Remember Me aired on PBS, an import from BBC filmed in 2014. The show comprised three one-hour episodes as a disillusioned detective and a young caregiver tried to solve the mystery of a missing old man and two suspicious deaths. The town of Scarborough, the traditional folk-tune Scarborough Fair and cowrie shells were repeated elements… as was water. Lots of water.
This is a spoiler: There is a supernatural element to Remember Me. It’s not much of a spoiler, because you would probably figure that out in the first fifteen minutes of the opening episode. The first character we meet is Tom Parfitt, an elderly man who lives alone, surrounded by memorabilia. His neighbors look in on him, and he counts on that, faking a fall down the stairs so that a social worker is called and he has to be taken to a care home. Tom already has a suitcase; he snaps at the social worker when she picks up one of the framed photos at random to take with him. “Nothing from the house!” he says. She slips the photo, of a little boy, into her pocket anyway.
At the care home we meet Hannah, a caregiver. Her mother is an alcoholic and Hannah has postponed going to university so she can care for her ten year old brother. Hannah is caring, emotionally open, and somewhat vulnerable. Tom arrives and he and the social worker to go the fourth floor, where his new room is. From below, people hear a loud, steady pounding, the lights flicker off and the social worker plunges through the glass window to her death. Tom is found out of his wheelchair, huddled in the corner, muttering, “Something is missing.”
The detective’s interview with staff and residents uncovers nothing, but Hannah knows something is wrong because she is plagued by frightening dreams. Tom, who was traumatized and taken to the hospital, walks away from it. He is in the wind; there is no reasonable cause of death for the social worker, and soon another carer at the facility is found drowned; drowned, sitting upright at her dining room table. The table is soaked in water but there is no water on the floor or anywhere else in her flat. And before she died, she told Hannah that she’d gone out to have a smoke the day of the death, and looked up to see a woman in the window with the social worker. Not behind her, pushing her, but literally in the fourth-floor window.
By now the viewers have had an experience at Tom’s old house and are well aware that there is a ghost. When Tom muttered “Something is missing,” he meant that something was missing from the house, a thing that let the ghost follow him. As with any good ghost story, the real question is, why? Hannah’s dreams and visions become more ominous, taking over parts of her waking life, while Detective Rob Fairholme uncovers more mysteries, not fewer, as he investigates Tom’s past. Where is Tom? Is he dead? Soon, the ghost has attached itself to Hannah’s younger brother Ryan. At first, the attention is benevolent, but we know this entity has killed two people already. Ryan is in ever-growing danger.
The first two episodes delivered an increasingly disturbing psychological creepiness. The images of water; dripping faucets, reflections in puddles and the constant pounding of the ocean waves, ratcheted up the tension, while Hannah’s connection to the entity through her dreams and the strange reveries seemed to put her danger. When it was clear the ghost had discovered Ryan, it became downright scary. The idea that this ghost could travel through objects made the hauntings plausible. The ghost’s motivation for the social worker’s death was clear, while the second murder seemed more like a classic criminal’s motive – the idea of leaving no witnesses.
Locations and cinematography, especially of the Scarborough seashore, were breath-takingly beautiful, and added to the sense of a haunted landscape.
The tone of the story changed in the third and final episode, focusing much more on the mechanics of solving the mystery, and the ghost’s motivation seemed to shift again, to a less plausible ending, one that didn’t work thematically for me even though it succeeded emotionally for the most part. Hannah’s dreams and her connection to the entity are not coincidental, it is revealed; there is a reason for the connection. Tom’s “final secret” wasn’t very secret, but his decades-long relationship with the ghost and the woman she was before her death rang true and was sad and frightening.
The biggest surprise for me in the series was the presence of Jodie Comer, who plays Hannah. It was great to see her in this role after having seen her as the gleeful psychopath in Killing Eve. It’s always great to see that an actor you admire really does have range, and Comer’s Hannah is a completely different woman from professional assassin Vianelle.
So, while the tale fell apart at the end, it is visually beautiful and filled with excellent performances. It’s available On Demand. If you’re at all susceptible to ghost stories, don’t watch the first two episodes at night, especially if you’re alone. Especially if any of your plumbing leaks!
(Here is the IMDB link to the show.)