In the first episode of Shining Vale, we met the Phelps family, who moved to Shining Vale after Pat had a fling with the handy man at their apartment building. Pat is suffering from depression, and has begun seeing a ghostly woman inside her house. There is a second woman she has seen outside the house, but we soon find out this woman is decidedly corporeal, and is in fact a neighbor.
It’s the middle of the night, and Pat is tossing and turning. We get a shout-out to Paranormal Activity (one of the many homages Shining Vale pays to horror movies) as she gets in and out of bed. She hears footsteps and music, and follows Roxie the dog right into that darned closet. Suddenly, the closet door slams, and Mira Sorvino burns her arm with a cigarette. Ouch! Pat wakes up as she falls out of bed onto the floor.
Showing us once again that Shining Vale is partly a comedy, teenage Jake stumbles into the bedroom, claiming he had a nightmare. He climbs in bed between his parents, and I laughed out loud.
The next morning, Pat shows Terry the cigarette burn on her arm (to his credit, he doesn’t try to claim a deer must have done it). Adding to the strangeness of the day, Gaynor isn’t dressed in booty shorts or a short school girl skirt, she is pretty covered up and actually wearing a cross necklace!
That mystery is solved when a cute teenage boy named Ryan shows up at the front door also wearing a cross around his neck. With him is mother, who happens to be the strange woman Pat saw outside on move-in day. She is going to take Gaynor and Ryan to school, and she suddenly becomes very intense, telling Pat something wrong in the house. “It senses your weakness.” Pat barely pays attention, which probably isn’t a good idea.
What’s up with the haunted closet in Shining Vale?
Pat shows Terry the haunted closet, which he finds unremarkable other than the growth chart he sees penciled in on the inner door frame. It’s labeled with the name Daisy. We get a nice creepy moment as the camera shows us some abrupt movement beneath the wallpaper.
In couple’s therapy, the counsellor asks Terry how he’s dealing with his anger, and Terry plays it off, saying he just chops wood. Pat’s depression is worse, and the therapist thinks it might be a good idea for her to get out into Shining Vale and make some friends. She doesn’t look thrilled at the thought, and he agrees to up her anti-depression dosage.
The funniest scene of this episode is when Gaynor attends the school Chastity Club meeting. When asked to introduce herself, she instead rattles off details of her first sexual experience. Oops, that’s a bit of an overshare!
Pat meets with her editor, who likes the chapter she submitted. She tells her she could be the next Sylvia Plath, and Pat reminds her that Plath stuck her head in an oven. Meanwhile, Terry has gone to pay Frank the handyman a visit to return his drill and, in return, drill him about his fling with Pat. Frank says he found Pat crying, and he comforted her, he didn’t intend it to be anything more than that, and he doesn’t love her.
Frank has a really swanky espresso machine, which Terry ends up taking with him. He even gets Frank to carry the behemoth out of the building for him.
Pat is at the book store buying a copy of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and sees her realtor Robyn and the other members of the Shining Vale Ladies’ Auxiliary Club, who invite her to join them. Pat goes over reluctantly, but leaves shortly after Robyn tells the other ladies that she wrote Cressida Unbound (AKA “Lady Porn).
Back at home, Pat sees Roxie chasing the tail end of a yellow ribbon that’s being pulled underneath the haunted closet’s door. She sees it go into the vent, then wakes up in the attic, where she finds a copy of Cressida Unbound.
I think Courteney Cox’s time spent filming the Scream movies has paid off, because she really does a great job conveying fear and shock in the scarier moments of the show.
While eating takeout for dinner that evening, the doorbell rings, and Jake is like, “Oh, yeah, I invited my online friend Fred over for dinner.” Of course, Pat and Terry think Fred is going to be a fully grown man who is grooming teenage boys, and when Terry opens the door, there is indeed a grown man there. Turns out he is Laird, Fred’s father, and Fred really is a teenager. Laird came over with his son, because he was also convinced that Fred was being lured over by a “pedo.”
Poor Laird is sad and lonely since his wife left him for his best friend, so he invites himself over for dinner. Pat has had enough, and goes into the kitchen followed by Terry. When she recognizes their “new” espresso machine as being Frank’s, Terry realizes that the one-night stand was not just one night, and Pat breaks down, telling him she f***ed up everything. They embrace and have a tender moment that is interrupted by Laird standing in the doorway.
Pat is reading in bed that night, and her ghost friend appears, saying, “Use your words.” Pat pulls out some Scrabble tiles and starts using them to form words. She ends up with “Daisy was the last to die.” She goes to the closet to look at the growth chart, and sees the number 8 written next to the tallest mark. She hears music, and peeks through a hole in the wall, only to be pulled back by the ghost. Mira Sorvino smiles and says, “Good news, Patricia. You’re not crazy.” The closet door slams shut and the episode ends.
So many questions! Who is that ghost? Who is Daisy? Will Gaynor get kicked out of the chastity club? Are deer really pulling all these pranks, as Terry seems to think? Tune in Sunday on Starz to find out!
Are you enjoying Shining Vale? Who do you think the ghost woman is? Tell us your theory in the comments section.