Lore (2017) s01e01 Episode Script

They Made a Tonic

[THUNDER] MAN: Of all the ties that bind, none is more profound than family.
In 1836, Sarah Hart welcomed her recently orphaned 12-year-old niece Mary into her New Haven, Connecticut, home.
Mary's parents had been lost at sea.
Sara and Mary found solace in each other's company.
As the years passed, they became inseparable.
It was as if they were of one mind, one heart.
One morning, as the two women worked, Mary collapsed.
The cause wasn't clear.
[PANTING] At first Sara thought her niece had simply fainted, but no.
Sara held Mary in her arms as she took her last breath.
She was buried the next day.
That night, Sara had a nightmare.
[THUMPING, SHOUTING] FEMALE VOICE: Let me out of here! Help! [SCREAMING] Help! [CRYING] Help! [SCREAMING] She was convinced this had to be more than a dream.
Could Mary still be alive? She begged the church officials to unearth Mary.
It was a somber task that quickly turned to horror when they laid eyes on Mary's lifeless body fingernails torn and bloody, the lining of the coffin torn to shreds.
Her face a horrid death mask.
This really happened to Mary Hart on October 16, 1872.
Waking up inside a small box 6 feet in the earth is what true fright looks like to me buried but not dead, or, even worse, buried but undead.
I'm Aaron Mahnke, and this is Lore.
One thing we can all be grateful for is that we live in an age when we know that dead is dead.
But modern medicine has redefined the line between life and death.
We now have control over that line in a way that previous generations would have considered miraculous or the work of the devil.
Doctors routinely stop the heart during open heart surgery and then revive the patient with an electric shock.
People whose brains have all but ceased to function can still be kept alive.
Cutting an organ out of one person and sewing it into the body of another, that's no longer a notion out of Frankenstein.
That's what medicine has always been about finding a way to eliminate suffering and keep death at bay, even though some early methods may now seem barbaric.
No matter what the era, the question has always been, "How far are we willing to go to keep a loved one alive?" In 1883, George Brown found himself asking that very same question.
Census records tell us that Brown owned a small farm in the rural community of Exeter, Rhode Island.
He had a family, and, like most if not all of his neighbors, he was Protestant.
These were people who prided themselves on hard work, self-reliance, and perseverance in the face of hardship.
[COUGHING] [GASPING] [COUGH] This wasn't George Brown's first encounter with the phantom killer.
I'm sorry, George.
You've seen how this ends.
In 1883, consumption claimed the lives of one in four people in New England.
His wife Mary Elizabeth had contracted the disease and died an equally agonizing death.
Now it would claim his oldest daughter Mary Olive.
The newspaper wrote of the town's sorrow at her passing.
The last hours she lived, they said, were a great suffering, yet her faith was firm, and she was ready for the change.
George was not a religious man, but he prayed every night that this terrible sickness would leave his children alone.
We know from death records that consumption continued to plague New Englanders.
But for nine years, George's prayers were answered, and his family was spared.
[GIGGLING] Edwin, turn yourself from the ladies.
Yes, sir.
You two have been married for a whole year now.
Aren't you sick of each other yet? [SIGH] With a little more work, there'll be more than just the two of us by the first snow.
[LAUGHING] [COUGHING] Let me see.
How long? A couple of weeks.
Do they know? No.
I'll finish.
Nurse yourself.
Yes, sir.
Thomas Brandt, from over in Providence, his brother took ill a few months back.
They sent him to Colorado Springs.
There's a special hospital there for treatment.
The mountain air clears the lungs, they say.
Did it work for Thomas' brother? Thomas says he's good as new.
So we'll sell some heads of cattle.
I can't let you do that.
They're my cattle, son.
Who will help you bring in the crop? I will.
Your strong sister will.
- You must go.
- You both go.
Both of you.
I've lost a wife.
I've lost a daughter.
I won't lose a son.
Three months after Edwin left for Colorado, the phantom killer returned to the Brown house.
This time it came for Mercy.
The pandemic had reached epic proportions, and after enduring the ravages of such a brutal disease, the last remaining shred of hope was that death would finally bring relief.
But only if the dead were actually dead.
At this time in the late 19th century, pronouncing someone dead was more guess work than science.
The fear of premature burial HAD A NAME: Tapephobia.
And thus the birth of the Waiting Mortuary, the place where the probably, but maybe not completely dead could be observed.
That is until the only sure fire sign of death PRESENTED ITSELF: putrefaction.
The best of the establishments were adorned with huge floral arrangements to mask the stench.
Still, why wait that long if you didn't have to? There were a growing number of techniques that could provide a speedier verdict, like sticking a pin under the nail bed.
Putting a live beetle in the ear.
Bugle fanfares at point blank range.
Razor cuts to the souls of the feet.
A specially designed nipple pincer.
