“The Barracks” takes its foot off the gas in a slower follow-up chapter, but there’s little to write home about in the show’s attempts at eerie mysticism.
This recap of Betaal season 1, episode 2, “The Barracks”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
Continuing on from where it left off, Betaal episode 2 finds Sirohi and his men fighting their way into the titular barracks after a shootout with the undead that has left the group largely in disarray – newcomer Nadir Haq (Siddharth Menon) isn’t in good nick, and neither is the show itself.
Whatever next? Sirohi tries to work that out amid some security measures (has a nailed-shut door ever held a zombie horde for long?) and some clandestine whispering of what set the zombies off in the first place. Examination of the bullets suggests age-old weaponry. Matters of cameras and radios provide some contemporary technical accouterments to this stripped-back stand-off scenario. Tyagi remains alive, for now, but ominously delirious. Reinforcements may or may not be coming. The group is split, and uncertainty is rife.
There’s time, though, for some explanation on Betaal and the tunnel’s curse, handily provided by Puniya (Manjiri Pupala), a local whose effigies and lines of salt are the last bastions of defense against the Colonel and his marauding army. Evil is due to be unleashed, as the group tries to determine whether they should leave or fortify, and attempts to communicate with those beyond the tunnels prove fruitless.
Having lost some of the pace promised by the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, Betaal season 1, episode 2 feels somewhat deflated, clutching at tired mysticism and some rote scares to keep audiences invested (an effective sequence involving a zombie on the ceiling is the closest “The Barracks” gets to decent horror.) Another cliffhanger that sees that protective salt recede to the weather and narrative necessity promises more action to come. But do you care enough to seek it out?
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