In last week’s Remember Me cliffhanger, we witnessed the disappearance into thin air of Tom Parfitt (Michael Palin) and his ghostly Indian governess from the Scarborough beachfront. For more details, check out the full recap here.
But the story is far from over, not by a long chalk (as the Brits are wont to say). Are Tom and Isha gone for good? Are Hannah (Jodie Comer) and her brother Sean safe from the jealous and vengeful nanny? And what does that blasted “Scarborough Fair” song have to do with all of this? I’m glad you asked because these questions and more are addressed and, for the most part, satisfactorily answered in the final installment of Remember Me.
We begin with DC Rob Fairholme (Mark Addy) as he enthusiastically tries to convince his superior, DCI Grogan (Tony Pitts) that there’s something supernatural about the deaths in the Parfitt case. “It’s always water, water that shouldn’t be there.”
Grogan dismisses it all – the unexplained aspects of the ‘accidental” deaths, the Queen’s birthday cards and the old photos - as unreliable evidence. Then he turns on the misguided sympathy and suggests Rob take some time off and come back when he feels better. Like he did before. What?
Meanwhile, Hannah Ward is still in Scarborough. Distressed by visions and that infernal earworm of a song and overwhelmed by what she’s gotten herself and her brother into, she calls Rob. Upon his arrival, he tries to assure her (and himself) that there’s a sane explanation for all this weirdness. But after Hannah pulls out the phone with the photo of Isha standing next to Sean, Rob’s doubts about the otherworldly powers at work vanish into thin air.
Rob gets a call that Tom has been seen in a caravan park near the bay. When he and Hannah reach the site, they find the windows blown out of the trailer and water dripping from the ceiling. Rob goes out to scan the area and spots Tom on the ground near the cliffs with a woman shrouded in red leaning over him. When the detective reaches him, Isha is gone and Tom is wet, battered and disorientated. The old man feebly laments, “I just wanted to be free. But she’ll not let me go. Not ever.”
Back at the caravan, Tom explains how he thought if he made it look like it wasn’t his choice to leave the house, he could escape without angering Isha. He is sorry about what happened to the social worker. When Hannah asks if her brother is safe, Tom says Isha would never hurt a child. I’m not so sure about that…
So the ghost is real. No one who has crossed Isha’s path is in any doubt of that. It appears the only way to get to the bottom of all this mayhem is to learn the connection to “Scarborough Fair.” When all is said and done, this is the story:
As a younger man Tom searched for a way to free himself of his spectral nanny. He went to Goathland to meet Richard Hutton, singer of a version of "Scarborough Fair" with a final verse reputed to lay spirits to rest. Instead, he met the man’s granddaughter Dorothea and fell in love. Tom told Dorothea about his childhood nursemaid and her perpetual hold on him despite the fact that she died enroute to India when her ship hit a German mine in 1914.
Upon returning from their honeymoon, Dorothea tried to evict Isha from the house for good by singing that magical part of her grandfather’s song. Tom refused to join in or, according to Nancy at the care home, he pushed his new bride to her death himself. Either way he was responsible for Dorthea’s demise because he chose Isha over his wife.
When Hannah asked him how he could do it, Tom replied, “She came back from the dead for me,’ Tom replies. ‘How could I send her back there?’
By the time time we've reached the pinnacle, Hannah’s nightmares appear to be prophecies instead. Isha has Sean and is slowly forcing him into a pond near the care home. Hannah and Tom have taken a rowboat out to save the boy. Hannah goes into the water after Sean, but all either sibling can do is sink.
Then Tom, an old man yet eternally ten years old, reflects on his life with its precious moments of pure happiness. In the end, he sings the last verse of “Scarborough Fair." Acknowledging her beloved boy’s wishes, Isha submerges underwater and slowly disappears.
Hannah returns to the surface and Sean is pulled from the water by Rob. They turn to find Tom, but the row boat is floating and unoccupied just as Hannah saw in her visions. Deep within the pond, the nursemaid cradles her charge as they seem to endlessly descend.
With the ordeal resolved, Hannah can finally leave for university. Rob has apparently agreed to make sure Sean gets to school each day since Mrs. Ward has been deemed totally unreliable. But that’s nice for Rob because the man whose family left him for Australia needs to be needed.
In the end, I found it sad that Tom Parfitt never got to experience the freedom of adulthood. His one-hundred odd years were spent in an unhealthy, supernatural obligation to Isha. Her dedication was so strong it brought her back from the dead, which was, at the very least, dysfunctional. Three women (that we know of) died and numerous other lives were damaged.
Usually when the evil force is vanquished, there’s relief. This ghost story left me melancholy instead. My undying admiration for Michael Palin probably influenced my reaction to some degree. Tom’s loneliness and the anguish of his torn loyalties made my heart twinge more than a few times. In fact, everyone – Rob, Hannah and Tom – had experienced major loss in their lives and the accompanying havoc that results. Perhaps that’s what drew them together.
Now that it’s over, how do you rate Remember Me? Like Detective Fairholme, did it put you “so far out of your comfort zone, you met yourself coming back”? Or is this macabre tale of an overprotective apparition just your cup of tea? Observations, unanswered questions and thumbs up or down are welcome!