Sticking a pencil up the nose.
Once physician even developed a hand cranked tongue-pulling machine.
For those with sufficient means, there was another option, the safety coffin.
Enterprising inventors, embracing the zeitgeist of the moment, proposed numerous patents for this emerging class of mortuary product.
One popular design consisted of a long tube that provided light and fresh air.
One doctor designed a system using a bell.
Strings were attached to the hands, feet, and head of the corpse, and if the bell rang, the attendant would summon the gravediggers, who'd rapidly reverse their labor, freeing the occupant from his terrifying predicament.
Hence the expression, "Saved by the bell.
" The thing is, we'll never know just how many woke in terror only to die a second death.
After several weeks in Colorado Springs, Edwin's health was improving.
The therapies and fresh mountain air had reinvigorated his lungs.
But, by the time Edwin came home, Mercy was dead.
There we are.
I should have been there for her, for you.
You know your sister.
She didn't even want to know she was sick.
She knew you'd come home.
She wanted you to stay and get well.
You look well.
Good to see you, son.
Come on.
[TICKING] [COUGHING IN DISTANCE] [COUGHING] Dr.
Metcalf and some men are downstairs.
They wish to speak with you.
[COUGHS] George.
Samuel.
This is Mr.
William Rose.
He lives over in Peace Dale, but he is Exeter born and raised.
Mr.
Rose.
I heard about the tragedy that's befallen your family.
That your son has taken a turn for the worse.
- I have a remedy.
- Are you a doctor? Most certainly not.
He's just a farmer, just like us.
But he has experience with Eddie's illness.
Samuel tells me your son found relief from his sickness out west.
It wasn't until he came home it started back? Yes.
I believe the young man is in the grip of a demon.
George, do not listen to this.
Well, if he keeps listening to you, Eddie will die like the others.
Now, we've heard about this, George.
This This demon, it it gets into the body of a loved one and it kills them, and it keeps reaching back from the grave to feast on the blood of the next and the next until no one is left.
William knows.
He's seen it firsthand.
I let my wife and four of my children die before I accepted the truth.
Until I did what I should have done from the start.
And what was that? Since the demon spirit resides in the heart of the diseased, we must unearth their bodies and find out which is the host.
You are suggesting I dig up my wife and my daughters? If the body is sufficiently desiccated, we'll know if it is truly dead.
But if there remains an unnatural glow, we must check the heart for blood.
If present, we know the demon has taken it as a host, and we must burn it.
It's Old World superstition.
Medieval folklore.
We live in the New World.
Well, call it what you want, but it works.
It saved Mr.
Rose and his daughter.
She lives now with a family of her own.
There are things on this earth that we cannot explain, but that doesn't make them any less possible.
We can save your only son.
I'm sorry for your loss, Mr.
Rose.
I'd like you to leave my house.
Now.
I'll escort them out.
Please.
Go on, Samuel.
How much did you hear? I refuse to give into that madness.
I'm not superstitious but this plague, this demon has taken so many, and now it wants Eddie.
What if there's something to what they're saying? - What if - Lily.
If we do nothing, Eddie will die.
We both know that.
If what they're saying could work, I know that Mercy would want us to try.
I didn't know the other members of your family.
Can we live with ourselves, if no matter how improbable? This could work.
And we didn't even try it.
I don't know.
Please.
NARRATOR: George Brown was being asked to do the unthinkable: exhume the bodies of his family to see if they were, in a way, still alive.
It was a ritual with a name.
Therapeutic exhumation.
To ensure that the dead were really dead.
The idea was born some hundred years earlier from the work of George Stahl, one of Germany's most respected doctors.
Stahl was obsessed with understanding what separated life from death.
He believed that an invisible life force flowed through the human body and this force keeps the lungs breathing, the heart beating, the blood liquid.
He called that force the animus the soul.
Decomposition could only begin once the soul had left the body.
But we now know that Stahl had it wrong.
But people back then thought it was cutting-edge science, and used it to justify their own superstitions that some souls remain in their corpses.
And to sustain themselves, those souls feed on the living, spreading disease as they feast.
This strange combination of bad science and folklore was brought to America by German Army surgeons who aided the British in the American Revolution.
When a town was plagued by Consumption, they would exhume the corpses.
If they discovered flesh that hadn't decomposed sufficiently or blood that hadn't coagulated, it could mean only one thing: the soul was still trapped in the body.
The heart would be surgically removed and cremated.
Thus the soul would be put to rest once and for all.
And the living would be safe.
[SCREAMING] [COUGHING] He awoke screaming.
[GASPING, COUGHING] He's burning up.
- [COUGHING] - Shh, shh.
- [GASPING] - Eddie.
Shh, shh.
[GASPING] - Shh.
- [GASPING] [THUNDER] [COUGHS] Mercy! [GASPING, COUGHING] [PANTING] [COUGHING] [COUGHING] Stay with him.
