Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the pilot episode of Sea Oak. Feel free to head over to one of our other lovely articles if you haven’t watched it yet!
Amazon’s pilot season is, once again, upon us, and Glenn Close’s potential new show, Sea Oak is a wild ride that definitely deserves a look. And, if you’ve ever wanted to watch the six time Academy Award nominee in a fit of undead rage, you’re in luck. Of course, things don’t start out quite that exciting for Close’s character, Aunt Bernie. So, let’s dig into what drove this sweet woman to, well, come back to (sorta) life.
In Sea Oak, which is named after the “dangerous crap hole” of an apartment complex that Aunt Bernie lives in with her nephew Cole (Jack Quaid), nieces Min (Jane Levy) and Jade (Rae Gray), and the infant of each niece, Close plays a lonely older woman for whom it’s pretty clear that life didn’t turn out that well. The episode starts with Bernie at confession because, as she tells the priest, she has “bad thoughts” about her shiftless young nieces who each have a child without being in committed relationships and seemingly refuse to work or contribute to the household in any real way. She tells the priest she just “wants things to be nice” and when he asks if they are, she says yes, even though Bernie is clearly lying about that.
And, because this isn’t sad enough already, as Bernie leave church she somehow loses her footing and falls down the steps. She struggles to get up as her no good nieces sit in the car unaware of her predicament because they’re arguing over answers to GED test questions. When Cole is finally notified of Bernie’s fall while at his sketchy job as a peep show Egyptian pharaoh working for Mr. Frendt (James Van Der Beek), he picks her up to take her into work so she can explain her injury and take a sick day. Unfortunately, while waiting outside her boss’ office at the drab-as-all-hell 99 cent store where she works, Bernie overhears him tell another employee that they’ll be getting her cashier job while Bernie will be knocked down to greeter because she’s “too nervous.”
Bernie is clearly upset by the news, but she pushes down the feelings (like she’s probably done pretty much every time she’s been hurt in her life) and has Cole take her home. There’s not much respite there, either, and while the family is trying to watch TV and have dinner shots ring out in their apartment complex, and Cole has to cover Bernie since she won’t leave her favorite chair. The next day, Cole heads back to work, while Min and Jade take the kids to the mall, so Bernie can enjoy her off day. When they get back, however, the apartment has been ransacked and poor Bernie has died of a heart attack from the stress of a home invasion.
All of that is to say, Bernie’s life was pretty shitty and it ended shitty, too. Except, of course, that this isn’t where Sea Oak ends. This, my friends, is when the show kicks things into high gear, and the series that was about a nice, put-upon, lonely old woman who thought of her lazy nieces and relatively nice nephew as her own children turns into an insane story about a dead woman who decides that now’s as good a time as any to have the life she always wanted.
You see, the night of Bernie’s funeral, which was only attended by eight people (including the priest), Cole gets a call that there’s a problem with her burial plot. When the family heads over there, they realize that the problem is that Bernie’s grave and casket have been busted apart and she’s gone (with the exception of one red shoe). And, because this show is batshit in the best way, when Cole gets home from work the next day he finds their door smashed in. Inside, he finds Jade and Min sitting stiffly on the couch and eyeballing him with terror. The reason, of course, is that undead Bernie is back and sitting in her favorite chair. And she’s really, really angry.
It would seem that Bernie’s rebirth is fueled by all the hurt and anger she’s stuffed down over the years, and the woman is now in no mood to be trifled with. Bernie makes it clear to her family that she is now calling the shots because she never got to do anything in life and she’s not going to allow her death to be the same. She tells Cole that the next time a woman offers him extra money to get naked during his peep-show duties he better take it, and tells her nieces they will start cooking because Bernie needs to look her best. Their undead aunt would like to finally get laid, you see, since the poor woman died a virgin. As Bernie says, in life she had “no babies and no lovers. Nothing went in and nothing came out.”
This version of Aunt Bernie is, understandably, a huge and many-tiered shock for Cole, Min and Jade, but Bernie warns them not to tell anyone that she’s back, saying that she’ll kill them if they say a word and kill anyone they tell because she’s “very freakin’ strong now!” as she magically throws a lamp across the room with her mind. Bernie’s determined to fix everything, including the three “stupid fuckers” who live with her, and by the end of the episode it’s clear that some big changes are a-comin’.
Sea Oak promises to be a mighty wild ride as Bernie finally whips her family into shape and tries to get some of the happiness that alluded her in life, and I’m sure it won’t be easy. Whatever Cole, Jude and Min do, at least they know now that calling Bernie a zombie will get them knocked upside the head with the nearest object before they have time to duck.
You can watch Sea Oak now on Amazon, and vote for it to become a full series right here.