To start off the coverage of Slasher: Ripper Episode 6 “Resurrections” I need to make two quick corrections. In my article for Episode 4 “Left Handed Justice” I had incorrectly stated the mansion that Margaret Mehar (Genevieve DeGraves) was a maid at was Basil Garvey’s (Eric McCormack) mansion when in reality the estate was that of the Bottecelli sisters. Oh, and in Episode 3 “Backbone” I had referred to Terrance Crenshaw’s (Christopher Jacot) establishment as The Queen’s Elbow when it is called The Queen’s Chamber. Will I get anything wrong in this week’s coverage? Tune in to find out as we discuss the absolutely BONKERS latest episode. Were you expecting Dr. Frankenstein to make an appearance? I surely wasn’t.
Episode 6 “Resurrections”
If there had ever been an episode of Slasher to push the boundaries it would be Episode 6. When I say push the boundaries I don’t necessarily mean it’s transgressive or overly intense. I mean it takes a more commentarial approach in a way no other season feels like it was able to do naturally. There are a few ways this show has elevated itself socially, the main one being having Detective, now Superintendent, Rijkers (Gabriel Darku) being a black man in a racially turbulent time in Toronto. Canada did indeed have African slaves well into the 1800s when this show takes place. It wasn’t until the British Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1834 that Africans in Canada were legally free. As we’ve seen in America, just because you’re free doesn’t mean you’re free. Like in America, African people in Canada were subjected to extreme racism for a very long time. We may look at them as our “polite neighbors to the north,” but they were still just as awful and repugnant to the African people as we were, and in some places still are.
So why this preamble for a horror show about a knock-off Jack the Ripper? The Slasher formula is a simple, but effective one: show us which character is now in the killer’s sights, give us some story progression, throw us into a flashback that parallels what that character is doing now, ping-pong us between what that character is doing in the present with parallel flashbacks three or four times, and then kill that character. A few episodes break that mold, but this formula adds some of the charm to Slasher. We get this comforting formatting for the uncomfortable visuals, it creates this weirdly interesting feeling. When we start this episode with Dr. Israel (Lisa Berry) paying a graverobber for a fresh body, it’s pretty clear we’re in for something juicy. Episode 6 uses this formula to tell a story that, while not in this context, feels far too familiar from other stories we’ve heard time and time again from prejudiced groups of people. (Again I cannot stress this enough, this episode takes this idea to the most extreme, it’s the concept of what they’re trying to say that matters.)
The interactions between Superintendent Rijkers and Dr. Israel have been interesting. They are two, of the three, main marginalized voices in 1800’s Toronto who are in positions of authority and power, the third being Georges Rondeau (Thom Allison). Both characters are experts in their respective careers and still find times when they need to prove themselves. If it’s from Kashtinsky (Daniel Kash) questioning the evidence Dr. Israel has regarding which hand the killer used, or the distrust and pressure the townsfolk have towards Rijkers and his handling of this case. While the subject of race had crossed my mind here and there throughout this season, it never really brought itself to the forefront. The majority of our characters seem generally inclusive, in Episode 4 “Left Handed Justice” Dr. Israel is having lunch in Garvey’s house with the group from the photograph, and Regina Simcoe (Clare McConnell) treats Rijkers and Georges with the utmost respect. What I appreciate about Episode 6 is how the subject of race and financial prejudice is used to create the horror, and further the story, without seeming exploitative or shoehorned.
As stated, this episode starts with Dr. Israel paying a graverobber to bring her a fresh corpse. The corpse she is brought is definitely not fresh, as it is missing some toes and looks generally disgusting for an “eight-day-old,” corpse. Dr. Israel cuts into the body and removes its heart. After attaching electrodes to the heart, and coursing electricity through it, the heart starts beating again. (I’m no doctor, so I can’t comment on the scientific accuracy of this.) Once the heart is beating the doctor fits the heart back inside the body, presumably hooking all the veins back up to the body. The electrodes are removed and the heart continues to pump. Dr. Israel is beyond ecstatic, that is until the heart stops pumping. It’s unclear what her true intentions are with these actions, what is clear though is this isn’t her first rodeo with this. We’ll soon come to find out this is something Dr. Israel regularly does; it has turned from medical curiosity and education to a sick compulsion into the mad scientist field.