[COUGHING] [GROANING] [BANGING] [BANGING] [WIND BLOWING] [BANGING] [BANGING CONTINUES] [SQUEAKING] We are practical men, you and I.
Aren't we? I don't believe in demons, Harold.
I know you don't.
[CLEARS THROAT] After all I've lost, I barely believe in God.
God forgive me.
But Rose claims this remedy saved his daughter.
Am I being selfish not to at least allow them to try to bring Edwin some relief? The Germans discovered consumption is caused by bacteria.
I don't care about the the cause, I care about the remedy.
They told us it was hereditary, now it's a bacteria? Next is a parasite.
I don't know what to believe in.
You cannot abandon your faith just because you've fallen on hard times.
That is what faith is there for.
I know.
That's true.
But, at this point [SIGHS] my belief is that William Rose offers hope.
False hope.
He will fail, too.
If he fails, he fails.
But I'll know I've tried everything in my power to save my boy.
What are you willing to believe in if it makes you less human? Will they forgive me, my family, my neighbors? Could I forgive myself if I didn't at least let them try? There's no medical science to anything they are saying.
You're a good friend, Harold.
You're my only friend in this a good doctor.
But your medical science has done nothing.
[SIGHS] NARRATOR: George Brown lived in a strange time where scientific discoveries were rapidly changing how people engaged with the world, and how they imagined the future.
Science was producing miracles on an unprecedented scale.
And yet medicine still fell short.
Doctors were often in the dark when it came to knowing what caused the diseases that were ravaging so many.
Like the consumption that had decimated George Brown's family.
Though the bacterium that caused the disease, M.
Tuberculosis, had been discovered ten years earlier, as of 1892 there was still no cure.
Which left plenty of room for less scientific remedies to keep their iron grip on people's practices and beliefs.
Like the belief that a heart, long dead, could still exert some sort of terrible power draining the life from the living.
[HEART BEATING] WILLIAM: Now, any bodies we unbury and find they have not rotted, then it's proof they walk the earth at night.
Who was the first taken? My wife, Mary Elizabeth.
Then that's where we start.
May God understand and guide us.
[MAN GRUNTING] [WOOD CRACKING] SAMUEL: Mary Olive died next? [GRUNTING] [COUGHING] - You have your answer.
- METCALF: Yes.
The answer is, this is over.
You've seen for yourselves.
Return them to their rest, and go back home to your families.
Mercy.
Mercy was alive when her mother and sister died.
It can't be her.
But what if it is? She'll come for your boy.
She'll come for our boys.
We have to know.
Three months, and yet her skin is fresh as if still taking nourishment.
SAMUEL: She's not dead.
Look at her.
At night she lives.
METCALF: The body was kept in the shed awaiting spring thaw for burial.
The cold preserved her, not a folk tale.
A demon would be smart to use her.
She doesn't need to crawl up from the ground.
We have no choice.
It must be done.
Samuel.
You will not touch her.
Don't you understand? This is as much for her sake as it is Eddie's.
If you do this then Mercy can rest in peace and save your son.
What do I do? Can you do it? [SAWING] [BONES CRACKING] The heart is where the demon lives.
If we find fresh blood, we'll know she carries it.
There.
You see it? The blood is coagulated as it should be after three months frozen.
Then we can't take any chances.
We must take the heart and the liver to be certain.
WILLIAM: Burn it.
Then make a tonic of the ashes and give it to Edwin.
METCALF: A tonic? It's how I saved my daughter.
[COUGHING] Take this.
I can't.
I can't.
I could never, I [COUGHING] Listen to me.
[WHEEZING] If it offers even the slightest hope of a cure, you know Mercy herself would implore you to drink it.
Please.
If not for yourself, then for me.
Come on, son.
This is where we are.
This is where we are.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
I know, I know.
I'm sorry.
[PANTING] Good job.
[PANTING] NARRATOR: The family waited for the impossible, and prayed for Edwin's recovery.
But on May 2nd, 1892, almost two months after drinking the tonic, Edwin Brown passed away.
He was 24 years old.
George had taken the extraordinary, some would say barbaric action, to save his child.
And he'd failed.
Newspapers condemned George Brown and the people of Exeter as remnants of a less enlightened time.
The articles mocked them for believing a monster could escape from the grave.
And they gave that monster a name: The Vampire.
The story became a tabloid sensation around the world.
A clipping was found among the papers of a writer.
THE WRITER'S NAME: Bram Stoker.
And the book inspired by Mercy's tale, I'm sure you've already guessed that.
Dracula.
The vampire tale quickly moved from the printed page to the Silver Screen.
And it's never really gone away.
It's more than a little ironic.
In many ways, thanks to the efforts of her father, Mercy Brown, the first American vampire, is still alive today.