CALEDONIA: MORTAL SOULS SEASON 2
Season 2 of Amy Hoff’s supernatural mystery webseries Caledonia sees a big improvement in its presentation right from the off; the level of technical proficiency being far more professional and the show’s increased production values immediately clear. Also noticeably improved is the effects work; whereas in the first season the transformation of Dylan the ned angel occurred off screen due to a simple lack of practical capability of showing it, now an early scene has the eldritch glow of his wings circling his shoulders like holy fire.
Cast changes are always a little jarring, especially when it’s the lead role (the tragic circumstances of Spartacus come to mind), but after taking over from Season 1’s Vharri Lavery, Alison Reid seamlessly slips into the role of Leah, fully embracing her lateral perspectives and snarky sense of humour (“Today I live with monsters. And they’re a bit naff”). Leah’s selkie partner Dorian is as stoic as ever, although he reveals a streak of ruthlessness and gets the opportunity to unleash his inner badass as we learn the lengths to which he is prepared to go for the people he cares about, while some flashback sequences from centuries earlier juxtapose his current character with the carefree hedonist he used to be.
Some new and interesting characters introduced include Korean officer and gumiho (nine-tailed fox) Lee Yoo-Min, a terrifyingly unpredictable woman who when she smiles you genuinely can’t tell if she’s thinking of something mildly amusing or is about to tear out your liver, as well as friendly and jovial urisk Gregoire (an ugly but friendly waterfall guardian) and a couple of all-too-brief appearances from chirpy fireball-slinging phoenix girl Nour-El-Ain.
A significant addition to the cast is one Robert Burns, a real-life 18th century womanising Ayrshire drunkard now immortalised as Scotland’s national poet, re-envisioned here to also be a vampire. In the role of the wordsmith, Josh Layden makes an impact right from his initial appearance in a loving full-body upwards pan as he strides down a flight of stairs, all tight jeans, open-throated shirt and luscious long hair, not entirely dissimilar to the manner in which the perma-pouting Magnus was introduced in Season 1. Damn, Hoff loves her pretty men. He also happens to bear an eerie resemblance to the Immortal Bard (“Take that, Shakespeare”), his unassuming beauty going some way towards a justification of why so many women were happy to share the poet.
Hoff herself, as the ancient baobhan sith Desdemona, plays a much larger role this time around. Flashback sequences detail her commanding role during a fae civil war as well as the history between her and Robert, a story as significant as the season’s main plotline, and one which will continue in the in-production third season Burns Night. A weightlifter and former street fighter, and something akin to a female version of Dean Winchester, it may sound like a backhanded compliment to say that Hoff can look convincingly masculine with little effort but it’s certainly not meant as one.
As well as the investigation into the cause of a supernatural plague and increasingly frantic attempts to save Leah after she is afflicted with it, a recurring theme is the potential solitude of immortality. When your life is eternal and your choice is to either spend centuries in perpetual isolation or watch your human friends and family eventually grow old and die, not to mention having whole lifetimes to mourn the loss of great loves, it sometimes seems that loneliness is the ultimate fate of all fae. As such, life should be lived while it still can be and relationships should not be squandered for trivial transgressions. Ultimately, all we have is each other, and it’s to our own detriment if we ever forget it.
INFO: CALEDONIA: MORTAL SOULS SEASON 2 / CERT: N/A / DIRECTOR: AMY HOFF / SCREENPLAY: AMY HOFF / STARRING: ALISON REID, ALASDAIR REAVEY, LINN MATTISON, JOSH LAYDEN, CHRISTOPHER STANLEY, CHRISTOPHER HONEY, IAN VAN DER BLACK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW