"Board to Death" aired on August 17, 2015.
Conversation with Charlie StrandEdit
Alex connects with Charlie via Skype, where she explains how she moved in with her grandparents after her mother went missing in 1997, not only because of her mother's disappearance but also because she was angry with her father. Alex tries to clarify things that Charlie's maternal grandparents said regarding Charlie's arrival, but Charlie admits that her grandparents' recollection of events may not be reliable when it comes to her father. Their conversation is cut short before Alex can find out why Strand disappeared for five days after his wife went missing.
Black Tape Case: the Ouija Board Experiment Edit
Strand plays a VHS tape for Alex from his Black Tapes collection: footage from an experiment shot on the University of Washington campus in 1993. A moderator and blindfolded volunteers gathered around a table and were using a ouija board to research anomalous phenomena. While the footage did seem to show the planchette moving to spell the name of the contacted spirit ("John"), Strand tells Alex this was due to the ideomotor effect, an occurrence where our muscles move independently of thought and intention. The moderator continues to ask John questions, and while the moderator says the planchette is pointing towards "yes", Alex notes that the planchette was nowhere near the "yes" response on the board. Strand fast forwards the tape to show footage of an experiment that was conducted the next day with a different set of volunteers and a different board, but with the same moderator. In this experiment, the moderator makes contact with "Samuel", a spirit who claimed to have been murdered in 1985; one of the participants, Michelle Braid, declared it was her grandfather. As the moderator asked more questions, the planchette moved more violently until it was flung off the board, the moderator acknowledged someone or something off-camera, and an electricity surge short circuited the power supply to the room. Strand said in a later interview that the moderator claims to have seen a tall shadow, and he clarifies that the board they were using in the second experiment was actually a demon board. When Alex asks him how he knows about these, Strand tells her that his father had one amongst his collection of items he acquired as an antiques dealer.
Alex contacts Professor Peter Sodenfield, who helped conduct the research on the ideomotor effect that precluded the experiment with the ouija board (though the deceased Dr. Isaiah Roth was actually the moderator). Sodenfield couldn't remember how the idea of utilizing a ouija board came about, and when Alex pointed out that the boards differed, Sodenfield noted that the boards themselves weren't crucial to the experiment. When Alex questions him about something Roth appeared to have seen under the camera during the experiment, Sodenfield revealed that Roth had a brain tumor that could have been affecting his vision; however, Roth maintained he saw a tall, dark figure standing under the camera before the lights went out, and a volunteer sitting next to Roth claimed to have seen it as well. Alex asks for information on the other participants, and volunteers to have the PNWS producers search through the boxes of material from the experiment after Sodenfield mentions there would be a lot to go through.
Alex discovers the original owner of the demon board sold it, and interviews its new owner, Devon Williams. A Ouija board collector and member of the committee of the American Talking Board Preservation Foundation, he shows Alex his current collection, but expresses hesitation in showing her the demon board from the video. When he brings it out--without the planchette as he prefers to store them separately--Alex notes the pearl letters and indecipherable symbols displayed against a black board, appearing unlike any Ouija board she'd ever seen. Williams explains that while Ouija boards are generally used to contact benevolent spirits and possibly relations of the users, this kind of board was used to summon evil spirits. Williams notes that it's called the Zuzu board, and after Alex returns to the station to show pictures of the board to Dr. Strand, Strand clarifies that Zuzu is actually short for Pazuzu, a Babylonian mythological figure often depicted as the ruler of demons. Upon closer inspection of the photos, Strand and Alex notice that on the underside of the board is drawn a pentagram in two concentric circles surrounded by numbers, appearing identical to the drawings found in Sebastian Torres and Simon Reese's rooms.
Alex next sits down with Michelle Braid, the participant from the experiment who believes they contacted her dead grandfather. Michelle explains that they experimented with two different boards on each of the days, and that the second board was dark and felt warm to the touch. While she felt the first part of the experiment was fun, and she believed that the spirit of her grandfather put his hand on her shoulder, she says that after they had been blindfolded the experiment took a much darker turn: a musky, rotten smell had taken over the room, and when she felt the experiment was drawing to a close, Michelle removed her blindfold and saw a dark figure standing in the room, with deer-like legs, long hair and a terrifying smile. However, Michelle says that Dr. Roth later explained that she was merely in a self-hypnotic state that produced dream-like visions, and that the group was spelling out nonsense on the board. Michelle clarified, also, that her grandfather wasn't murdered but died of pneumonia. When Alex reveals that the participants did, in fact, spell out phrases on the board, Michelle denied the claim and excused herself to go back to work.
Back in the studio, Strand tells Alex that he's confirmed the demon board is an original Divaldi, which is believed to be a pseudonym for Carson Mordecai, a contemporary of Allan Kardec; both men are considered the fathers of modern spiritism, a movement dedicated to contacting spirits. When he became disillusioned by the popularity of the talking board he constructed in the mid-1800s (it took off especially in Baltimore), Mordecai wanted to make a more esoteric version of the board. Under the name Divaldi, he crafted demon boards, ones that were banned by the church and were allegedly released after dark ceremonies were performed by a cult in Eastern Europe, opening each board to Pazuzu.
Recurring Characters Edit
Dr. Richard Strand, paranormal investigator and head of the Strand Institute
Alex Reagan, host and producer
Charlie Strand, Richard Strand's daughter
Guest Characters Edit
Prof. Peter Sodenfield, ideomotor effect researcher
Dr. Isaiah Roth (mentioned), moderator of the Ouija and demon board experiments at the U of W in 1993
Devon Williams, Ouija board collector, committee of the American Talking Board Preservation Foundation
Michelle Braid, Ouija experiment participant