Episode 6 then brings us right to the last moments of Episode 5 “Everybody’s Darlin” where Superintendant Rijkers is at The Queen’s Chamber to question Salomé (Salvatore Antonio) about the untimely death of Crenshaw. If you remember, he stepped outside because one of his officers caused a commotion by interrogating one of Garvey’s child couriers. From there he had a meeting with Garvey at the station, and we are now picking back up with Rijkers finally back on scene at The Queen’s Chamber ready to investigate the bondage room. One of the workers fumbles around to find the correct key for the door, while Rijkers feels a presence. The two men are being watched by the Black Widow, who stands hidden in the dark depths of a hallway with blood still dripping off her blade. Rijkers is seconds away from making out the silhouette of the Black Widow, only for the man to find the right key for the bondage door. As Rijkers and the man walk inside they quickly find themselves faced with the mutilated corpse of Salomé, who is still strung up to the X-frame in the middle of the room.
Verdi (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) wakes up in her new home, thankfully alone in bed since Garvey was “kind” enough to grant it to her. She may be alone in her bed, but she is not alone in her room because creepy ass Garvey is standing at her window and waiting for her to wake up. Garvey tells her he bought her a new gown and insinuates that she must be thankful for it. Still upset by this entire situation, Verdi says all she wants is her father’s bible. Without acknowledging her, rightful, unthankfulness Garvey tells Verdi that breakfast is in 10 minutes, and she better be wearing her new gown.
From here we go over to Regina’s house, where she finds herself in the company of Andrew May Jr. (Steve Byers), who is now crushing on Regina hardcore. They are discussing the idea of reformation and how to truly help the people of The Devil’s Elbow they must start at the root issue, which is the lack of education. During their conversation, Georges barges in to break the news of Crenshaw’s death. Regina and Andrew share their condolences. Why would Georges come all the way here to tell them this? Remember in Episode 2 “The Painful Truth” when Regina becomes possessed by Alistair (Shaun Benson)? Or how Georges has been plotting to try and use Regina for financial gain, in regard to her power? Well, the time has come for that subplot to come back into play. Georges wants Regina to use her powers to talk with Crenshaw one final time. Andrew loses some of the points he’s been gaining the past few episodes when he says Regina shouldn’t do it for many reasons, one of them being the relationship between Georges and Crenshaw was impure. Come on man, I was starting to like you and you have to go and say that? Eventually, Regina says she will conduct the séance as long as Andrew is present to save her soul from damnation.
Venetia (Sabrina Grdevich) and, a trepidatious, Viviana (Paula Brancati) are sitting at a small table, one of their last remaining assets, counting the money from their sale of Verdi. We will soon come to find out this was not a sale, rather it was a loan. This is something that wasn’t necessarily clear and could have been explained a little bit better. The two sisters have a conversation about how they think Garvey will give up on trying to win over Verdi and give her back, eventually. That’s when Garvey storms in for the rest of Verdi’s belongings and tells the sisters that Verdi is no longer a loan. As Garvey smugly leaves Viviana vows to kill Verdi if she sees her again.
Superintendent Rijkers visits Dr. Israel to get her assistance with Salomé. The only problem is, Dr. Israel hasn’t quite gotten rid of the evidence from her extracurricular experiments. Seeing a hand draped off the table, Rijkers walks over to see what this mystery body is. Thankfully for Dr. Israel, she gets Rijkers’s attention before he can remove the sheet, and they go on their way.
Over at the Simcoe residence Georges, Andrew, and Regina circle up to begin the séance. Georges hands over one of Crenshaw’s handkerchiefs, and they are ready to begin. Either Regina is the queen of improv, or spirits exist in this universe because this is now the second time she gets possessed. Her eyes go milky white and tells Georges, “I am here.” Georges tells the spirit of Crenshaw that he plans on skipping town, but wanted to say goodbye one more time. The spirit of Crenshaw informs Georges that darkness will follow…she will follow.
