Entertainment Magazine

Review #3080: Bedlam 1.3: “Inmates”

Posted on the 23 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

These days, so many shows have a really strong beginning and then start to go downhill – just this year has seen “Terra Nova” and “Ringer” on a downward slope – that it’s amazing to see one going the other direction. The premiere of “Bedlam” was beyond messy, and the second episode was a marked improvement, but this installment actually manages to be a solid, entertaining and well-constructed hour of television.

Review #3080: Bedlam 1.3: “Inmates”

As seems to be the central trope of the show, “Inmates” is about a new resident of Bedlam Heights who is being haunted by the ghost of a former patient. In this case, Sadie is being locked in rooms and keeps seeing a cardboard box that frightens the bejeezus out of her. She meets Jed around Bedlam and they hit it off pretty quickly, especially after learning that they’re both former inmates of mental institutions, and he tries to solve her ghost problem. Meanwhile, Ryan discovers an old woman who has been living underneath Bedlam and is trying to discover why young women have been disappearing from the asylum for decades.

The latest episode continues the trend in being light years better than the episode preceding. “Inmates” drops most of the really annoying things about the show to date, or in some cases it actually makes them work. Jed’s quiet intensity isn’t melodramatic and doesn’t draw comparisons to Garth Marenghi: instead, Theo James’ brooding is very appropriate as the character confronts someone very much like himself, a damaged loner fresh from the institution. The relationship between Jed and Sadie is very rushed, in much the same way as every relationship in the series so far, but the writing and the actors do a great job of selling us on the connection between the characters. Watching the pair slowly find out about one another was genuinely interesting, dramatic television.

By the same token, the nuggets of a myth arc that emerged in this episode actually draw the audience in, even if their introduction left something to be desired. Ryan’s trip to the bar and random hook-up all seemed like a bit of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, but they eventually brought us Grace, who can tell us that there definitely IS more to the arc of the series than “Kate’s dad is creepy and aggressive”. The missing girl from the first episode hasn’t been forgotten (except by her actual friends), and instead she becomes the lead-in to this mystery about who (or what) has been taking girls from around the asylum. The encounter also gives Jed another good vein of characterisation to be mined, a genuine reason for the character to stick around and get involved in the goings-on of Bedlam, as well as giving Theo James some more chances to genuinely act.

And there’s creepiness, genuinely creepy moments that don’t come from jump scares or overly-telegraphed gags. There’s something very off-putting about Sadie’s haunting even before we learn what the imagery means, and the moments when there’s actually some kind of danger really had me worried just enough that I was invested in the scenes. Whether this is a result of better writing, better director or just actually giving a toss about the characters involved for once, it’s a marked improvement over the previous episodes and hopefully the trend will continue.

It’s not all praise, though. Kate continues to be a thoroughly worthless, unlikeable and uninteresting character, despite the few moments in the episode that suggest her behavior is motivated by something supernatural. It really doesn’t excuse the fact that all Kate does is defend her father, have sex with a complete(ly married) douchebag and make fun of people with mental health problems. Molly is only vaguely better because she does absolutely nothing and makes no impression on the episode whatsoever: a silly move on the part of the writers, who last episode were playing up the “Molly is interested in Jed” angle and could’ve wrangled some sub-par (at the very least) drama out of his new relationship with Sadie, and just gives the impression that the production staff aren’t communicating much behind the scenes.

Most of the cast remains weak and underused, but for the most part this was a very solid episode of “Bedlam”, easily the best, the creepiest, and the most genuinely dramatic of the series so far. It’s the first episode that validates the hope of the show developing into something worthwhile, and hopefully the next installment will prove this wasn’t just a fluke.

Rating: 6/10

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