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Lucy Buglass

The Woman In The Wall episode 1 recap: Lorna's shocking discovery

The Woman in the Wall key art

The Woman In The Wall episode 1 is a gripping introduction to the BBC series about troubled Lorna Brady, a woman who was sent to one of the Magdalene Laundries when she was a teenager.

These laundries were places where women were taken when they had "fallen from grace" and included those accused of committing adultery to teenage pregnancies. Lorna was in the latter category and had her baby taken from her when she was 15 years old.

The series is set in the fictional town of Kilkinure in 2015, where we're introduced to Lorna who is clearly dealing with a lot of trauma. She sleepwalks, has flashbacks, and is known to locals, many of whom are worried about her.

When Lorna finds a woman's body in her home and has no idea if she's responsible for her death, this is the catalyst that sets the series in motion and she crosses paths with ambitious Dublin-based detective Colman Akande who's been assigned to investigate the murder of a priest.

Here's a recap of what happened in The Woman In The Wall episode 1...

Lorna's shocking discovery

(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

The Woman In The Wall introduces us to Lorna Brady in a very unique way, when she wakes up in the middle of a rural country road, surrounded by a group of cows. She's wearing a nightdress and has bare feet, and she soon realizes she's been sleepwalking.

This appears to be a common occurrence for Lorna, who walks back to her home and dismisses some nosy neighbors by asking what they're looking at. Once there, she realizes she's stabbed a painting of Jesus, and apologizes. 

While cleaning up the mess she'd made at home, Lorna overhears a radio broadcast detailing an investigation into Magdalene Laundries, and she turns it off, clearly disturbed by what she's heard. A quick flashback sequence implies she has some experience with them.

Lorna heads to work and her boss reveals someone had stopped by and left her something, handing her an envelope. She takes it and says she'll read it later, before getting to work behind a sewing machine.

After work Lorna stops by a hardware store to pick up some surveillance supplies and bumps into a local named Niamh, who tells her she'd heard she'd been sleepwalking from some of the other folk, and that she's "worried" about her.

Niamh adds that she's invited women from the Kilkinure convent over and extends the invitation to Lorna, saying that she thinks there's an opportunity for them to get justice following the trauma of being sent there. Lorna declines the invite by saying "She's dead" and leaves.

When Lorna gets home she finally decides to open the letter that was dropped off at her workplace, and uncovers a note which reads "I know what happened to your child".

Lorna opens a letter from a mysterious person. (Image credit: BBC)

We then see another flashback of young Lorna begging nuns to not take her baby away, and it becomes clear that she's dealing with a lot of trauma following the disappearance of her child.

A second flashback reveals that Lorna's parents sent her to the convent because they knew that she was pregnant, and she was devastated as she was set to pursue an education and it was all about to be ripped from her.

Following this, Lorna gets a text from someone asking if they can meet at a local pub. After waiting for a while and ordering three drinks, a man approaches and says "it looks like they're not coming", assuming she'd been stood up.

He introduces himself as Michael, someone who Lorna went to school with. He leaves her alone to go and join the party he was with before Lorna has a meltdown and starts shouting at him, asking how he knew someone wasn't coming.

After the incident, she wakes up at home again and realizes the front door has been secured with padlocks, presumably to stop her from sleepwalking outside again. But Lorna is in for a shock when she discovers a woman's body in her home, with no recollection of how she got there.

Is she responsible for the murder or is something else going on?

Following the discovery, Lorna concedes about attending the meeting and heads to Niamh's place where she learns that she has met with a charity in an attempt to help those affected by the laundries.

Detective Akande is on the scene

(Image credit: BBC)

Detective Colman Akande is back in Kilkinure and is assigned to investigate the death of Father Percy Sheehan, an aging Dublin man who was also his priest. 

When his body is found, local police speculate it could have been a robbery gone wrong as there were no signs of forced entry into his home.

However, his car was found abandoned two miles outside of Kilkinure, and Colman soon learns that Sheehan's involvement in the laundries might have something to do with what happened to him, after speaking to some local women.

Naturally, those who Father Percy took to the laundry do not speak kindly about him and are pleased to hear of his death, making the investigation difficult as there are a lot of people who would want him dead.

In addition to the complexity of the case, Colman struggles with the local police force who don't take him too seriously and make jokes about his serious demeanor, so he's feeling quite isolated during this investigation as the Garda in Kilkinure don't seem to want much trouble.

Colman learns about Lorna, and an officer named Aidan Massey explains she broke into the grounds of the convent last year, so she's viewed as a bit of a troublemaker by local law enforcement. He admits she was sleepwalking, which Colman finds concerning.

After reading up on her, Colman visits Lorna's house but she hides from him and he eventually leaves after receiving no response. 

At the end of the episode, we see Lorna having another breakdown and she destroys Father Percy Sheehan's car by setting it on fire, then rushes home and berates herself when she realizes what she's done.

Colman and Aidan are sent to the scene of the car where they deduce that someone is trying to cover their tracks and it's likely that Father Percy's killer is in Kilkinure. They later head to Lorna's workplace to ask her some questions, but she isn't responsive.

Lorna heads home and hides the body of the unknown woman in the walls of her house, which is where this episode ends.

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