A personal habit of mine is to write observations as I watch something so I can form a structure of what it is I want to write for a review. Halfway though ‘Passing Notes’, I realised I had hardly wrote anything, primarily because I was so engrossed in the narrative.
Without a doubt, this is the best episode of Lore to date.
When watching a movie or television show, it’s easy to find oneself comforted by the presence of Robert Patrick. It doesn’t matter that he played one of the greatest and most imaginative movie villains of all time, but for the life of me everytime I see him I’m reminded of his understated and powerful turn as John Doggett on The X-Files, arguably the most underrated character on television. As Reverend Eliakim Phelps, Patrick brings dignity and his usual style of understated power to his performance as a man haunted by the death of his first wife, and then literally haunted by a spectre that may or not be his dead love.
With a script from Glen Morgan, once again building on the brilliance of his work on ‘Echoes’, ‘Passing Notes’ is as much a powerful character study as it is a work on historical horror, managing to blend brilliant character work and very intelligent scares. At times it comes off like the brilliant love child of The Haunting of Hill House and The Crucible.
Once again it sees Lore dealing with conflicting levels of belief that were going on in the world during a time when the world wasn’t as advanced as it was now, with spiritual belief, one not centred on religion, seen as something controversial, whilst the means to contact those who had died was equally controversial, but also as a means of “entertainment”.
At the heart of Morgan’s script is Reverend Phelps. Like his script for ‘Echoes’, Morgan brilliantly puts a complex character at the heart of the episode’s historical narrative, crafting a piece of work that is emotionally engaging, darkly educational, as well as genuinely frightening, making the most of a brilliant piece of key location work, in this case Philip’s mansion, as well as some fantastic set pieces, not to mention a truly frightening moment with a piece of curtain.
Complete with footage of Arthur Conan Doyle, and historical background concerning the work of Harry Houdini, this is a brilliantly accomplished hour of Lore that does everything brilliantly. The historical background delivered by the wonderful tones of Mahnke is engrossing enough that it would almost be enough to carry an entire forty-five minutes of television on its own, but added to the story of Phelps and discovery of being careful what you wish for, it makes for a brilliant concoction; Nick Copus’ direction, Glen Morgan’s script, Robert Patrick’s performance and James Coblentz’s editing, this is a case of everything coming together brilliantly.
Being a lifelong X-Files and Millennium fan, it is always brilliant to see people from the Ten Thirteen universe coming together to make new stuff, and with James Coblentz, we have another X-Files crew member crossing over to help craft a new generation of great television horror, one that is managing to bring smarts and scares together in a way that is befitting the legacy of one of television’s greatest ever shows, whilst being a brilliant piece of work in its own right.
At forty-seven minutes in length, this is Lore’s longest episode, but it is the most impressive thus far. It’s a well-produced and brilliantly made horror movie in its own right, it’s mixture of history lesson and intense character driven horror being a prime example of what it is that Lore has to offer that makes it different from any other horror television show on the air right now. It’s what makes the podcast such a compulsive listen, and it is now what makes it a compulsive watch on television.
Lore is streaming now on Amazon Prime. Let us know what you think of the season.