Ravenswood / Screen

Journey to the Past: Ravenswood ‘Revival’ Review

Since Ravenswood premiered I’ve been wary of it. It’s not a terrible show, but it’s not a great one either.  All the potential it has, it doesn’t know what to do with, and the early episodes were a scattered mess of weak attempts at horror, shaky characterizations, shallow relationships and a thin mystery.  Its winter premiere “Revival” rectified a lot of these issues to make up a solid episode that finally implied some kind of plan for the show, building off of the discoveries of the bodies of the sacrificial Esther and Thomas and Miranda and Caleb’s past selves, but only time will tell if Ravenswood can maintain it. 

Originally I thought the flashbacks to Caleb and Miranda’s past selves were too ridiculous.  I still think that, but only because something about seeing Tyler Blackburn and Nicole Gale Anderson in the past just doesn’t work.  As a narrative device, the flashbacks work well especially as they’re intertwined with the present day story.  Luckily most of the blasts from the pasts didn’t feature Miranda and Caleb but Miranda’s mother Esther, Caleb’s father Thomas, a sketchy preacher named Gabriel Abbadon (whose name, when spoken aloud, made Esther’s journal catch fire so you know he’s a bad guy) and others who gathered to make the pact that’s causing our mains so much trouble now.

Prior to this episode Remy’s dreams and sleepwalking were haphazard in their inclusions in episodes, seeming to be there just for added shocks and scares without really providing anything else.  They finally served a large purpose tonight as  Remy tried out lucid dreaming at her mom’s suggestion and ended up being instrumental in learning what happened with Abbadon and the others.  Remy’s by far the best character (quickly being joined by Olivia at the top of the heap) so it’s nice to see her getting a big role to play in the proceedings.  Her dreams allow them answers to questions, but there’s a force that doesn’t want her to get those answers, and tonight it manifested itself in a scarecrow both in Remy’s dreams and in the waking world.

Less effective, if only because of the special effects, was Miranda’s mission to learn where Raymond hid the jars of hair by haunting Grunwald.  She was sidetracked by a fiery, ghost wind electric current but fiery thing which attacked her twice only to be called off by Grunwald.  Those scenes were ridiculous and there was really no way to make them anything but.  In a perfect world Ravenswood would start relying on more simple forms of conveying the supernatural that don’t stretch their tiny budget.   By the episode’s end it appeared the spirit attacked Miranda because she was antagonizing Grunwald who has some kind of relationship with the spirit.

At this point Grunwald is much more interesting than Raymond whose uniform and unrelenting creepiness is stagnant.  His screentime was considerably lessened in “Revival”. He only showed up to freak out Luke and Olivia by being in their house and leaving their mom an orchid.    It’s unlikely Raymond is as bad a guy as everyone’s convinced he is, though his creepiness is real. The seeming inevitability of his innocence makes it difficult to care about unraveling the mystery about what he is doing especially when all of his scenes play the same way over and over.

The Luke and Remy relationship is the only one that’s working out well onscreen.  Since the weird hiccup of Luke’s cheating has passed, they’re back on good terms and Remy enlisted Luke in looking out for her while she sleepwalked.  Hopefully the show avoids trying to inject contrived drama into their relationship and allow whatever conflicts they have to unfold organically (since Luke and Remy aren’t shy about disagreeing with another).  Trying to put Tess into it jarred terribly with what we’d seen of them so far, and Luke and Remy appear to be a very solid couple and they can stay that way while having conflicts that don’t involve unnecessary love triangles. Besides Ravenswood is really up to its neck in relationship drama with its other characters so having one couple that isn’t all over the place would serve as a good balance.

If Ravenswood wants the audience to care about Dillon and Olivia, it’s too late, but it does better with making the audience care about Olivia who’s enjoyable in her determination to get answers and growing friendship with Miranda. Preferably there would be more context for her strong feelings for him (they’ve been together since 9th grade and she loves him but there was no mention of that until this episode), but without it, it works just to care about Olivia and her feelings. She’s going  to be distraught to learn that her high-school sweetheart, with whom she had sex with for the first time and is madly in love with, may be trying to kill her.

Also having issues are Caleb and Miranda.  There’s little romantic chemistry between the two – which isn’t helped by them having the same haircut – so watching them tiptoe around their respective feelings for one another is boring.  So the episode could have done without their conflict over Caleb’s distance and breakup with Hanna.   However, it’s also inevitable that something’s going to happen between them despite being hindered by Miranda’s transparency.

Random thoughts:

  • I laughed out loud at the group staring at Remy while she tried to sleep.
  • “What’s that for?” “Self-confidence.”
  • Remy and Luke are really good at touching each other, and Brett Dier has his devoted boyfriend facial expression down pat.
  • Am I aware that all of these random thoughts involve one or both halves of Lemy? I am.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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