Are You Afraid of the Dark

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E10 “The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun”

This week marked the 25th anniversary of the premier of Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon. So happy American birthday, AYAOTD! And really, what better way to celebrate than by watching a classic episode, which is actually one of the more unusual tales.

Disclaimer: I hate leprechauns. So I was really dreading watching this episode.

When your parents are too lazy to turn off the television when Leprechaun 3 is on and you’re four-years-old, you’ll probably get a bit scarred. I still can’t sleep on my back properly after watching a Leprechaun saw a man in half alive.

But thankfully, “The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun” doesn’t include terrifying leprechauns with bad skin. This tale is a rather sweet one and the first thus far to bring me to tears (though it certainly won’t be the last).

Unlike most episodes which use the Midnight Society to simply bookmark the ends of the episode, their scenes are actually important to the tale. It’s Eric’s first time to tell a tale, and it’s a personal one.

He begins by telling the Midnight Society that his grandfather had passed the week before. His grandfather was Irish, and a great teller of traditional stories. Eric pulls out a tricorne hat he says belonged to his grandfather. And to honor him, Eric dons the hat and says he will share his grandfather’s favourite tale: “The Tale of Jake and the Leprechan.”

Jake is a young boy who dreams of being an actor. His first ever role is in a play called The Will o’ the Wisp. Though he’s not particularly great, he admires his co-star – Erin. After he takes a tumble during a scene, Jake tells the director Lucy that he wishes to be as good as Seamus.

She tells him that Seamus drinks a special tea that gives him his inspiration. Jake thinks the tea would also help him, so Lucy gives him a list of the ingredients in the tea, though they are unusual ones that Erin uses from his own stash.

Undeterred, Jake goes to a local greenhouse for help. There he meets the Irishman Sean O’Shaney, who is the gardener at the greenhouse. While friendly at first, Sean becomes angry when he sees the list of ingredients that Jake hands him. Sean tells Jake to leave, and the boy leaves without his tea.

At the following rehearsal, strange things begin to happen to Jake. During his scene with Erin, his voice begins to change after he takes a sip from a pouch thrown to him by Eric. Apparently no one gives shit that Jake has suddenly hit puberty and speaks like a 40-year-old man, but it certainly shakes Jake.

He returns to Sean in hopes of getting help. Reluctantly, Sean agrees after Jake explains the strange things happening to him the more he rehearses the play. Sea actually becomes eager to help once Jake explains the premise of the play and recites some of the lines from his scene with Erin:

“Yours be mine and mine be yours.”

The next day, Sean attends one of the rehearsals for Will o’ the Wisp. Sean becomes shocked when he sees Erin on stage with Jake. Obviously recognising the man, Sean insides the ropes for the set, and it falls – stopping Erin in the middle of his lines. But for Jake it’s too late. As he runs off stage he sees that his ears have become permanently pointy and elf-like.

Sean tells Jake that he’s been drinking a glamour during his scenes with Erin. The glamour is what is causing Jake to turn into a changeling. And according to Sean, the change will be permanent the next time Jake takes the glamour.

To convince his friend, Sean takes Jake into the basement rooms of the theatre where Erin lives. They set off an alarm to distract Erin and begin searching the rooms.

They discover a shrine of sorts with Jake’s photo. They also see a frog, that Sean later explains was once a human. But before they can get any further, Erin returns and the two friends hide under the bed. Erin begins to make himself comfortable and it’s revealed that his has horrible skin, pointy ears and a disgustingly hairy back.

When they finally escape Erin’s room, Sean tells Jake that Erin is a Banshee. Erin is nothing like an actual Banshee from Irish lore, but we’ll go with it anyway. Erin needs a human soul every seven years to turn into a changeling. Jake thinks he can backout easily, but Sean tells him he can’t survive as half of a changeling. But thankfully Sean has a trick up his sleeve.

On the opening night of the play, Sean takes Jake aside and tells him the steps to beat Eric. First, he has to be brave so Sean gives Jake some rather disgustingly big spiders to eat. Then he says Erin needs a taste of his own medicine (the glamour, but with Sean’s added magic). And finally, Jake must spellbind Erin by not losing eye contact with him.

During their scene together, things seem to work out for Jake until he loses his eye contact with Erin. The banshee turns Jake into a toad, seemingly ending the story. But Sean appears in Leprechaun kit and battles it out with Erin. The crowd enjoy the show, believing it to be a bunch of good tricks.

