Review: Moonlight "12:04 AM" trying to be more than just a vampire-of-the-week.
Tracy S. Morris is the author of the award-winning Tranquility series of Southern paranormal humor mysteries.
Morris's story Fish Story will appear in the Baen anthology Strip Mauled
Her new novel Bride of Tranquility Is available now from Yard Dog Press.
Her website is http://www.tracysmorris.com/
Alas, instead of Coraline, we get a villain of another sort in the form of Donovan Shepherd, a serial killer whose life echoes that of Charles Manson.
The episode opens with Beth reporting live from the state penitentiary where Shepherd is about to be killed. Unsurprisingly, Beth feels a connection with Shepherd's last surviving victim, Audrey.
The two women have a lot in common. Both witnessed something terrible when they were girls. In Audrey's case, she saw Shepherd murder her family. In Beth's, she was kidnapped by a vampire as a child. Both have had to deal with the post traumatic stress that resulted.
Beth first comforts Audrey when Shepherd is executed by lethal injection, then again when the girl is menaced by Shepherd's followers, and ultimately when the serial killer turns out to be not-quite dead.
While I was hoping to see more of Coraline, I could tell that the show was striving to be more than a standard mystery-of-the week. Instead it was foreshadowing possible future events and setting things in motion that will pay off in future storylines while at the same time setting up visual metaphors that you would expect to see on the big screen rather than a vampire-detective-TV show.
Let's start with the biggie: This episode was an hour long exercise in getting Beth to stop repressing memories of the night that she was kidnapped by Coraline. And while normally, I would dislike an episode in which I could spot the point a mile away, I have to say that I love the way that this was handled.
Mick tells Beth to keep Audrey out of his case files. Beth is a reporter. So where is the first place she goes? You guessed it! Straight to his files. Where she finds her own file and proof that Mick was the guy who rescued her all those years ago.
My first reaction was: Why did he do this? Beth is snoopy, and he practically handed her a road map and an engraved invitation to find her case file.
After a lot of thought, I concluded that Mick wanted Beth to find that case file. He wants her to know that he was the one who rescued her. And he wants her to remember that night.
Up until this point, Mick has been more invested in Beth than she has in him. He's watched her from a distance for almost two decades. He's seen her grow into a beautiful woman, and his protective urges have taken on a romantic bent. Beth sees Mick as an interesting friend, but one that she's kept at a distance. I think that on some level Mick has wanted Beth to put as much into their friendship-maybe-more as he has so that Beth would remember that night and realize that Mick is the savior that she's been fantasizing about.
Now let's address the villain. Shepherd is meant to be taken as a cross between Charles Manson and Kurt Cobain: charismatic and driven. Yet at the same time, unrepentant in his evil. (For my buck, he reminded me more of Dennis Leary than Kurt Cobain, but that may just be his vocal inflections.)
The Manson allusions are there: The way Shepherd refers to his followers as a family. The way he's embraced publicity to further his agenda. The way he's achieved iconic celebrity status through his notoriety.
But the show also went to great lengths to portray Shepherd as a Christ-like figure. The execution scene was reminiscent of Dead Man Walking in which Sean Penn's character is suspended on a gurney like a man hanging on a cross.
The serial killer wears his hair long. He rises from the dead. Shepherd's very name is biblical. Isn't Christ referred to as a shepherd to his followers?
The Bad: All that being said. Does the villain have to be a vampire in a not-so-surprising twist? Couldn't there have been a conspiracy to pay off the guards and fake Shepherd's death without him having to become a vampire? Couldn't Mick have gotten involved out of concern for Beth, without having the main bad guy sport fangs yet again?
We get it. It's a vampire show. But you can only really have so many huge coincidences like that so often. I'm starting to think that LA has a vampire on every corner.
The Conclusion: This episode is more than just what you see on the surface.
Spread The Word
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