The Burning Girls – Season 1 Episode 4 “Four” Recap & Review


Episode 4 of The Burning Girls begins with a flashback of the day that Merry and Joy were supposed to run away…only they didn’t. Joy waited outside Merry’s house, where Merry was being brutally tortured by Benjie. He used his ring to inflict marks on her entire body. As Joy was turning to go back after waiting for ages, she was also pulled by someone from behind her. But we don’t know who, yet. Jack gets word from Flo and immediately heads to the chapel with Mike.

Wrigley shows up at the chapel as well before the pair arrives. Surprisingly, he claims that no one else is in there with Flo and him as she screams in revolting fear. Jack arrives soon and takes her daughter in her arms. She is once again suspect of Wrigley, who had no role to play here. She does struggle to find the exorcism knife that Jack kept in her drawer. Jack thinks it is Wrigley who took it from the house when no one was around.

After killing the priest at Saint Anne’s, the mystery man has taken the Reverend’s clothes. He stumbles his way to the ticket counter. His next destination is Henfield, the last train station before Chapel Croft. Jack is informed of Reverend Bradley’s tragic death by Bishop Durkin, alerting her to an ominous and immediate threat to them. And yet, Jack does nothing. When Jack reinspects the site of the damaged floor in the chapel, she is shocked to find a vault. Harper’s ancestors are buried underneath there, something Rushton had not told her about.

Jack once again sees the girls…but this time, instead of running away, she invites them. Jack observes the girls tapping on a coffin. It holds the skeleton of Benjamin Grady, evident from the ring placed on his finger. Jack reports the discovery to the police and the chapel is now a crime scene. Reverend Rushton and Simon Harper do not like the attention one bit. Both of them deny knowledge of knowing that Grady’s body is buried in the vault. Everyone’s finger is raised toward Reverend Marsh, who lied all those years ago that Grady had gone back home to tend to a “family matter.”

DS Jackson collects samples from Marsh, as his shocked son, Aaron, watches on. Miffed with Jack’s insistence and integrity, Harper pays her a visit personally to once again give veiled threats about her position at the chapel. Jack refuses to back down and promises to keep on investigating until she finds the truth. Joan visits Jack’s house to discuss the latest discovery in the vault. She had earlier theorized that Joy and Benjie had run away, which is now clearly disproven. Joan now thinks that Fletcher was murdered because he found out who killed Grady and why.

She urges Jack to keep looking through his things to get to the bottom of the matter. When she goes through the “Harper” folder, Jack finds out that almost 500 sovereign gold accounts were paid by the church to what looks like the Harper Farm back in the 1500s. We see in parallel that the mystery man has taken off from Henfield on a stolen bicycle before hobbling on one leg after being struck by a car. What does he want with Jack?

The next morning, Jack is repulsed to find that Simon has called off the police investigation and closed off the vault. Wrigley visits the house when Jack isn’t around and Flo invites him in. She takes him to her makeshift room where she develops negatives and they share a kiss. Jack immediately goes to the farm to confront Simon but runs into Poppy first. The little girl is traumatized by what happened to Izzy, explaining to Jack that she doesn’t make new friends as she is scared about what might happen to them.

Jack reveals what she found out in Fletcher’s notes to Simon. James Oswald Harper, Simon’s ancestor, was paid handsomely by Queen Mary for revealing the location of the burning girls.

Simon threatens her not to tell her discovery to anyone but Jack is not prepared to back down. Things are lining up ominously for her and Flo, who is invited by Wrigley to the “usual place” the next day at seven. In a moving scene, we see Jack sit in the chapel, alone, still seeing visions of the twins, who are now quietly sitting near her, listening. Jack asks the Lord for strength and companionship as she embarks on a difficult road. Her purpose to help those who need it is starting to become clear to Jack, although her resolve will be tested in the coming days.

The Episode Review

Samantha Morton’s strong portrayal is consistently elevating The Burning Girls. She has been brilliant, gluing us to the screens with her rendition of Reverend Jack. She has also made up for some deficiencies in the script, which has thus far made uneven use of its haunting source material. A lot of issues like the burning girls and Wrigley’s chequered background have not gotten appropriate attention.

The world-building we saw in the first episodes has become subdued. But what has it been replaced with? Complications about the town that take us one step closer to figuring out the spree of murders from the past. It is not as engaging due to faults in how the story has been directed.

A more solid effort behind the camera would have streamlined things. In the current shape, we have a lot of lacunas that are bloating the runtime and not proportionately giving us enough to bite off.

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