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Dream Weaver: Ravenswood “Revival” Review

By on January 8, 2014
Pictured (L-R): Brett Dier, Britne Oldford, Tyler Blackburn -- Photo: ABC Family/Patti Perret

Pictured (L-R): Brett Dier, Britne Oldford, Tyler Blackburn -- Photo: ABC Family/Patti Perret

Ravenswood returned this week, wasting no time diving straight back into its trademark creepy antics. Eyeballs floating in tea, antagonistic glittery ghosts, and a manipulative preacher helped the show rise from its winter slumber and come back with its strongest episode yet.

“Revival” spends a chunk of time in the past, and it’s there – through a series of flashbacks and dream sequences – we see Original Miranda and Caleb happen upon a meeting between the town’s men and a mysterious preacher. Original Miranda’s mother, Esther, is also there. It’s war time and the boys of Ravenswood are dying, so this meeting has been called to protect their lives. This would seem like a good idea except the exchange rate is the lives of five of the town’s teens. Esther isn’t too keen on this plan and speaks passionately against it. However the men silence her, something that seems to please the menacing preacher.

The group eventually signs a document sealing the deal and after everyone has left, original Miranda and Caleb – hanging outside the meeting the entire time – watch as the preacher walks to a carriage and hands over the pact. Two very odd things follow. First, we see that the carriage is labeled with the name of the funeral home Miranda’s uncle runs. Second, the creepy preacher turns into a crow. Yikes.

There are quite a few hair-raisers (seen and unseen) on Ravenswood, but this preacher guy currently takes the cake. With a show so shrouded in mystery, it’s easy for villains to bloat the storyline due to shear potential numbers. It was nice to finally see a distinctive villain whose presence helped speed up the main plot and expertly played into the show’s quiet horror. One also has to wonder about his nature. Men, no matter how evil, can’t actually turn into crows. His “holy” guise and animal transformation leads one to wonder whether we’re dealing with the devil. If we are, Marlene King has certainly kept up her promise of delivering a show seeped in the supernatural and its accompanying tropes.

Back in the present, the teens review the info they gathered from around the dead bodies of Miranda and Caleb’s great great grandparents (there’s probably a few more greats in there). During their review session they search a bag full of dusty goodies. Shortly after this we learn that Miranda has once again been trapped by some hairy magic and can’t leave the grounds. Things get a little hairier when Caleb reads out the preacher’s name from Esther’s journal… which promptly catches on fire.

The group may have uncovered Esther’s bag, but Remy’s the key to unlocking all the info inside. Her sleep walking has morphed into night terrors, so she tries to get control of her dreams. While doing this the young teen realizes they possess a recurring theme. In them she hears the same music, but every time she tries to figure out where it’s coming from, something creepy happens to frighten her awake. Remy’s fearless and determined nature leads her and the rest of the group to a sleep walking trial where they watch to make sure she can finish the dream without anything interrupting her.

As Remy wanders around Ravenswood in a foggy haze, Caleb and Luke ward off animated scarecrows that are also expert pitchfork throwers. Thanks to them Remy is able to complete the dream and relay the info. Something this episode kept up is Remy as the show’s most interesting and well written character, whether we are dealing with the curse, romantic or family storylines. Britne Oldford brings a relatability and charm to the character that, sadly, some of the other characters lack. Balancing scare, the mystery, and character plots can be hard. The series has done a pretty good job with the first two. Spending more time developing the latter and better connecting them (something this episode started to do) may aid in boosting the other characters’ presences.

Pictured: Nicole Gale Anderson as Miranda Collins -- © 2013 ABC FAMILY

Pictured: Nicole Anderson as Miranda Collins — © 2013 ABC Family

Miranda does a little searching of her own this episode and uncovers an unpleasant entity attached to Mrs. Grunwald. When she attempts to haunt the older woman, the entity – waiting in the house vents – slithers forth to choke Miranda out. Miranda and the entity have two run-ins until Mrs. Grunwald puts a stop to the mysterious entity’s aggression. After Miranda flees, we learn that Mrs. Grunwald has a loving relationship with the ghost blob. Unlike Mr. Collins, the mystery behind Mrs. Grunwald seems to be unraveling, which is great for the character and larger plot. Grunwald’s development helped keep the pacing of this episode up by providing us with answers, even if they weren’t complete, about one the most mysterious characters on the show. On a series like this, withholding answers for too long can be detrimental, so “Revival” came just in time.

As Olivia got more aggressive about acquiring information, she bumped heads with Mr. Collins and Mrs. Grundwald. She may have also put herself in serious danger with Dillon. She bumps into Grunwald at the coffee shop, interrogating her about Collins. Then, after the Matheson twins return to their home, they discover that Mr. Collins had let himself in to visit their mother, again calling into question the nature of their relationship. Could their mother be connected to the curse in some way? It’s her storyline with Dillon, however, that creates the most subtle scare of the episode. During the final scenes we watch as she and Dillon, after taking their relationship to the next level, drive off with the creepy ghost dimension demon in the backseat. That can’t be anything but bad news.

The episode did have a few lighter moments in the form of the Matheson twins doling out “relationship advice” to Miranda and Caleb. Miranda turns to Olivia about sex. Caleb, meanwhile, talks out what happened on the other side with Luke. The scenes were a nice break from the darker sequences, providing a bit of heartening humor and allowing time for the teens interpersonal relationships to develop. These moments balanced out the tense scenes between Caleb and Miranda regarding their romance.

Overall, “Revival” was a fun and revealing episode, getting the series off to a solid start for its winter run. Hopefully we’ll see all the characters get closer connections to the curse, the show’s “scare” will stay strong, and as more answers are uncovered the pacing will continue to pick up.

Catch Ravenswood Tuesdays at 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT on ABC Family.