I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who plan their Halloween costume now, in August. It’s still the summer, but already the autumn daydreams have started; pumpkin-flavored everything, playing The Nightmare Before Christmas on repeat, planning outfits around the patterns of my scarves. This pre-season feels like it starts earlier each year, but with the return of The Black Tapes Podcast on August 30th, I’m already breaking out the skull wreath.
For those of you new to the world of storytelling podcasts, The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about mysteries — the kind you lose sleep over. Think of it as Serial meets The Exorcist. Though it is fictional (please, let it be fictional), the folks over at Pacific Northwest Stories do an amazing job immersing their listeners into this strange world of ghosts, demons, and inter-dimensional portals. That is, they make you forget that none of those things are real.
The rest of this post will contain spoilers from season one and two, so if you aren’t up to date with the episodes, stop reading and go catch up!
In season two, we were introduced the Daiva Corporation, Thomas Warren’s company with many branches. We learned about Dr. Richard Strand’s family – his sister, who we are expected to believe is one of the “gifted children” Simon Reese warned us about, as well as Strand’s father and his mysterious death. We find out what may or may not have happened to Amalia (do you think she’s lying to Alex and Nic?), as well discover that Alex is now suffering from insomnia! Click here to listen to those bonus clips of her sleep recordings.
The season finale of season two left us with one of the biggest reveals of the series, and one that I’m grateful for getting: the whereabouts of Coralee Strand.
STRAND: She told me that she fell in love with me, and she continued to protect me because of that love. She indicated that she began protecting me from both sides at that point. That’s when they took her. That’s when she disappeared, when she turned on her own organization. She was on the run from her handlers. That’s when she was sending me messages. She told me the podcast was making it harder and harder for her to communicate.
So, this is a “The Bodyguard” situation, but with Coralee as Kevin Costner and Strand as Whitney Houston. Of course like all great mysteries, this reveal only gave us more questions to ask: why did the Cult of Tiamet need a Watcher for the Strand family? Is Thomas Warren really the Advocate? What does the Order of the Ceonophus want to bring into the world, besides creepy cult symphonies? Will we see more of Alex’s insomnia subplot? Who killed Strand Sr., and what is in the journal that Thomas Warren wants?
As for the Cult of Tiamet, there are theories that the reason Dr. Strand Sr. spent so much time interested in the ancient order was because he knew his family, and his genetics, were associated with the strange cult. Sounds crazy, but Strand’s father had numerous items in his collection relating to Tiamet, as well as having written an unpublished paper on the subject. Both Richard and Cheryl both cite their father as being distant when he was alive; perhaps this was his way of protecting his children from the research he was conducting?
CHERYL: My father… our father was… away. Absent for a lot of our lives. And I’m not just talking about geography.
CHERYL: No. If he wasn’t away in Estonia or Brazil, he was locked in his office, which was just as far. This isn’t to say that he didn’t have moments of… fatherly affection, because he did. I have some very fond memories. But… he was obsessed with work. His work was everything to him. It came first. Always.
Some on the Pacific Northwest Stories subreddit predict that Alex, or Strand, or the podcast itself is the machine that Simon Reese spoke of: “Find the machine, and you’ll find the man behind it” (2×09). Because the Order of the Ceonophus is focused on playing the Mysterium to the world, what better way than to broadcast each of the five movements on the podcast? Don’t forget, we’ve already heard the Unsound, which Simon insisted was only the first “movement” (2×12). Have we already heard the others, thanks to Alex and Strand, without anyone realizing it?
The third and final season will prove to be one that tests our paranormal fortitude. Will we listen to the final movements to Percival Black’s symphony? Will we finally understand what role the Gifted Children’s exorcisms pose? Will Alex and Strand finally get it on? We’ll have to listen in to find out, on August 30th.
Until then, there’s only one question to ask: do you believe?