Tiger King who? Without a doubt, 2020 has been the year of Unsolved Mysteries.
When the true crime series launched on Netflix over summer, the (quite literally) wild tale of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin flew out of the window and was replaced by haunting, moving and strange real life stories around cases that have never been solved.
The premise plays directly into our need to know the intricacies of deeply complex cases, offering us the hope that maybe, just maybe, we could be the key to solving the case if we happened to be around the night in question.
Six episodes didn’t seem enough – and it wasn’t. Fast forward a couple of months and here we have half a dozen more to pour over. But there’s a different tone this time around.
Like Volume One, the second instalment focuses on the missing fugitive (Lester Eubanks), the locked-room mystery (Jennifer Fairgate) and the whodunnit (Jack Wheeler), but the one that really stands out is episode four: Tsunami Spirits.
We were told early on there would be a ghost story this time around, and following the Berkshires UFO episode which played quite heavily on sci-fi tropes, you’d be forgiven if you were expecting a classic horror tale right in time for Halloween.
However, quite correctly, this isn’t what Tsunami Spirits is – and the episode is all the more powerful for it.
The instalment looks at the devastation of the Japanese Tsunami in 2011, which took the lives of over 15,000 people and left over 2,000 missing (still, to this day).
We start with the natural disaster, saw how it wiped out towns instantly, and watch on as mass graves are filled horrifyingly quickly; in Japan it’s custom to cremate the dead, but with the lack of power over the northeastern side of the country, they had to bury the bodies.
The episode then shifts to hearing accounts of paranormal activity from people who suffered losses in the tsunami, as they recall being visited by those they believe died in the tsunami.
Not at one point are these merely “scary ghost stories”. They’re incredibly moving tales of loss from those who are still grieving.
The episode is held together by Taoi Kaneta, a reverend in Japan who explains how he’s had an increase in visits from people experiencing visits.
His message throughout is simple: no one should be scared of these visits, rather, be humbled by them as he says people can help these ghosts pass through to the afterlife. Regardless of religion, Kaneta has been helping anyone who comes to him for support.
It’s incredibly touching and shows how these unexplained paranormal activities have helped a nation unite after devastation and loss.
The episode has also already gained widespread praise by those who have seen it, with many calling the film “poignant” and praising the reverend for this kindness.
The other stories featured in Unsolved Mysteries do, of course, pander to a morbid interest we have in true crime, but Tsunami Spirits brings us back to reality and reminds us of those affected in these cases. The families and friends who have lost a loved one suddenly become the main focus and it is obvious Unsolved Mysteries has turned a corner – it’s not just a great TV show, but it’s a crucial one, too.
Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2 is available to stream on Netflix on October 19th. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.