Ravenswood episode 1 review: Pilot
Ravenswood takes Pretty Little Liars' thrills and cheese factor, and adds the supernatural. What's not to like?
This review contains spoilers.
In the pilot episode of Ravenswood, Caleb Rivers of Pretty Little Liars fame sticks around to help out a new friend only to become entrenched in the supernatural weirdness that is life in a town that's soaked in death.
It's interesting trying to recap the pilot of this show, since part of the action and character building of its two leads actually took place on the Halloween special of Pretty Little Liars that aired before it here in the States. I'll leave the full recap of PLL in the hands of my colleague Caroline Preece, but here's a quick rundown of the parts that are relevant to Ravenswood in case you missed it or are new to the Liars universe.
While on a bus to meet up with his girlfriend Hanna, Caleb meets Miranda and bonds with her over a history of being abandoned by family and surviving foster care. They hit it off and part on a fairly friendly note as she heads off to find her only living relative, an uncle who lives in town. This house, as it turns out, is the very same horrorfest that Caleb's aforementioned girlfriend has found herself trapped in. Miranda frees Hanna and the two of them bond over their fear, eventually meeting back up with Caleb once they've freed themselves from the house. Seeing how lost Miranda is on her own, Hanna suggests that Caleb stay behind and help her deal with meeting her uncle before he returns home — a prospect that becomes more important once Caleb realizes that, like Miranda, his name is on a gravestone by her uncle's house. And his picture. And if all of that weren't creepy enough, the house is taken care of by The Grunwald, a self-proclaimed psychic who literally pulled the Liars' friend Alison out of the grave she was buried alive in.
(Campy horror is my favorite kind of horror and in case you couldn't tell, the Liars-verse is full of it, so...I hope you know that's what you've signed on for with this show.)
All caught up? Awesome.
Ravenswood itself introduces us to the central mystery that's going to keep Caleb and Miranda in town: namely, that there is a curse and they are somehow a part of it. Is it cheesy? Yeah, undoubtedly so. But it works here, and I'll tell you why: very few shows are able to pull off consistent creepiness that sticks with you and leaves you with more questions than answers, and yet does give you enough answers to make you feel like you're being satisfied. PLL does a great job of it, and so does Ravenswood; by the end of the pilot, we know not only that there is a curse, but we know what pattern it follows. Every so often, a vet will return from war as the only surviving member of their squad, unable to wrap their head around the fact that they've survived when they should be dead. Invariably, shortly there after five teenagers die in an accident. And for reasons we will learn as the show goes on, those teenagers tend to have the faces of Tyler Blackburn and Nicole Gale Anderson (and I'm betting the rest of the core cast as well).
The rest of that core cast is filled out by Remy — the daughter of the local newspaper editor who loves her town despite its traumatic past (it once flooded so badly that officials were removing bodies from trees for a full six months after) and who has the knowledge of its history to help figure out the mystery — as well as Luke and Olivia, whose father was murdered recently and whose mother the whole town suspects committed the crime. Luke is Remy's boyfriend, though her father believes he lied to the cops to cover his mother's tracks and doesn't want them to be together. I could live without the romance subplot (I just don't feel like it's necessary), I'll admit, but I am intrigued about the murder mystery.
One interesting thing to note is that Ravenswood does truly seem to be haunted by the supernatural; on multiple occasions in the episode, we see spectres or objects moving without assistance. This leads me to assume that the curse is in fact real and not just a weird coincidence; considering the fact that all the horror in Pretty Little Liars is committed by human beings, it's an interesting decision to introduce the supernatural into its universe.
The episode ends with our five main teenagers getting into a car together shortly after discovering that the curse kills five teenagers in an accident after a vet has returned home (as Remy's mother recently has), which I'll admit I rolled my eyes at, but the danger is real: the five of them crash into the river and begin to sink as the credits roll. Will everyone survive to next week? Are we looking at a Final Destination-style elimination, one by one?
Who knows. Anything can happen in the Liars universe, and I for one can't wait to watch this play out.
Read Caroline's spoiler-filled review of the Pretty Little Liars mid-season finale, here.
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