Happy Halloween! I’m going to rewatch season 1 of Midnight, Texas, so for fun I’ll try to write some quick recaps. Let’s see how far into the season I get. I recapped season 2 as it aired.
Midnight, Texas is a 2 season show that aired from 2017-18, currently streaming on Peacock, which is loosely based on the 3 book series by Charlaine Harris. The books take place in the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse universe with a couple of minor character crossovers, but the show didn’t acknowledge the connection. It originally ran on the NBC broadcast network, so it’s also much tamer than True Blood, but it’s still an hour long dramedy about supernaturals finding refuge in a small town in the southern US.
The main character of Midnight, Texas is Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud), a medium from a long line of mediums, who was raised by his recently deceased grandmother and is still close to her ghost. Said ghost now dwells in the RV where they lived as they traveled the country, working their trade. Manfred is on the run from a business deal gone wrong, so Grandma Xylda (Joanne Camp) counsels him to hole up in her old haunt of Midnight, a town where supernaturals are safe to be themselves and everyone has a secret.
Fake out in the cold open to make Manfred look like a gigolo. Manfred is in a swanky hotel room, meeting with an attractive older woman. Off camera, he asks her to show herself, but then he uses the name Harold instead of hers. They’re calling to her husband’s spirit.The visit goes great until Harold finds out his wife is “cheating” on him with Kevin, his partner and friend. Then Harold breaks a mirror, physically manifests and possesses Manfred.
Yikes, the mirror shards become a weapon and Manfred has to battle Harold within himself to stop him from murdering Rachel so they can be together in the afterlife. It’s all in a day’s work for Manfred, but the raise in his fees he mentioned at the beginning of the session seems warranted. And a big tip.
Manfred’s working on his website when he gets a threatening call from “Hightower”, who wants his $2. Manny’s trying to pay him back, but not fast enough for Hightower. It’s back out on the open road for Manfred in his ancient turquoise RV, while listening to the Black Keys’ Lonely Boy.
Slight jump scare! The happy ghost of Manny’s Grandma Xylda appears in the passenger seat. They talk shop- he tells her he took care of his possession migraine with a pill and a shot of liquor.
This conversation is making me look at my migraines and light sensitivity in a whole new way. Maybe I need an exorcism. Though I might have tried that back in the early 2000s, in my pagan and herbs period, it’s all a bit hazy…
They agree he needs to disappear, and not in the way the ghosts do. They pass a sign that says “Midnight, TX 1Mile”.
The Midnight church does weddings and pet funerals. I’m not clear on if it does pet weddings or just human ones, but either way, I approve. The town witch is in her front yard having a conversation with her cat, which we’re meant to think is strange. Good thing they don’t hear me with my pets. All of the locals look at Manny with suspicion. Strangers aren’t welcome.
Haunted Pawn Shop™️! Owned by Hot Paul from Orphan Black (Dylan Bruce)! Manny can read the objects in the pawn shop using psychometry (or token-object reading), which picks up on residual vibrations left over from previous owners. This technique usually involves touching or holding the object in question. They’re showing us that Manny is an exceptionally strong psychic by having him pick up the energy of every object in the room just by standing nearby. No wonder he has so many headaches.
Hot Paul Bobo, the pawn shop owner, takes Manfred to the Tiny House™️ he’ll be renting in town. It’s furnished with crappy but newish furniture, which is fine with Manny. We just saw why- fewer ghosts and memories attached. Bobo offers Manny a month’s free rent if he’ll use his psychic talents to help find his missing fiance, Aubrey, but Manny refuses, lying and saying he’s a charlatan. Bobo accepts the refusal graciously, but he’s disappointed. There’s homemade cookies on the counter from Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley), the town witch we saw earlier. The locals are welcoming, once they know you belong. But Manny only rented the house for a one month trial period.
Manny stops by the Home Cookin’ diner to get take out for dinner. The lovely Creek (Sarah Ramos) is working the counter and they hit it off immediately. The town is so small that she knows who he is as soon as she lays eyes on him and tells him Midnighters don’t get take out. They eat and socialize family style in the back room reserved for locals. Except for the Rev (Yul Vazquez, Petey from Severance!), pastor of the church, who is a solitary creature and eats at a table alone out front with the gen pop.
Creek invites Manfred to the Midnight Annual Fall Picnic, which is being held the next day. Not wasting time going for what he wants, he says he’s in if she’ll be there. Manfred has no issues with deciding what he wants or doesn’t want, setting boundaries or expressing his desires in an appropriate way. So freakin’ refreshing (looking at you, Interview with the Vampire S1). Frequent possession could be a catalyst to defining your own identity or it could break down those walls. Xylda did a good job teaching him to take care of himself.