Sean pulls a rat-like tail from his bag that stuns Erin. Sean offers a trade, and throws the tail at Erin, which turns him into a pail of black grime leaving only a toad behind. Sean uses his magic to return his friend to human form. And as a final treat, gives Jake his tricorne hat.

So was Eric’s grandfather really Jake? Maybe.

The episode wraps up when each member of the Midnight Society give Eric a comforting hug. This is, unfortunately, the first of only two tales that Eric shares. The last will be next week’s episode. And incidentally, the real reason I still run up the basement stairs as a full-grown adult.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E9 “The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

I’ve said this before, but I love Betty Ann’s stories. Her tale this week verges more on the mystical fantasy than true horror. It’s a tale that, according to Betty Ann, that has spanned centuries. The tale begins in 1966, with a girl with a cobra tattoo trying to hide from some men trying to chase her. She hides something in a basket, and lowers it into water of the school pool.

In the modern day, “The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is about Dean and his friend Alix. Dean isn’t good at much. He doesn’t participate in anything and doesn’t have any friends besides Alix.

Like a normal teenager, Dean doesn’t think he has the power to change any of his luck himself, but instead thinks he’s doomed. This is one of those eye-roll 90’s cliches where the name character is cute but we’re meant to believe he’s a loser. But either way, Dean gets pretty bad grades and is desperate to do better.

One day, an archaeologist named Dr Oliver visits the school and teaches Dean and Alix’s class about several of the artifacts she has. It’s one object in particular that catches Dean’s attention. Dr Oliver shows the children a golden sceptre in the shape of a cobra that apparently belonged to a Babylonian sorcerer.

According the inscription on the sceptre, the sorcerer Goth enslaved people to do his bidding, but following Goth would bring the follower good fortune. After class, Dean asks archaeologist if he can have a closer look at the sceptre. As he stares into the cobra’s eyes, they light up and Dean falls under its spell.

Dean, now in a trance-like state, does into the basement of the school and pulls up the basket that has been forgotten for decades. He removes the hidden object from the basket and takes it with him.

In the following days, Dean gains a new confidence. His hair is better, he sits up straighter, he gets better clothes. He becomes Bobby Briggs. One day during a science exam, he turns in a blank test and puts the teacher under a spell that gives him an A+ for a grade.

Alix notices a change in her friend and tries to talk to him. But he’s over her now that he has a gang of minions to help do his bidding (or Goth’s, rather). Though this is typical hormonal stuff, Alix really knows something is wrong when she catches Dean stealing mercuric acid from the science room.

She follows Dean into the basement room where she spies on him an his similarly-clad friends mixing up a sort-of-potion in a barrel. But Alix is shit at spying and is nearly caught when she knocks over something in the room. After escaping the minions, Alix spies on Dean again as he calls forth Goth by playing the orb from the basket into the secptre’s mouth.

To Alix’s amazement, a head appears in the fumes from the barrel. Goth begins speaking to Dean, but is interrupted when Alix yet again knocks some stuff over.

Alix runs away from Goth and Dean and seeks help from her science teacher, but to Alix’s dismay – the teacher is also under Goth’s influence. The teacher asks Alix to join their group, but the girl leaves in fear. She is caught by Dean when she goes to the auditorium. While he initially seems like himself, he tells her that he enjoys all the fortune brought to him by Goth.

Later that night, Dean and his group are at the school moving barrels of mercuric acid. Alix is there trying to spy, but (shockingly) gets caught yet again. Dean tells his former friend that while he gave her one chance, he isn’t giving her a second. He tells his lackeys to keep her near.

Dean and the others head into the school with Alix. On their journey, Dean tells Alix the story of a girl who, decades before, was found in the pool room completely mad. The room was sealed off eventually, but Dean had managed to get the keys for them to enter.

They enter the pool room and Dean orders the others to start pour in the acid into the pool. In an attempt to stop him, Alix removes the orb from the cobra’s mouth, and the others collapse, apparently out cold. But Dean continues his spell anyway. Finally, Goth is raised from his purgatory (or whatever).

When Goth sees Alix, he decides to kill her after all of her meddling. Awoken by the threats on his friend’s life, Dean turns on his master. He attempts to go to Alix’s help, but is frozen in place by Goth. Dean shouts to Alix, telling to get rid of the sorcerer by pouring chlorine into the pool.

