Following PLL’s Halloween episode, we were taken further into the Gothic land of Ravenwood, overflowing with cemeteries, gnarly branched trees and apparently, ghosts. After Caleb and Miranda discover the headstone with Caleb’s name and face on it, they make their way to the mansion that plagued the heroines of that other show from which this show is spun, owned by Miranda’s uncle Raymond (Steven Cabral). After the weird introduction we got from Pretty Little Liars‘ “Grave New World” this was a better look into Ravenswood and its characters.
Miranda (Nicole Gale Anderson) is slightly more interesting this time around as she pursues some kind of dialogue with her long-lost uncle. I know why I should like Miranda (she’s cute, a little funny, a little vulnerable, has a sympathetic back story and isn’t afraid to speak her mind), and I don’t dislike her, but I haven’t connected with her. This was the second hour I spent with Miranda, delving into her past as an orphan finally meeting some family again, but I still haven’t found anything to really hook me with her. For the most part, this follows with the entire cast (even Caleb “Most Decent Guy in Rosewood” Rivers) with one exception:
When we first meet Remy (Britne Oldford) she’s pointing Caleb toward some answers and being watched over by her overprotective, newspaper editor father, Simon (Henry Simmons). She’s frank, funny and smart, and Ravenswood did well with establishing her as a bridge between the fairly separate pairs of Luke/Olivia and Caleb/Miranda. She’s also as a source of knowledge, more able to piece things together than her newfound allies or Luke and Olivia, who aren’t even aware of anything weird happening (yet).
While we’re on the topic of Luke (Brett Diers), he was just as boring as everyone else until he and Remy were established as being an item. Their status is a little complicated at the moment with Remy’s dad being very anti-Luke, but Olford and Diers had one promising scene together, and lots of promising awkward eye contact.
After Luke presented himself as a bit more than the brooding, formerly popular, but now angsty loner, I liked him much more. Then his interesting points skyrocketed because he lied to the police about something and believes their mom really did kill their father. He’s operating on a more realistic plane than his twin sister Olivia, having written off their friends who he believes undoubtedly agree with the town consensus that the Mathesons are practically toxic. And while Olivia (Merrit Patterson) is adamant about repairing the damage done to their family burial plot, Luke handles it with a resigned shrug because it’ll just happen again.
Olivia’s a bit of a cipher except for her status as Homecoming Queen – pretty, popular and struggling with the town’s belief that her mother is a “Black Widow”. Of all the characters she’s the least fleshed out, but it’s apparent that her attempts to have a normal life following this scandal are going to take center stage. She’s been the only one to have friends outside of the main five introduced, including boyfriend Dillon (Luke Benward) and friend Tess (Haley Lu Richardson). At the moment it’s hard to tell what kind of person Olivia is. She’s more optimistic than Luke, certainly, and Ravenswood doesn’t seem to want to tell the oft-told story of the mean girl (who is somehow still popular) falling from grace. From her few scenes Olivia came off as a generally decent person trying to move on from her father’s murder and the suspicion being heaped on her mother.
The town of Ravenswood is one giant mystical conspiracy in which everyone knows significantly less than someone else, and no matter how many times they ask point-blank questions about the fact, someone in a position of some authority is going to deign to the hide the truth. There’s Raymond, Mrs. Grunwald and Simon who all know much more than they’re telling. Luke and Olivia’s mom, Rochelle (Laura Allen) is sure to be an important presence, and the same is true of Terry Beaumont (Sophina Brown), coping with survivor’s guilt in a story that mirrors that of a POW from many, many years ago in town. Ravenswood looks like it’s going the opposite direction of Pretty Little Liars in this regard: while those parents remained clueless for several seasons, the parents of Ravenswood are the one’s keeping their kids in the dark.
At the moment it’s hard to say if the show’s overall premise, soaked in the supernatural with ghostly apparitions and time seeming to repeat itself in some wonky semi-reincarnation plot, is going to work. It’s certainly different from Pretty Little Liars, and can appreciate the grimness of the town and its residents who simply accept the weird happenings because they’re so used to it while newbies like Caleb and Miranda find it (rightfully) unnerving.
The Veiled Woman was clearly meant to be horrifying but I just found her kind of meh. Even the sight of her face at the episode’s end after causing the crash that sent Remy’s car, carrying all of our leads, into the river was anticlimactic and slightly annoying because (though I’m trying to shake it) I’m clinging to my irritation at Ravenswood and Rosewood existing together in a universe in which being stalked by an unattractive, Edwardian apparition is a real thing we need to be concerned with.
Only time will tell if I’ll become even half as invested in the show as I am in its flagship, but for now I’ll be tuning in weekly.
Leave your thoughts on the premiere (Did you love Remy as much as I loved Remy? Can you stand to look at Caleb’s bad haircut for almost an hour every week? Can you deal with the sure-to-be shoddy horror elements of this show?) in the comments.