He meets Olivia (Arielle Kebbel), a mysterious human in the vein of the Black Widow, who carries a case that isn’t for musical instruments, and her romantic partner Lemuel (Peter Mensah), a vampire who can consume blood or leech energy from human bodies through touch.
Creek: “Do you trust me?”
Manfred: “No, but I’ll let you pick out my dinner.”
Lem: “Don’t let her father see you looking at her like that.”
Uh oh. They already showed us a stack of rifles in the pawn shop. Let’s not trap Manny in a shotgun wedding 2 days after he escaped Harold and Hightower.
Olivia exits and Lem moves to sit next to Manny. He and Olivia live under the pawn shop. He works the night shift, which has an entirely different clientele from the daytime. Lem apologizes in advance and grabs Manny’s shoulder. He’s feeding on Manny, powering up in case he needs to protect Creek from a customer who’s giving her a hard time. But she handles it herself, so Manny is just a free snack. 😉
He encourages Manny to get his blood sugar back up. Manny is excited that he’s not the only freak in the room. Lem encourages him to go to the picnic and make friends, assuring him that his energy level will be back to normal by then.
Creek tells Madonna (Kellee Stewart), manager of the diner, that Manny is interesting. Madonna thinks he’s running from something. Creek says that means he’ll fit right in.
At the picnic, Olivia and Fiji watch Bobo grill, admiring his technique. Olivia teases Fiji about her crush on him, but gets distracted when Manny arrives. Fiji tells her not to worry. The cookies she left for him were spelled. If he had bad intentions he’d be sick right now. Olivia is surprised she’d poison the new neighbor but Fiji feels justified. They were only poisonous cookies if he had a poisonous heart.
Can’t really argue with her logic.
Just as Manfred says he’s glad he came, a dog finds the corpse of Bobo’s missing fiance, Aubrey (Shannon Lawrence), on the edge of the river. She’s been dead for a while. Creek’s brother Connor (John-Paul Howard) calls it in to 911. And Aubrey turns to look straight at Manfred. Looks like he’ll be helping with a murder investigation instead of a missing persons case.
After the title card, Sheriff Livingstone (Sean Bridgers) tells everyone at the picnic not to leave town- they’re all witnesses or suspects or he just doesn’t like the look of them. When she questions why Manny would even want to move into the town, Officer Tina Gomez confirms that the Sheriff’s Department considers the entire population of Midnight as the county’s “usual suspects”. It’s clear the assumption is that there’s something wrong with you if you feel comfortable doing more than eating at the diner. And with their inside knowledge of the town’s evils, the police won’t even eat there.
And by evils, they mean interracial couples (Lem and Olivia), pagan hippies who are potentially lesbians (Fiji), female drifters (Aubrey) and others who are different in totally non-supernatural ways. Manny gets himself labelled a Midnighter by defending them to Officer Tina. To backup her opinions, Officer Tina quotes local teenagers as expert judges in the human condition and the occult.
The sheriff grills Bobo about his relationship with Aubrey. Bobo admits they had a fight and he kicked her out, but he tearfully swears he had nothing to do with her death. Fiji, Olivia and Madonna watch as he’s questioned. They never liked Aubrey.
As Manfred sleeps that night, signs of a ghostly presence form in the room- a cold spot, unexplained sound of dripping water, and the image of Aubrey’s corpse in his bed. That last one is a huge giveaway.
Manfred jumps out of bed and tells her he didn’t consent to this haunting, so she needs to leave. Manfred is a professional, so remember his techniques for the next time a spectral being appears near your bed. I usually tell myself I haven’t woken up completely from my last dream yet, even if I think I’m awake. It’s sad how many false awakenings a person can have. Unlike Harold in the cold open, my ghosts generally don’t listen or talk to me, remaining as poor at communicating as they were in life. I’m left to figure out what they want on my own.
Aubrey drowned, so she has an excuse for her inability to simply say what she means. She burbles water whenever she tries to communicate. Who hasn’t felt like that at some point? But she’s a smart girl and uses the frost on the window to write a message- “help.” Manfred relents, but they have to do this in a way that’s safe for him. The parallels between channeling spirits and sex/intimacy continue. Also with disability adaptations.
Fiji finds Sad Bobo watching the video of his proposal to Aubrey and her acceptance on repeat. She brought him food and decides to stay to keep him company.
Manfred trots over to Rev’s church to get some Holy Water. Rev asks him some questions, but supports his need. He invites Manfred to attend Sunday services.
Fiji lets Bobo talk about Aubrey, showing her open heart, since she’s in love with him. He’s telling her about their dispute between having 4 kids or 1 dog when the sheriff arrives with the preliminary coroner’s report. Fiji tries to leave but Bobo takes her hand and asks her to stay. My shipper heart flutters back to life.
Aubrey was shot in the abdomen but died from drowning. And by the way, for the last 5 years she’d been married to Peter Lowry, a white supremacist from the powerful Sons of Lucifer biker gang. Lowry has been in jail for the last 3 years for assault, but just got out. The sheriff warns Bobo to call him if Lowry shows up rather than handling it himself.
