Happy Friday the 13th! How about celebrating with a bit of good fortune, courtesy of a little Internet series called The House Between? Today is the online premiere of episode 3.2, “Addicted,” which I believe is one of the very best episodes of the entire series. In it, three (arguably four, if you include Sgt. Brick’s transformation into a bona fide action hero) of the six main characters are completely re-defined by John Muir’s increasingly complex story. I say “increasingly complex,” but that doesn’t quite do justice to this episode, because while things do get more complicated, the entire mythology of the THB world also comes into focus in this episode in a very big way. Some of this is a result of conscious, calculated storytelling and some of it… well, let’s call it kismet.
One of the crew members has recently said that there is a slightly Buddhist train of thought running through the new episode. That reminds me that, way back in season one, Astrid found the word “samsara” written in lipstick on her closet door. In the simplest terms, one might define samsara as Eastern religion’s version of Hell and Purgatory. Instead of being tormented by an eternity of fire and brimstone, “souls” are tormented by life… the repetition of the same painful life, over and over and over. This is essentially what Travis describes at the end of first season, when he confesses to the others that he has “lived this life a dozen times before.” In “Addicted,” we finally find out why.
The Western version of Hell is more obviously invoked in The House Between. Astrid’s warped religious upbringing has resulted in a life filled with fear, anger and self-doubt. That’s how the denizens ended up where they are – the “Dark Matter Entity” at the end of season two (beginning with “Caged” and continuing in “Ruined”) chose Astrid’s tormented “soul” as a form of energy. All of that fear, anger and doubt destroyed the world our characters knew. Everything seemed lost. But… there’s a flip side to the coin. In “Caged,” Theresa explained that something good can come out of fear. In her words: “The beginning of wisdom is fear.” For Bill Clark, that proves true in this new episode, when his character adopts a new perspective on life and is, in a sense, re-born.
For Astrid, the future is more uncertain. In the first episode of season three (“Devoured”), she finally faces her fears – embodied in a supernatural version of her father – and overcomes them. In “Addicted,” we find out what that leaves… Who is Astrid without the fear and anger that has driven her since the very first episode? What’s left? For her, the end is also a beginning.
Let me just add at this point that the performances from these three actors – Lee Hansen as Travis, Tony Mercer as Bill, and Kim Breeding as Astrid – are among the very best in the entire series. As the characters jumped to the next level, the actors stepped up to the challenge, bringing new depth to each of the now-familiar denizens. I must also praise Mateo Latosa, the series composer, who has written some of his most beautiful pieces of music for "Addicted," including a new series open so exciting that I insisted that John also use it at the end of the episode.
But back to the story. I’m not going to say “If you only see one episode of THB, see this one.” Instead, I’d suggest that loyal viewers and newcomers alike watch the last two episodes of season two (“Caged” and “Ruined”) immediately followed by the first two episodes of season three (“Devoured” and “Addicted”). These four episodes contain a subtle thematic movement that I don’t think even John Muir fully anticipated – I don’t know how to explain it except to say that, in these four episodes combined, I believe you can find the “soul” of The House Between. Now, without further ado...
I should add that I’m confident the best is yet to come… For all the progress made in “Addicted,” the story is far from over. Episode 3.3, “Scared,” premieres in two weeks.