Pacific Northwest Stories

The Black Tapes: There’s a glitch (or there was, anyway, the folks on Reddit are making it sound like they removed it) in the Squarespace ad where Alex repeats herself in slightly different phrases that, when it comes, is so fucking unsettling I had to pause the podcast and walk around a little. I’m fascinated just by the ways they put their stories together, how they make things creepy. The Squarespace ad was so brilliant because it felt like a moment where Alex’s falling-apart was so bad that it had leaked into the framework of the show, instead of just staying in-narrative.

The other structural thing they did that I thought was brilliant is that very, very early on in the show, I guess it must be in the first episode, before things settle into being about Strand and his black tapes, they mention that they’re going to look at people who do lots of different things. They specifically mention geocaching.

Then this episode starts with them “re-piloting” the series and interviewing a geocacher. This, to me anyway, has the effect of bringing past episodes directly into mind. This is reinforced with the re-introduction of Tannis Braun. And then the knocking.

Oh, wait, maybe I’m actually talking about the same narrative technique. They are, I think, making good use of the expectation of sets of three. We hear three recording “glitches” with Alex–the knocks, the voice, the Squarespce ad. Then there are three call-backs to early episodes.

So, without explicitly saying it, it sets up a kind of line of thought for the listener–something unnerving is happening involving Alex; think of earlier episodes. And she states explicitly in earlier episodes that she’s terrified of being possessed. They barely have to show us anything strange with Alex–just that she can’t sleep and it’s making her feel weird–but they’ve left us the right kinds of things to allow us to jump to the conclusion that she’s possessed.

That level of control of the subtext is something I’m really envious of.

Tanis. Whoa. I genuinely don’t know what to say about it. I think they nailed the landing. So, so good. I now want to go back to listen to the whole thing and see what I think.