Go ahead one thing for the most clueless of the house: ‘The Essex Serpent’ has nothing to do with series like ‘The Terror’ in which some kind of creature harasses a group of people in a disadvantaged situation. There is (or isn’t) a creature out there somewhere, threatening a group of people from the shadows (or in their heads), but it’s not a story about monsters, it’s about people. As if the headless horseman from ‘Sleepy Hollow’ had once been cornered by the burgeoning love story between Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. ‘The Essex Serpent’ is not ‘Sleepy Hollow’ either, but if it is, Claire Danes will play Depp and Tom Hiddleston will play Ricci. Science against faith united by the heart within a story of superstitions and passions, of love and fear. And if it is not the aforementioned Tim Burton film, it is because the motor of this adaptation of Sarah Perry’s novel is not the action, but the characters. Those masterfully performed by Danes and Hiddleston, but also by those performed no less wisely by Clmence Posy, Hayley Squires or Frank Dillane. ‘The Essex Serpent’ is above all a story of characters. A romantic and existential drama allied with the misty essence of the so-called ‘folk horror’ where, above any other formal or dramatic element, the twists and revelations arise from the treatment of tormented and broken characters, each in their own way, and of the evolutionary arcs that organically transform them during the story. An intense dramatic exercise whose dense discursive tangle goes beyond the usual confrontation between what we know and what we think we know. That is, science and religion. What we think we know versus what we want to believe. ‘The Essex Serpent’ shines in the fluidity, in the subtlety and in the care for the buried detail and the subtext with which it displays its sensibility in an accessible and at the same time complex way, both through each line of dialogue and above all , through every furtive glance or restrained gesture. A story in a certain sense of a classic cut that, like ‘Pachinko’, on the surface seems little less than a luxurious picture corseted and packaged for the awards season. Apparently, perhaps, because like the aforementioned Soo Hugh series, we are talking about an incorruptible, unfathomable and timeless television model that does not give in to that impertinent public that demands more direct, concise and lighter products. Or more modern and outdated. Thus, ‘The Essex Serpent’ is, just as we are now ‘Pachinko’, a new and exemplary series from Apple that under the fearful shine of its lavish and virtuous technical invoice, works due to the correct elementary and helpful maturity with the that portrays basic but universal emotions. Or because his turns are always a consequence of the motivations of his characters, and not the more or less dramatic, more or less gratuitous, more or less hasty way of shaping them. Or because it leaves some kind of residue that accompanies us once it reaches its end, when instead of looking for something else to see to kill time, we decide, if only for a moment, to rest and reflect on what we have just seen. . Although in reality it is this type of series that decides to bet on staying with us yesterday, today and tomorrow.
By Juan Pairet Iglesias