WARNING – This blog post is me at my geekiest, and contains lots of theories and spoilers about The Black Tapes podcast.
I love The Black Tapes podcast, but somewhere in between last season and this season, I got a little lost. There are a lot of characters, and the story isn’t told in a straight narrative fashion — it flips back and forth between new cases and the overarching arc related to Dr. Strand.
So I have been obsessively listening to all the episodes again, and writing notes like a total nut job to keep track of things. I thought I would make my super-short summaries available here in case other listeners would find them helpful.
For other super fans, a disclaimer — these aren’t intended to be complete episode recaps, transcripts or a listing of characters. This was just a way for me to jot down a few relevant bullet points to keep track of what has happened to this point and possible connections between the tapes.
Hope you find it helpful, and if I got anything wrong, leave a comment and let me know (like I said, I’m a bit confused).
Episode 1 – A Tale of Two Tapes, Part I
- Alex goes with a paranormal researcher named Dr. Dumont on an investigation — the former site of an abandoned mental hospital. Some odd occurrences happen.
- Alex meets Dr. Strand, who debunks her experience with Dr. Dumont.
- Alex discovers The Black Tapes, and watches the Torres tape.
Episode 2 – A Tale of Two Tapes, Part II
- Alex and Dr. Strand re-open the Torres case.
- Robert Torres believed he was stalked for years by a shadowy figure, and it seems that the figure began following his son, Sebastian.
- Maria, the mother, is estranged from Robert and has sheltered Sebastian from all photos where the figure appears.
- Sebastian calls the figure Tall Paul.
Episode 3 – The Unsound
- Keith Dabic, a member of the band, Hastur Rising, reaches out to Dr. Strand about the unsound.
- Legend has it that those who listen to the unsound die within a year after they hear it and that the sound is an invitation for demons into our world.
- Another member of the band, Jeff Wendt, became obsessed with the sound, even working it into the music, and killed himself.
- Alex finds out that Dr. Strand was married, and that his wife, Coralee, went missing.
- Travis Collinwood, a former assistant of Dr. Strand’s, became obsessed with the unsound and died 4 months after leaving the Strand Institute.
Episode 4 – Turn That Frown Upside Down
- Alex gets a mysterious, ominous message on her phone from an unknown caller.
- Dr. Strand and Alex investigate another Black Tape, the case of Fiona DeNevers, a young woman who died of a heart attack.
- Fiona’s family has been haunted by the ghost of Sarah Benning, who according to local legend, killed her high school bully, Catherine Williams, by cutting her face off and sewing it on her own, upside down. The town has a macabre festival called the Upside Down Face Festival.
- Alex interviews Coralee’s parents, who suspect Dr. Strand in her disappearance.
Episode 5 – The Devil You Know
- Dr. Strand and Alex re-open a Black Tape case of an exorcism filmed by Dr. Strand, of 12-year-old Jessica Wheldon, who was possessed by the archdemon, Grigori (possibly AKA Tall Paul?).
- Alex consults with Father James Kelly and Dr. Brad Gilbert (a psychologist), who give differing views on exorcism. She also interviews Derek, who was possessed.
- Alex meets Brayden Court, who had a one-night stand with Coralee, suspects Dr. Strand killed her, and claims to have nothing to do with the message on Alex’s phone.
- Alex and Nic discover some found audio footage from 1997 of Coralee, talking about bees, monogamy and love. Coralee mentions someone named Warren before the audio cuts out.
Episode 6 – The Devil’s Door
- Alex gets a call from 3 Rivers State Hospital in Idaho related to a patient, Simon Reese.
- Simon is a selective mute who was ruled to be criminally insane after killing his parents at age 11. Evidence was flimsy, and didn’t definitely place him in his parents’ room.
- Simon is in trouble at the hospital for allegedly strangling another patient, Trent Orville. However, video footage shows he never left his room.
- Sacred geometry and the symbol of a pentagram in a double circle appear in the room. Simon is obsessed with both, and believes the symbols provide him a gateway to bi-locate (be in 2 places at once).
- Simon wants to use the symbols to summon a demon. Possibly Grigori (aka Tall Paul)?
- Sebastian Torres, the boy stalked by Tall Paul from Episode 2, goes missing.
