In the first episode of her horror-comedy series Shining Vale, Courteney Cox notes that women are roughly twice as likely as men to experience depression and demonic possession, and that both of these conditions cause them to experience symptoms like helplessness, insomnia, hallucinations, and other things. As a result, the introductory sentence sets up the conflict that will traumatise Patricia Pat Phelps (Courteney Cox), our protagonist, who was once a famous writer but is now having trouble filling a single page.
Since the publication of her first and final book, Cressida: Unbound, 17 years ago, Pat has struggled with severe writer’s block. It’s odd that Pat, who once wrote about women’s independence and empowerment in her first book, is currently experiencing a lot of suffocation in real life. This sensation tormented Pat and led her to decide to cheat on her husband with a plumber/carpenter. However, Terry, her husband, is very patient and wants to keep his marriage and family together, so he spends all of his money to purchase an old home in Shining Vale, Connecticut. Will Terry be able to preserve his marriage or will it be doomed by yet another catastrophe, despite his relentless efforts and forgiveness?
See More: Shining Vale Episode 1 & 2 Recap & Review: Courteney Cox Returns With A Horror Comedy
Shining Vale Season 1: Plot Summary
After learning of Patricia’s liaison with the plumber, Terry and their two teenage children, Gaynor and Jake, decide to relocate from Brooklyn to Shining Vale, Connecticut. Pat is experiencing midlife and existential crises as a result of her kids’ disregard for her and her husband’s constant job commitments. She used to feel claustrophobic in her little Brooklyn apartment and struggled to focus on her follow-up novel, for which her editor, Kam, had already given her an advance. As the feelings intensified, Pat lost control and had a brief relationship with Frank, a hottie who among other things works as a plumber.
Terry and Pat sought help from a therapist three months ago because they wanted to salvage their marriage and were concerned about Pat’s deteriorating mental health. Terry made the choice to purchase a brand-new home in Shining Vale.
Pat plans to finish her book at the new house and email the first chapter to Kam as soon as she can, but because of writer’s block, she is unable to complete even a single sentence. As the tension rises, Pat begins to sense a menacing presence around her and begins having hallucinations about Rosemary Wellingham, the previous owner of the home who committed suicide there.
As Pat discusses her visions with her misogynistic therapist, Dr. Berg, he persuades her that it is not a ghost but rather an alter personality that Pat has made to foster her creativity. Dr. Berg recommends strong medicines, namely Clonazepam, to help Pat deal with her fears while also convincing her that Rosemary is nothing more than a muse who is assisting her in finishing the book.
Soon after, Pat begins to abuse the drugs and loses control of her body; as a result, her visions begin to appear more frequently and are stronger. Pat makes a deal with Rosemary, who she believes to be her muse, and gives her access to her body in order to finish her book. Her editor, Kam, adores the opening chapter, which gives Pat the impression that Rosemary is genuinely attempting to assist her. However, as soon as Pat gives the demon full control of her body, Rosemary begins to reveal her hidden agenda, which is influenced by the horrors of her previous existence.
Who Was Rosemary Wellingham? Was She Real?
Until the conclusion of Shining Vale Season 1, Rosemary Wellingham maintained complete anonymity. She assisted Pat in writing her book by filling the pages with her explicit wishes. This allowed Pat to gain some insight into Rosemary’s past, but it was never made clear with absolute confidence whether the information was made up for Pat’s novel or was based on real events. Rosemary’s story may alternatively be a fabrication of Pat’s psychotic mind, which would explain why certain aspects of Rosemary’s story resemble Pat’s own life, such as Rosemary’s alcoholism and her relationship with the neighbourhood grocer Dan Harris. The second theory is weak because Jake, Pat’s son, could not have conjured the spirit of Dan Harris in the treehouse in the woods if Dan Harris were fictitious. Additionally, whenever Jake wore his VR, he frequently encountered Daisy, Rosemary’s daughter, in the woods, suggesting that these two ghosts were likely just as real as Rosemary herself.
In both Pat’s vision and her book, Rosemary Wellingham formerly shared a home with a family of four. Rosemary’s husband, in contrast to Terry, was incredibly possessive and domineering, and raising her children was a terrible torment. At the breakfast table one day, Rosemary learned that her husband was having an affair with her secretary (just like Pat found out about Terry s feelings for his colleague Kathryn). After learning the truth and being tortured by how her family was treating her, Rosemary lost it and suddenly took an axe from nowhere, slaughtering her entire family. In a vision, a bleeding Dan Harris cautioned Pat not to let Rosemary to enter her body, leading some people to believe that she was the one who killed him.
