DISCLAIMER: This recap of the SurrealEstate episode “Pilot” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome, real estate agents of “stigmatized properties”! SurrealEstate made its spooky debut on Syfy today. While “Pilot” didn’t particularly scare me, there are elements of it that I dig. It’s reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in terms of special effects and the procedural “monster of the week” format. Luke Roman, our peerless and enigmatic head of The Roman Agency, is a far cry from Wynonna Earp‘s gunslinging Doc Holliday, which is a testament to Tim Rozon‘s acting.
“Pilot” shows a lot of promise. The “haunted-house-but-not-haunted-house” angle is an intriguing approach. At the very least, it’s whetted my appetite to continue watching.
Ready to delve into “Pilot”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a man walking with purpose amid the rainy darkness. This is clearly Luke Roman (Rozon). I like the “film noir” feel of this scene. A woman, Megan (Tennille Read — Bianca on Workin’ Moms), is busy reading an anatomy book by firelight.
The stereotypical “haunts” one sees whenever it storms on a TV show or movie proceed to play out. The radio abruptly turning off, rustling movement. Megan glances down at her anatomy book and sees herself lying on a slab in one of the photos.
Suddenly, the fire in the fireplace bursts forth and reaches for her. She screams. That’s when she spots Luke Roman, rainsoaked, on her doorstep. Megan inquires as to whether he’s a priest, but he simply states that he’s “the real estate guy.” She is trying to sell her house, after all.
Next, Luke and Megan hit up the local diner. She’s still pretty spooked. Luke fires up a presentation on his laptop that encompasses what his company, The Roman Agency, does. They swoop in and clean up the properties that nobody wants. After whipping them into shape and clearing whatever supernatural entities reside therein, The Roman Agency sells them for more than their initial price.
Megan assumes they specialize in “haunted houses,” but Luke doesn’t refer to them as such. “Stigmatized properties” is the term he’s chosen. Why? Because not every house is haunted. Sometimes there’s a natural and reasonable explanation for what’s transpiring. I appreciate this little detail — it’s what sets SurrealEstate apart from other run-of-the-mill genre shows. Luke doesn’t believe in “ghosts,” but he does believe in selling houses.
Then, Megan’s fiance shows up. She vows to discuss the house situation in the morning. Later, the following day, Luke is sitting with his team. There’s Father Phil Orley (Adam Korson), a fallen priest. August Ripley (Maurice Dean Wint), the “tech” guy. Lastly, Zooey L’Enfant (Savannah Basley), the office manager.
Next, Susan Ireland (Sarah Levy) shows up for her first day. She’s coming off a successful stint with a prestigious real estate agency. Luke leaves to take a phone call from, presumably, Megan. Father Phil asks Susan if she knows what she’s getting herself into by joining The Roman Agency. She claims she’s done her research and states that TRA sells the properties that nobody else will.
Later, Susan meets with Luke in the latter’s office. He reveals that their client, Megan, has fired them. Naturally, he still plans on working on her case, as one does when they’ve been sacked. He shows Susan the swanky video presentation. Susan explains what happened with her last employer — she was fired. This was right after she had a year-long affair with her boss.
Now, Luke and Susan are heading to another residence that’s experiencing some strange phenomena. Or something with a plausible explanation. Who knows? We see that Luke’s rival, Rita Weiss (Alison Brooks), has laid claim to selling this particular property. Nevertheless, Luke has been summoned, because “freaky” is his business.
Meanwhile, Father Phil discovers something peculiar regarding Megan’s house. While it’s an old building, there’s no evidence of its existence prior to a certain point in time. Almost as if it “came out of nowhere.” August sits outside the property while sporting a pair of fancy eyewear. The different lenses help him see certain supernatural entities. In this case, he can see a horde of ghosts standing on the house’s deck.
Then, Luke and Susan get the lowdown while on their current case. Apparently, this family has seen flying objects move from one side of the room to the other. Luke notes that the house isn’t built on sacred or haunted ground. Suddenly, the strange stuff starts up while Luke and Susan are present. Everyone in the room ducks as objects are violently knocked askew and thrown about. That is, everyone except Luke. He’s currently on the phone.
Next, Luke leaves to continue working on Megan’s case. He assigns this family’s dilemma to Susan. Megan reluctantly allows Luke and his team to run tests on her home. We see Father Phil and August arrive on her porch.
