After a few high profile locations, it's good to see an episode focused on something a little more tangible to the average viewer. Both as a viewer and an investigator, I've always found private home investigations and small businesses to be the most relevant. The huge abandoned buildings, hotels, and historical sites can be fun, but it doesn't generate the psychological resonance of a home or business that has inherent similarities to your own.
Sure, abandoned asylums have that spooky aesthetic, but they're also places that you visit. In the end, they're big empty buildings that look nothing like the everyday experience for most of us, so even after investigating such a place, it's easy to slip back into the "real world". And frankly, most of these locations look more imposing on television than in real life. I've been to Eastern State Penitentiary and Burlington Prison Museum recently, and in both cases, the reality was very different from the presentation. (Some locations will, of course, prove as daunting as they appear, just from size alone.)
But when it comes to a private home or a small business, it's a journey into the familiar. A stranger's home is still a home. There are elements we recognize from our own lives. Small businesses are no different; we've all been to places or work in places that look much the same. So I think it's a lot easier to sympathize with the clients in such situations, because it's a lot easier to imagine that it could be you living through the uncertainty and fear.
In these ever-more-terrifying times, that's a powerful emotion. As an investigator, it's necessary to keep that psychological resonance in check. As a viewer, it's an opportunity to sit back, think about what's happening, and wonder: what if it was my house?
Case #1: Tracy House, Dayville, CT
Talk about a no-win situation. What happens when you rush to help someone with a young child, and in the end, there's no concrete way to explain what's happening? The more skeptically minded will point out that young children do nutty things like scream for no reason when they want attention, get scratched in more visible and obvious ways (since parents inspect infants and toddlers more closely for other practical reasons), and people mistake normal household noises for paranormal activity all the time. Add to that the fact that the windows were open throughout most of the investigation, and a lot of things could be dismissed. (Particularly that EVP, which didn't sound like a voice at all.)
But then there's the moving cabinets, which presents a more interesting scenario. Is it simply a matter of air flow and changes in the floorboards as people walk around the room? Without actually being there, I'm not sure it's possible to draw a firm conclusion. I think putting the focus there, however, was understandable. I'd be curious to know how much debunking was attempted and never made it into the final cut.
Case #2: Winery, Appleton, NY
This was a bit more "active" than the first case, particularly in terms of all those black masses running around. At least TAPS had the good graces to note that the constant thunder and lightning was a factor, even if they dismissed it for the most part. I wouldn't be so sure, but with no real "evidence" of what they say they saw, it's a moot point.
The one EVP was interesting because of the circumstances. As always, I take it as presented; the four of them were in relative proximity, and a very clear voice was recorded. It's particularly interesting because of the unusual noise that comes just before, during, and just after the apparent EVP. Given that it was audible to Jason and Grant, who were in the entranceway, but not to Steve and Tango, and given that some of the windows were open, I can't help but wonder if the voice was actually someone outside asking who was in the house. After all, if a voice from outside came in an open window out of view, the acoustics could have made it seem "disembodied". It would be very hard to prove or debunk, but it probably would have been worth the effort.
What I found quite amusing was the look of ever-increasing terror on the client's face as TAPS outlined their "evidence". I'm not sure she was prepared for what she saw and heard. It may have only been editing and presentation, but I thought the woman was ready to run and never come back.
And that, I think, is one of the reasons I find the home/small business investigations so relevant. For better or worse, whether it's in their minds or not, the clients are dealing with specific issues that they need addressed. It's not a case of chasing legends and folk tales for them, it's a matter of day to day life. This episode demonstrated how necessary it is to manage those client needs.