Rosemary is said to have chosen Pat’s body and taken possession of it because Pat related to her on many levels, including how her family mistreated her, how she had an affair with Frank, and—most significantly—her alcoholism. However, the novel leaves room for other scenarios as well, given that Pat has a family history of psychosis. It’s possible that Pat has gotten the same mental illness because Joan, who is Pat’s mother, was identified as having schizophrenia and required some time in a mental hospital.
When Pat overdosed on drugs and allowed Rosemary to take possession of her body, her consciousness and personality lapsed and she lost consciousness. Until the pills wear off and she regains consciousness, she has no memory of whatever Rosemary does with her body. Perhaps Pat had dissociative identity disorder (DID), and she was the one who shoved Valerie, her next-door neighbour, onto the new fence, killing her. The notion is supported by the discovery of Valerie’s pendant by Pat in the attic, as well as the probability that Pat drugged Claire Vanderbilt, a rival author, the night of the party at her home, putting her into a coma. Whether Pat was mentally ill or possessed, or both, the story alternates between these two scenarios throughout Shining Vale Season 1, but nothing is fully explained until the very end.
Shining Vale Season 1: Ending, Explained
When Pat’s family mistreated her, she would lose control of her body and snap out of it, allowing her other personality or Rosemary’s ghost to take over. She would threaten her children in her violent character to get them to obey. That opens the door for Pat and Rosemary’s final conversation at the retro Tiki bar (a bar identical to the one in The Shining), where Rosemary tells Pat that she massacred her entire family before committing suicide in the bathtub. At this time, Rosemary made hints that she and Pat might be the same person, driven to the brink by their families. As a result, Rosemary urged Pat to cut off her family in order to put an end to the horrors for good. Rosemary sought to emphasise that Pat has a mother inside of her, but Pat refused to listen, therefore the entire conversation acts as a struggle between a mother who wants to protect her family and a woman who wants to be free.
Pat made the decision to obliterate Rosemary’s vessel, which was her own body, in order to protect her family from herself. She attempted to take medications that immediately brought to memory Pat’s mother Joan’s failed suicide attempt when Pat was still a teenager. Perhaps this suggests that Pat was gradually going insane, just like her mother had.
However, Rosemary persuaded Pat that Terry was the one who ruined her career and gave her writer’s block as her ink stopped flowing soon after they got married. After that, Terry wanted children, so he turned Pat into a full-time housewife who would cook and clean for him while he worked all day and made out with Kathryn in the office. Rosemary had these ideas as she regained possession of Pat’s body and walked to the attic where Terry was reading the final chapter of Pat’s book, in which she discussed breaking up her own family (another reference from Kubrick s film).
Before Terry could escape or respond to his wife’s insanity, Pat attacked him while brandishing an axe and acting exactly like Jack Torrance. Terry was terrified and forgave Pat for her infidelity with both Frank and Blake while Pat was running around the house chasing Terry. At this point, Pat finally admitted that his forgiveness was the source of her suffering. When she cheated on him, he didn’t leave her or get a divorce; instead, he bought a house in Connecticut, which made her feel even more worn out. When Terry was finally struck with the axe and scratched on the skull, Pat abruptly realised what she had done and immediately descended to check on her husband. Gaynor entered the house at the same time and confronted Pat about Valerie’s jewellery, which she had buried in the backyard, suspecting Pat of Valerie’s murder. The pills started working, and Pat passed out before she could defend herself.
In the end, Pat awoke from her sleep to discover that she was bound to a stretcher and that she had been admitted to Shining Vale Psychiatric Hospital, according to a guy. Gaynor admits her mother to a mental hospital for attempting suicide, just as Pat had done for her own mother, Joan, by signing the same documents. Before Pat could be imprisoned, however, she noticed a group image on the wall showing the complete staff of The Shining Vale of Hysterical Women standing in front of her home, indicating the home had previously been used as a psychiatric facility. Pat noticed a face similar to her most terrifying nightmare character, Rosemary, in the photo.
The date June 23, 1859, that is placed underneath the image raises the possibility that this exact image was also taken on same day. However, it also creates a gap in time because Rosemary and her family, Elijah, Daisy, and Rolf, died on June 23, 1954, which means the woman in the photograph wasn t Rosemary but someone else who existed in 1859. The image sparked speculation that Rosemary might have had a previous life, exactly as the Kubrick film The Shining suggests at the end, because it resembled the ballroom photo at the film’s conclusion. Or maybe there is some deeper theory or reasoning behind it, which will be further revealed in Shining Vale Season 2 if the creators and producers decide to renew the show, the possibility of which looks thin. However, it will be interesting to finally know whether there was an actual ghost in the house or if it was just a fabrication of Pat s psychotic mind.