Are You Afraid of the Dark S1E3 “The Tale of the Lonely Ghost”

Early Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes went hard on the ghost storylines. Like “The Tale of the Phantom Cab,” this episode has more of an urban legend feel.

This is also yet another episode with a cranky/bitchy ginger. So there’s also that.

The tale of the week is from David, who seems semi-inspired by the bickering going on within the Midnight Society. His tale, “The Tale of the Lonely Ghost,” is mostly unremarkable other than a stellar performance from one of the best 90’s ginger villains ever: BETH.

Over summer vacation, Amanda is visiting her aunt while her parents are away. She’s supposed to be hanging out with her cousin Beth, but finds that Beth is super territorial and rude. And she HATES having her toy animal collection moved (and we’re supposed to believe that she’s a ‘cool girl’).

The house next door has been for sale for ages. Aunt Dottie, who is the real estate agent for the house, says that no one ever bothers to look at the house. According to Beth, the house is haunted. And if Amanda wants to hang with Beth and her friends, Amanda has to follow Beth’s stupid rules and do an initiation – spending the night in the house next door.

The next day, Amanda bumps into Nanny, Amanda’s nanny who I think is actually called Nanny (apt). Nanny drops her locket, and as Amanda hands it back to Nanny, she notices a picture of a little girl inside. They both overhear that Aunt Dottie wants to get rid of Nanny because, like Beth, she thinks Nanny no longer serves purpose at the house.

Before Amanda goes into the house for her ‘initiation,’ Beth tells her the story of the house. A little girl who couldn’t speak was sent to her grandmother’s house when her mother got word that the girl’s father was ill. But the little girl never made it to her grandmother’s house. On her way, the girl was bullied by a group of children, who chased her back to the house.

The little girl ran into her room and was locked it. She couldn’t escape and eventually starved to death, as no one knew that she was there.

With that in mind, Amanda heads into the house alone. But she isn’t there for long when strange things begin to happen. She sees “HELP ME” written backwards on the wall. When she turns to look in the mirrored door, she sees the writing reflected to read properly. Then she sees the ghost.

A little girl appears and reaches her hand out to Amanda. Scared, Amanda runs from the house.

The next day, both Amanda and Beth are in trouble. Amanda snitches and is forced to clean up the writing in the bedroom. Beth has to join as it was her idea.

But when the girls get to the room, it’s covered in messages pleading for help, a lot more than the one that Amanda saw the night before. The door closes behind them and Beth is lured towards the image she sees in the mirrored door: it’s covered in dolls and toy animals that rivals even her own.

Before Amanda can stop her, Beth reaches into the door and becomes stuck in the mirror, and out comes the ghostly girl. Amanda begins to cry and plea for help herself, but then realises that the little girl is harmless. She hands Amanda a locket, which is the other half to Nanny’s necklace.

Amanda soon realises that the girl is Nanny’s daughter. She rushes to get Nanny, and stops her before the woman can leave in a cab with her things. She begs Nanny to go with her to the house, and while Nanny say she refuses, she eventually joins when Amanda shows her the locket.

Nanny and Amanda arrive in the room and Nanny becomes overwhelmed at the sight of her little girl. The two embrace, and Nanny agrees to go into the mirrored world with her little girl.

Beth doesn’t realise that she’s been freed, and continues to scream for help. By then her friends have arrived, and they (with Amanda) have a good laugh at Beth’s expense.

Because if there’s one thing that beats bullying: it’s making the bully feel like crap.

The ending to David’s story falls a bit flat. For one: did Nanny just agree to live in a mirror for the rest of her life? I mean, I know she’s “old” but surely living your existence out in a mirror with your dead daughter is just a bit demonic? Also, I don’t think giving Beth a taste of her own medicine and ganging up on her is a great moral lesson.

But maybe that’s just me.

There’s also a subplot where David gives Kristen a birthday present. After the Midnight Society meeting is adjourned or whatever, Kristen opens the present and sees that it’s a locket, like the one in the story. Which is…sweet? I have a feeling David is going to grow up believing there’s such thing as a “friend zone.”

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“How does one prove they are not a ‘zeeb’?” – Amanda the zeeb

“I think she must’ve been driven insane by the ghost. Which reminds me, there’s a pool party over at Sally’s on Saturday. I suppose you wanna come?” – Beth the bitch

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