Requiem, the spooky supernatural thriller about a cellist’s quest for her real identity in rural Wales, has finished airing on BBC1 with many of its issues resolved – and one or two outstanding things for fans to grapple with.
The way is certainly open for a second series should the BBC and co-producer Netflix – which is due to air the series from March 23rd – so desire. But we caught up with creator and writer Kris Mrksa to answer some of the burning questions we have about it.
Last we saw, Matilda (Lydia Wilson) had established that she was missing school girl Carys Howell. And she confronted those conspirators who had forced her abduction – before escaping the spooky Dean House unscathed. But she did so having been apparently possessed by some form of demon summoned by the conspirators led by Sylvia Walsh (Tara FitzGerald) which led her to commit mass murder.
Is that right? We certainly saw her kill at least one person in the house. And a grave site showing four burials was visible at the close, with the watch belonging to retired copper Stephen Kendrick (Brendan Coyle) clearly visible from one hand poking out of the earth. But there were five conspirators – and only four graves. Who escaped?
Here is the drama’s creator Kris Mrksa explaining (nearly) everything…..
Right, key question. The graves. The watch suggests that one of the victims is Stephen Kendrick as we know that was his possession… but there were four graves and five conspirators. Who survived? And did Matilda kill them?
Kendrick (Brendan Coyle, pictured, below) is identified unambiguously by the watch, that’s fair to say. But it’s intentional that there were four graves not five. And there were five conspirators in the house. There are some things that are grey and murky and I want people to argue about them. There are some things designed for an ongoing story should we decide to do it. I have in my mind who survived of the five and I won’t give it away now.
When Matilda looks in the mirror right at the close and her eyes are black – what is happening? Are you referencing Twin Peaks and the scene with Dale Cooper looking in the mirror? Has she been possessed?
There’s certainly a nod to that and Twin Peaks is certainly a show that influenced Requiem. It’s hard to make a show in even a related genre that doesn’t owe an enormous amount to Twin Peaks. As to Matilda’s state, you discover unambiguously that the conspirators attempted to bring something across into her when she was a child and they partially succeeded. And in what you see at the end of episode six, they have now completely unleashed it. That’s fair to say. Her eyes go black, something profound happens to her and she’s changed. The conspirators were trying to unleash an entity that they say was trapped within her and it looks like they succeeded in doing that…
Who are the Thin Ones? As distinct from the spirit that ‘possesses’ Matilda at the close?
The Thin Ones are different things altogether. When they appear to influence people or take control of them, Sean [Howell] used the term “riding” people which is his own idiosyncratic way of describing it. We will have to find in season two what the appropriate term is…
So will there be a season two, then?
Let me put it this way, I have always had a second part of this story in mind I guess. There is more story to tell about these characters. There are a couple of threads left hanging at the end – unashamedly so because I would love to do another series and tug on those threads and see where they go. No decision has been made yet and wouldn’t be made yet. Netflix are part of the equation too because they stumped up a lot of the money and they are production partners. After it goes out on Netflix in eight or so days’ time we will know. Usually Netflix let things run for a month before making a decision.
Have you got every detail of series two mapped out in your mind?
We have done some development work on season two. I have always had a broad-brush stroke idea of what might happen. Having [recently] spent a couple of weeks in London putting some detail onto that, I have a pretty good idea of what will happen in the second season.
What do you say to people who may be frustrated at the unresolved plot strands? Some writers get accused of putting their desire to get a second series ahead of satisfying an audience with a resolved plot?
Even though there are a lot of grey areas at the end and a lot is unanswered, it means there is a lot for people to argue about and speculate about. I like where Matilda is at the end. She’s triumphant. Maybe some people find it too unresolved but I think when you start getting into the horror genre it’s actually the standard thing to end with something unresolved. Even when everything appears to be tied up at the end of a movie there’s always the hand that comes out of the grave. The creepiest and spookiest movies that work in this genre tend to have something unresolved. There’s always an ambiguity and uncertainty and looming threat that doesn’t go away. I think you need to answer the key questions in the season you’re delivering and I think we do with Requiem season one. If you do have a coherent ambition with the way you have to tell the story you have to do it. I thought it was part of the genre. It’s tonal too. I have always thought Requiem is a bit hallucinatory and trippy… people have seen Alice in Wonderland references in it. And Matilda does kind of go down a rabbit hole. Lydia Wilson also looks like quite a few iterations of Alice…
Is Matilda now a malign character at the close? What does Hal mean when he appears naked at Trudy’s door and says ‘Matilda… it’s too late’?
You can see in the closing sequence there is some slippage still occurring. It looks like the entity has very much been in control at the old house in the final sequence where the conspirators meet their fate. It’s in control there. For all that, it does look like when we come back we have Matilda back again. But when she’s in front of the mirror, something flips back again, it takes control again, her eyes go black. Who knows? Maybe it’s an entity that can flip in and out of control at will. Maybe it’s letting her drive when it wants to. I don’t want to give a definitive answer on that. As far as Hal (Joel Fry, below) goes he has had a profound experience of the Thin Ones so they have gifted him some knowledge. So when he says that, I would advise people to listen…
After episode one all the episodes were made available on iPlayer – did that work?
A lot of people have contacted me saying that they have refrained from watching it on Player because they actually want the suspense of watching it unfold week by week, which is gratifying too. Because I think this kind of show offers rewards for people who do it that way…
So would you rather it went out weekly?
I think the show was always designed to have lots of mysteries and lots of talking points and lots of grey area which hopefully people could unpick and argue about and theorise about. And I think that sort of stuff is perhaps best serviced when everyone is watching it at the same time and you do get the conversation the next day. ‘What is happening?’ ‘Do you think they are a villain?’ That kind of thing. That conversation does unfold more naturally when everyone is fixed to a particular viewing time so I think it’s kind of sad to lose that as one does if you go out on iPlayer. Having said that, it’s hard to argue with the fact a there’s a significant proportion of the audience that want to consume their TV that way.
Requiem series one will be available on DVD from March 19th and the whole series airs on Netflix from March 23rd