Hex, Sky One (UK) / BBC America
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Okay, first of all, I'm a bit confused. I think I vaguely recall seeing this advertised like a year or so ago, maybe even more, considering it first aired in the U.K. in 2004, while I'm watching it for the first time on BBC America in 2007. But in any event, whenever they aired the first series here, I didn't get BBC America, so I didn't get a chance to see it, though it did look like it might be interesting. Well, I've been watching a marathon of old episodes, but... it actually goes a ways into series 2, so I suppose BBC America broke up the two series differently than Sky One originally did. But my confusion goes deeper than that. The show isn't really quite like I expected it to be. For one thing, the character who I thought was to be the main character of the show (based on advertising) doesn't even show up until the second series (or halfway through the first series, depending on how you're watching it). Well... she also doesn't look quite the way I remembered her from the advertising. In fact I think several characters on the show have a similar look, so that for awhile I wasn't even sure which one was going to be the one I thought I'd seen in the ads. It's also weird that even though I've been watching 9 episodes over the course of just a week, it still feels like events unfolded slowly. And it always felt like there was more there, waiting to be revealed, but... never was. Of course, I haven't seen the whole series yet, so we'll see. Also... it sort of feels less supernatural than I expected, more sort of ordinary. But that's probably just because I'm so used to shows that are much more intensely supernatural.
Anyway... it's set at a British school called Medenham Hall, a university I guess, which is on the grounds of the former McBain estate. Apparently there were witches here in the past, including Rachel McBain, and her daughter Esther, I think. Or... I'm not really clear on everything that was revealed about the past. All the McBain stuff that seems to be the main focus of the first series, is set in the 1700s, but later there will be stuff set in the 1800s I think, maybe the 1600s, and also plenty of talk about ancient Egypt... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The central character in the first series is a student at Medenham named Cassie Hughes. The other main character is her roommate and best mate, Thelma Bates. Well, I didn't really like Thelma, personally, at the start of the series. She was just kind of annoying. But eventually she grew on me somewhat. Anyway, she's a lesbian, and while she loves Cassie as a friend, she also wants to be more, but Cassie doesn't. I think what bothered me at first was how persistent and possessive Thelma was, but despite her romantic/sexual love for Cassie never really abating, I think as the series wore on, it did become more about the friendship. And Thelma just generally got less annoying and more helpful.
Again, I get ahead of myself. Cassie and Thelma were both sort of outsiders. There are several other students we frequently see at Medenham, the main one during the first series being Troy, who was a popular member of the in crowd, who were mostly jerks. But he really wasn't like them. Cassie had a crush on him, and he liked her, so eventually they got together, but it was complicated, and brief. And of course, Thelma was jealous. Also in the group was a guy named Leon Taylor, Troy's roommate, who was definitely a wanker, though he also had a thing for Cassie. I think even his friends don't much like him, or at least never show him any respect. Especially Roxanne Davenport, though she's a total bitch, who never seems to respect anyone but herself. And there are at least a couple other people who hang out with the group, Gemma and Tom, though I never really got to know them at all. Tom might not be a bad guy, though. I read somewhere that he was in love with Leon, though I haven't noticed that as yet in the show. Maybe I'm just unobservant. Um, I think Gemma was later replaced by another girl named Alex, and I never even noticed. I probably wouldn't even know either name if I hadn't read them online. And there's another guy named Felix, I don't actually remember him from more than one episode, and I don't know if he was ever part of the group. But he was a nice guy, if socially awkward, perhaps even had a sort of developmental problem or something, I'm not really sure. But he liked Cassie. And ended up killed by a Nephilim.
Yet again, I get ahead of myself. Um... I did also want to mention a couple of people who worked at the school. The headmaster, David Tyrel (Colin Salmon), and an English teacher, Jo Watkins. They talk to each other a lot, as well as to some of the students at times. And it always seemed to me as if they might know something about the weirdness that was going on, though so far I've seen no direct evidence of that. Except that David knew the history of the place, whether he believed in anything supernatural or not. Anyway... it's taken forever, but I'm finally going to start to talk about how the story begins. Well, actually it starts with a flashback to 1743, but after that it's the present. And... I dunno, I guess it all seems normal enough, until Cassie finds a vase, referred to as "the canari," which I guess had been used in a Voodoo ritual seen in the opening flashback. And when she touches it, she begins to get visions of the past, terrifying visions. And subsequently, she begins to display powers, mainly telekinesis. But it will eventually be discovered (by Thelma) that Cassie is a descendant of Rachel McBain, and therefore, I guess, a witch. (The end of the next paragraph is where the major spoilers begin.)
