“Evil Manifests Itself Every Day, Lass!”

Anna Maxwell Martin as 'Merrily Watkins' in "Midwinter Of The Spirit"I’ve spent the last couple weeks haphazardly hopping back and forth through Kate Dickie‘s filmography, in preparation for a potential chin-wag at B-Mouth Film & Comic-Con… and thought that “supernatural suspense” series Midwinter Of The Spirit (2015) was going to be right up my alley, centring around a recently-promoted female vicar/exorcist (‘Merrily Watkins’ played by Anna Maxwell Martin), who’s immediately thrown into the deep-end when a sacrilegious murder is committed in her shiny new diocese by a Satanic cult intent on summoning up an actual demon. Sadly, it overshot my alley altogether, and took a very aggravating turn-off instead…

Although I never really warmed to Merrily herself, my hopes were raised in the first episode when her mildly-rebellious teenage daughter ‘Jane’ (Sally Messham) befriended snarky/punky classmate ‘Rowenna’ (Leila Mimmack), and they both fell into the compassionate company (and eventual employment) of New Age-y fortune-teller/cafe-owner ‘Angela Purefoy’ (Siobhan Finneran). I was looking forward to seeing the women banding together (along with sceptical copper ‘DCI Annie Howe’ (Dickie)), to share their contrasting-but-ultimately-complimentary perspectives on the crimes that were occurring, and explore their own unique ways of fighting the looming threat. These hopes were soundly dashed in the second episode, when it was revealed that Jane and Angela were just straight-up Satanists, intent on estranging Jane from her mother (and her faith), so that they could sacrifice her as part of their demon-raising ritual! Feh! This was a seriously regressive throwback to the dark ages when anyone with an interest in non-Christian spirituality or an unorthodox appearance (i.e., piercings and dyed hair), was condemned as a devil-worshipper, or burned as a witch!

Leila Mimmack as 'Rowenna Napier' in "Midwinter Of The Spirit"Even more egregious was the scene involving Rowenna’s former social worker, who related an anecdote characterising her as a schoolgirl succubus “sent by the Devil” to seduce a married male Canon in her previous hometown. I mean, the guy seemed quite cynical about the “Satanic” part of the story as he delivered his monologue, but his narration played over a flashback to the aggrieved/ruined Canon lying his sad-puppy-face down on a train track to commit suicide, and the later revelations of Rowenna’s infernal affiliations made it pretty clear where the show’s sympathies lay. They were outright blaming/shaming the underage girl for what happened between them, and excusing/exonerating the 45-year-old man as a defenceless victim we’re supposed to feel sorry for! Rowenna also ended up seducing Jane’s squeaky-clean boyfriend, mere seconds after the Good Christian Girl had rejected an invitation to go back to his (vacant) parent’s house for a make-out session… and it’s later revealed that the Satanists were using this compromised choir-boy as a pawn in their grand scheme, further underlining the writers’ outmoded puritanical morality, by suggesting that pre-marital heavy-petting inevitably leads to demonic manipulation and cold-blooded murder! Eeesh…

Oh, and Dickie’s barely in it at all… while the dialogue she does get is perfunctory-at-best… so boo to that!

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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