Lore season 2, episode 1 recap premiere: Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science


The second season of Lore has now arrived on Amazon Prime and there are some pretty obvious changes to be seen right off the bat.

For starters, Aaron Mahnke is no longer around to provide narration. As a matter of fact, there’s no longer a narrator at all, which is a shame because I believed Mahnke’s narration to be one of the best parts from season 1 of Lore.

Instead, season 2 has opted to go for the more conventional dramatized reenactment approach which again is disappointing. Now, whenever something comes up in the story that Lore suspects the audience won’t understand, a quick text will show up to explain it.  Whether these texts are in any way helpful will likely depend on the viewer.

Anyway, today’s episode tells the story of William Burke and William Hare a pair of Irish immigrants living in Edinburgh in the late 1820s.  Both men are bemoaning financial troubles when a bar patron tips them off that they can make some quick money through grave robbing.

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At the time, Edinburgh had become well known as a haven for anatomical study and the supply of legal cadavers were unable to meet with doctors demands, who would use them for dissection in anatomy lectures.  As a result, graverobbers were able to make a tidy sum by stealing corpses shortly after burial and selling them.

When presented with the idea, Burke is all too eager for the easy money, though Hare is considerably more reluctant to play along for obvious reasons.

Before they can get to digging however, they find their friend Donald has dropped dead.  Not wanting to waste a perfectly good dead body, they take Donald’s corpse to Dr. Robert Knox (played by Pinhead himself Doug Bradley).

Knox is delighted on the condition of the corpse noting the lack of dirt from burial and that the body is still fresh. Burke and Hare are paid 7 pounds and fourteen shillings for their trouble and Knox says he will pay them handsomely if they bring him more bodies in similarly fresh condition.

With that in mind, Burke decides it’s more lucrative and cost-effective to make their own “inventory.”  Despite Hare’s continued misgivings, he goes along with the scheme. Over the next few months, Burke and Hare kill over a dozen people with Hare generally pinning the victims down while Burke smothers them to death.  When the pair goes to sell the bodies, Knox opts to take the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach about where the cadavers are coming from.

Burke is more than happy living it up with their ill gotten gains but the guilt slowly eats away at Hare.  His guilt generally manifests itself with him hallucinating some Punch and Judy puppets telling him it won’t end well for him if he gets caught.

Things eventually come to a head when Burke and Hare kill a local disabled youth affectionately named Daft Jamie.  Knox takes one look at the body and declares it worthless due to the body’s disfigured foot. Knox then cuts off the said foot and Jamie’s head and orders Burke and Hare to dispose of them while he gets rid of the rest of the body.

The incident is enough for Hare to swear off killing anyone else though that does little to ease his guilt.  Shortly afterward, Burke comes to make peace with him and to have a drink with him and his cousin Margaret. Eventually though, Hare catches on this was merely a ruse for Burke to talk him into helping him kill the woman.  Nevertheless, Hare once again goes along with things and the pair get caught the next day.

After the the two are arrested, the aftermath is given to us with a couple Punch and Judy dolls bearing the likeness of Burke and Hare (while I mostly didn’t really care for the dolls, I’ll admit this was a nice and creepy touch). In total, Burke and Hare were charged with 16 counts of murder. Hare wound up turning King’s evidence and gaining full immunity from prosecution in exchange for a full confession and testifying against Burke.

No one knows what happened to Hare after that but Burke was found guilty and hanged. The murders wound up being highly influential in having laws changed that would effectively end the corpse trade. After Burke’s hanging, his corpse was dissected and his skeleton donated and put on display at the Anatomical Museum of the Edinburgh Medical School, where it is still out on display to this day.

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It’s slightly odd that Lore chose to portray Hare as the more sympathetic of the two men since if anything, in real life Burke had actually been the more God-fearing, guilt-ridden of the two.  It was said that Burke was rarely seen without a bible and during the murders, he regularly took whiskey and opium to help him sleep at night, though that last part was stated by Burke himself so make of that what you will.

Hare, on the other hand, was described in the Brian Taylor novel about the murders Burke and Hare: The Year of the Ghouls as “illiterate and uncouth—a lean, quarrelsome, violent and amoral character.”

What are your thoughts on the first episode of Lore’s new season?  How do feel about Lore’s new format?  Give your thoughts in the comment section.