What comes next is really the first time we get the full truth of what happened to Margaret, and it’s what we all expected. Superintendent Rijkers and Dr. Israel are in the bondage room. Dr. Israel confirms left-handed wounds, as well as needle marks on Salomé’s neck. In my Episode 5 coverage, I questioned why the Black Widow would inject something into Salomé to numb the pain when in reality Dr. Israel states the injection was most likely used to keep Salomé awake and present during the entire ordeal. This is where things get real. Dr. Israel has a breakdown and says she can’t die like this. Rijkers is confused as to why she thinks she would die like this. Referencing the note where the Black Widow states they must confess, Dr. Israel tells Rijkers she will confess about her role in the murder of Margaret Mehar.
JUMP CUT TO: Garvey, Georges, and Dr. Israel in separate jail cells. Rijkers takes interviews with each suspect. Georges and Garvey start their interviews by flat-out denying the claims. Then Georges changes up his story and tells him about how Garvey asked him if he could put a spell on Margaret to make her forget certain memories. Garvey tries changing the subject to say Andrew May Jr. is probably the Black Widow.
Concurrent to this interview, Regina and Andrew are walking the streets with books when they come across a group of young ruffians, presumably the ones that work at the butcher shop. The two stop to talk to the kids and asks if she could read them a book. A spelling book to be exact. The kids say yes, and she begins reading. Soon after, one of the workers comes out and tells the kids to get back to work, before chastising Andrew and Regina for using up their breaks for reading lessons. This escalates into Andrew Mar Jr. and this shop worker getting into a fight. Andrew swings and clocks the guy right in the jaw, followed by the man swinging back at Andrew with a knife. Andrew falls to the ground clutching his stomach as the man runs away.
After interviewing the three suspects, Superintendent Rijkers weighs the possibility of letting Dr. Israel go, with supervision. Rijkers wants to treat the doctor well because she is the key evidence in convicting Garvey, and he needs solid evidence to get the Attorney General to reopen a 12-year-old case. Just then Regina bursts through the front door of the police station, begging for Rijkers to let Dr. Israel go to help Andrew. There is a lot of door bursting in this episode.
In our first flashback of the episode we go back, you guessed it, 12 years. Garvey finds Georges on the stage at the theater. As Georges said in the interrogation, Garvey asks him if he can permanently hypnotize someone to forget core memories. If only Georges could really do this, while it’s supremely messed up, it would have at least saved Margaret’s life. Georges tells Garvey he can do it, but it’s dangerous; warning it will take Margaret to the brink of death. Garvey smirks and walks out.
At Dr. Israel’s office, they place Andrew on her operation table. The procedure starts, and things seem to be going pretty well! That is until the Black Widow shows up. Dr. Israel pleads with the Black Widow by saying Andrew is a good man who had nothing to do with this, all she wants is for the Black Widow to let her finish the surgery and then she will give herself up to her. Out of nowhere Andrew’s blood pressure plummets forcing Dr. Israel to do a blood transfusion with her own blood. My favorite part of this scene is the split diopter shot of the doctor’s sweaty nervous face with the Black Widow behind her. It’s a bit heavy on the imagery, but it gets the point across. Oh, and there’s this pretty lame fight between Georges and Garvey where they fight between the bars. Georges works his sleight of hand magic to quickly get Garvey’s hands tied between the bars.
We get another flashback of Dr. Israel talking about how she needs to see inside of real bodies to get practice on human anatomy; outside of books. This is where my entire 3 paragraph discussion at the beginning comes back into play. We find out Margaret’s body was delivered to her, with the direct instruction from Garvey being mess Margaret’s body up. Make it look like a monster went to town on her. Dr. Israel talks about how this chance with Margaret’s body was the first time she had a fresh corpse. This is a chance for Dr. Israel to take this abhorrent circumstance and try and make it, at the very least, educational for herself. She talks about how she has never been able to afford fresh cadavers, like the other people in her field (it’s clear she’s referring to white people with the monetary means to afford them). Her experience with Margaret gave her an opportunity she had never really had before. The work she did on Margaret is what spawned her to pay grave robbers for corpses. While the intention was initially positive, to learn and grow as a doctor, it has slowly devolved into her disgusting antics of trying to reanimate corpses.
