Be ye warned: Spoilers abound! Watch Episode 19 FIRST! This piece will go in depth in a soap/story-obsessive fashion that April Grant and Amanda Shockley from Indie Intertube can truly appreciate.
I have made my RI colleagues wait for days to get my reaction to this latest episode. I didn't want to say anything about it or even share the episode until I could properly address and present it, and unfortunately working then decompressing from work has filled my last two days.
I was surprised to find Episode 19 posted on Facebook at 9am on New Years Eve, as I sat in my Taxi, which is my line of work. For some reason I was expecting it in to be released in the evening, but there it was, the long anticipated flashback episode written so long ago by co-creator Jake Lear. This episode, deep in Ragged Isle lore, has haunted the original five creators of the show's narrative for years. The story of The Past on Ragged Isle has been known in the minds and imaginations of five poor, unfortunate secret-holders for a long time. No one could know but us! Keep it secret, keep it safe. Now we're finally getting to see the faces and personalities of the characters who set the fate of this island in motion, set forty years before our main story. I'll mention that it's a challenge to write about this show without divulging too much. There are still secrets to be revealed, even though this episode fills you in on a lot of big things, especially so for those who are following the story very closely. Three amazing episodes are left, where everything will come full circle. You'll have all the answers.
Back to me watching this episode for the first time. The first thought I had when it started, and was so damn good, was "I am so incredibly lucky to have met Barry Dodd." Being a part of such a great story and snazzy production is the highest gift I've ever gotten.
I hold the Ragged Isle story close to my heart. In particular, the Emma Dobson and George Bridges story. I was in the room, way back when, as a contributor and simultaneous fan, when George and Emma's love came into existence in our original outline. I've been reminded of their short but nonetheless boundless love with each episode's release. I know what their love means, and what it leads to. So after being emotionally entwined in these two characters' plight for years, here I am, seeing them brought to life in this as yet unseen whole new section of our story. Pure magic. I cry every time I see Krystal Kenville on screen as Emma Dobson. Every damn time. Tears just keep rolling down my cheeks. I was floored as Kip Weeks and Krystal filled in tons of back story with their eyes and faces. Such brilliant acting, that I don't see it as acting. It's connecting all the other events, and it breaks my heart with its beauty and purity. Kip and Krystal are awesome. This is a fact. The next time I see Krystal, I'm going to have her make an Emma face for a pure fan thrill.
This episode was loaded with new characters, and for me, many special personal moments. One of them was seeing my favorite child in the world, Sophia Reed, making her on screen debut as young Madame Clelia. She's the daughter of my long time best friend Jewlee Robinson (who got a cameo as the voice who called to her). I'm so psyched that she's forever immortalized at that adorable age. She'll be able to see herself as a little kid in this great show as she grows up (She's already grown so much since it was filmed it's unbelievable). Some day she'll be able to show her grandchildren. How many of us get to do that?
Then there was my friend Daniel Noel as Wilbur Henson. Daniel's a "Cleaner." You call him when things get serious. He's one of the three best actors I know in person. He makes anything you're working on way, way, way better. He always wins, so it was no surprise, but it was so great to see him knock it out of the park with a completely new character. His acting is so satisfying, it's like a recliner and beef jerky. Hell, DEER jerky. With root beer. He can do anything. It's amazing to watch. True power. He's also an incredibly kind and gentle man, when he's not ruining someone's life on screen.
Mike Best as Phil Gerard. Mike and I go way back. I met Mike back in my Running Over Productions' days, where I acted for the first time. I later wrote a roll just for him in my play, the first big thing I ever made. Mike is a great, local, rock-solid Go To actor whom I've had the privilege to work with a number of times. Mike also, in my opinion, does a better demented, insane hick character than anyone I've ever seen. Scarily so. He's not limited to such a character, but if you need that role filled, track him down, because he'll likely say yes.
This was the first time I've seen Bob Greeley act, as Edwin Cutler, the old fellow on the dock with Kip. He was perfect. What a great face! The whole set up and style of that scene looked like a million bucks. First rate work from everyone involved. When I think of the multi dimensional motivations with this one character (shhhh, not yet!) it boggles the mind.
What a thrill it was to see young Harrison Shaw as portrayed by Shawn Reardon. Shawn is a great local favorite. I've seen him in some awesome Madhorse Theater plays. And my old friend Jill Koufman as Ruby, I've always loved her acting, particularly as Naolia when we did Bucket Of Blood on stage. I saw some new faces too, and everyone kicked ass. So spot on. I'm going to watch it again, right now, to get a recharge.
I'll just go through the whole episode, as I watch it, and if you're one of the few obsessed and dedicated story followers, you can go through it with me:
Opening: The Not Eric Entity's love and tenderness toward his son, Dr. Hoffman. Beautiful. Michael Dix Thomas shows us a side to this character we couldn't have imagined was there.
Bob Greeley being awesome as Edwin Cutler. That face, that hand, those eyes. A living embodiment of back story to inspire the viewer's imagination. Kip Weeks introducing us to George Bridges. Young Harrison Shaw, not impressed, wants a Stone Fence. I can't imagine how many of those he has ordered in his lifetime. Barry's transitions from past to present are masterful.
