Ghost Hunters

Season 4 Episode 11

Widow's Watch

0
Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jun 04, 2008 on Syfy
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Episode Fan Reviews (3)

7.4
out of 10
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43 votes
  • Where's the real deception?

    7.0
    There is some indication that these two investigations were sitting on the shelf for a little while, just in case there was a slot to be filled in the schedule. When the network announces an extension to the season (and this happens every season since the second), it seems that at least one episode is devoted to locations with little to no evidence and plenty of debunking.

    I personally like the debunking episodes, because that was the original allure of the series. They've strayed from that premise more often in the recent seasons, so much so that 'Ghost Hunters International" tends to debunk more these days. Whatever the case, the usual psychological intention applies: the debunking episodes are meant to establish the competence of TAPS to identify real-world sources, so when the unusual activity emerges, it's more notable as a result. (Call that a group strategy or a marketing ploy as per your preference.)

    Case #1: Colonial House Inn

    About half of this investigation was devoted to the personal experience of a cold spot on the inner thighs of anyone sitting in a particular chair in the widow's watch of the inn. While I'm sure it was interesting, they did acknowledge that it was a windy Cape Cod night, and it's quite possible that there's a specific draft that diverts air into that particular space. I'm not sure that the team was all that impressed by the experience, however, because as interested as they were, they seemed to dismiss it and there was no on-screen attempt at debunking.

    The other half of the investigation was an interesting experiment in psychology, and an important lesson in the effects of environment. It wasn't the most well-constructed experiment, since Kris had to know something unusual was happening, but it illustrates the point nonetheless. Human beings respond to unconscious aural and visual cues all the time. We often feel unsettled before we realize why. In this case, the sound of the malfunctioning motor was probably just enough to register on the senses, thus increasing paranoia and heightening awareness.

    Case #2: Moss Beach Distillery

    Of course, this is the case that is getting all the attention, and there is a lot of contentious discussion on the circumstances of the case. Unfortunately, what I must assume was designed to show off TAPS' investigative skills has only opened up questions about their research methods.

    A number of people will take what was presented at face value, but here is the information that can be verified. The location in question does have a history of activity and legend based around the "Blue Lady" and the reported incidents described on the show. A great many investigative groups have studied that activity. At some point subsequent to the reports, the owner chose to "enhance the experience" for customers by rigging equipment (not the original items related to the reports) to emulate the reported activity. This has, after the fact, become well-known to paranormal investigation groups in the area. Many draw a distinction between the reports and the "show", but other groups simply consider the reports "faked" and avoid the location entirely.

    This is important to note because Jason specifically mentions that a local TAPS Family member referred them to the location, citing the activity. If this was in fact true, then it's hard to imagine that the TAPS Family organization in question didn't know about the situation with the Moss Beach Distillery. More to the point, the production company has admitted that they knew the location to have rigged equipment. So there was ample opportunity for Jason and Grant (and whoever researched the location beforehand) to know the details about the site, its reports, and its "enhancements".

    This makes TAPS look sloppy on the one hand and used on the other. If the TAPS Family group didn't know about the rigged equipment, then they can't be very thorough themselves. If they did, then they kept important information from Jason and Grant, which is unconscionable. Similarly, if the producers did in fact know (as all indications are that they did), then did they intentionally keep that information from TAPS? It's hard to imagine that TAPS was so ill prepared without interference.

    However, for all that, the client still bears a great deal of responsibility. The client was right; there were reports of disembodied laughter, faces in a mirror, moving lamps, and so on. None of those items were the rigged items, however, and the client specifically pointed out items that were rigged. It's also clear from his reaction that he knew what he was doing. TAPS' lack of research beforehand made them look sloppy, but the client tried to make them fools. Had TAPS missed the obvious, that's exactly what they would have been.

    Jason and Grant's reactions were not hard to understand. In terms of what they might have caught, they would have been questioning any and all of it, because they didn't have a firm handle on the scope of the rigged elements. And from their perspective, they felt blindsided. Forced (as they always are) into making a quick judgment on a site, it's not hard to understand why they concluded the site was not haunted. They had no evidence to suggest otherwise, and plenty of reason (based on their experience) to question any possibly credible claims.

    The bottom line is that the episode, not surprisingly, cast TAPS as the absolute victims, glossing over the fact that the rigged equipment at Moss Beach Distillery is a known quantity. They placed the blame on the client, who was culpable and did absolutely nothing to convince people otherwise. TAPS was given another chance to prove that they could debunk, and indeed, that's what they did. Unfortunately, with a little homework, the debunking wouldn't have been necessary.
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