‘Ravenswood’ Pilot Recap: The Past Will Haunt You
The ‘Pretty Little Liars‘ spin-off ‘Ravenswood’ premiered tonight, Oct. 22, during ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween. The pilot episode began as a continuation of tonight’s ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Halloween special, ‘Grave New World,’ during which Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn) meets Miranda Collins (Nicole Anderson) on a bus heading to Ravenswood.
Like Caleb, Miranda is a foster kid, and she is heading to Ravenswood to search for her estranged uncle. During the ‘PLL’ episode, both Miranda and Caleb find tombstones engraved with their names and emblazoned with photos of faces identical to theirs, only their look-alikes are dressed in old-fashioned clothing. With his girlfriend Hanna Marin’s (Ashley Benson) convincing, Caleb agrees to stay in Ravenswood with Miranda to help her search for answers.
The pilot of ‘Ravenswood’ begins immediately where ‘PLL’s’ ‘Grave New World’ left off, and Miranda and Caleb head to her uncle’s mansion of a home, where they discover he is a funeral director. Carla Grunwald (the old, former sorority mother from ‘PLL’) is a longtime employee of the funeral home, and works diligently for Miranda’s uncle. Caleb and Miranda tell the uncle about the eerie gravestones, but he claims he has never seen any with their names. Immediately, the creepiness factor starts to set in: while Caleb talks to Uncle Collins, who is preparing a body in a casket, the hand of the dead body jumps — something that the uncle brushes off as the spinal cord moving post-mortem.
The viewer is then introduced to the Matheson twins, Olivia and Luke (played by Merritt Patterson and Brett Dier, respectively), whose mother is accused of murdering their father. Caleb and Miranda watch from afar as the mom furiously scrubs at her dead husband’s grave, attempting to wash away the words “Black Widow,” which someone had written in red on the tombstone. Though the siblings initially seem to support their mother, Luke ultimately reveals that he believes that their mother did, in fact, kill their father.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to prove her uncle wrong, Miranda and Caleb go to take pictures of “their” graves, but they are no longer there. Caleb then heads to the local newspaper to find old records that might tell him more about the gravestones. There, he meets Remy (Britne Oldford), whose father owns the paper and refuses to let him search for the records, which are stored in the morgue downstairs. Caleb later meets with Remy, who is dating Luke despite her father’s reservations. At the coffee shop, Remy details Ravenswood’s haunted past to Caleb.
Things only get spookier here on out. Up in a room at her uncle’s house, Miranda is looking at her mother’s old scrapbook when she sees a terrifying woman with long, dark hair (think the girl from ‘The Ring’) appear from behind the curtain. Miranda then spies a damp puddle forming in the corner of the room. Though she desperately wants to leave town, after Mrs. Grunwald invites them for dinner, Caleb convinces Miranda to stay, telling her he is going to head downstairs to take a bath before dinner.
In the bathroom, a shadowy figure emerges and attempts to suffocate Caleb with the shower curtain and drown him in the tub. Caleb manages to break free, and is convinced that the attempted murderer is Miranda’s uncle.
As the town celebrates Homecoming (during which Livvy, nominated for homecoming queen, has red paint thrown at her), Caleb, Miranda, and Remy head to the bowels of the newspaper office to pour through old records. There, they find Caleb and Miranda’s likenesses — a couple who drowned in the 1800s after a boating accident claimed their lives, and the lives of three other teens. As a dark shadow passes through the room, the trio feels that they are not alone and decide to leave.
As Remy drives Caleb and Miranda in her car, she tells them that she believes they are connected to past occurrences in the town. The five teens who died in the boating accident drowned after the sole surviving Ravenswood war veteran came home, Remy says. And now that her mother, a returning vet who is the sole survivor of her unit, is back, Remy wonders about the connection to these newcomers. As she is relaying her theory, she sees Olivia and Luke walking and offers them a ride. With the five teens piled in the car, Remy heads for a bridge when Miranda sees the same scary woman from the house appear in the middle of the road. Grabbing the wheel, Miranda accidentally steers the car off the road and into the water. Caleb, Miranda, Remy, Livvy and Luke are all seen screaming and banging on the windows as the car slowly sinks to the bottom.
Ultimately, the pilot episode of ‘Ravenswood’ certainly sets up the spook factor, and with the intertwining stories of its residents, the show promises to be more than just a typical spin-off — in time, it seems like it will prove to be a successful show all on its own.