Later, Susan finds Luke at the batting cage. Batting those balls. She proceeds to ask him questions regarding his personal life. Susan’s curious as to why he seems to know everything about her, but she knows next to nothing about him. Luke tells her that his mother left him at a young age. He was raised by his father in SoCal, and maintained a good relationship with him until the latter passed away. He’s single. Maybe ready to mingle?
Prior to Susan’s departure, Luke proffers a friendly piece of advice: look for the reasonable answer. Meanwhile, Father Phil and August are hard at work inspecting Megan’s residence. Phil descends into the basement, wherein he discovers something peculiar: a ravenous dog. A ghost doggie, perhaps? August spots a woman sporting a white gown drenched in blood and brandishing a knife on the stairs. You know, normal stuff.
After Phil and August leave, Megan stays up waiting for her fiance, Brock. She calls him, worried. Over an hour has passed since he promised he would be home. However, Megan notices that the clock has moved back a couple of minutes, seemingly of its own volition. She guzzles more wine.
Then, Susan is at the local hospital. Apparently, the husband of that family is concussed after a clock flew off the wall and thwacked him on the noggin. Rita Weiss is present, and she demands Susan remedy the situation before she sues The Roman Agency. Susan briefly questions the battered husband and harried wife.
She finds their teenage daughter is on the phone with her boyfriend. A toddler is sitting in a crib, utterly sobbing. We see the babydoll sitting right outside of the crib begin to move. It levitates toward the crib. The toddler gleefully catches it, and her crying ceases. Happy baby! But is this kid telekinetic, or this there a ghost haunting the hospital?
Meanwhile, Megan is watching TV in her room. Suddenly, that same photo from her anatomy book appears on the screen. A creepy-looking demon doctor turns toward her. She’s sucked into the image that’s come to life.
Now, she’s lying on the slab, staring up at a bevy of ghostly doctors preparing to operate on her. There’s an audience of ghosts bearing witness, the same ones that August spotted with his fancy glasses. The demon doctor takes a scalpel and begins making an incision in Megan’s chest. Thankfully, she’s able to escape mostly unscathed.
Next, Luke arrives on the scene and takes Megan to his house. She’s carrying three bottles of wine, and if that isn’t a relatable image, I don’t know what is. The following day, Luke tells Megan that he’s been observing her home for a long time. Even before her grandfather purchased it. Apparently, his mother knocked on the door one day and was never seen again. Megan proceeds to dip her pop tart in yet another glass of wine, which is a big-time mood.
Later, Susan approaches the teenage daughter. Susan gets down to brass tacks — the daughter is telekinetic. She’s the cause of all the objects that are inexplicably flying about. Why? Hormones are a huge facilitator in drawing out inherent telekinetic abilities. Susan urges the kid to get a handle on them before someone really gets hurt.
Then, Luke and Megan return to the latter’s property. They head down to her grandfather’s wine cellar in the basement. Time to engage with the demon puppy! Megan tosses a pork chop at the doggie to preoccupy it.
While the supernatural pup is distracted by the meat, Megan finds a portal that the animal appears to be guarding. A lone, monstrous arm snakes out and grabs her by the neck. Thankfully, Luke swoops in and wrestles Megan free. He promptly locks the portal.
Now, Luke vows to close off the cellar. Since the portal is locked tight, chances are the demon dog will look for something else to guard. Additionally, he tells Megan that they will sell her house. After he leaves, we see that Susan was able to get her client’s home successfully off the market. We learn that Susan herself is telekinetic, hence why she knew all about the teen daughter’s ability. That’s part of why Luke sought out Susan.
Next, Luke stands outside of Megan’s home that night. He spots the apparition/specter of his mother waving at him from a window. She vanishes. It looks as though Luke may try to finish whatever “unfinished business” she has on Earth, so she can move on to the next plane.
Overall, “Pilot” isn’t award-worthy TV, but it’s interesting enough to keep you watching. That being said, not many TV pilots are perfect, so I usually try to go easy on them with my critiquing. The cast is solid, and Rozon is a charismatic leading man. Admittedly, it’s difficult to see Sarah Levy as anyone but Twyla Sands. However, I love the telekinetic component of her character.
I like the finer, intricate details of SurrealEstate‘s mythology. The premise, for the most part, is original, albeit certain aspects of it present overplayed horror tropes. Regardless, I’m here to see where this ride takes us. I can’t wait to see Melanie Scrofano! Soon!
SurrealEstate airs Fridays at 10 pm on your Syfy affiliate.
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