With Halloween just two days away, Spike has picked the perfect episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve to air this week. If the title didn't clue you in, "Raise The Dead" is more startling than any horror movie. It's the most unsettling - and possibly even the most moving - thing you'll see this fall.
[SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know anything about tonight's episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, stop reading now. This preview contains some general spoilers.]
Before we dig into the details, this episode is worthy of a warning. It is at points very graphic, and in addition to that, because it deals directly with death, contains content that may be disturbing or potentially triggering to some folks. If you're at all squeamish, either visually or emotionally, it'd be best for you to skip this one. We won't hold it against you. Even we had to look away on a few occasions.
"Raise The Dead" keeps us in the 'superhuman' category of magic, and its primary demonstration as well as several of its smaller tricks are perfect for the season. When it comes to the latter, there's more blood in this episode than has been seen in the previous three installments combined. But that's nothing compared to the main event.
Criss's goal in this episode is to bring someone back from the dead. It's something we can all wrap our brains around, because anyone who's lost a loved one has probably also wished that they could reunite with them. It's also something that is generally considered to be near impossible - which makes it right on Criss's level. He's also got a bit of a personal stake in it, too, as is revealed early on: the loss of his father is something that still affects him today.
That last part is what balances out the shock factor of the segment, and also provides it with a certain degree of emotional resonance. Unfortunately, this is very easily the kind of trick that could be played purely for attention; look at how many people claim to be able to communicate with the deceased. But Criss is a true professional, one who makes it clear early and often that he takes this task seriously and approaches it with the utmost respect for everyone involved. He's not trying to attempt it just for the controversy, or the coolness points, or even the difficulty factor. It's something he honestly wants to figure out.
This in turn brings audiences back to BeLIEve's core goal of teaching audiences about the realities of magic. Look out for a moment between Criss and Banachek, where the latter expresses some concerns about the demonstration. Criss's response, in its eloquence and passion, tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what truly drives him. Yes, he's a guy who can crack a joke and who often enjoys freaking out complete strangers, and we love him for it.
But underneath that great personality is somebody who's honestly excited about the possibilities - or even impossibilities - of life. Magic isn't just what he does, but who he is. Love him or hate him, he's laying not just his art but his true self on the line with this show, and you have to respect him for that.
There's already some controversy surrounding this episode, and that's perfectly understandable. But we're reminded of a quote from Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night which goes, "For those of us fortunate enough to be the subject of magazine articles, it might be our responsibility from time to time to raise the level of debate." Whether or not you're comfortable with the subject matter is up to you. But whether you like it or you don't, it will inspire you to think about it.
"Raise The Dead" will make you uncomfortable. It might make you cry or prompt you to lose a little sleep tonight. Yet it might also prompt you to call your loved ones and remind them that you love them, too, and that's not something you get out of your average Halloween special. Watch it with caution - but if you can handle it, definitely don't miss it.