Whatever might happen, will have happened by the time the police make the long drive from Davy to Midnight. But at least the law will be satisfied that the freaks in Midnight didn’t solve the problem themselves before they died.
Manfred creates a ritual circle on the floor to contain the spiritual energy he’s about to work with, then takes out a Ouija board. He must have silently opened himself up to Aubrey, because she appears, but outside his circle. Clever. He’s safe inside and all of the ghosts and whatever other types of spirits show up are locked out of his space.
Aubrey spells out the word “Pecados”, Spanish for “sins”. Then Manfred experiences a home invasion of murder and suicide victims from the spirit world. There are so many that he can’t get rid of them with his usual methods. His floorboards rattle from the glowing red energy rising beneath them.
This is an awkward turn of events. If they all died in the house, this is quite the cursed Tiny Murder House™️. Trapped, he breaks the circle and runs into the next room, warding the door with a hamsa hand talisman, an ancient symbol of protection against the evil eye and negative energies.
We didn’t see him do anything to close the circle and end the ritual, which might mean he essentially left a portal to the spirit world open when he broke the circle. This is why the spirit is generally contained inside the circle, which creates a magical barrier spirits can’t cross.
Since the jealous, violent husband is the most obvious suspect in Aubrey’s death, the incompetent local police arrive in Midnight the next day to question her neighbors. Rev is a suspect because he’s a loner and animal lover who wasn’t at the picnic. Fiji is suspicious because Officer Tina is under the mistaken impression that Wiccans do animal sacrifices. Neither were close to Aubrey. There were animal bones at the weeks old crime scene that the police interpreted as ritualistic sacrifices.
Aubrey frequented the tattoo parlor and nail salon run by Chuy (Bernardo Saracino) and Joe (Jason Lewis). She judged their relationship and Chuy’s ethnicity, so they didn’t talk with her much, but they didn’t judge her back. The police can’t find a reason to suspect them, but they still can’t leave town.
Officer Tina visits Manfred after Fiji. He tells her that he had nothing to do with the murder, since he moved to town after Aubrey died, but she doesn’t care. He’s a lying charlatan who’s acting weird, so he’s under suspicion. He’s acting weird because he doesn’t want her to notice the creeping red glow coming from the back room. The only accusation he can address is the one about being a lying charlatan. It’s time to come out as a real psychic. He asks if Pecados means anything. It’s the name of a bridge over a river and when they search the river, they find the gun that shot Aubrey.
Now Manny is definitely part of the investigation and the police won’t let him go back to Dallas for more psychic consultations in swanky hotel rooms, his bread and butter. He has lunch with Xylda in the RV so he can complain that she sent him someplace where his powers are a liability.
Olivia hears him talking and decides she doesn’t trust him in her town. She knocks him out and takes him back to her
torture den apartment. When Lem and Fiji find them, Manny is naked and tied up, ready for interrogation. After a rough start, Manny mentions Xylda, which gets Lem’s attention. She was an old friend, who he calls “Gypsy Xylda”. Manny explains that she died from throat cancer about a year ago. She’d been running various scams on Hightower and when she died, he decided to collect the money from Manny. So Xylda’s ghost sent him to Midnight to hide. Lem says to untie him.
Once Manfred’s more comfortable, Lem explains that Midnight has been a refuge for supernaturals and others for hundreds of years. Only a few humans live in town. The Midnighters try to stay out of trouble so that humans in the surrounding towns have no reason to notice them. Aubrey’s death changes all that.
Manny asks Lem why he said supernaturals are drawn there.
Fiji: “Midnight sits on powerful mystical energy. The veil between the living and the dead is awful thin here.”
Manny tries to cover his disappointed reaction, then prepares to go home. An easier connection to the dead is not what he needs. Lem apologizes again for the “misunderstanding”, assuring Manny that Midnight is normally quiet and peaceful.
Spoke too soon. A couple of bikers bust into the Haunted Pawn Shop™️ to confront Bobo, who’s been drinking. They ask about Aubrey’s death and a large cache of weapons and money they think he has stashed away. They threaten to kill him if he doesn’t answer, but Bobo says he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. As they attack, Olivia and Lem intervene, Olivia hitting one with an arrow while Lem breaks the other’s neck. Just to prove she’s better than the men, Olivia wears nothing but a skimpy black bikini to shoot her bow and arrow. Lem stopped to put on a robe, but Olivia preferred to appear as the goddess of chafing by bowstrings.
When the fight is done, they send Bobo to bed. It’s time for Lem’s shift at the Haunted Pawn Shop™️ anyway. Olivia acts as clean up crew, presumably still in her bikini, to save on laundry later. At least Lem got a hot, fresh blood meal out of his brief attempt at an interrogation.
