Lore Season 2, Episode 1 review: A very different feel to the anthology series

LORE -- Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova/Amazon Studios -- Acquired via EPK.TV
LORE -- Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova/Amazon Studios -- Acquired via EPK.TV /

Lore Season 2 is finally here. The first episode focused on the tale of Burke and Hare and Sean Crouch brought a very different feel to the anthology series.

There have been a lot of questions about Lore Season 2. One of those that I never had the chance to ask at NYCC was whether the series would use Aaron Mahnke as the narrator like in the first season. It was very clear that wasn’t going to happen in the first episode, titled “Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science.”

After living in Scotland for seven years, my ears immediately picked up at the idea of Burke and Hare being included in an episode. They are legendary, especially around Edinburgh when you go to the Edinburgh Dungeons or head off on one of the many ghost walks. Lore Season 2 brought their tale to life, with a cast that didn’t distract from the actual story.

Losing the narration worked

The first season kept the series more focused on the podcast. Mahnke narrated in the way he does on his podcast, telling the story as we watched the actors play out their roles. The second season has stepped away from that, allowing the characters to tell the tale. However, there’s still an element of narration in the first episode.

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During “Burke and Hare,” there’s the use of Punch and Judy. While the puppets have lost popularity in recent years (for good reason with the current #MeToo climate), they were extremely popular when I was growing up. The use of them throughout the series added an extra layer of memories and connected me more to the story.

The use of Punch and Judy also helped to add some narration, especially at the end. At one point, PUnch and Judy switch to Burke and Hare, allowing the two to share what happened to them after they were caught. It didn’t feel forced, mainly because the puppets kept popping up now and then to connect to character development.

Because of Punch and Judy and the storytelling, losing the narration has worked for the first season. Sean Crouch has pulled this show into something more like Black Mirror and American Horror Story, instead of making it an extension of the podcast. While the podcast will always remain the “mothership,” as EP Howard T. Owens called it, the two are becoming their own entities, making Lore even more powerful.

Excellent setting, direction, and cinematography

For those who don’t know the story of Burke and Hare, I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Everything you need to know about them is told throughout the 55-minute episode. It goes into plenty of detail, bringing out the two different personalities–something that is often missed out in stories around Edinburgh.

Even if you do know the story, you’ll learn something new in this version. And that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not sticking to the historical accuracy. Being on the screen rather than a tale on a ghost walk means more characters are shown. While this is focused on the titular people, we get to know a little about Daft Jamie, Dr. Robert Knox, and even the bartender Angus–just enough to get a sense of who they were in relation to Burke and Hare.

The setting was perfect. It brought a sense of the 19th century, a time when medical knowledge was minimal but doctors wanted to learn more; students wanted to learn more. The streets were filthy and life was a struggle.

It was clear where Burke and Hare were. The character development was on point and it was easy to connect to the lead roles, especially Hare.

A connection to the series premiere

One of my favorite, subtle moments was the connection to the Lore series premiere. I’m not even sure if this was on purpose or not. It opens with a grave robbery. A night watchman is waiting for any signs of life in the graveyard and this isn’t just about the grave robbers.

A bell rings and the night watchman immediately jumps into action, crying out that someone has been buried alive. The very first episode of the season explained why “saved by the bell” has become a phrase. It told a short tale about people being buried alive because the knowledge of life and death was minimal at the time.

Just having this connection reminded us that this was still based on the podcast; that we were still in the same show.

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Definitions popping up on the screen

To help remove the narration, Crouch and his team opted to give information in different ways. Rather than have Mahnke explain definitions, little cards would pop up on the screen. There was even one to explain who Punch and Judy are, which I loved, even though I’ve grown up with the puppet show.

These definitions didn’t get in the way of the story and weren’t overused. For the most part, it was easy to assume what words or phrasing meant. The definition cards were only used when a term definitely needed explaining.

As I’ve only watched the first episode so far, I’m not sure if these definitions keep popping up. However, I would assume they do and it’s part of Crouch’s decision on the direction of the series as the new showrunner.

Next. Lore Season 2: Sean Crouch and Gale Anne Hurd interview. dark

Overall, this has been a strong start to Lore Season 2. There’s absolutely no need to know anything about the series and it’s more like a TV show instead of a documentary now. Here’s to another episode. Tomorrow, I’ll share my review of “Elizabeth Bathory: Mirror, Mirror.”

What did you think of Lore Season 2, Episode 1? What did you learn during “Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science?” What did you think of Sean Crouch’s direction? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lore Season 2 is now available on Amazon Prime Video.