That’s where I respect the direction this show took. There is a horror in grave robbing, and it’s introduced in the show through the actions of a marginalized character. Dr. Israel still may not have the finances to afford fresh body after fresh body, so she pays a poor man cheap wages to bring her bodies when he can. It takes the unfortunate financial circumstance Dr. Israel is in and uses it to create her character arc. As I stated earlier this idea is taken to the extreme, but it shines a light on the financial side of marginalized groups. Be it Canada or America, just because you are legally a free citizen doesn’t mean you have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Back in their jail cells, Georges finally unties Garvey. Garvey is thankful, in his own Garvey way, by saying the two of them need to team up against Dr. Israel and Superintendent Rijkers. Unluckily for Garvey, Rijkers walks in and tells Georges he’s free to leave, just not town. This pisses Garvey off beyond all belief. He tells Rijkers he is making the biggest mistake of his life and that this is now personal. Rijkers tries telling him it’s nothing personal, but a man of his financial stature could just up and leave, he’s too much of a flight risk.
Trying to find any way to apologize to Viviana, Venetia hires a sex worker to sleep with her. It does the trick as this is the first time we have seen Viviana smile in at least…3 episodes? Back at the operating theater, Dr. Israel announces she is done with the operation. Moments later the Black Widow comes up behind her and injects something into her neck, which knocks her out. In a truly depressing scene, Verdi tries leaving Garvey’s house but the front door is locked. The maid, who served the photography group the human meat pies, tells Verdi she shouldn’t try to escape. She holds out the key for Verdi to unlock the door and imparts one sentence of wisdom: it’s better to be loved by Garvey than to not.
It’s time for the big kill. Each kill has felt like a “big” kill, but Dr. Israel has felt so integral to this story, it’s almost like losing the secondary main character. Dr. Israel wakes up on her operating table. The same probes she had used to kickstart that heart earlier are attached to metal spikes that are sticking out from various points of her body. This next moment brings us one of the gnarliest practical effects of this entire series. We see there are stitches going 306 degrees around Dr. Israel’s wrist and forearm. The doctor tries raising her arm when stitch by stitch the thread snaps, and her arm bends at its midpoint before falling off completely. I cannot describe how viscerally disgusting the shot was, and I loved every second of it.
In one final flashback we see Dr. Israel planting Margaret’s body in the same spot the then Officer Rijkers would find it just hours later.
With a flick of the switch, the Black Widow turns the power on and fries Dr. Israel from the inside out.
Out of every episode from Slasher this one really stood out to me. I appreciate how the showrunners handled this subject matter, and used real-life circumstances to create the horror. Dr. Israel was one of my favorite characters, sans the whole conspiracy for murder side. Seeing her die was unfortunate, but seeing the more sinister side of her character was completely out of left field. With two episodes left, I really have no clue which direction this show will take for its final two episodes. I have a sneaking suspicion Verdi has something to do with the Black Widow. There was one thing cleared up though, Andrew is most likely not the killer. Or are the showrunners toying with us? Are we going to get Scream‘d with two killers? Verdi and Andrew? What about Shanika (Mercedes Morris)? She fits in the Black Widow costume that Georges had.
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I assumed Israel’s death was supposed to be like Frankenstein’s monster, and Widow had attached Salome’s arms to her body. But perhaps I’m overthinking things.
I had assumed Israel’s death was supposed to be like Frankenstein’s monster, and that it was Salome’s limbs attached and sewn to her body. But I could also be overthinking things way too much lol
Oh wow, I honestly didn’t even think of that! It was strange there were new limbs attached to her and I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of that was. That makes perfect sense. Also just watched the final two episodes last night and this season has the best ending out of the entire series!
Uggh. I was hoping the doctor would survive! Should have known better. I Still think Verdi is a killer, and Andrew’s sister. Sorry if you already touched on this. I just discovered this page today and will have to catch up!
Final two episodes just dropped! I think you’ll dig the finale!