Ravenswood is back with its first non-Pretty Little Liars anchored episode, and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more! Season 1, Episode 2 (“Death and the Maiden”) has everything one could want in a supernaturally charged teen drama: death, romance, and junkyard dogs. Even more impressive, Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) continues not to run screaming in horror from this spirit-ridden town. He really wants to stay in this spin-off.
Ravenswood wastes no time in its second showing, killing off one of its main characters before the first commercial break! The lucky protagonist? Miranda (Nicole Gale Anderson), aka the girl Caleb stayed behind in Ravenswood to help. Mission officially unsuccessful.
The four others who were in the car with Miranda — Caleb, Luke, (Brett Dier), Olivia (Merritt Patterson), and Remy (Britne Oldford) — get a front row seat to Miranda’s death scene in what we’re pretty sure is an unrealistic portrayal of how hospitals are actually designed. But what happened to cause the accident? This seems to be the question everyone is asking — the police, parents, and the teenaged passengers themselves. We know that Miranda saw a woman in black on the road in front of the car, causing her to grab the wheel from Remy and send the car river-wards, but Remy insists that there was no one there.
Luke and Olivia’s mother, Rochelle, and Remy’s parents, Simon and Terry, are justifiably relieved to find their children unharmed, but the world’s smallest hospital soon becomes rife with tension. Remy and Luke totally have this Romeo and Juliet thing going on — their parents forbidding them to see one another. Plus, Rochelle has a beef with the town’s police because they totally think she murdered her husband, aka the mayor. (Just like the rest of the town.) Caleb seeks refuge in the hospital’s morgue because… why not?
In the morgue, Caleb meets an old man who works there, who quickly becomes our favorite Ravenswood resident by a) allowing Caleb, who looks like a little lost puppy at this point, to stay, and b) offering Caleb half of his tuna salad sandwich. (We hope this man isn’t the next to die!)
Caleb uses the old man’s sandwich-retrieving exit as an opportunity to look through Miranda’s personal effects. There isn’t much in there besides a phone and some coins, but the perusal of Miranda’s things prompts a banging from the nearby freezer Miranda’s body is currently being stored in. Before Caleb has a chance to sufficiently freak out, Raymond Collins (Steven Cabral), aka Miranda’s estranged uncle, shows up to bring her body back to the funeral home he conveniently happens to run. Why is Caleb still in this town?!
Now that everyone who is going to die in tonight’s episode has died, the gang departs with their respective parental figures. Oh wait, Caleb doesn’t have one of those! Mrs. Grunwald (Meg Foster) convinces Raymond to invite Caleb to stay at their home. And, apparently, Ray is just an old marshmallow at heart, because he invites Caleb back. Because Caleb is still suffering from temporary insanity, he agrees to return to the house that recently tried to kill him. Before departing from the hospital parking lot, however, Raymond stares longingly (or, at least Raymond’s version of longingly) after Rochelle. Hmm… there’s definitely a history there.
Back at Remy’s house, Simon is on full-on reporter/terrible father mode, grilling Remy about the accident and why she was with a) Luke, b) Olivia, c) Caleb, and d) Miranda. Terry swoops in to save her daughter, telling her husband that these questions can wait.
Caleb dreams of Miranda, but it doesn’t feel like a dream. They are back in the car before it veered off the road, and Miranda tells him to find her bag because there is something he will need in it. She also shows him the woman in black she saw in the middle of the road. When Caleb wakes up, he is at Ray’s, and Mrs. Grunwald is hovering. They discuss mortality and macaroons. Caleb doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Mrs. G. notes that, luckily, the afterlife doesn’t care what he believes in.
Surprisingly, Caleb might be having the best post-accident night because, back at the Matheson home, Luke, Olivia, and Rochelle are having the most awkward convo ever. It starts with Luke having to tell their mom that their housekeeper quit months ago and ends with Olivia finding out she won homecoming queen, even after someone threw a bucket of red paint on her during the parade. “It’s my lucky day,” Olivia tells her family, then promptly starts crying. She may be the only character who is reacting rationally to the day’s events.
This show would be almost entirely composed of death and despair if not for the Shakespearean romance between Luke and Remy. Luke interrupts Remy’s research into the Ravenswood curse by throwing pebbles at her window, a la Romeo in the balcony scene. (We see what you did there, show!) She comes down to meet him and they are so adorable together we almost forget one of the main characters died just an act before.
Caleb is having a less romantic eve as his night includes decidedly more spirits than Hannas. In his guest room, a book of Walt Whitman’s poetry flies from the table and onto the floor. Caleb reads the thoughtfully-highlighted section of poetry, prompting the room to more-or-less freak out. Hairbrushes rattle and mirrors break! The latter into an artistically-formed circle of broken glass around a distraught Caleb. Still, he stays.
The next morning, Luke shows Olivia a letter he found from their father to their mother. In it, Papa Matheson is extremely vague about something both he and his wife are not acknowledging. Luke assumes it is an affair. Though he is keeping it quiet, he kind of believes his mother did kill his father. After all, she was the last one to see him that night in his office, and she can’t remember what happened after she left. Quite suspicious, indeed!
