This review contains spoilers.
It’s the third episode, and we’re no longer involved only in Matilda’s story; Requiem has spread its roots through the whole of the community of the small Welsh town where Carys Morgan disappeared decades ago. There’s plenty to enjoy, and loads of questions to be answered – but is it spreading itself too thin?
We’ve seen Matilda’s early childhood experiences in flashback in earlier episodes, but episode three kicks off with a different look at the past – the moment when Carys was taken from the park. The revelation that the last person to see her alive was none other than the brusque Trudy (Sian Reese-Williams), who works at the local pub that her father owns. Following Trudy’s life for a few interactions showed her to be living an unfulfilled life, unable to make peace with what had happened. Alongside that we followed numerous plot lines from a field of dead sheep to Hal, the accompanist, hearing spooky 1920s music. All of these scenes were intriguing, but the moment one element became involving we swapped to another. It made for a piecemeal first half of the episode.
Still, there was the sense that it was all building to some meaty revelations, and the second half delivered by bringing us back to Matilda (a divisive, driven performance by Lydia Wilson) as an amateur detective who doesn’t know when to stop. Determined to get some answers, she pushed and pushed at three key women who all knew more than they were telling, and was instrumental in causing tragedy for two of them. Aunt Meredith’s (Jane Thorne) death at the very point of deciding to give up the information to Matilda couldn’t be much more suspicious, and the gathering of the main suspects in the drawing room to break the news felt oddly like an Agatha Christie adaptation, although we’re still far away from revealing the culprit. But it was Rose Morgan’s journey that was the most effective in this episode, and it was heartbreaking.
Rose (Claire Rushbrook) tried hard to extricate herself from the situation as Matilda demanded to be recognised as her daughter, but in the end it was the actions of her husband that pushed her over the edge. In a series that likes to dial up the sound effects and spooky happenings to melodramatic levels, Rushbrook’s standout performance really grounded this storyline, and made it real to me. I felt for the character, and I’m rooting for her to survive and find the closure she deserves.
Apart from the emotional fallout of Matilda’s loud and unhelpful proclamations that she is Carys, there was a satisfying whiff of the supernatural in episode three that I’m hoping will really come into its own later on. The tantalising mention of a real-life figure certainly got my attention: John Dee, advisor of Elizabeth I, notorious for alchemy and occult philosophy. The strange symbol found in the house and around the grounds has a connection to Dee, to mysterious goings on through the centuries, and maybe even to Satanism. The possibility of a bit of devil worship in the countryside is an exciting one for me, being a big fan of classics like The Devil Rides Out, so I’m holding out hope for more screen time on that front.
The big old house in the middle of nowhere continues to creak away as the desolate wind blows (yes, the use of sounds and slow-moving camera zooms continues to mark Requiem as an unashamed horror homage) and there seems to be no end to the amount of rooms that can be found inside. It’s a brilliant trick, never quite letting us get used to the layout of the house – could we get lost inside, and never found? Will there be yet more rooms to uncover in future episodes? There’s a continuing suggestion of the answer to many secrets being contained within the walls.
If all disparate trails do end up leading back to the house in a satisfying fashion, I’ll be seriously impressed by the skills of writers Kris Mrksa and Blake Ayshford. This is turning into a very complex set of events, juggling the past and present along with deep characterisation, an investigation into a mystery, and supernatural happenings, while managing to maintain a good amount of suspense. At this, the half way point, I’m hooked to know what happens next. Will Matilda buckle under the huge amount of guilt she must now be feeling? Will we find out who killed Aunt Meredith? Are there devil-worshipping get-togethers taking place in the woods? Who slaughtered all the sheep? Why did Trudie’s dad wash his shirt right after the disappearance of Carys? Can Rose find peace?
Yes, there’s an awful lot to start tying up. Fingers crossed that the resolution of so many strands won’t mean that the horror element gets left behind. As much as I want everything to get tied up in a bow, I still want Requiem to live up to its promise to being, first and foremost, a good old-fashioned frightener.
Read Aliya’s review of the previous episode here.