at her wit’s end (and for good reason!). She and Denning both think Nathan’s, shall we say, delicacy is due to some sort of extreme panic over becoming a father again, but Nathan laughs them both off and is really, really terrible to Charlotte some more, so she finally leaves and goes to stay at the vicarage. Her husband remains at Shepzoy, obsessively trying to call forth his dead son. Since just screaming at the house gets him nowhere, he takes some magic mushrooms until he hallucinates Gabriel’s presence. Gabriel chillingly tells Nathan that, basically, Nathan needs to kill himself so he and Gabriel can be together.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]It seems like a terrible idea to take your infant to a condemned wreck of a house filled with mould and mouse poo so you can commune with your horrible dead stalker who drove your mother to suicide[/cryout-pullquote]
Meanwhile, Payne, their neighbour, stops by to see about buying some crappy land he thinks he can do something with. He’s clearly pretty disturbed by Nathan’s behaviour, as anyone would be, and very concerned for Charlotte. He goes to see her at the vicarage and gives her a pineapple because he’s heard that’s good for pregnant ladies, or something, which is awkwardly adorable. But then he touches her hair and Charlotte’s all, ‘Woah! Married! Personal space!’ And she goes running back towards Shepzoy. Payne follows, begging her not to go back there, because frankly, he fears for her safety (and rightly so, because in 2016 Gabriel tells Lara that his father is coming, and when she asks what’ll happen to Nathan’s wife and unborn child, Gabriel just shrugs and says they can come too. CREEPY KID!) Payne asks Charlotte just to give Nathan one more day.
Thing is, Nathan doesn’t have one more day. He’s currently in the kitchen mixing up a lovely Deadly Nightshade cocktail. Lara sees him doing this in the present day, and yells for him to stop, but he ignores her. So, she appears to Charlotte and yells that Nathan’s going to kill himself. Charlotte sees and hears her, though it doesn’t seem like Payne does, and she races to Shepzoy just in time to see Nathan putting the finishing touches on his drink.
Through some extreme Charlotte magic that includes offering to take the first sip of a highly poisonous suicide concoction, she manages to talk him down. He hugs her tightly, crying, as Gabriel glares at them from the doorway. Nathan weeps and tells his son how very, very sorry he is that he wasn’t around to save him. And apparently that’s all Gabriel needed, because then he vanishes. And peace is restored throughout the land!
Gideon and the three or so people still left in the village go out to the land Payne’s just bought and unearth what they think is some old machinery but which actually turns out to be Lara’s car. What? Ok, I know we’re supposed to suspend disbelief to a certain extent on a show like this, but that makes zero sense. It’s one thing for ghosts and maybe even glimpses of people to appear in different times, but for an actual physical object to be found buried, as if it’s been there for years? That just makes no sense to me at all. Did the car travel back in time? What?
Gwen figures that this may have been what was plaguing the land, which points out something of a paradox now, because if Gabriel was vanquished back in 1894, Lara never would have had any reason to go back to Shepzoy and the car never would have been there. But if she never went back to Shepzoy, he may never have been vanquished, so now we’re just chasing our tails.
Lara, watching as the car is unearthed, with Gabriel at her side, suddenly realises that she’s dead. Back when she swerved the car to avoid hitting Nathan, she crashed, and died. Her daughter, fortunately, survived. At least, that’s what Gabriel says, as he tucks his hand into Lara’s and says, ‘You’re my mummy now.’ CREEPY KID! Also, what about his actual mother, who predeceased him? Or Lara’s mother? Were they not good enough for the little hellspawn?
And, bizarrely, Lara smiles down at him and takes his hand, which makes about as much sense as the presence of that car, because Gabriel has been nothing but a malignant part of her life. Why would she be happy at the prospect of spending eternity with him?
Fast forward a year. Nathan and Charlotte are cuddling their daughter and taking long walks through the wheat fields. But then, one night, Nathan hears a noise and, even though at this point he should probably know better, he goes downstairs to investigate. There, he finds a crowd of nicely dressed inter-war folk in masks conducting a séance and apparently trying to contact Nathan. When the spot him, one of the men welcomes him to the land of the living and asks him one question: Why did you kill your wife?
Dun dun DUN!
Pretty good, overall, but I feel like that last episode kind of let us down. There was a lot packed in there, and I don’t feel particularly satisfied by the resolution. Gabriel just wanted his dad to say sorry? Uh, ok, then. But it was a beautiful piece of filmmaking, this show. And the relationship between Charlotte and Nathan was lovely, and the music was excellent. So, overall, pretty good!