SurrealEstate 1×10 Review: “The House Always Wins”

The House Always Wins SurrealEstate season 1 episode 10 review
Luke and his evil twin sister in ‘The House Always Wins’ (Screengrab: SurrealEstate Season 1 Episode 10)

The season one finale of SurrealEstate, titled ‘The House Always Wins’, gave certain characters some closure. However, it also left me with a lot of questions.

Trigger Warning: This review mentions stillbirth. So, be cautious.

Throughout the first season, the Donovan House has served as the main narrative threat for the Roman Agency. With August getting trapped by the haunted house in the previous episode, ‘The House Always Wins’ showed his coworkers/family doing their best to rescue him. I liked how the creative team decided to split the group up. While Susan, Zooey, and Phil searched for August around the house, Luke (still recovering from his injuries) had an eye-opening conversation with the house itself.

It’s revealed that the older creepy ghost we had been seeing throughout the season was more or less the human personification of the Donovan House. Due to the Roman Agency closing the mysterious portal in the house’s basement, souls haven’t been able to transcend to the other side. In fact, a bunch of souls had been trapped in the house and the older creepy ghost was loving feeding on all of the despair, anger, resentment, guilt, etc.

Luke’s conversation with the Donovan House ghost raised a couple of questions for me. Apparently, the mysterious portal in the basement existed before time or something to that effect. So, while I can understand certain souls using it to pass to the afterlife, what I don’t understand is how very old ghosts got stuck in the house when the portal was closed only a couple of months ago.

In a sense, the ghosts of Susan’s father, August’s wife, Zooey’s ex-boyfriend Kyle, and Father Diaz (Phil’s mentor), should have passed to the other plane a long time ago. What stopped them from moving on and resulted in them getting stuck in the house when, again, the portal had only been closed a couple of months ago?

Were they still on Earth because they had unresolved business with Susan and the rest? If yes, then why didn’t they try to contact Susan, August, Zooey, and Phil earlier? Couldn’t they have used Luke as a medium? The finale left me with questions about how the portal functioned.

Having said that, I liked seeing members of the Roman Agency getting to interact with the ghosts of people they knew. Susan got to talk with her father. The two had an argument just before he died and Susan had regretted not reaching out sooner. With her father finally saying sorry for his behavior and Susan realizing that she would always love him, our resident pyrokinetic/telekinetic real estate agent got the closure she wanted.

From what I could tell, the ghost of August’s wife asked him to move on and find someone to fall in love with again. If SurrealEstate gets a second season, I would like to see August going on a couple of dates and the reaction from his four married daughters. Due to being a caring character, August deserves to be in love again.

Zooey’s conversation with Kyle was the most heartbreaking for me. Zooey mentioned Kyle all the way back in episode 4. Due to considering Kyle her soulmate, Zooey had been dealing with a lot of guilt over not being there to help him. Kyle got into substance abuse and fell to his death in a construction-related accident. Zooey never got to say a proper goodbye. Savannah Basley acted the heck out of the emotionally heavy scene as Kyle asked Zooey to stop blaming herself for his actions. Zooey’s smart and Kyle wanted her to continue succeeding in life.

Phil’s interaction with the ghost of his mentor, Father Diaz, was all about homophobia and how Diaz was disappointed in Phil. Diaz wanted Phil to be a great asset to the church. In Diaz’s words, he had taught Phil to slay dragons. But for Phil, it was the system running the church that failed him. In the end, Phil accepted his sexuality and his desire to have a family with Anthony. In Diaz’s eyes, Phil was nothing more than wasted potential.

Phil’s clearly carrying a lot of emotional baggage. With him and Anthony looking to adopt, I hope he’s able to deal with his demons and has it in him to become a proper father to whomever he and Anthony get to take care of. I also wouldn’t mind Phil finding peace by becoming part of a queer-inclusive church.

Coming back to Luke, before he went to the Donovan House, he had and Megan talked about their relationship. I wasn’t expecting Megan to share she wanted a break. However, I could understand where she’s coming from. As someone studying to become a doctor, she’s very busy. Megan also didn’t belong in the paranormal world. I think it made sense for her to take a step back to collect her thoughts.

I don’t want Megan and Luke to actually break up, but I don’t mind the two having a serious conversation about Luke’s profession and how Megan’s been impacted. Not only was she recently possessed by a demonic Roadie, but she also had to fake her own death to defeat the villainous Watchmaker. Not to mention the stuff the Donovan House put her through. That’s a lot for any normal person to handle.

The biggest reveal in ‘The House Always Wins’ involved Luke learning about having a dead twin sister from Phil. The ghost of the woman that Luke (and the audience) had believed was his mother was actually his sister. Turns out, Luke’s umbilical cord wrapped around his sister’s neck just 12 minutes before it was her time to enter the world. Since then, she’s been enacting her revenge by driving their mom crazy, resulting in their mom leaving Luke and his father.

I liked the idea of a baby ghost turning evil and going after her own mother. However, what I don’t understand is how said baby ghost was able to turn into an adult. It’s not like Casper the Friendly Ghost aged with time. Also, Jennifer Dale, the actress playing Luke’s sister, is in her 60s while Tim Rozon is in his 40s. The show wanting me to believe they were twins wasn’t something I could get behind. Maybe Luke’s sister (I’m going to continue calling her Victoria) preferred appearing older so Luke would confuse her for his long-lost mother? I would like some kind of explanation.

Luke having an evil twin and both sharing a powerset reminded me of Professor Charles Xavier and Cassandra Nova Xavier from the X-Men franchise. In short, Cassandra can be described as Charles’s twin from the shadow dimension. The two even fought in the womb with baby Charles coming out victorious. Baby Charles’s psychic blast to defeat Cassandra caused Charles’s mother to have a miscarriage, resulting in Cassandra being stillborn. However, similar to Victoria, Cassandra was able to remain alive as a non-physical entity and plan her revenge against her brother.

With Susan able to open the portal again and Victoria (along with the rest of the ghosts) being sucked in, I wonder if we will get to see Victoria again. We did get to see a demonic hand reach out of the portal and try to choke Megan in the premiere episode. So, I guess something can still come out of the portal if it is powerful enough?

The team’s experiences in the Donovan House left Susan and Luke in very different places. She finally accepted her powers while Luke’s lost his. With Victoria gone, Luke can’t sense the undead anymore. It was his paranormal ability that urged him to open the Roman Agency to help troubled souls. Without his powers, it’s as if a huge part of Luke had gone missing. He can’t even communicate with the ghost of his father anymore.

While Luke’s predicament was a sad place to leave him in the season one finale, I’m glad to see that the Roman Agency was able to make it out of the Donovan House alive. If the cliffhanger for ‘The House Always Wins’ had involved one of the team members getting sucked into the portal, too, I don’t know how I could have handled such a moment especially since a second season hasn’t been greenlit yet.

Some other thoughts and questions:

  • I want to see Anthony getting involved in a paranormal adventure with Phil.
  • I wouldn’t mind if the baby Phil and Anthony adopt ends up having some kind of supernatural ability.
  • Yay to Zooey and Susan hugging each other. There’s a part of the SurrealEstate fandom that wants them to be girlfriends!
  • If we do get a second season, I want more time to be spent on worldbuilding. Some of the things get resolved too quickly without proper answers or an explanation, in my opinion.
  • I’m all for Luke going to search for his mother, who is apparently still alive somewhere.

What did you think of ‘The House Always Wins’?

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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