Episode 3 of Betaal is where things really take a turn for the worst. What began as an interesting and intriguing take on the cliched zombie trope descends into illogical plot beats and glacial pacing as we’re graced with 20 minutes of exposition and a stop/start action fest.
It turns out the army outside the barracks are the 90th Tauntan Volunteers led by a man known as Colonel John Lynedoch who wanted to be the sole emperor. Rebels trapped him and his men inside the tunnel and buried them. Only, the Colonel decided to sacrifice his own son to please Betaal. Back in the present, a possessed Haq requests they hand the girl over. Getting nowhere, Sirohi and the group begin burning bodies inside the bath while keeping Haq tied up.
In the wake of this, Ahlu and Sirohi patch up their differences and are back on the same page. Outside, an undead drummer continues to pound ominously while Mudhalvan learns more about Betaal. Saanvi sees an ominous shadow behind Tyagi but when Bhunnu snipes the drummer outside, Tyagi snaps out of her trance and becomes the commander again. This is only a brief stint though as the drummer rises from the dead and the army marches on the house. Tyagi returns to her paralyzed state and instructs the army on the best entrance to break into the barracks, seemingly controlling this hive mind.
Ahlu takes Saanvi into a darkened room and tells her to stay put, but not before Saanvi reveals that her Father was the one behind the attack that started all of this. Meanwhile, the rest of the group discuss what to do surrounding the undead. Sirohi is tasked by Tyagi to bring Ahlu and Saanvi to her but Ahlu happens to hear the whole conversation and threatens to arrest Tyagi over the conspiracy wrapped up with the bomb blast.
The zombie army pound on the doors, abandoning their guns, and acting as a distraction for Tyagi to sneak off and approach Saanvi. Mudhalvan arrives though and tries to score a deal with her, suggesting they share power in exchange for him handing over his child.
Meanwhile, Puniya and Akbar track down and kill the turned undead inside the barracks, including Haq, while the fractured group see that the undead have backed up to fire their guns instead. When that doesn’t work, Muldhavan kills Ahlu and opens the door to let the undead army in.
With the undead surrounding the group on both sides, Sirohi pleads with Saanvi to open the door and let them while she hears the whispers of her Mother’s voice. Eventually she lets Sirohi inside the room while Mudhalvan sneaks outside and grabs a bomb, which is where the episode ends.
Episode 3 is ultimately the chapter that nosedives the integrity of the show in the worst possible way. With full on exposition during the opening segments of this story, it feels like the complete wrong time to introduce this and really messes with the pacing of this mini-series. Even worse, for an episode called “The Battle” there isn’t much battling going on.
More problematic than that though comes from the zombie and undead motivations that are completely undone during this episode. We predicted that the “turned” zombies were more animalistic and acting on this while the soldiers were more intelligent by design but episode 3 throws this theory out the window. The soldiers apparently have the intelligence to fire guns and stand in military ranks but yet charge head-first into the building snarling and growling like formulaic zombies?
It’s such a shame because there’s actually some potential here for a new brand of super-smart undead to come into play and the first couple of episodes did a pretty good job setting the scene. With the finale up next it’ll be interesting to see what direction this one takes but for now, Betaal is not a zombie series to remember.
Published: 24 May 2020 at 1:03pm on