Photo Courtesy of the BBC and CBC.

BBC Ghosts Season 1 Episode 4 Review: “Free Pass”

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labour of the actors and other creatives involved in the project(s) mentioned here, Pages and Pictures would not exist. Pages and Pictures stands firmly behind SAG-AFTRA members as they fight for fair labour conditions. 

BBC Ghosts Season 1 Episode 4, “Free Pass,” shifts focus back to the living residents of Button House. Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) continue to build their new life with the ghosts in tow. Clearly, they are still capable of living their lives to the fullest even if the ghostly residents of Button House may be watching their every move. This episode is an opportunity to showcase how the ghosts interact with a whole group of living people.  

Alison and Mike’s relationship has clearly already been through a lot in the short time since they’ve been introduced. This episode is an opportunity to have them let loose, and arguably show more of their authentic selves.  The fact that this entire episode pokes fun at the concept of a “free pass” just provides a venue to further reflect on how strong the Coopers’ relationship is. Watching them do their best to take advantage of filming at Button House also proves they’re meant to be together. 

BBC Ghosts Season 1 Episode 4, “Free Pass,” also furthers Thomas’ (Mathew Baynton) story as he relives some of his most traumatic memories. His beef with Lord Byron just fleshes out this character further. This provides insight into how he sees himself in his own world, and how his delusions make him a more empathetic character. Evidently, Thomas has had generations to continue to stew on this. His ability to hold a grudge makes him strangely lovable. 

Thomas has been a kind of anti-hero in this story so far. Watching him be mocked in this way, by an unserious actor, makes the character more endearing. This episode demonstrates that he is redeemable, for all of his character flaws. Hopefully, this is the path forward for this character; focusing on his own strengths and what he has to offer even as a ghost. This is the way to make this character shine. 

Finally, this episode again leans into the fact that Button House itself is an integral character to this story. The hope the Coopers have for this forlorn estate is punctuated with the realities of its structural integrity. Having Button House illustrate this crossroads for Alison and Mike is a way to further embed it into the narrative. There is much to love about this dusty house, not least of which is the fact it is host to all of these chaotic spirits. 

As BBC Ghosts approaches the end of its premiere season, it shows no sign of slowing down. The further use of the house to heighten the drama is effective and compelling. The series continues to find its voice by further developing the humor inherent in the premise. With two episodes remaining in the first season, there are limitless possibilities for these characters, living and less so. 

Stray Spooky Thoughts:

-The Rice Krispies bit is hilarious. This truly demonstrates the humour that all of these ghosts representing different generations share. It’s much appreciated by this particular Rice Krispies aficionado. 

-The Captain’s (Ben Willbond) artistic ambitions are well placed. This episode is a perfect venue for him to apply his leadership in a new way that focuses more on creativity. 

-Relatedly, having Mary (Katy Wix) be a natural talent at filmmaking is both hilarious and heartwarming.

BBC Ghosts Seasons 1-5 are available to Stream on CBC Gem.

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