Midwinter of the Spirit Review: Ep. 1

“There are dangers in this kind of work, Merrily. Not just dangers in the mind and the soul, but dangers in the dregs of humanity who attach themselves to the flipside of what we believe in, little rat eyes in the dark waiting to infect you.”

Midwinter of the Spirit

Afterlife may have finished, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop watching creepy supernatural dramas. No, indeed.

Midwinter of the Spirit, a new three-part drama on ITV which follows a female vicar roped into being Exorcism Representative for her local church (OK, I made the phrase Exorcism Representative up), is inferior to Afterlife in at least two ways: 1) the title is almost impossible to remember; 2) it doesn’t trust us with making the ontological decisions for ourselves. There’s no doubt here that this is a fairly straightforward good/evil tale.

But apart from those things, it was actually quite enjoyable.

The problem with talking about it is that it’s rather slow to start. As in, nothing really happens in this first episode: it’s a slow build-up of suspense, various jigsaw pieces floating around but no sense of the clearer picture. It may be that this will become a drama about faith; or an exploration of the mother-daughter bond; or a thing about church politics; or a combination of all three.

What it definitely is, though, is another drama which combines the supernatural into the mundane. For Merrily (the female vicar), exorcism, knowledge of the occult, is just another job; just another hardship she has to deal with. ITV seems determined to remind us that everyday life is stranger than we think.

Anyway. I liked Midwinter. It’s slow, yes, but it’s also stark and real and absorbing. Better than Stephen Moffat’s last offering, at any rate.

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