Greg Tulonen, being semiconscious and adorable as Dr. Hoffman. He is adorable in real life too, as well as being a great writer. Perhaps the "shock to his system" Eric is referring to was writing Ragged Isle.
Krystal as Emma, with her icy blue eyes. It's love at first sight for George. Daniel Noel as Wilbur Henson, already watching that no one gets involved with one of "them." I'm a romantic, and I love this couple. He treats her with respect and kindness from their first words. Such a short amount of screen time that does so much.
A beautiful montage transition by Barry. Striking imagery and scenery with beautiful music, flexing some art, setting the show apart. The Bear's Den. (Bear -short for Barry Dodd) I don't know if anyone but me is currently referring to him as The Bear. I don't even know if he minds.
George and Emma's love, weeks or months later. I'm amazed how beautiful and cinematic this scene is. I can't believe how awesome Kip Weeks is. I can't believe how awesome Krystal Kenville is. It is very hard to type this through tears. The music by Starlight Cicada is heart-wrenchingly beautiful and perfectly marries to the scene. He puts the locket around her neck. I know what the symbol means. I am weeping. You will understand later. You'll know everything in three more episodes.
I don't think spinoffs are typically as strong as what they spin off from, but this show is replete with offshoot series possibilities. George and Emma's time together could be another amazing web series.
Ahhhh, the underwater shot. Trust me, get into this story if you have not, and study this shot in HD. Astounding. It kills me. I want to hug everyone involved with this shot, because it is perfect. Kip and Krystal, you are killing me. Viewers will be able to feel this moment so much more acutely later on in the story, because they'll understand. I cry over it. I can't believe what the written page has blossomed into. Bravo to you all. So well done. Ragged Isle is horror made beautiful. George pulls out the wolf's head cane sword. You've seen this cane before, more than once. You will see it again in this episode.
Eric/Not Eric and Dr. Hoffman on the beach. Head writer Greg Tulonen, as Hoffman, gets a chance to deliver some great acting in this pivotal scene. He's no longer just the quirky Examiner from the CDC with the paranormal hobby. He's a crucial part of this story. More to come. I am biassed with Greg, because he is my emotional champion and one of the best finds of my life. We confer regularly, and together amass entertainment power. I think his acting as Hoffman is a lesson in appearing natural, while I know he's anything but comfortable doing it. I'm more confident in his acting prowess than he is, and I'm right. And Michael Dix Thomas as Not Eric in this scene? I've seen Michael politely and calmly accept compliments on his acting, but I'm sure people start to sound like a broken record in their praises, so I won't butter him up here, I'll just state briefly: He is an acting weapon. He is someone you use when you want to speak directly to your viewer's emotions and make your story become real. I can't believe how heavy the information he delivers in this scene is. If you're a RI loyalist, your jaw must be on the ground at this point. Oh to be an unsuspecting fan hearing these lines for the first time. There is power in Michael's delivery. Power under the matter-of-factness. You could cut it with a knife. "Because you're my son, and you were born underwater…" I think the exchange between these two characters is absolutely huge.
The people behind what was done to George and Emma, standing on the beach, forty years ago. No remorse. What is it with these people? How could they do this?
Then to young Clelia, finding the locket. She comes running from a good distance away, too far to have spotted it. She just knew it was there. Something drew her to it. Does she already have the power at this young age? Clelia keeps the locket for forty years.
Daniel Noel as Wilbur Henson, being scary and crazy, and something more. He doesn't seem to be too worried about Phil (Mike Best) going to the law with his secret. Soon after, he finds young Rose Fuller, and with no regard for her, jumps…
Credits roll. We're plunged back into the waiting and anticipating again, but hey, you got a lot of info in this episode, and a bunch of new characters. Hell, people have been identified for you. It's coming together. Still time for you to formulate theories and wonder. Still more story to tell. I never look back at my script, because we're taking this journey together. The beauty and thrills are essentially as new to me as they are to you.
I believe momentum is important to fully appreciate the Ragged Isle story. It's a lot of interconnecting details to keep in mind, and not everyone re-watches it all to refresh their memory, even the very loyal. I see the quality of Ragged Isle as the very highest, and often wonder why it doesn't presently have the high numbers of views that other shows seem to get. Some of them are really lousy and have numbers that dwarf ours. Who could ever say for sure what the reasons for this are. It could take off at any time, or maybe never. It could just remain something that we're very proud of, and that many of our friends love with all their hearts. I often imagine someone finding it someday on perhaps Netflix, sitting down and watching all three seasons in one sitting. And they say, "That was awesome," and they post about it to a friend, or to everyone, and word gets around that it's a must see, and it becomes a household name, and some celebrities embrace it, and hey, that was all shot in Maine?! Who are these guys? And we're all dead and buried (It'll be online forever, remember?) YouTube never dies, it just keeps buffering.
Here is Episode 19, entitled "40" Please watch and share.