'The Pale Horse' Episode 1: Why did the witches of Much Deeping kill Mark's wife?
Mark embarks on an investigation into how and why his name came to appear on the list, which leads him to the home of a trio of rumored witches in Much Deeping village
Spoiler alert for 'The Pale Horse' Episode 1
Our story opens in 1960, in the quaint village of Much Deeping with a simple question, "Am I going to keep Mark happy?" Delphine Easterbrook (Georgina Campbell) visits a seemingly sinister trio of witches and asks them about her married life with Mark.
What she finds out from the trio is still unknown but Delphine was unfortunately discovered dead in the bathtub of her home by her husband Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell). At her funeral, Mark says he doesn't know what to do without her in his life.
A year later in London, a certain Jessie Davis (Madeleine Bowyer), who looks sick to death, makes a list of names and it contains Mark's. The strangest thing about the list is that Mark's is the only name with a question mark.
Soon, Jessie is found dead and this list of names is found in her shoe. The police are unable to figure out the meaning of this list and send for the names to understand more.
By now, handsome and charming antique dealer Mark has remarried Kaya Scodelario's Hermia Easterbrook. Although it has been close to a year into that marriage, the newlyweds share a strained relationship. Mark's confidante and godson David Ardingly (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), among other characters at some point of the series, notes that it was too soon for Mark to have married someone else.
Mark is also cheating on his wife with Thomasina Tuckerton (Poppy Gilbert), or adoringly called Tommy. But when the night of debauchery ends with Tommy found dead the next morning, Mark cleans off any mark of him being there and flees — without informing anyone of the death. That's when the story begins.
As it turns out, Tommy was another name on the list found in Jessie's shoe. But hers is not the only name that Mark recognizes. There is an Ardingly on the list too, but is it his godson David?
Now the question arises, who is behind these killings? With police at their wits' end, Mark embarks on an investigation into how and why his name came to appear on the list. This leads him to The Pale Horse, the peculiar home of a trio of rumored witches in the beautiful village of Much Deeping.
Episode 1 of 'The Pale Horse' moves with a lingering sense of anxiety in the air. There are many things that don't add up just yet and their incompleteness could feel frustrating to those who haven't read Agatha Christie's classic work.
The ominous sign of hair fall preceding the deaths follows Mark and audiences like a ghost. The constant barraging by Bertie Carvel's Zachariah Osborne is another worrisome ominous presence on the show filling Mark with anxiety. Special mention to Bella (Rita Tushingham), Sybil Stamford (Kathy Kiera Clarke) and Thyrza Grey (Sheila Atim) for playing the witches in charge of the oncoming doom.
'The Pale Horse' scores high on its production value. An original BBC One production adapted by Sarah Phelps and directed by Leonora Lonsdale, Episode 1 of 'The Pale Horse' has its highs and lows but feels like a drag at most times. Rufus Sewell is the only part of the two-episodic mystery series that is not disappointing through the hour-long episode. Even with a stringy adaptation, Sewell keeps the project together.
All episodes of 'The Pale Horse' are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.