To further complicate matters, Cassie is being watched a mysterious man, who turns out to be a Nephilim named Azazeal (Michael Fassbender). Actually, he's the leader of a group of Nephilim, or fallen angels, though apparently he's the only one not currently trapped in Hell or somewhere like that. And while they're all monstrous-looking creatures, we normally see Azazeal in the guise of a handsome human. In the course of the series, it will be revealed that he's been around for a long time, and has been involved with many human women in the past, apparently including Cassie's mother, who's currently in an asylum, or something like that. And now he wants Cassie. She doesn't really seem to want any part of all this supernatural stuff, witchcraft, destiny, Nephilim... and she certainly doesn't want anything to do with Azazeal. Meanwhile, he's losing his power, and requires a sacrifice... and ends up killing Thelma, at the end of the pilot. However, she quickly returns as a ghost, who can only be seen by Cassie, and supernatural beings such as Azazeal. She doesn't seem to have any ghostly powers or anything, though. I mean she doesn't seem to be able to float or phase through solid objects or whatever. Also, she can't touch people, though she does easily touch inanimate objects and do stuff just as if she were living. And eats a lot, just for the fun of it. You'd think occasionally someone would see objects apparently floating around, but no. Oh yeah, she can also appear in people's dreams.
Anyway, all these complications make it hard for Cassie to get a proper relationship going with Troy, but she tries her best. Unfortunately, Azazeal um... makes him "possessed." By what I'm not really sure. It's weird, it was on account of a cockroach that had drunk Azazeal's blood, then burrowed under Troy's skin. But he was still basically himself, just... darker in temperament. And then he had sex with Cassie, and she became "possessed." And I think Troy no longer was, so... maybe the cockroach left him and entered her? That was unclear to me. In any event, she was still herself, just darker. And she didn't treat Troy or Thelma the ghost particularly well. And in spite of her protestations, she eventually gave in to Azazeal, and had sex with him. And was impregnated with a child that would grow rather quickly inside her.
Thelma, however, found a way to put an end to Cassie's possession, and she returned to normal. And decided to terminate her pregnancy. Unfortunately, the doctor was influenced by Azazeal to secretly give him the child, who would continue to grow fairly quickly. Oh yes, also, Thelma met a ghost named Peggy, who was an Egyptologist. That's when we start learning some ancient history about Azazeal, including the fact that he was in love with the daughter of a Pharaoh, named Herath, who was buried alive by her countrymen after she was impregnated by Azazeal. It seems the baby disturbed the natural order, allowing the dead to walk amongst the living (as Thelma and Peggy are now doing), and if it had been born, 200 demons (Nephilim, I guess) would have been released. Which was stopped before by killing Herath before the child could be born, but now it has come to pass, since Azazeal now has his child by Cassie. And that's the end of the first series.
Or not. As I mentioned, BBC America broke the show up differently. (You'll have to forgive the fact that I'm going to say some things out of sequential order, here.) For a time, Jo Watkins, who was bewitched by Azazeal, helps him raise the child, who he has named Malachi. Though Azazeal still wants to be with Cassie, and constantly insists that her resistance is breaking down, that she really loves him and her child. Troy, meanwhile, has left school. And a new teacher, also a priest, arrives at Medenham, named Jez Heriot. Roxanne soon begins attempting to seduce him, under the pretext of seeking counselling concerning recent deaths or disappearances of her friends- and she soon succeeds, starting an ongoing affair with him. Also, a new student arrives at school, Ella Dee (I think she was the one I originally thought was going to be the main character). She can see Thelma, and she has been killing the women Azazeal impregnated for hundreds of years. She is a witch (or rather, the last of the "Annointed Ones"), with her own telekinetic powers, as well as a vast knowledge of the occult, and an array of supernatural weapons and so forth. Plus she's a good fighter. She regrets that she was too late to kill Cassie before her baby was taken, however. But while she falls in with Roxanne and Leon's group, she also hangs out with Cassie and Thelma to make plans against Azazeal, ultimately attempting to ritualistically kill Malachi. Unfortunately, at the last moment, Cassie changes her mind, and throws herself over her son to protect him, and Ella's dagger kills Cassie, instead. But since her body simply disappears, dead Jedi-style, people at school will consider her missing rather than dead, even if they suspect she's probably dead.
So, now it will just be Ella and Thelma having to deal with Azazeal and his Nephilim comrades. Things get complicated when Ella wants to use Leon as bait for a demon she must kill, but in the course of gaining his trust, she begins to fall for him (and he begins to seem like less of a jerk). Unfortunately, that relationship... doesn't really work out. And later, Azazeal gets Thelma to bring him a gemstone in exchange for arranging a chance to see Cassie one more time, to say goodbye. And while Cassie surreptitiously does more than that, Thelma also gets more than she bargained for when Azazeal uses the stone to torture Ella by constantly reliving the time when she was tortured and tried for witchcraft and nearly burned at the stake... though somehow apparently ended up being saved by the ghost Thelma, though I'm not entirely clear on how she ended up in the past, except that Azazeal had strapped her into a chair where Ella had been tortured in like 1666, I guess. Meanwhile, Ella's sleeping pills had been replaced by Jez (who it turns out is a Nephilim, actually named Ramiel), and they made her appear crazy. So David called in a psychiatrist, who talked to Ella (who, in her frenzied state told the truth, which sounded mad), as well as to Roxanne and Leon about her recent behavior. And so she's taken away to an asylum, at what appears to be the end of what BBC America is calling the first season.
Or, again, not. The last two eps of BBC America's season one weren't in the marathon I watched, but rather aired just before the season two premiere. In those two eps, David quit his job in protest of what had been done to Ella, and Jez was made acting headmaster. Meanwhile, Thelma appeared in Leon's dreams, and influenced him to break Ella out of the asylum, and he took her to stay with a drug dealer friend of his named Max. That didn't last too long, because Leon talked to Tom, who talked to Roxanne, who talked to Jez, who showed up and tried to kill Ella. I should also say that at this point, Malachi is all grown up, or at least in his late teens like the Medenham students, and I got the impression that they knew him, which is odd because I never saw him meet anyone, that I recall. Anyway, Azazeal was worried about his son's safety, as long as Ella's alive, since Malachi is to be like the Messiah of the Nephilim. Oh! There was also a nurse at the asylum, Perie, who was poisoning Ella, because she was actually a fairie working for Azazeal. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, eventually Thelma gave Leon a potion that let him see and hear her while he's awake. He'll continue to be a big help, and will rekindle his relationship with Ella, once she gets better.
Well, in the second BBC America season, Jez's affair with Roxanne is exposed, and Ella kills him, makes it look like a suicide, and David returns as headmaster. Malachi begins attending Medenham, and while Ella is sworn to kill him, she begins to have second thoughts, for reasons I won't mention (yes, I actually am leaving things out, here and there). And Leon and Ella return to school, as well.
Well, that's as far as I've gotten so far, but I shall soon be watching the rest of the series, and making updates to this entry. Sorry to give away so many spoilers, but I'm not really sure how to say much of anything about the show without saying practically everything. If I tried, it'd probably just be something along the lines "Weird stuff happens at an English boarding school involving witches, ghosts, fallen angels, and ties to supernatural stuff in various eras in the past." That's not quite enough, is it? Anyway, at the start of the series, I found it all a bit boring, but interesting enough to keep watching, and each episode was slightly more interesting than the last. It never did go exactly where I expected, and there are things I feel I never learned enough about, things that still don't make sense to me. It's like we're looking at a large puzzle with a few random pieces, but most of the pieces are missing, even if those that are there are clearly part of the same puzzle. Yep, that's all I can think to say for now. I always feel like I'm forgetting stuff, though. And doubtless there will be plenty of changes in the remaining episodes, and some characters may become more important or reveal unexpected secrets.... I certainly look forward to it. I also hope Cassie makes another appearance at some point, somehow. Although oddly, the show is slightly closer to what I expected since her departure, and more interesting, I still think I sort of like her better than the other characters....
Okay... I re-read this review in 2015. It was hilarious. But it's weird to discover that I apparently never finished writing it. I'm not sure why that might be. I feel like I must have seen the whole series, but maybe I didn't, for some reason. *shrug* It's not really important, I guess. From what I've read here, I can't imagine any of it would make any sense to me, even if I did see the whole thing.