The Byron Chronicles: The Coming Storm – AKA: “Did They Just Say What I Think They Just Said?”

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Byron Chronicles is my favorite Darker Projects show by far, and I have something of a problem with reviewing it without bias. I’m going to try my best, though.

I’m not going to lie; at first, I wasn’t too sure about whether this episode was absolutely brilliant or a swing and a miss, and I was leaning towards the latter.  Maybe it was the introduction of the new characters and a new story arc, maybe it was the fact that I was still getting used to the show’s 180-degree turn into unfamiliar territory, but whatever the reason, my first response to The Coming Storm wasn’t one of love at first sight. I guess I was so used to the focus being on Edmund and Leviathan throughout the rest of this season’s episodes that this abrupt paradigm shift kind of caught me off guard. That, however, is something you’d think I would have learned about Darker Projects  by now; what they do is so different, so unlike anything you’ve ever heard before that when they whip out something like this, you’re caught completely unprepared. Nothing is what it seems; not only is this true for The Byron Chronicles, but for Darker Projects itself.

The only problem I had with it was the fact that the beginning minute or so with Byron and Cullen Tate talking in the sewers was completely unrelated to the rest of the episode.  I remember listening to it about five thousand times when it was released back in April as the Season 2 preview and thinking that it was absolutely brilliant, and it was a tiny bit disappointing to find out that the rest of this long-anticipated episode had nothing whatsoever to do with the first few minutes. Again, I need to learn to expect the unexpected from DP, because they hardly ever do what you think they’re going to do. This short little opening scene is necessary, though; it’s a segue between the events that have dominated the focus of the series for the last five episodes and this new story arc, which I’ll return to later. It’s also a brilliant piece of writing, and one of my favorite moments from the series.

I liked the fact that a few old faces turned up in this episode, including Agent Katharine from way back in the series premiere, The Taint. Sometimes, I wish that Darker Projects wouldn’t post the cast lists directly beneath the download link and live feed on their website, because it gives a lot away; personally, I try not to look too closely at the credits before I listen. That’s how the series finale of The Section 31 Files was ruined for me, and I think that this episode would have had a far greater impact on me if I hadn’t seen Chris’ and Katherine’s names listed. However, her re-appearance was still something of a shocker. Chris is the one who asks the question we’re all wondering about: Didn’t she, I don’t know, get eaten by zombies, or something? Well, yes and no…

Another somewhat less familiar character who makes a surprise re-appearance is Sam, the barkeeper at Dante’s, an establishment catering to humans and the other races alike. Now, you might be asking, “Who’s Sam? What’s Dante’s? This has never been in The Byron Chronicles before!” Actually, you’re absolutely right. This character really hasn’t ever been in The Byron Chronicles; not officially, at any rate.  You may or may not be familiar with an episode from the Darker Projects series Night Terrors; it was called ‘Byron’s Tale’, and serves as a prequel to the events of the proper series. The short story details why Logan was after Byron. In this story, Byron finds Lilith at Dante’s, and this is where the character of Sam makes his brief appearance.

Now, before you go rushing off to download ‘Byron’s Tale’, which is what I did when I heard about it, I feel I should let you know that it’s really not that good. Actually, it’s bloody awful. Not the writing, which is awesome, but the acting, which isn’t. This is from the earlier days of Darker Projects, and, well, production values weren’t as high. Plus, you won’t hear any familiar voices—not even David Ault’s. Yes, that’s right. Somebody else is playing Byron. (Ironically, Byron is voiced here by Tom Davis, who also voiced Logan in another DP short: Devil’s Due: A Polite Conversation.)  I’m not going to stop you from downloading ‘Byron’s Tale’, but just remember, I did warn you…

Speaking of Chris and reappearances, I am extremely delighted to note that Laura Post, who was the voice of Chris up until the episode ‘Autumn Twilight’, has returned to the role. Due to conflictions, Laura Post was sadly unable to record for the episodes ‘Autumn Twilight’ and ‘Autumn Dawn’. The part was played by Melissa D. Johnson, who tried her best to fill the enormous shoes left for her. This is extremely unfortunate; those two episodes were great, but they would have been so much better with the proper cast. Hopefully, all of that is in the past now that Laura Post has returned to take her rightful place as Chris Sparrow. Welcome back!

This brings me to the only other thing I found strange about this episode. Anyone who listened to the last few minutes of ‘Autumn Dawn’ knows that due to his desire to keep Chris safe, Byron told her that he didn’t care about her and that he didn’t want to see her again. Did I mention that this is right after Chris told him she loved him? You’d think after parting on those terms, their meeting in ‘The Coming Storm’ would have a little more tension, especially since Cullen Tate reported in the beginning of the episode that Chris wasn’t feeding or even getting out of bed. Other than some very awkward moments, however, Chris and Byron’s reunion shows no sign that any of the aforementioned events ever happened. Maybe it’s the fact that they aren’t in friendly company, but no mention is made to the events of ‘Autumn Dawn’. In fact, Chris seems perfectly fine, and their relationship seems to go back to what it was in Season 1. Huh.

A few interesting details popped up in this episode: In the beginning, Byron alludes to the fact that being mortal is something that has happened to him before, a long time ago. He also reveals that he has lost track of how old he actually is, joking that he might be ‘due for retirement soon’. It is also revealed that he helped the European coven of vampires draw up the official rules regulating vampire’s interactions with humans: the Masquerade Pact. (One of my personal favorite moments from this episode is when Byron also claims that he helped Moses with the 10 Commandments, and that the original list had included 14 commandments until Byron suggested cutting it down to a ‘nice, round number’.)

Another detail mentioned in passing was equally intriguing, and I wish there had been time to expand on it more. When Byron goes to meet with Demitri, the leader of the European coven, the clandestine meeting takes place in an abandoned high school. As the group walks through the deserted hallways to the auditorium for the meeting, Byron says that the school is haunted by the spirits of people who’ve died at his hands. After the not-so-pleasant walk down memory lane we witnessed in the Starlight Dreams, I have a renewed curiosity about Byron’s past. It seems the more we learn, the less we know, and I’m really hoping that this is something that will be touched on again in a later episode. I’d also like to know why all of those ghosts are haunting a high school…

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned a head-spinning plot twist. Again, let me remind you that if you haven’t yet listened to ‘The Coming Storm’ (which you should have, since it’s been out for three whole days!) you are about to get the living daylights spoilered out of you. Consider yourself warned…

There is an instance in this episode where Byron quotes a famous line from an equally famous novel while mocking the overly formal and melodramatic way in which both the vampires and the Order speak.  When he said, “Welcome to my house, Come freely, go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring “, the bibliophile in me jumped up and shrieked “DRACULA QUOTE!” while the little ironic voice in my mind whispered about how funny it would have been if Byron had actually met the Count.

 About two minutes later, I found out that he had.

Not only that, but Dracula is actually going to be in The Byron Chronicles, trying to start a world-wide war between the Lycans and the Vampires.

Anyone who claims that they saw that one coming is a liar.

 So, despite my early misgivings, I have now come to the conclusion that The Byron Chronicles Season 2, Episode 5: The Coming Storm is brilliant, and that every time I think I have this show figured out , I’ll find out that I actually don’t.  I’m eagerly anticipating next month’s installment, and I’m extremely curious to see how this new twist will be incorporated into the plot.

 ———–

Click here to listen to The Coming Storm: www.darkerprojects.com/byronchronicles.php

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