Essex Serpent draws on its atmospheric goth vibe.

This new streaming series starring Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes wants you to feel more than you think about it.

The Essex Serpent is all about the atmosphere – a dark and gothic atmosphere filled with foreshadowing that is awe-inspiring even when everyone on screen is smiling.

His unsettling mood pervades every frame, like something terrible is about to happen and you wonder how anyone can get a happy ending? It’s not a beating heart like in a horror movie, it’s more of a low hum of awe.

This can sound silly, like “How can a glossy mini-series be just atmosphere?!” Well, it’s not just a vibe, but Essex kite the vast majority wants you to feel it more than he wants you to think about it.

And the feeling that it also works in his favor, because since it’s kind of a social dissection of time and place, it’s also a romantic drama between characters played by Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston, two very experienced and very watchable talents. whose combination will decorate any stage.

Based on the book by Sarah Perry, the six-part miniseries is set in Victorian England, at a time when scientific progress is opposed to fear and fundamentalism (hmmm, sound familiar?).

Cora (Dane) – A recently widowed mother whose dead husband, an abusive man, has left her in a happy state, giving her a freedom few other women have. An amateur archaeologist, since women were not allowed to enter the professional ranks, her passion is knowledge and curiosity about the biological world.

When she reads reports of a so-called mythological serpent terrorizing small towns in Essex, she packs herself, her young son, and her lady’s maid Martha (Haley Squires) for the coast.

When she arrives, she finds a fear-ridden community gripped by the mystery of a missing young woman. As someone has remarked, the area is “witch-burning country,” and these old superstitions have been hovering around from centuries past.

When she meets local pastor Will (Hiddleston), she is surprised to find that he is a modern man who shares the ideas of science and progress, even though his number two in the church screeches fire and brimstone and paints crosses on people’s doors.

Cora and Will form a bond that veers dangerously into non-platonic territory, given that Will is married to Stella (Clemens Poesy).

When unusual, eerie things begin to happen, the closed minds escalate into panic, and suspicions turn to an outsider in their company, Cora, who cherishes ideas about a prehistoric creature.

Essex kite it is an atmospheric, enjoyable and beautiful series with impressive performance and textured aesthetic. The performances of its main characters and the wider ensemble cast like Squires, Poesy and Frank Dillane give their characters a lively quality.

The series falters as it runs out of steam towards the end as the story pivots to focus more on Cora, especially as she walks away from Essex. By moving seats, some of that initial pressure dissipates and it becomes a different kind of show.

But overall, it’s a satisfying series that explores the possibilities and limitations of ambition, progress, and human connection.

Essex Serpent is now streaming on Apple TV+ with new episodes available on Fridays.

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