Ghost Hunters International 2.12: "San Lucas Prison"

A few people were worried after the previous episode, thinking that Brandy’s absence from the second case was a sign that she was no longer on the team. This episode should calm those fears. It should also give the audience a sense of when this investigation took place, because Dustin’s absence is directly related to his return to TAPS as Steve’s replacement during the filming of “Ghost Hunters Academy”.

Hopefully this will turn out to be a temporary turn of events. Dustin is one of the strongest members of GHI, in my opinion, and while the team did a fine job in Costa Rica, Dustin’s absence was felt. Besides, considering how much of an atrocity “Ghost Hunters Academy” was on so many levels, it’s galling to think that GHI would have to bear the brunt of the franchise impact. (It’s bad enough that they are going to have two “investigators-in-training” forced on them.)

There was remarkably little chatter about GHI over the past week. Well, apart from those chiding Robb on his grammar or complaining that there isn’t a staff linguist on the team. Frankly, while I agree that it’s still an ongoing weakness, there’s clearly been an effort over time to incorporate more and more of the native language at each site. And I suspect that the production company considers it a necessity to do most of the talking in English, for the sake of the audience. That’s something the team members would have to confirm or deny.

Maybe it’s the general lack of controversy. For better or worse, TAPS and “Ghost Hunters” have become the functional equivalent of a perpetual motion controversy machine. Every episode renews the cycle. Even the most mundane episodes seem to spark off the usual claims of fabrication. Without that, the audience is left to discuss the “evidence” and the methodology, and frankly, a good chunk of the genre’s audience has little interest in that sort of talk.

In terms of this episode, I can’t particularly disagree. Sometimes episodes of this series are most notable for the location itself, not the “evidence” collected. In my opinion, that was the case with this location. I know the client was impressed, I know the team was proud of what they did and what they captured, but the location was the real star.

And that’s because the location looked like it put the team through the gauntlet. They looked exhausted by the time all was said and done, as if every ounce of energy had been sweat out of their bodies. Add to that a location that constantly kept them on their toes, and it had to be memorable, not even accounting for the “evidence” or the personal experiences. It’s the kind of place that sounds great on paper, but leaves you wondering what the hell you were thinking as soon as the boat pulls away. And I’m saying that from the comfort of my snowbound home.

This location seemed to bring up all the usual concerns that come with outdoor locations in general: noise pollution. There was a ton of it. Storm activity, animal movements and sounds, everything but the kitchen sink. At least one of the EVPs sounded like a potential animal call to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the disembodied voices were ambient sounds that were just unfamiliar to the team.

GHI would hardly be the first team to deal with this. It happens quite often on shows like “Ghost Adventures”, where the investigators jump at every unusual sound as evidence. (They also have a love affair with “orbs”, but that’s a discussion for another time.) The point is, it’s hard for anyone watching the episode to take the “evidence” without a grain of salt, because the audience just doesn’t have the right context to conclude that the recordings weren’t a case of “mistaken identity”.

That’s not to say that everything could be so easily dismissed. A couple of the context-appropriate whispers were intriguing, having captured similar EVPs myself. It’s always odd when there is a definite whisper, above the background noise (even if only slightly), and it seems to react to a specific statement or question. How that meshes with the oft-repeated counter-argument of “captured RF transmissions”, I have yet to be convinced. (In other words, I haven’t been able to replicate the recordings to my satisfaction using RF sources.)

I was also interested by the movement of the chained door, which took Robb and Joe by surprise. I’ll be honest’ with storm activity in the area, my first thought was some kind of subtle air flow. Of course, that assumes that the two investigators standing right in front of the door wouldn’t have noticed that at the time, which while possible, doesn’t quite work for me. I’m not saying it’s definitive in any respect, only that it was something worth noting.

What really caught my attention was the truly loud moan/voice captured on one of the static cameras. That didn’t sound like an animal, and I think the client would agree with that assessment. I suppose it could have been one of the crew, if Pilgrim Films was trying to play the kind of game they’re known to play on “Ghost Hunters”, but it’s impossible to tell. It’s certainly something that would be worthy of further investigation.


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