Episode 7 – Cabin Fever
- Alex and Dr. Strand are questioned about Sebastian Torres.
- Police call Tannis Braun, a renowned psychic, for help in the case.
- Tannis and Alex go for a walk, and Dr. Strand gets grumpy. (Sidebar: I am seriously shipping Strand and Alex, so I’m hoping that’s jealousy).
- Sebastian is found in a cabin with sacred geometry (a la Simon Reese, Ep. 6), the pentagram symbol and the face of Grigori (the archdemon from Ep. 5’s exorcism) drawn on the walls.
Episode 8 – Board to Death
- Alex and Dr. Strand investigate a Black Tape with research on 2 types of Ouija boards — the traditional game, and one called a Demon Board.
- While the Ouija board is used to make contact with spirits who have passed, the Demon Board is a way to communicate with demons.
- The research with the Demon Board got pretty spooky — the subject claims to have seen a demon, with goat legs and long hair. Possibly Grigori/Tall Paul?
- The symbols on the Demon Board are the same as those found in the cabin and Simon’s artwork.
Episode 9 – Name that Tune
- As they are trying to find Warren (mentioned in the found footage Coralee tape from Ep. 5), Alex and Nic get a lead on Coralee — a PO Box she used under the alias Lisa Graves.
- Keith Dabic (of the band Hastur Rising, Ep. 3) leaves a message for Alex — he’s become obsessed with The Unsound, and is off the grid in Russia.
- Dabic mentions 2 people:
- Percival Black, who lives in a Russian monastery and may be able to compose something that can neutralize The Unsound. Alex contacts Black and he’s never met Dabic.
- Alex Scriabin, an early 1900s composer of music with mystical ties – Scriabin believed that through the repeating patterns of music, he could unlock the mysteries of the universe.
Episode 10 – Their Satanic Monastery’s Request
- Alex’s friend Amalia, a journalist based in Moscow, starts looking for Percival Black.
- Black took a vow of silence after he spoke with Alex. He’s a member of the reclusive and secretive Order of the Cenophus.
- The Order of the Cenophus has a chapter in Glushka, where a séance took place in the ’80s. Renowned medium Clara Simone believed the monks wanted to find out the name of their resident demon (who appears as a tall, shadowy figure).
- Strand reveals that he found out Coralee was having an affair when she disappeared.
- Amalia receives a warning and goes missing.
Episode 11 – The Codex Gigas
- Alex finds out that Strand and Coralee were in a heated argument, just before she walked off never to be seen again.
- Alex contacts Percival Black’s old roommate — who last saw Black as he was going off to a pagan boulder field in Bath. There is a cave there with ancient paintings that feature animal and possibly human sacrifice. They also have upside-down face figures.
- The Order of the Cenophus was founded as an offshoot of the Benedictine monks on a text called The Codex Gigas, a dark chapter of something called The Demon Bible, written by a disgruntled monk.
- Alex gets a mysterious visit from “sexy James Bond.”
Episode 12 – Shadow Dancing
- Alex asks Strand if the tapes are connected, and he refutes her theories.
- Sebastian Torres’s kidnapper, Edward Lewis, is caught and will only talk to Strand. Lewis is a monk from the order, Brothers of the Mount. The Brothers have a connection to the Upside Down Face Festival – some of them escaped capture to the town around the time it was founded.
- Alex investigates cave paintings at Urraca Mesa, eerily similar to those in Bath, and uncovers a tape filmed there that features the same demon/figure mentioned in the Demon Board Black Tape (Ep. 8).
- Strand interviews Lewis, who claims that someone called “The Advocate” has watched Strand his whole life and Strand has all the pieces of the puzzle.
- “Sexy James Bond” is identified as Thomas Warren.
- Lisa Graves (aka Coralee Strand) checks her PO Box.
What does all this mean? Here’s my theory of what’s going on after Season 1: Strand’s Black Tapes are all connected. To what? I think the Order of the Cenophus has been engaged in activities to try to bring Tall Paul aka Grigori into our world. Everything — from the The Unsound to the Upside Down Face Festival to the kidnapping of Sebastian to the Demon Boards — is being orchestrated by the Order and is centered around that goal. Strand and his wife Coralee, are somehow connected to the Order.
I’ll be doing some notes for Season 2 as well, so check back if you’re interested.