SURREALESTATE – Season 1 Episode 3 – SPOILERS
Luke (Tim Rozon) heads north to see a new client, Harper North (Melanie Scrofano). Before leaving, he tasks Susan (Sarah Levy) with finding a house for an old client, horror author William Larson (Charlie Tomlinson). It seems that each time Larson wants inspiration for a new novel he buys a new house, and it needs to be a haunted one. (With Zooey’s help, Susan finds just the place for Mr. Larson, and it turns out to be Luke’s childhood home.) Tomlinson’s character brings to mind Victor Garber‘s recurring character Garrison Steele on another series shot in St. John’s – REPUBLIC OF DOYLE. Then Luke visits Harper’s haunted cottage where his experiences include getting whacked in the head with a shovel and spending a night sleeping on the forest floor.
Danishka Esterhazy, who directed this episode, told Jim Frye of That Hashtag Show: “When we were planning this season, all the directors and our wonderful cinematographer Jackson Parrell and myself were all talking about how we’re such deep fans of horror…We love classic horror and we wanted to pay homage to certain elements of horror in every episode.” Why name a character Larson? One wonders if screenwriter Ramona Barckert is familiar with artist Abigail Larson, who published an illustrated edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Cats of Uthar” in 2016. (The only quotation offered by Augie this week is from Lovecraft: “Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”)
There are more conflicting hints as to where the show is supposed to be taking place. Mr. Larson tells Susan that the house she is going to show him had better be the most haunted one “in 12 states”, indicating that the location is somewhere in the U.S. (Why 12, though?) Also, Harper North studied biodiversity conservation and “worked as a parks warden at Dogwood for three summers.” That would probably be Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in southern Missouri. Her grandmother (we are told) was from Nebraska. However, about twenty-eight minutes into the episode we get a clear view of the license plate on Luke’s Mercedes GLS 450 and one can just make out Newfoundland and Labrador at the bottom of it.
Susan has the best line of the episode. She advises Luke that “Life is short, and sometimes you gotta step up and close escrow before you get beat out by a better offer.” Luke tries to take her advice. He pays Megan a visit, and brings along a good bottle of booze. She seems pleased to see him and tells him to wait for her in the library (which is upstairs and might be the room with the window in which Luke occasionally spots his mother standing).
When Luke gets to the library, the ghost (?) of his mother Victoria is waiting, and she is not nearly as nice as his late father. It seems she left home because she wanted a girl child and instead got Luke. Victoria does not want to be involved in Luke’s life even as a ghost, and when he says to her “I never deserted my family”, she tells him that he’ll never have one and calls Megan a tramp. When Megan shows up with the drinks, mom vanishes. We aren’t shown how the rest of the evening turns out.
Questions that remain: Who or what is haunting Luke’s childhood home? Was that haunting at least partially responsible for driving his mother from that house? If not for Luke, why did Victoria return to whatever town this is? How did she end up trapped in the Donovan house? When the well in the wine cellar was welded shut, why didn’t she disappear with all the other spirits?