I found the second episode of SurrealEstate, titled ‘The Harvey’, to be far better than the pilot. We also got some well-written queer representation.
The pilot for SurrealEstate, while enjoyable, was a bit clunky. When it comes to weekly TV shows, I usually give them around three to four episodes to find their groove. I’m glad to announce that the writers of SurrealEstate offered a number of improvements during the second outing. ‘The Harvey’ focused on the Roman Agency dealing with selling a house haunted by a dangerous spirit. It also served as a good way to help teach Susan (Sarah Levy) a couple of things when interacting with malevolent spirits.
‘The Harvey’ opened with taking us eight months back. Turns out, a haunted house under the Roman Agency killed a family. The entire structure also got destroyed during a fire the same night. I liked how that particular event linked to what was happening in the present. Susan couldn’t understand why Luke (Tim Rozon) was being hesitant to sell the Quincy house. It’s just being haunted by the ghost of a sad little girl the Roman Agency can help, right?… Wrong!
The pilot episode made it clear that the fictional world being shown in SurrealEstate is dangerous. Yes, there are some comedic moments in there, but not being able to correctly deal with the supernatural will (more often than not) lead to death.
With Susan being the newest employee at the Roman Agency, it was expected she would go through certain obstacles before she completely grasped how to perform her job efficiently. As a character, Susan’s someone who gets deals closed. She’s organized and would like others to be the same. I liked how it wasn’t about her being too uptight or having a huge ego problem. In her mind, she wants to help out. If everything is well organized in the workplace, it will help the company reach certain goals.
Of course, her can-do attitude caused friction with the rest of the team. August (Maurice Dean Wint) didn’t like being told to be more specific about his “liquid” schedule. Father Phi (Adam Korson) was hesitant to share his research files. Zooey (Savannah Basley) wasn’t into creating spreadsheets. They all had a routine that worked for them and Susan’s just expecting them to change it on the fly wasn’t well received.
The biggest argument occurred between her and Luke. Susan, wanting to close a deal, decided to go behind his back to schedule a showing at the Quincy house. It ended with the interested buyers running away because they heard the wailing little ghost girl.
Now, I have to say that while I wasn’t a fan of Susan deciding to make such a call, I think Luke and the others are at fault, too. They should have been more open with Susan about how haunted houses needed to be handled with patience and how you should never trust a ghost.
She finally understood when Luke showed her footage of the house from eight months ago. Turns out, Luke had listened to the ghost living there and his trust led to an entire family being killed. I mean, he could have shown that footage to Susan earlier. But, oh well, what’s done is done. At least, he and Susan are on the same page now and will hopefully stay that way. I liked Luke apologizing to her for his behavior and appreciating what she brought to the team as an expert real estate agent. That was a nice thing for him to do.
As for Susan’s building her relationships with the rest of the team, after having a conversation with her mother, Susan agreed to ease her organization-centric approach. Her new way of interacting with her colleagues helped Zooey, Phil, and August be willing to collaborate with her more. Also, I liked how the writers didn’t drag out the unpleasantness between Zooey and Susan.
Yes, I’ll get to the supernatural stuff that occurred in ‘The Harvey’ in a second. It’s just that I find the human cast quite interesting. I’m invested in them being fleshed out more as characters and having their own personal arcs.
Coming to the queer representation in the second episode of SurrealEstate, we found out that the repairman working for the Roman Agency was Father Phil’s husband. I have to say I wasn’t expecting those two to be married. When Anthony first appeared in this episode to repair a broken attic window at the Quincy house, I thought he was going to serve as a possible love interest for Susan. But nopes. After meeting Anthony again at the Roman Agency, Susan got to learn about him being Phil’s husband. I had no idea that Phil was supposed to be queer either. The two even shared a little kiss!
This is the type of queer representation I like to see and want more of in media. While knowing that a particular character is queer the moment they appear onscreen works during certain narratives, sometimes, being more organic about it is the way to go. A whole lot of queer people don’t walk around in real life wearing bandanas stating where they fall on the sexuality spectrum. There was no reason for August to state his sexuality the moment he met Susan while fixing a broken window. Similarly, the pilot episode didn’t have Phil tell Susan he was married to a dude. She found out the way you would when seeing two spouses greet each other at work.
Okay. Time to talk about the supernatural shenanigans that occurred in ‘The Harvey’. The kid actress, Molly Lewis, playing the little demon kicked it out of the park. As the demonic Cindy, she had to switch back and forth from being a sad lonely girl to an evil entity. Even when Cindy was friendly toward Jamie, you could still sense the danger due to how manipulative she was. So, kudos to Lewis on delivering an amazing performance.
Even if the writers don’t make you scared, they are going to make you uncomfortable. The scene where Cindy took control of Jamie’s parents and had them walk toward each other with gardening shears and a lawnmower was intense.
We got to learn that Cindy’s actually a very old and powerful demon. She’s something the Roman Agency called LRG or Little Red’s Grandma. Apparently, she’s all about latching onto humans and draining their life energy. As I said, I like how dangerous the paranormal world is in SurrealEstate.
With August’s help, Luke’s able to destroy Cindy after making her angry enough to show her true form. I was expecting Cindy to put up more of a fight during her battle with Luke, but I think she wasn’t the fighting type. She’s more into targeting kids because they were easier for her to handle.
‘The Harvey’ ended with Luke telling Susan the importance of family time. Luke has lost both of his parents. The ghost of his mother was trapped in Megan’s house while his father’s ghost occasionally showed up to have little chats with him. And while talking to ghosts could be fun, it’s not the same as having your parents around as flesh and blood.
I liked the episode giving us quick scenes showing different kinds of family time. Susan had dinner with her mother. Anthony and Phil sat on the same couch while reading books. Zooey and August played video games at the office.
While I enjoyed watching the latest episode, I hope the writers continue to explore Zooey, Phil, and August. I want to see all three of them on a mission together. Phil and August got to confront a ghost dog in the pilot. I want to see more of that. Heck! I want Phil to use religious scriptures during an exorcism. I understand he’s got a complicated relationship with his faith due to being an ex-priest, but still, it would be cool to see him try.
Some other thoughts and questions:
- We know Susan has telekinetic abilities (and quite possibly pyrokinesis). So, when are the writers going to allow Susan to use her powers in front of ghosts? Isn’t there an entity that wants to use her and other superpowered folk as vessels?
- With Luke’s father shipping Luke and Susan, I don’t know how to feel about it. I think it’s too early for them to be a romantic couple. I would rather have Luke continue to flirt with Megan. (I know Megan’s engaged, but I like how those two talk to each other.)
- Speaking of Megan, when is Luke going to go back into her house and interact with his mother?
What did you think of ‘The Harvey’?
Let us know.
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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