Alix does as she’s told and the sorcerer is sent back. The two friends collapse together. When Alix asks how Dean knew how to get rid of Goth, he tells her that it was something he remembered learning in their science class. Apparently the boy actually learned a trick or two.

After the friends and the former minions leave, Dr Oliver appears to pick up her staff. She tells Goth that there will be more chances to raise him as she’s hidden jewels for the sceptre in schools all over the country.

Betty Ann’s tale is a pretty familiar one, and that’s mostly because it resonates so much. Granted we all can’t raise ancient Babylonian sorcerer’s, but so many people turn on their friends in hopes of achieving something greater. And really, it’s not too hard to turn back to them if you’re willing to admit your mistakes.

In the span of these few episodes, it’s incredible how much the quality of the show has improved. The writing was a touch silly, but the acting was a far improvement in “The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” The look of the episodes is far less cheap-looking. And this episode proves the show is just about to hit its stride.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“Al-IX.” – Dean. Every SINGLE time.

“Mystic River! I’ve done it!” – What Dean says when he raises a god (I think. This might not actually be a quote).

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E7 “The Tale of the Captured Souls”

I’m just going to get this out of the way: Kiki is hands-down my least favourite kid in the Midnight Society. She’s really mean (actually, most of the kids are but with Kiki is just feels unnecessary), she thinks people (Kristen) are silly just because they have fears.

But I have to admit, the girl tells a good story.

“The Tale of the Captured Souls” is like a science fiction Picture of Dorian Gray, a play on the camera-stealing-your-soul myth. Kiki references Native American tribes that hated having their pictures taken because they thought the cameras stole their souls.

In the tale, Danny and her parents take a summer vacation trip to a large home near a lake. When they arrive, they’re greeted by a young boy who looks like he’s just stepped out of a photograph from the Dust Bowl.

The creep introduces himself as Peter. He tells Danny’s parents that his own family are away and he’s in charge of the inn. But how they’ve not run away after that bit of news is beyond me. And even worse, when they see their rooms, they find that they’re covered in mirrors. Lots of fucking mirrors. But they mostly seem to find this quirky instead of deeply unsettling.

Despite the blaring sirens, the family takes Peter under their wing. Danny’s dad makes her invite him in on their game of catch, even if Peter is pretty crap. But when Danny’s mom asks to take a photo of them, Peter begins to panic and instead asks if he can take theirs.

Danny, being a bit more clever than her parents, knows something is up and goes to explore Peter’s room. Peter catches her, but is pretty calm about it. She finds an old photograph of a boy who looks identical to Peter, but the boy claims it’s his great-grandfather or whatever.

What Danny also notices is the experiment that Peter is running in his room. He explains to her that it as a long-running experiment set up by his grandfather of “transference of energy fields” or something. The roses sit withering as the geraniums thrive – apparently living off the roses’ energy.

Then, like the gentleman he is, Peter points out that Danny has a MASSIVE ZIT on her face. Poor girl. She runs off to check herself out in the mirror in her room.

After she leaves, Peter presses a button that turns his bedroom into an evil scientist’s lab. A panel in his wall opens to expose a series of security camera footage. In the images are Danny and her parents – looking at themselves in the mirrors (or rather just in the mirrors’ vision). Peter then steps into a large machine where he seemingly gets the energy that is being sucked out of his guests.

Over the next few days, Danny’s skin gets worse and her parents begin to grey and take a lot of naps. And suddenly, Peter’s baseball game is strong.

Still distressed over her bad skin, Danny goes to check herself out in the bathroom mirror when she gets an accidental shock when she touches the mirror. When she slams the medicine cabinet’s doors, the mirror shatters and reveals a hidden camera. Her dad comes to see what’s upset her, but is too tired to give a damn and goes to nap.

Danny continues her investigation by going to the plot of land Peter hadn’t allowed her into before. She sees a number of headstones, including one that reads “Peter Kirlan III 1917 -” but doesn’t have a date of death. She then notices a set of stranger markers: those in the shape of a man, a woman, a child and a dog (?).

She returns to the house, now highly suspicious of Peter. She begins to remove mirrors from around the house, and her parents scold her for it (apparently they think it’s normal to feel as poorly as they do). Taking it a step farther, Danny goes back to Peter’s room where she accidentally discovers his lab. When she looks at the monitors, she sees that her parents are sitting down, having tea with an elderly man she’s never seen before.

When she races downstairs, she finds that it’s Peter in the chair where the old man had been. She finally confronts the boy, who tells Danny that her parents are bout to be “checking out”. She takes a photo of him, but tells her she’s too late to save her parents.

Peter then extends his own twisted version of an olive branch, by offering Danny a stay at his place where she too can be eternally youthful. She solidly turns him down in favour of her parents’ lives. Peter goes to his lab once more to finish off his work on Danny’s parents.

Danny goes to check up on her parents and finds them near death. She runs up to Peter’s lab/bedroom where he is continuing his work. She grabs a switch a pulls it down to zero – reversing the aging process. When she finds her parents afterwards, they’re both back to normal and Danny’s skin has returned to normal.

The family then decide to check out (because it has seriously taken this long). Before the family head off, Danny’s mom shows her a Polaroid of an old man, asking her daughter if she knows who it is. Danny shrugs and says it is just a sad, lonely old man.

Just before Danny leaves, she sees a now-elderly Peter in the door speaking to her. He tells her that it’s finally time to join his family, whom he has left for so long. So, bye, Peter. You git.

And that’s the season’s first story from Kiki. A solid entry, girl. The best part of the episode is Danny’s parents. They’re me. Complain and take long naps. That’s what’s up. But seriously, someone better give this inn some low ratings on Yelp. Peter seems like a bit of a creep.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“I always admired a girl with great physical strength.” – Peter the pervy creep

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E6 “The Tale of the Super Specs”

This has to be one of the most 90’s things I’ve ever watched. For one: joke shops are a legit thing. And two: there are kids just doing some insane shit in the background – backflips, pliés on the school steps, horrendous matching floral shirts.

And, well, this episode has to be one of the most zany, and enjoyable episodes yet.

Gary of the Midnight Society is hanging out with Kristen (despite the fact I didn’t think they were supposed to be friends out side of their stories) at his family’s joke shop. She tells him that no one thinks his stories are scary anymore. The following meeting, he overhears everyone saying the same thing, so he presents to them “The Tale of the Super Specs.”

Weeds and Marybeth are a young couple. They’ve been dating for ages, apparently. Two whole weeks! Weeds is a practical joker who loves to mess with his friends, including his girlfriend. But Marybeth finds that aspect of his personality a bit irritating.

The two are at Sardo’s magic/joke shop so Weeds can stock up on his jokes for April Fools. While there, Weeds grabs a bag of magic dust and chants “some voodoo” spell. As he throws the dust, it lands on some wacky-looking glasses. Weeds eventually agrees to buy a pair from Sardo, but when Marybeth puts them on, she sees a figure dressed all in black.

And when the glasses are off, she sees nothing. But Weeds nor Sardo can see what Marybeth sees.

The following day, April Fools’ Day, Weeds gets to work on his practical jokes. He uses the dust, and each time he misses seeing that the magic works. He makes a girl’s voice like a chipmunk after putting the dust in her yogurt. He also makes a basketball shot when his back is turned.

But Marybeth is dealing with the brunt of the magic. Each time she looks through the glasses, she sees more images that disturb her. A woman in a black veil appears to her next and points at Marybeth.

The girl tries throwing the glasses away, but discovers them again later inside her school bag. She puts them through the mail slot at Sardo’s store, but the super specs keep reappearing.

Marybeth finally wears the glasses for a while. She sees a kettle on the hob that isn’t there when she moves her hand through it. There’s a fire in the fireplace that isn’t lit. Then she sees three of the black-clothed figures inside her house and decides to go to her boyfriend for help.

Though Weeds is convinced that his girlfriend is only playing an April Fools’ joke on him. When he doesn’t help her, Marybeth goes to Sardo’s one last time. He agrees to help her when she tells him about the spell that Weeds had performed the previous day.

Sardo tells Marybeth that the spell cast was called the Second Sight. But instead of seeing ghosts, Marybeth is seeing a second dimension. It’s a parallel universe that has opened up inside of Marybeth’s house (some sort of metaphor about an open window”).

