SurrealEstate 1×5 Review: “Ft. Ghost Child”

Ghost Child SurrealEstate Season 1 Episode 5 review
Phil searching for answers in “Ft. Ghost Child” (Screengrab: SurrealEstate Season 1 Episode 5)

SurrealEstate‘s fifth episode, ‘Ft. Ghost Child’, explored Phil’s backstory involving the Catholic Church and gave us more well-written queer representation. Oh! And there’s a lonely ghost child the Roman Agency has to deal with.

I had no idea that the main cast of SurrealEstate included a queer character. That’s why I was quite surprised to see Phil’s husband, Anthony, show up in episode 2. I was also impressed by how the creative team handled Phil and Anthony’s relationship. As someone who watches a lot of stuff, especially a lot of queer-inclusive media, a number of TV shows, movies, etc. don’t always deliver well-written queer representation even though they promote themselves as being queer-inclusive. A bunch of times, the so-called queer rep being offered by them is nothing more than a way for writers to display problematic queer tropes to the masses. The good news is that SurrealEstate is different.

The Roman Agency’s current case involved the Cortona House. After Phil and August (Maurice Dean Wint) were able to get rid of the previous owner, who was haunting premises as a dangerous ghost, Luke sensed another paranormal presence. There’s a ghost child still in the house!

The Cortona House was also used by Phil’s church in the past and that’s what lead him to go back to the religious establishment to obtain answers about what had really occurred inside the Cortona House years ago.

All of us are aware that the majority of the LGBTQ+ community has a strained relationship with religion. Yes, there are queer-inclusive religious spaces out there, but for many LGBTQ+ people, there’s still a lot of guilt and confusion for them to deal with as adults, stemming from being kids growing up in strictly religious households.

Talking about Phil (Adam Korson), his fate’s strong. That’s why he became a priest. He’s all about helping others and wanting to make a difference. However, his strong fate was deemed useless when faced with religious homophobia inside the church. He lost his fate in the Catholic Church and ended up working for Luke (Tim Rozon) at the Roman Agency. Even though he’s been working for Luke and has been saving lives along the way, I liked how the writers made it clear that the chapter hasn’t been closed on Phil’s complicated relationship with a higher power.

“Ft. Ghost Child” took this moment to talk about the hypocrisy present in religious institutions. Those in charge of religious establishments will do anything possible to protect a number of people involved in horrendous acts behind closed doors and yet accepting queer people of fate is where they draw will the line. Unfortunately, you can easily find examples of abuse, across the spectrum of organized religion, around the globe.

Decades ago, the Cortona House was used by the church to offer refuge to unmarried pregnant women. The nuns would help the women give birth and in 24 hours the child would be put up for adoption. Of course, a number of women and babies died during the process. It was revealed that the ghost child, Geroge, currently haunting the Cortona House was a kid who died there around 1970.

I enjoyed the scene between Phil and Sister Mary Ellen when he decided to confront and learn what had happened to Geroge. She tried stating that Phil couldn’t fault the establishment’s intentions because they were providing a safe space for pregnant women away from society’s judgment. But Phil wasn’t going to hear any of her justifications.

In a sense, one can have a discussion about who is to blame for how society treats certain people. Would things have been different for such women if the church had been more supportive? Was society ready to be more accepting of queer folk if a major religion didn’t brand it as a sin? How much impact does religion have on society and how much of society is governed by the time period regardless of religious beliefs? These are interesting questions to think about.

Along with interacting with the church, Phil also shared an emotional moment with Anthony (Paul Ewan Wilson). I appreciated Anthony being supportive of Phil and understanding why certain religious practices still bring calm to a lot of people around the world (even after thousands of years). But I do think Anthony trying to crack a joke was an example of bad timing. They still love each other, of course. However, I think we can all agree that there are some personal issues even your significant other can’t fully help you with.

Ghost Child SurrealEstate season 1 episode 5 review
Anthony trying to support Phil in “Ft. Ghost Child” (Screengrab: SurrealEstate Season 1 Episode 5)

With the first season of SurrealEstate only having five more episodes left, I’m not sure how much of Phil and his fate can be explored. There’s a lot of other narrative arcs that need to be addressed. So, here’s to hoping the writers continue to dive into Phil’s relationship with his fate if SurrealEstate comes back for a second season. I wouldn’t be against him finding a queer-inclusive church to be a part of. He clearly needs such a place in his life. 

As Sister Yasmin put it, as she helped Phil with his research, while he understandably has issues with his church (and its interpretations of religious scripture), the religion itself has allowed Phil and many others to do a lot of good in the world. And even if he isn’t part of his previous church anymore, that hasn’t stopped Phil from saving others using another platform. I do think Phil’s struggles with being a gay man (a married one, at that), and wanting to continue having a relationship with his fate is something that will resonate with many. As I have already mentioned, the writers behind SurrealEstate are giving us some well-written queer representation.

The rest of ‘Ft. Ghost Child’ had Luke and Susan (Sarah Levy) trying to appease a famous rapper and wanting to close the deal on the Cortona House. I liked how the creative team handled George. Instead of always having him on screen, we saw George messing with the house’s residents by moving toys around and singing in a creepy voice. The scene where Damon’s assistant woke up and saw her bed be surrounded by tiny green army men was well done. The creatives went with the “Less is more” approach with the ghostly child and that worked wonders to amp up the tension.

The scene between Luke and George was incredibly emotional. Again with Luke always helping others and still not being able to confront his issues with the ghost of his dead mother. I did like him standing up to the ghost of his father and demanding answers about why his mom left them. Hopefully, we will get to learn more about the truth soon. Luke’s father is clearly hiding something.

Other thoughts and questions:

  • ‘Ft. Ghost Child’ was a well-directed episode by Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp).
  • Luke and Megan are still going strong. Yay!
  • Phil talking about Anthony falling from a roof better not be some kind of foreshadowing!
  • The action-heavy opening with Phil and August working together to take out a dangerous ghost was fun. I want to see more of that!
  • Phil talking to a picture of Jesus and sharing his personal issues made for a powerful scene. Korson kicked it out of the park during the monologue.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke’s final conversation with George about going to sleep and meeting his mother on the other side brought certain viewers close to tears.
  • With SurrealEstate‘s showrunner being named George R. Olson, I’m not sure if naming the ghost kid George was intentional.
  • Damon getting to write new material for his album with the help of a ghost could make for an interesting premise for a comedy or horror movie.
  • Kudos to the music team for the work put into ‘Ft. Ghost Child’.

What did you think of this week’s episode of SurrealEstate?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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