Caleb finally calls Hanna, but tells her about 5 percent of what is actually going on. And, by that, we mean that he tells Hanna that Miranda is fine and is currently at her uncle’s. Technically, true, but we imagine Hanna is going to eventually discover the astonishingly large gaps in that little white lie. But not today!
Caleb seeks Remy out at Ravenswood High School, hoping that he can retrieve Miranda’s possessions from Remy’s impounded car. Remy agrees to bring him to the junkyard that night. When Luke finds out about this arrangement, he is not impressed. Good thing Remy does want she wants! After school, she and Caleb hop the fence into the junkyard, barely escaping a vicious guard dog Caleb manages to trap inside of a van.
Remy tells Caleb about the curse: the cycle of history that starts with a lone soldier miraculously returning from war after his or her comrades have been killed, followed by the untimely deaths of five teenagers. This time, the soldier is Remy’s mother and the teenagers seem to be Miranda, Caleb, Luke, Olivia, and Remy. Then, why didn’t they all die? Caleb asks. Remy’s answer: the universe blinked. For now.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a Final Destination force at work in Ravenswood. At the school, Luke is almost choked by his own barbell. Later, in the junkyard, Remy gets trapped by her car window when she reaches inside to grab Miranda’s bag. Caleb manages to save Remy from her car window, but the two are chased by aforementioned guard dog, escaped from the van (with the help of a murderous spirit). Luke shows up in the nick of time to save Remy from the dog’s fearsome bite, and is not so impressed that, of the two times Caleb has hung out with his girlfriend, she has ended up nearly killed exactly 100 percent of the time. He grabs Remy and storms off in a huff of alpha maleness.
How long can these four teenagers outrun death?! Not very long, judging by Remy’s annoying sleepwalking habit. That night, she sleepwalks into the street in front of her house where she is nearly hit by a car. Yikes!
Olivia is, arguably, having a better day. Her best friend Tess has arranged the homecoming queen photo shoot Olivia didn’t get to have the previous night. Olivia isn’t feeling very up to it. She is tired of smiling as if everything is OK and tired of being the public face of her family. Tess convinces her to do it using the much-drawn upon strategy of “fake it ‘til you make it.” That is until Olivia notices an uber friendly text on Tess’s phone from Springer, aka the guy who threw a bucket of red paint on Olivia at the parade. Ouch!
When Olivia confronts Tess about it, Tess tells Olivia that she shouldn’t be so selfish. Springer is a “solid B+ in the boyfriend department,” and after getting Olivia elected homecoming queen, Tess should be able to enjoy some of the spoils. Olivia gives her the crown from her head, claiming that “it fits you better.” Tess seems to agree. She has it on her head, admiring her reflection in a nearby window, before Olivia has even turned the corner.
Back at the Collins’ Funeral Home, Ray and Caleb have a heart-to-heart. Kind of. Caleb notices the bottle of alcohol Raymond has out in his morgue, and apologizes to Raymond for his loss. Raymond looks sad (or, at least Raymond’s version of sad). For his part, Raymond tells Caleb that he can stay in the guest room until Miranda’s funeral in a few days. Has Caleb just inherited a father figure?
Olivia, back home following her friend’s semi-betrayal, confronts her mother about her father’s death. Well, that’s totally what she wants to ask her about, but she chickens out and asks about the state of her parents’ marriage before his death. Namely, a) were they going to get a divorce and b) was her mother having an affair. Rochelle dodges both questions (and we start hatching theories about Rochelle’s passionate love affair with Raymond). Olivia storms upstairs, skillfully avoiding a lurking Luke who was eavesdropping on their convo from the stairwell.
In his creepy little guest room, Caleb finally has the chance to go through Miranda’s bag. He finds a letter written to Miranda before she was born from her mother, conveniently kept dry in a Ziploc bag. (Good thinking, Miranda!). He reads the final lines of the letter, and Miranda pops out of the woodwork. Probably literally, considering she is a ghost. Ironic, Miranda notes, as she was an atheist before her death. (She still has that wry sense of humor!)
Caleb does an impressive job of yet again not running far, far away from this town never to again return. Instead, he is very empathetic. He listens to Miranda’s story of how she followed the sound of Caleb’s voice reading the letter to find her way to him. It seems that there is something about the house that allows ghosts to shuffle into and out of this mortal plane. She tells him that, being dead, feels a lot like coming upon a cold current in the ocean, except the cold current comes is between her and anything she might touch.
Miranda asks Caleb to stay so she isn’t alone, and Caleb once again proves that he is the best boyfriend/friend/stranger ever by agreeing. He asks her about the woman in black she saw on the road. Miranda doesn’t know who she is, but she thinks she is “out here” with her. A collective shiver runs through the viewers at home as the episode ends with the camera winding through the Ravenswood cemetery.
You didn’t think the show could avoid their signature setting for the entire episode, did you?