This is the first of several “ghosts who want shit” episodes. This is where the main character continuously encounters a ghost, and in the end discovers the ghost was only kicking around still because there’s this one thing they are after like a coat or a bike. It’s a formula Are You Afraid of the Dark is going to bust out quite frequently so you best get ready now.
This episode also introduces one of the most awesomely cheesy aspects of the show. It’s when the person telling the story (in this case it’s David who we learn has a crush on the girl who took over Alicia’s Silverstone character on the Clueless TV show) gives their over-dramatic introduction to the story and all the other characters look at each all worried like “ohhhhhh shit we are in for a scary ride you guys! Hang on!”
So our lead in this story is Amanda, played by Laura Bertram who of course also played Amanda on Ready or Not, so you automatically know that the quality of acting is going to be way higher than in the last episode. Because her parents are “some kind of scientists”, she is forced to spend her Summer vacation at her Aunt’s place. Why is this so terrible? Because her cousin Beth is a gigantic stuck-up bitch. Oh and because there’s totally a ghost next door, but Amanda doesn’t know about that shit yet.
However, the ghost is not the most far-fetched part of the episode. No that would be the character of Beth. She is treated as the ultra-cool, hip girl, but she wears loud, awful clothes, has this terrible looking flip in her hair, giant awful earrings, and her face looks like two Conan the Barbarians kicked each side of her head at the same time. Also I hate to sound mean since she’s a young girl and all….but she’s just a wee bit dude-ish. I know it sounds harsh but come on man, look at this picture!
Are you seriously going to tell me that she is the cool one? Also they don’t really establish why these two don’t like each other so I assume it’s because Beth is just an unholy bitch. As soon as Amanda arrives, Beth is all over her about wanting Amanda to clean her room, and putting her stuffed animal collection back to where they were (that’s badass shit right there), and how she can’t hang with her friends until she proves she’s not a “zeeb”. Is Beth cool because she makes up dumb words like “zeeb” maybe? Is it because Amanda has the audacity to read books that we’re supposed to think Beth is cooler? “Further expand your intellect somewhere else nerd!” we all say! Also Amanda has to be initiated into Beth’s group by spending the night in the haunted house next door. That kind of thing seems to happen constantly in these stories, does any real group of friends make people do that? Or are real humans sensible enough to say “fuck your friends, I don’t need this shit” and not do it?
That night, Amanda meets “Nana”, who Beth is also inexplicably bitchy to. She says it’s because Nana is weird and has some strange connection to the house next door. Beth wants Nana the hell out of her house, and she loudly says this stuff with Nana standing right there. Seriously, fuck this girl! Why is she such a bitch?! Is she angry because of how much she looks like Carrot Top? She even has Amanda doing her laundry! Nothing would make me happier than for some “The Help” action where Amanda just starts shitting in all of her food, but alas we don’t get that satisfaction.
The night of the initiation arrives and Beth tells the story of the ghost, who was a little girl whose Dad was injured in the war, so her Mom left to take care of him and the little girl was meant to go and live with her Grandmother. However, before that could happen, the girl was harassed by a group of bullies who locked her in her bedroom inside of her empty house. Nobody knew she was there (they seriously didn’t think to check her house when she went missing?) and she I guess starved to death? That part of the story is glossed over. We also learn that Beth is also a huge bitch to her friends, so we have a Mean Girls “Queen Bee” type situation going on here.
So Amanda goes into the house and into what used to be the little girl’s bedroom and OH SHIT YOU GUYS THIS PLACE IS ACTUALLY TOTALLY HAUNTED! The words “Help Me” appear backwards on the wall (Amanda is kind enough to point out to us that the words are in fact backwards) and then the ghost of the girl appears in the mirror behind her and reaches out to her. It’s a decently creepy moment, especially when you compare it to the previous episode that had nothing even close to scary within it.
The next morning Amanda and Beth are sent by the Aunt to go clean the walls of the room, which they discover is now completely covered in “help me” instead of just the one piece of writing. Because the episode is almost over and there’s no more time to fuck around, the ghost quickly makes itself known to both of them in broad daylight. It lures Beth into the mirror by showing her a bedroom full of dolls and stuffed animals, ultimately proving that Beth is not at all a badass and is also a fucking idiot.
The ghost emerges from the mirror but don’t worry everyone, she doesn’t want to hurt Amanda! She really does want her help. She shows Amanda a locket that indicates Nana is actually the girl’s mother. Amanda goes and gets Nana moments before Nana leaves in a cab (she’s finally had enough of Beth’s shit) and brings her over to the house. She and the girl/her daughter are reunited, the Mom saying she had no clue the girl was over here. The two of them go into the mirror together to I guess live happily ever after in the past? It shows the Mom younger so either they’re in the past or dead, the story never makes that clear. Then Beth is put in her rightful place when all her friends show up and hear her shouting for Amanda’s help to let her out of the “mirror”. But to her friends it just looks like she was inside a closet and is a huge pussy. The friends tell her they are sick of her shit and presumably Beth has a nervous breakdown moments after the camera fades. The End!
While not a great episode by any means, The Tale of the Lonely Ghost is a huge improvement over Phantom Cab. The acting is way better, the initial reveal of the ghost is well-done and the story is a step in the right direction, though it contains quite a few plot holes. Seriously, how did nobody ever think “hey maybe the missing girl is in her room” at any point ever? The concept that a bunch of kids locked her in there so she died is actually a pretty dark idea for a kid’s show, so kudos on that one I suppose. Also the resolution of the whole things feels rushed as too much time is spent establishing just how huge a bitch Beth is. All in all, decent, but things still haven’t gotten real good yet.