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ETV Episode 11: A Child Shall Lead Them

Winter. Sad music. Precocious Emily: “Trust is a slender thread.” Flashback to the Ghost of Ilse's Mother; Ilse wakes up screaming. Then credits! That was fast!

Late at night one winter in Episode 11: A Child Shall Lead Them, Ilse comes out of her room to see her father, who impatiently tries to send her back to bed. She wants to tell him about the dream she had and talk about her mother, but he isn't having it. He goes out to tend to the bad flu that's been going around, and leaves her alone in the house, just standing by herself in the big front study with the dark all around.

She shoves a bunch of papers off his desk, and sees-- what's this? Letters? A picture of her mother!

In the TV show, Ilse was two or three when her mother died, rather than a baby-- maybe so that she would more easily recognize herself when she saw the picture?

Meanwhile, Emily and Dean are having a talk while her feet warm up, and she gets angry, and Dean says, “Where do you think you're going?” He then picks her up and puts her on the table. I'm glad to see this relationship is off to such an egalitarian start. Indignant, she stamps her foot and puts the evil eye Emily curse on him for a hundred million years! Yes, Dean, that is exactly the sort of thing you should find alluring.

“I've never seen such eyes,” he says. “If I help you find out the truth about Beatrice Burnley, will you marry me when you grow up?”

Emily does not approve of this idea and neither do I. Dean gives a forced hearty laugh and says, “If we were Chinese, you'd owe me your soul.” Dean, you charmer. Who could ever fail to love you?

Ilse shows up at New Moon, and Perry and Jimmy let her in. Ilse demands that Jimmy tell her the truth about what happened to her mother, but is upset when he finally does. Now Perry is trying to convince Jimmy to go down to Shrewsbury and get the ship's records so they can find Ilse's mother. It's kind of sweet how he's trying to fix everything and Jimmy is being stubborn.

Back to Emily and Dean. Emily decides that the Ghost of Ilse's Mother wants her to go to Shrewsbury, and Dean says condescending Deanish things. Dean is wearing a ridiculous War and Peace hat that he got in Russia somewhere.

Dr. Burnely comes home, picks up the photograph Ilse saw, and suffers a flashback. Then he goes up to check on her and she's gone. It's nice to see him trying to make some amends here, as he talks to the pillow Ilse has hidden under her quilt to throw him off.

And I guess everyone's going to Shrewsbury, woo.

Emily's stomping all around the cemetery while Dean acts condescending, and then she sees the ghost again! Who's going to get sick from tearing around through the snow all day and night?

Now Ilse and Perry are having a talk. “If you didn't know what happened to your parents, wouldn't you want to know?”

“Well, heck, Ilse, I know an' I wish I didn't,” says Perry. “My pa, he died drunk in a brawl, and my ma, she's in prison in Halifax.”

But see, now, when Perry gets to be Prime Minister, he intends on getting her out of that prison. That's his aim. And when you got an aim, nobody can stop you. Except, Perry, one of these days you are going to have to work on your diction and on not sounding so much like a Jaunty Bootblack who just discovered that the local chemist sells Redfern's Invigorating Marihuana Compound in inexpensive chewable tablets.

I know it is canon and everything for him to talk like this, but Perry has a lot of potential as a character and it would be great if we saw evidence of him setting his mind to something other than talking about being Prime Minister all day. Still, taken by itself it's not a bad moment.

They all break into an old building to look for records. Ilse wanders around ominously. I hope she doesn't discover a corpse! Perry and Jimmy learn that the ship sank. I could have told you that, fellas. So could a lot of people, actually?

Oh no! Now Ilse is stuck in the attic and a creepy guy is coming toward her! And then there's a lot of running around, and Jimmy's getting sued for unlawful entry. Well, of course he is. The whole plan was ridiculous. Why would anyone have to break into a building to find out if a ship sank? That makes no sense at all.

Then Dean shows up with Emily and I guess Emily is missing, too? Dean, if you can't keep track of her at twelve, how do you expect to keep track of her at twenty?

And Ilse, who is also missing, finds Emily's beret, which allows her to find Emily, who has fainted in the snow. Come on, Dean, do you have to drop all the balls at once? Why didn't you flag down some people from the nearest town to look for her before you went all the way back to New Moon, seven miles away? Of course Emily is sick now and everyone is worried, and it's all Dean's fault.

Now Aunt Elizabeth is going to wait until she's alone with Emily to pray for her life. Alan cries and Laura wipes his tears for him. Then everyone waits.

They do the delirium scene pretty well. Martha MacIsaac gets a context-appropriate opportunity to scream and flail, and her intensity and lack of control works here. She's panicking because Beatrice Burnley is about to fall down a well. Dean is hanging around, and tries to get more information from Emily. I hope they don't have Dean check the well instead of Aunt Elizabeth. That would be a crime against Susan Clark's awesomeness. Dean uselessly tells Emily that she is in the “world of Yin.” Shut up, Dean. Elizabeth hisses at him to get out of here. “The spirits,” he says. “What are they trying to tell you?” Dean, shut up.

In the morning, Elizabeth makes soup. Laura tries to convince her that maybe Emily has the second sight, like Mary Shipley, and Elizabeth shuts her down. Here they are directly reversing the book, in which Laura promises delirious Emily that someone will look in the well, but Emily turns to Elizabeth because she knows Elizabeth won't just say things to make her feel better. This falls into the show's general pattern of slighting Elizabeth as a character in order to play up the “Laura learns to stand up for herself” angle.

Oh, well, as long as it gets done.

Really, there's no reason for the entire cast to go out to the well, but it's Dramatic, I guess. They find a body and identify it as Beatrice's by the tear-catcher, now in non-ghostly form (and bizarrely clean). Ok, fine. Then Emily gets better. It's measles, even though we were set up for a flu in the early scene between Ilse and her dad. Whatever works, writers.

Episode 11 is 3 / 4 pure nonsense and 1 / 4 pretty darn good. Dean is awful and tries to steal the delirium scene, and the whole business of needing to break into a warehouse to find ship's records is idiotic. But the core plots-- Alan Burnley's estrangement from Ilse and Emily's illness-- are perfectly fine. Martha McIsaac as Emily and the excellent Jessica Pellerin as Ilse both enjoy a rare chance to do something other than pout and push overly-precocious dialogue at each other and their elders, and there's a lot of good material here and there along the way.

The next episode will be another Out-of-Book Experience, though given how well the writers tend to treat In-Book Experiences, that might be a mercy. Aunt Laura's boring suitor is going to be in town, and drama is almost certainly going to ensue.


blase ev

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