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Ravenswood Creeps Along in “Along Came A Spider”

By on January 30, 2014
Pictured (L-R): Nicole Gale Anderson and Tyler Blackburn -- Photo: ABC Family/Skip Bolen

Pictured (L-R): Nicole Gale Anderson and Tyler Blackburn -- Photo: ABC Family/Skip Bolen

Ravenswood is not necessarily lacking in good acting or writing. It doesn’t fail to deliver on scare. The concept is actually pretty interesting. But there’s a problem with Ravenswood. The problem is that when the plot is moving, it’s not actually moving. “Along Came A Spider” was the perfect example of this show having all the right pieces and parts, but failing to make them work as parts of the larger machine.

The episode starts with Rochelle Matheson being arrested for her husband’s murder. The group (particularly Remy and Luke) is convinced that Dillon has something to do with the knife showing up in Matheson’s yard. And since the knife is linked to the pact, he must be too. They all break away to work on finding answers in their own different ways.

Olivia asks Dillon directly when he shows up at her house. Remy turns to Springer for an exchange; she’ll clear his father’s name by publishing a piece in the newspaper if he spills on Dillon’s plans – also clearing Mrs. Matheson’s name. Meanwhile, Caleb and Miranda snoop around Collins’ funeral home in hopes of accessing a locked chapel on the grounds. In the process of getting into the chapel, Caleb finds himself in the funeral home’s embalming room, where the river ghost makes a terrifying appearance.

Once Caleb and Miranda make it to the chapel, they discover 6 names etched into the floor – the 6 families who signed the pact. Remy also takes steps, writing up a piece to be published. However, it’s Luke that gets the most direct results after he confronts Dillon in the school locker room. As Luke prepares for a fight, the shower’s go wonky and a mist overtakes the room. It’s then that Dillon reveals he was supposed to be with them the night the car went over the bridge. But to save his own life, he made a deal with something – or someone – for his life. In exchange? The curse would take Olivia.

The episode had quite a few great moments and its getting better at creating solid characterizations for its entire cast. Luke and Miranda had great screen presence and individual character development this episode. Miranda has at times felt like the third wheel, awkward and out of place. Her chemistry with the other characters, Caleb in particular, has been sort of flat even for a ghost. However, this episode saw that “tension” between her and Rivers manifest believeably, and when Caleb when to school we were given the opportunity to see her in more of a teenage role. She’s great at being a ghost whisperer, but she’s cooler when she’s putting mean girls in their place.

Luke was also a strong presence, with a complexity not seen in previous episodes. We learned just how unstable he can be and how protective he can get. We saw his struggle to trust his mother, to keep Olivia out of harms way, and to be close with Remy, ultimately honoring and respecting her wishes. Dier delivered an especially genuine and rousing performance in his scene with Patterson, during which Olivia reveals how close she has gotten to Dillon. The interactions and emotional execution were some of the best from the actor all season.

Two other stand out moments came from Caleb, one humorous and the other terrifying. The scene outside the chapel – where both he and Miranda freak out about an unpleasantly large spider on his shirt – was arguably the funniest moment of the series thus far. His run in with the curse ghost was literally one scream after another. Remy’s moral stand, as well as her – uncharacteristically – raw and charged scenes with her father served as more high points.

Even with all of these enjoyable bits, the show still fails to do its number one job: move the largest plot forward. We find out clues, but the stakes aren’t there. The parents are vital to the curse, but we only see them every now and then – and hardly ever participating in the curse plotline. There are quite a few villains in this show, but what are any of them truly capable of other than confusing or scaring the bajesus out of us? What do we and the teens have to lose? Yes, their lives but will anyone else other than Miranda actually meet a grisly fat? Is anyone actually in danger? It’s like the show’s cried wolf so many times we don’t believe it anymore.

This show has finally started to get a decent grasp on its characters, and its building more energized on screen relationships. However, the purpose of Ravenswood still seems lost and the lack of particular plot developments are giving this show a pacing problem. Next week’s episode is the winter finale. Fingers crossed that the general shock nature of finales will pump some life into the plot and leave us with a renewed interest – not just a dangling cliffhanger we may or may not be enticed by.

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