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Episode 9: The Withering

"Because a vampire’s life spans many centuries, time stretches endlessly before them.  Mortals conserve time and hold it precious, while vampires often wish time would end, for like a stake through the heart, time ultimately becomes their enemy.”

The vamps are killing time in the basement, and Essie has a nasty surprise in the mirror; age spots all over her face and hands.

In the Solarium the next day Sherry tells Malcolm that her grandmother died the previous night.  Nick shows up and is his usual obnoxious self, causing Sherry to storm off.

That night, Murdoch hands the vamps stop watches.  He tells them that as vampires they are immortal, but part of being human is recognizing that time is a gift.  As such he wants them to keep a log of everything they do each night.  Essie enters, wearing gloves, and Merrill explains to a questioning Karl that she is experiencing ‘The Withering’, a time of cellular regeneration that a vampire must go through every so often.  Essie hates the process, although Merrill reminds her that it is only for two days.  Karl still doesn’t understand why Essie is wearing the gloves, so she shows him her age spotted hands while Merrill explains the symptoms.

The following day Malcolm and Sherry regard their stop watches and she tells him that her lawyer father uses one to time how long he works on his clients cases.  It is quite clear that they do not get on.  She then tells him that she is leaving for her grandmother’s funeral that night.

In the basement Merrill asks Essie why she is so upset by the Withering, while the blonde frantically searches through her wardrobe.  Marty comes up to her with a present, a jumbo jar of vanishing cream.  She is not amused and puts on a pair of elbow length gloves and a veiled hat.

Drew is watching Sherry on the video screen.  Nick comes up to her and tries to apologise, but she tells him that she doesn’t want to discuss it.  Marty starts teasing Drew, telling him that she needs him more than ever.  Merrill comes over and Drew tells her that he knows he made the right choice by letting Sherry go, but Marty just keeps pushing until Drew storms off.

Karl asks Essie for a game of chess, but she tells him to go away.  Pulling off a glove she finds her condition is getting worse.

Malcolm is working in the Solarium the next day when Sherry returns from the funeral.  She tells him that she has had another falling out with her father, before asking if he believes in life after death.  She explains that her grandmother had always promised to send her a sign that she was alright, but she has had no such sign.

Downstairs a panicked Essie tells Merrill and Karl that she is sure something is seriously wrong.  The Withering should have passed by now, but is instead getting worse.  Marty again starts taking the micky while Merrill looks up the condition in a vampire anatomy book.  They try to reassure Essie, but once she leaves Karl reads that the illness could kill her.

Karl and Merrill go to Murdoch with the news, and he tells them that it may simply be Essie’s time.  Merrill asks if they can summon the Elders, but Murdoch tells them that they will not interfere in what they see as the natural order of things.  Karl is furious, exclaiming that just sitting around watching while someone dies is hardly civilized.  Murdoch agrees, but feels that there is nothing that they can do.

Later in the basement Karl is desperately researching Essie’s illness when Marty again starts making a nuisance of himself.  When he won’t back off, Karl shoves him across the room.

Telling Essie the bad news, Karl also explains that there might be a cure; she must “drink from the life of youth and beauty,” but when he offers to help her further she accuses him of pitying her, and tells him that she will handle it herself.

Sherry sits at the piano in the Solarium while Merrill and Essie watch from behind the mirror.  Merrill tells the other vampire that she must not harm the human, and does not believe that her will power is currently strong enough to prevent her from killing Sherry.  Essie tells her that she doesn’t want to die again, but Merrill tells her that she is going to be fine.  Pulling back her hood to reveal the face of an old woman, Essie asks her “does this look fine to you?”

In her room, Sherry hears what she thinks is her grandmother calling her name.  Going in to the hall she calls back.  Hiding around the corner, Essie makes ready to attack, but a ringing phone makes the mortal go back to her room.  Rushing up the stairs Karl carries the steadily weakening Essie down to the Solarium couch.  She tells him how frightened she is and he tries to reassure her.  Marty again appears to rub salt into the wound and Karl again loses his temper, chasing the other vampire from the room.  He explains to Essie that his blood may be the cure she needs.  He may be a vampire, but he is still young.  Essie is worried that she won’t be able to stop, but Karl is willing to take the risk.  Drinking from him it seems that her concern may have been justified, but he manages to pull away just in time.

The next day Murdoch is playing the piano when Sherry come over and they talk about the loved ones that they have lost.  Malcolm comes over with a bunch of flowers for Sherry. They are from her grandmother and are the sign that she had been waiting for.

Downstairs Essie is thrilled to be herself again.  Merrill tells her that to drink another vampire’s blood is to gain a greater understanding of them.  Essie refuses to believe that there is much to understand about Karl, but her smile says otherwise.

Later, she and Karl play chess, and Karl finally wins.

“Vampires have nothing but time.  Time to learn about themselves, and each other.  Time to look beyond the surface, to see things and people as they really are.  That is the true gift of time, and in the end, a vampire’s only blessing.”


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