As I’ve previously noted, the new season reunites the main stars of the show, Zander Greene (Scott Simpson in RL), Aisling Sinclair and Mavromichali Szondi, together with returning guest stars from the first season and two special guest stars in the form of Peter Jurasik and Gameela Wright (AvaJean Westland in SL), who will be making their presence felt in voice as the season unfolds.
In the first season, hard-boiled PI Harland Quinn, having been hired by Alais Alleyn, found himself drawn into a strange mystery as he attempted to help her to return “home” – a mystery which suddenly turned its focus very sharply upon Quinn himself as he, Alais and Mr. Biggins were confronted by Adam, Quinn’s bespectacled twin, in the season’s cliffhanger.
Now we rejoin Quinn to find him a prisoner in some kind of asylum or institution, held there by his strange twin, who both resents Quinn and takes a perverse pleasure in seeing him hurt. Doubtless, if left to his own devices, Adam would quite happily put an end to Quinn’s life. However, the choice is not Adam’s to make, because he answers to someone even more mysterious and potentially threatening – the Doctor.
It’s a taut piece of story-telling, neatly opening-up a list of new questions, introducing new characters and which further and deftly twists the story a little more, a move which serves to both draw an audience already familiar with the story further into it, while also setting-up things such that anyone with only a loose understanding of season one will want to go back and watch it again.
Season two allows the show to make use of a number of additional tools to assist in the filming / production process. One of these is ReScene, an advanced choreographing tool developed for Second Life by Logan Bauer. This can best be thought of as a 3D “timeline” of a live cinematic scene that can be played and replayed with any number of avatars playing different roles, allowing precise control of avatar movement, animations and camera movement to be achieved.
“It gives the actors a chance to focus on things like directed looks, expressions and so forth,” series director Saffia Widdershins told me ahead of the premiere screening. “It’s incredibly hard to hit a mark like that in SL. Either you end up miles away, facing in the wrong direction, or looking in the wrong direction and having to turn awkwardly. Throw into the mix the fact that someone’s lips don’t move, and we have to shoot it all again.”
Operated by season one’s VFx veteran, Terra Volitant, ReScene has allowed the production to aovid many of these time-consuming pitfalls, and has brought a further level of realism to the show.
As a season opener, this episode of The Blackened Mirror has it all: mystery, intrigue, suspense and drama. Just how can Harland Quinn have a brother he does not remember? Are they even brothers by natural birth? The clues are there to suggest they are probably not; but who can tell at this stage? What happened to Alais Alleyn and Mr. Biggins between Adam’s arrival in the bar at the end of season one, and Quinn’s incarceration in the asylum? And who is the malevolent Doctor?
But don’t take my word for it – why not watch the first episode of the new season for yourself? Just make sure you watch it right the way through to after the end credits!