The Dead Lands - Season 1, Episode 4: “The Exorcism of the Boy” TV Episode Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Premiered on Shudder
Directed by Peter Meteherangi and Tikao Burger
Written by Glenn Standring
2020, 45 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on February 6th, 2020
Te Kohe Tuhaka as Waka Nuku Rau
Darneen Christian as Mehe
Briar Rose as Wana
Kali Kopae as Hine
Xavier Horan as Te Hau
Kawakawa Fox-Reo as Uri
The episode of The Dead Lands that brings us to the midway point of the first season also brings us to a realization – some tales are as old as time itself, so universally human that they’ll repeat ad infinitum as long as man is corruptible and the course needs to be corrected. If that sounds like a complaint, don’t worry…it’s not. The classics never go out of style.
“The Exorcism of the Boy” finds Waka and Mehe transporting the Boy (Kawakawa Fox-Reo) and the third witch sister back to the other two witches. The Boy, Uri, has seen unimaginable things since he was possessed by the dead. He’s been all the way down, and he knows the name of the man who broke the world and caused this calamity in the first place. The witches want to exorcise the demon and free Uri, but Mehe worries this will do more harm than good. Also, a rift is forming between Waka and Mehe even as they begin to realize that Mehe is far more powerful than they realize.
This is a busy episode. The mythology of The Dead Lands is deepened considerably. Uri’s story and the battle with Te Hau thicken the plot nicely. Waka’s help/manipulation by the dead who torment him (particularly his mother) provide another layer of intrigue. There’s a killer fight scene and a rather lovely decapitation to wet your whistle. The essence of the dead takes the form of The Smoke Monster from LOST, and how can you complain about that? It’s a lot to pack into 45 minutes.
Waka and Mehe’s relationship continues to be the emotional anchor of the entire tale, almost to the slight detriment of the story’s main conflict. After all, everyone is in danger from a world teeming with the savage undead, yet the moral and emotional struggle of Waka is engrossing. Te Kohe Tuhaka is seriously fun to watch. He has a mixture of intensity and sarcasm that calls to mind Bruce Campbell. I’m honestly waiting for him to finally hook up with Mehe and then tell her, “That’s just what we call pillow talk, baby!”
The theme of the sins of the father (not coincidentally that’s the title of Episode Two) recurs with a heavy hand. The revelation of who broke the world and the implications of it hit hard, even if it may be a little hard to follow at times. Overall, it’s a plot twist worth waiting for and sets up the second half effectively. The exorcism scene itself doesn’t do anything that we haven’t seen before (contortions, vomitous dribble, eye and voice change), but it does it with a high degree of competence. You’ll dig it.
The Dead Lands continues to shape up to be a classic hybrid tale of Man vs. Man/Man vs. Self-wrapped up in a package that we haven’t seen before, peppered throughout with evil visuals and solid gore. I could use more TV like this in my life.
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