The bad news for Marybeth is that to reverse the spell, someone needs to perform the counterspell. And the only person around to do it is Sardo himself.  Oh and the people in the other dimension could take over theirs.

So on the scale: it’s pretty bad.

The two find Weeds and his magic dust and they try to stop the spell together. Sardo begins his work at Marybeth’s house. He’s clearly a kook and tries using a crystal ball with the spell. When Marybeth puts on the glasses, she sees that they’re surrounded by black-donned ones, only now both Weeds and Sardo can see them.

Then (excitingly) a pair of giant eyes appears to them, scolding them for tampering with the cosmic plane. She (the eyes) reverses their spell because both universes can’t exist at the same time.

Suddenly, everything looks normal in Marybeth’s house. Two children who look identical to Marybeth and Weeds walk out. They speak to the veiled lady who tell them that the ‘ghosts’ are gone. As Marybeth and Weeds were trying to get rid of the Other Dimension, the Other Dimension was trying to get rid of them.

And Marybeth, Sardo and Weeds scream from the crystal ball – trapped in the crystal ball, shouting for help.

After his story finished, Gary hands out some super specs to the Midnight Society. He tells them to all wait and put them on at the same time. When they do, they all spot a figure dressed in all black. They all, minus Kristen and Gary, scream and run. It is after only an April Fools’ joke Gary played on the kids with David in costume.

I loved this episode. It was the right blend of zany and delightfully spooky. There’s something satisfying about watching the kids lose. Does that make me a monster? Well. It’s very Twilight Zone like and that makes me appreciate it more.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“That’s Sar-DOH! No Mister.  Accent on the do!” – Sardo, wasting everyone’s time

Are You Afraid of the Dark S1E5 “The Tale of the Hungry Hounds”

This episode should be better because of one thing: dogs.

Unfortunately, “Tale of the Hungry Hounds” one of the more forgettable episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. We can blame Kristen for this one. It seems that’s the thing to do if you’re in the Midnight Society. Seriously. How are these kids friends? They’re all little jerks.

It’s Kristen’s turn to tell a story and she brings a long a big bloodhound named Elvis. He’s apparently there for the sound effects for her story, but I think he’s just eye candy.

Kristen’s tale is about two cousins, Amy and Pam (played by Mia Kirshner). Amy is a city girl visiting her country cousin. One day, the two decide to dig through Pam’s attic, where her mom keeps the family heirlooms.

Just as Amy says she doesn’t believe in ghosts, a suitcase falls and opens. She picks up one of the photographs and mistakes the girl on the horse for Pam. But her cousin corrects her, telling Amy that it’s actually their Aunt Dora, who died when she was young during a horse riding accident.

Because of the accident, Pam’s mom is haunted by Dora’s ghost. She doesn’t allow Pam to take horse riding lessons, believing her daughter may meet a similar fate.

But the girls also discover a trunk with Dora’s name on it. But it’s locked with a code that neither one knows.

Later, the two play with a ouija board. Without meaning to, the cousins contact a spirit that says “LET ME OUT” and gives them the set of numbers 1-4-9. The numbers are, of course, meant for Dora’s trunk. Despite Pam’s protests, Amy gleefully goes into the attic and opens the trunk with the combination.

Inside the trunk are a riding hat and jacket. Pam is thrilled and throws on the jacket. But with the jacket, she becomes possessed by her Aunt Dora. An entrance in the attic opens, leading out to some stairs that go down into a woods at nighttime (and as Amy keeps pointing out – it’s not night).

Dora/Pam go to the family cemetery where Dora’s grave is. On the grave is a ‘gift’ from a fox that Dora had released. The little fox was meant for the hounds’ chase, but she let it go before the fox could be killed. She took a ride after that, in which she was then killed.

But the hounds were angry at her for not feeding them before death (which doesn’t really sound like dogs, to be fair. Short-term memory and all that).

As they leave the graveyard, a ghostly-looking man appears who scolds Dora for not doing her chores. Dora identifies the man to Amy as Giles the stable keeper. He was killed when the hounds were let out that day, and he had a heart attack.

So Giles is a bit of a dick, I guess. Way to blame a child.

Freaked out by the dead man, the two girls run into the barn, where they are then locked in. Dora/Pam tells Amy that she needs to feed the hounds. To Amy, this sounds like a pretty dumb idea. She locks her possessed cousin in a room and searches for the dog kibble. While searching, though, Dora/Pam gets out and lets the dogs out.

