This review contains spoilers.
Last week’s Bedlam got the show off to a great start, especially considering the problems it had during the first series, but sadly this week it’s back to business as usual. Lacey Turner is still a great protagonist and carries the action well, but the plot and character work elsewhere is far too generic for a show in its second year. While many were happy to overlook the problems in the first six episodes, a major shake-up just last week should really have made Bedlam Heights feel fresher.
This time, we follow champion swimmer Cass, played by Skins alumnus Kathryn Prescott, as she’s haunted by a girl who drowned in the very pool she practices in. Throw in a previous suicide attempt and a controlling boyfriend and things don’t look too peachy for Cass. Ellie, seeing what’s going on from the start, does her best to stop anything bad happening on her watch, enthusiastically ushered along by self-elected sidekick Max. It’s all a bit Scooby Doo this week, as almost every bit of action centres on the week’s central mystery.
This means that we end up seeing a lot more of Max, and it’s actually becoming harder to get a handle on his personality. I’m not sure whether it’s the writing or a confused performance, but there’s absolutely no consistency in his helpful assistant role. We know he runs the Bedlam Watch website, which was this week discovered by the other side, so we can also assume that he’s been following paranormal goings-on for a long while. It all comes across as a little bit too exciting for him, as if he’s just been waiting for Ellie to come along. I’d like to see him get seduced by the dark side, but that doesn’t look like the way the show wants to go with him.
As lovely as Turner is, I’m also frightened she might get grating before the series is out. Though she had many reasons to feel down, we’ve never seen the character in her natural mood. We met her under the strain of her gifts, and she hasn’t cracked a smile yet. Now with the ending of the episode going a way I wasn’t expecting, she’ll have even more reason to scowl. To be fair, though, Jed was never a laugh riot, and she’ll do a good job off centring the show once things inevitably kick off down the line.
But, all in all, the episode was filler. In a short run, this is a little unnecessary, and you’d hope they had enough compelling story to tell over six weeks. The hour was full of dreary false shocks and missteps, though the surprisingly downbeat ending saved it from becoming throwaway, and the treading water is just highlighted by having the same final tease image as the last two weeks. I’m intrigued enough by Ellie’s connection to Bedlam and the little girl ghost (which she still seems to know more about than she’s telling), to happily come back next week, but I wish the show would finally live up to its obvious potential.
Read our review of last week’s episode, here.
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