Thursday, December 20, 2012
Cult-TV Blogging: Brimstone: "Mourning After" (February 12, 1999)
The final episode of Brimstone (1998 – 1999), titled “Mourning After,” rivals “It’s a Helluva Life” as the best installment of the short-lived horror program. The repetitious “investigation of the week” formula is dropped, and instead this story focuses squarely on Detective Stone (Peter Horton) and his predicament.
In particular, Stone desperately wants to reach out to his wife (or, technically, widow…) Rosalyn (Stacy Haiduk), who still believes he is long dead. But Stone isn't certain how to approach her, or even if it is right to burden Rosalyn with the truth of his situation as the Devil’s bounty hunter, essentially.
“Mourning After” takes place on Valentine’s Day as a lonely Stone reminisces about his life with Rosalyn. In particular, he remembers the day they moved into a second story apartment together.
In the present, Stone follow Rosalyn home and discovers that she has a new man in her life, a handsome real estate attorney named Barry (Mark Valley). But the more Stone probes, the more he grows concerned about this character. As he soon learns, Barry is actually a vengeful Ashe (Teri Polo) in disguise. She is looking to become Rosalyn, actually, so that Stone and she can share real love together.
A charming and heartfelt hour, “Mourning After” finds Stone battling his conscience. Is it right to burden Rosalyn with his presence, and the facts of his (admittedly strange…) life? Or, as his beloved wife, does she simply deserve to know the truth? If she had him back, would she care about the circumstances?
Stone’s jealousy also pops up when he meets Barry, and there are some great moments here for Horton to play barely concealed rage as Barry keeps discussing how beautiful Rosalyn is, and how he just likes to just spend the weekends at home with her. Of course, this is coded talk for sex, and Stone just quietly burns.
As the last episode of the series -- though not intended as such – “Mourning After” sees the return of the monstrous but incredibly sexy Ashe (Teri Polo), who is still on the loose when the credits roll. The episode also brings Rosalyn a realization that her husband is alive.
After saving Rosalyn from Ashe, Stone leaves his wife a Valentine’s Day snow-globe that boasts significance in their shared history. But while Rosalyn now has information that her dead husband is actually alive, the series seems to leave Stone with the idea that, perhaps, he has seen Rosalyn for the last time.
His final, emotional moments in the series -- looking back at Rosalyn while hiding on the side of a speeding garbage truck -- seem to indicate that Stone has made his peace and decided to put the past to rest, if only so Rosalyn can truly live, and truly move on.
It would have been wonderful to see the next chapter of this tragic love story, but of course, Fox canceled Brimstone (1998 – 1999) and brought the story to a premature end. Originally, "It's a Helluva Life" and "Mourning After" aired consecutively, meaning that the series ended on a true high note, and an incredibly emotional one too.
Watching Brimstone for the first time since 1999 (when I wrote about it in my book Terror Television), I have been struck by how well the series holds up in 2012. The visuals are beautiful, and Horton and Glover are really terrific in the series. Glover has the flashier role, of course, but Horton just quietly holds the whole enterprise together, presenting audiences the portrait of a flawed but very human man.
I just can't help but think that if Fox had shown a little more faith, Brimstone would have caught on, and run for at least three years or so. It deserves to be more than a cult-tv obscurity. It's really that good.
I hope an official DVD is forthcoming.