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A Ghostly Murder Mystery Vexes the Roman Agency in this Week's SurrealEstate
The Roman Agency has to solve a long-ago murder to set the past and present right in the latest SurrealEstate, "The Butler Didn't."
This story contains spoilers for SurrealEstate Season 2, Episode 3, "The Butler Didn't."
In this week's SurrealEstate, there's a bittersweet ghost murder to solve and Susan's (Sarah Levy) gorgeous new house seems to be purposefully throwing off her work game to keep her home more. In "The Butler Didn't," The Roman Agency takes on the haunted property of elderly Andrew Tolliver (Eric Peterson), a client Susan takes a particular shine to when they promise to solve his ghost problem.
Producer/director Danishka Esterhazy told SYFY WIRE that this episode was a delight because it involved the whole agency trying to find out the truth behind the death of Genevieve Wilson (Ruth Lawrence), who used to reside in the house and "tells" Luke (Tim Rozon) and Susan — via Auggie's (Maurice Dean Wint) ghost talk box — that she did not hang herself, but was murdered on her wedding day.
"I love a murder mystery," Esterhazy said with enthusiasm. "It was fun bringing a detective element to that episode. And I love dead ghost brides."
The Corpse Bride of "The Butler Didn't"
The director said the introduction of the pale visage of Genevieve's ghost in the opening minutes "speaking" to Luke and Roman, and then the bittersweet resolution at the end is a perfect example of how the show is always trying to defy expectations with their stories.
"It starts with [creator] George R. Olson who is into classic horror," she explained. "He's always leaning into and pulling from classic Hollywood horror movies. Once he comes up with some of the ghosts of the week that he wants to explore, then it's a conversation with him and the writers about finding fresh ways to take some of those more familiar haunting concepts, and add our own flavor to them. When I come in, it becomes a collaboration between me and the writers on trying to find ways to execute it in a way that I think is original and has impact. There's only so many kinds of ghosts, but you don't want to be a cliche, and you don't want to lean into a tired trope. You want to find new ways to surprise people with ghosts that still feel familiar."
The episode takes Genevieve on a journey from a terrifying specter to a sympathetic figure. During the team's investigation of her family and her doomed May/December wedding, the whole team has to confront their biases and preconceived notions about all of the figures in the story. And on the horror side, they had to recreate Genevieve's hanging a lot.
"The dead ghost bride was really fun because there was the logistical challenge of doing the whole hanging scene which was really interesting," Esterhazy shared. "We built a full prosthetic copy of our actor by [special effects creators Alex Anger and Monica Pavez] so we could drop her many, many, many times from different angles, so that was really fun and spooky. We even got some great fun behind the scenes photos of the actress and her corpse next to each other."
Tune into new SurrealEstate Season 2 episodes every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SYFY.