Manfred stops to pick up a six-pack of beer at the Gas-n-Go where Creek’s family lives and works. They chat as she’s ringing up his items, but her father spots them from the garage and takes over, sending Creek out and intimidating Manfred.
(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song by BJ Thomas plays in the background. Some wrongdoing is definitely going around.
On his walk home, Manny notices a large dead animal or two dripping blood from under a tarp in the back of Rev’s truck. Rev silences him with a look.
At home, he works in the RV on a new or maybe just a second website, this time for online psychic readings. He’s had to change his business model since he can’t travel.
Probably for the best he figured that out early, before the pandemic lockdowns forced him to scramble.
Another call from Hightower, who’s tracked him as far as Dallas.
Creed knocks on the RV door to apologize for the thing with her dad earlier. He understands, no apology necessary, then invites her in for a beer.
I’m confused. Isn’t she supposed to be underaged?
She accepts his offer. Inside the RV, she talks about wanting to write once she can stop protecting Connor from their dad and move out. Okay, it sounds like she dropped out of college to help take care of Connor after their mother died. Dad took Mom’s death so hard they had to move to a different part of the country to avoid reminders.
Or to avoid the buzz about the circumstances of her death. It doesn’t make much sense for a single father to leave his support system behind to avoid memories, when his two kids are the biggest reminders of his wife he’ll ever have.
Creek is getting too close to her own secrets, so it’s time to reveal a bit of someone else’s. She tells Manfred that Joe watches over everyone and can be trusted to help. But she doesn’t know what brought him to Midnight. On screen, he takes off his shirt and huge feathered wings slide out of his back. He flies over the area, a guardian angel.
Bobo, who knew too much about the white supremacists, never talks about his family or his past, but he’s honest and kind. On screen, Bobo drives out into the desert and checks the locks on an underground storage locker. I think we’ve found the weapons cache the bikers want.
The Rev is unnaturally strong and obsessed with the pet cemetery, but Creek can’t figure him out. On screen, he pulls an entire dead cow toward the church basement.
Fiji is more than she seems but also a good person. On screen, Fiji works on a spell using Aubrey’s hair. Her cat speaks to her like a human, complaining about the spell and the smell of burning hair.
Creek hasn’t figured out Olivia’s secrets yet, either, but knows she has a lot of them. On screen, Olivia turns down a job offer, then opens a wall panel to reveal a secret armory in her apartment. She tells Lem she had to turn down another lucrative job offer because the police are watching her. He offers to help her with anger management and they quickly get naked. Lem feeds on her energy, but it’s much more pleasurable than it was for Manfred.
Now that he has a better sense of the town, Manfred shares more with her about his past. He says he comes from a long line of gypsy fortune tellers. Often, he puts on a show, but sometimes it’s real, as we’ve seen. She asks him to read her future, so he decides to do a palm reading. He paints a rosy picture, which she can tell isn’t a real reading, but she doesn’t ask for the truth. She asks him to kiss her instead.
They are interrupted by the police arriving to arrest Bobo for Aubrey’s murder. The whole down comes out to defend him. The sheriff tells them the murder weapon belonged to Bobo. He means the gun that shot her in the abdomen, which wasn’t what killed her.
They put Bobo in the back of the car and order the people of Midnight to clear the way. Angry shouting continues. Fiji uses her power to crumple the metal body of the police car. Officer Tina knows it’s Fiji, but the sheriff won’t accept it, deciding it’s an earthquake. Rev, Olivia and Manfred try to talk Fiji down. When Manfred says he’ll help prove Bobo innocent, she relents and lets the police car leave town.
When Manfred gets home, the entire Tiny Murder House™️ is glowing with evil red psychic hell energy. I thought it was going to talk to him in a deep baritone devil voice or vomit dead rats, but it’s too early in the season.
That dilapidated turquoise and white RV is looking like a slice of heaven right now.
I’ve read the books the show is based on, but it was several years ago. The stories have very little overlap anyway.
Olivia asked Manny if her father sent him.
Lem was more amused than shocked to find that his wife had a naked man tied up.
No one in town is shocked by the extent of Fiji’s powers.
Will the Midnighters be shocked that the well of mystical energy underneath the town is flowing up through Manny’s house like a geyser? Fiji lives across the street. Are her and Manny’s powers interacting with the energy source?
S.O.B., by Nathan Rateliff & the Night Sweats, plays over the picnic scene. It’s harder to hear, but Howling At Nothing, by the same band, plays under the diner scene.
I would watch the reality show where Manfred, Bobo and Fiji work together to help the spirits trapped in the Tiny Murder House™️ and Haunted Pawn Shop™️ move on to the next realm. I would also watch Manfred’s Psychic Network show where he does couples counseling to give closure to newly parted couples.
Images courtesy of NBC.