Amy is unable to get the food to the hounds on time. She leaps up on a bale of hay and tries to fight the dogs off. But they run away when they catch the scent of the red fox.

Amy goes out of the barn where she sees Dora on top of her horse. The horse gallops off, and Amy chases after. She eventually finds the exit back to the attic where she finds Pam, who doesn’t remember anything about her possession.

But after that day, Pam’s mom is free from being haunted by her sister’s death. And when Pam asks for horse riding lessons one last time, her mom finally agrees.

So I guess it works out in the end. Torture children about not doing their chores so much that when they die, they are forever trapped until they finally do it. Makes sense to me.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“‘As you are, so I was. As I am, so will you be.’ Nice thoughts.” – Amy, having fun in the graveyard

“Don’t you do anything around here except play games? What are we gonna do next, Death Row, shuck some corn?” – top city bitch Amy

Are You Afraid of the Dark S1E4 “The Tale of the Twisted Claw”

My favourite episodes of AYAOTD tent to be the ones that are a bit more original that the ones that heavily rely on using old stories. This episode, the Midnight Society seem to lack any sort of imagination. No one can tell a full story until David says he wants to share “one he’s been working on”.

But David is lazy and I’m going to call this plagiarism (or something – it’s probably not). “The Tale of the Twisted Claw” is really just a retelling of The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacob’s, but since he’s like a 12-year-old kid, I’ll give him a break.

It’s the night before Halloween in David’s tale. That’s mischief night, and two friends, Kevin and Dougie, are up to no good. They get up to the usual little boy shenanigans, but decide to take it one step further when Kevin has the idea to go to “the witch’s house”.

The boys approach the house of the witch, actually known as Miss Clove, and knock on her door. When she answers, they spray her in the face with shaving foam. The elderly lady tumbles backwards and knocks over a large vase. As the vase shatters, the two boys run.

But on Halloween, the boys actually have the balls to go back to Miss Clove’s house during trick or treating. She kindly invites them in and tells them she has a special gift for them. While she goes to retrieve her things, the boys notice that the vase is still smashed on the ground. Which, to be fair, is kind of weird.

Miss Clove’s gift, though, is much weirder. She gives them the claw of a vulture, which is swears is made from wood. She tells them that the claw will grant each of them three wishes. Not very convinced, nor not really wanting to hurt the lady’s feelings, the boys take the claw and get on their way.

While leaving the house, Kevin wishes to be home and lose his stupid trick or treating. Though his wish is accidental, the claw moves in Dougie’s hand. He drops the claw and tells Kevin that the wish will work. On their way home, the two boys are then chased by a group of ‘bad kids’ on bikes.

The next day, Kevin makes his second stupid wish when he says that he wants to beat their fellow classmate Bostick in the 600 metre race. Kevin does win the race, but only have Bostick trips over a massive dog and break his leg. But for some reason, Dougie is the only one who seems to have noticed the animal.

Then that night, Kevin goes over to Dougie’s house while Dougie’s parents are out for dinner. Dougie tells Kevin about Bostick’s broken leg, and begins to feel upset and guilty.

His friend’s conscience gets on his nerves and Kevin grabs the claw saying that he wished that Dougie would lose his folks. When the wish is made, the phone begins to ring. Dougie answers and the police on the other line tell him that his parents had been in a bad car accident. Before he can hear their actual status, he hangs up.

Panicked, Dougie wishes that his grandpa was back. Problem is, as Kevin points out, Dougie’s grandpa is dead. The boys rush to the window and see a car approaching – Dougie’s grandpa’s car. The two boys scuffle over the claw then the doorbell rings.

Quickly, Dougie apologises for what he did to Miss Clove and wishes that anything that happened because of the claw had happened. When the noise at the door continues, Dougie gets up to face his grandfather. But at the other side of the door are his parents, safe and sound but without house keys.

Then everything seems to be sorted. But the boys answer the door one more time and find the broken vase repaired on the doorstep with a note that reads “Tick or treat.”

This episode is the classic be careful what you wish for tale. It’s incredibly overdone, but AYFOTD does manage to make the best of it. Though the Midnight Society act like the story is a fucking revelation. But major points for the super gross set. It’s strangely mesmerising. Like Argento if he decided floral 90’s would be his thing.

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