Hemlock Grove
Season 1, Episode 8
Episode Information
Air date April 19, 2013
Written by Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman
Directed by David Straiton
Episode Guide
Measure of Disorder
What Peter Can Live Without

Catabasis is the eighth episode of the first season of Hemlock Grove and the eighth episode in the series as a whole.


Roman visits the tower, and gets a little more than he expected. Dr. Chasseur deals with some internal issues while Letha and Peter get a little more serious.


After doing yet another line of coke, Roman loses control of his car, careens off the side of the road, and manages not to die after crashing into a tree. When he gets out, he sees the bright lights of the Godfrey Institute White Tower shining through the trees and darkness and rain, and a tiny little lightbulb turns on above his head. We next see Roman storming past the Institute’s front desk guy, who lets him pass with minimal protest once Roman mesmerized him. Roman then proceeds to give himself a self-guided tour of his soon-to-be-domain, staring disinterestedly at strange creatures in cages and animals being prodded at with big needles. Roman eventually finds what he was looking for: two ominous-looking doors emblazoned with the Godfrey name. When he can’t get past the doors the conventional ways, he pulls a welding torch from out of a randomly open locker conveniently placed just to his left and starts towards the doors like he’s gonna blowtorch them open.And then Dr. Pryce swoops in from seemingly out of nowhere and calmly asks Roman to please put the torch down. That guy is gloriously blithe in the face of potential danger. Roman angrily asks Pryce about Ouroboros, and why the symbol keeps popping up in his dreams and his life.

Dr. Pryce placates Roman by taking him along past the doors, through a long secretive looking passageway that leads up to a room empty of everything besides a big box emitting a blue glow. This, Pryce says, is Project Ouroboros. Roman only gets a split-second peek inside the box before Pryce slams a syringe deep into Roman’s neck and knocks him out. Only not, because the dude is having some fucked up dreams/visions, and has apparently gone into a coma. A contrite Pryce later tries to explain to Olivia that he only gave Roman a sedative, and there is no physiological reason for why he’s refusing to wake up – suggesting that Roman may have had a mental break. Olivia whisks comatose Roman back to the Godfrey house, despite Pryce’s advice. Once he’s situated there, his sister Shelley sits sadly by Roman’s bedside, pleading with him to come back. Shelley’s “voice” is able to reach Roman in his dreamland coma state. A young girl with what would have been Shelley’s face and body, if she hadn’t died and been turned into a zombie-creature-thing comes up to Roman, and shows him a video that very neatly explains the title of the episode to both Roman and the audience. Catabasis, which is apparently what Roman is currently undergoing, is a “ritualized descent into the underworld to accomplish a necessary task or defeat a dangerous adversary.”

When Roman goes “Huh?” Shelley explains that he needs to destroy the monster inside him. Chasseur, meanwhile, is sneaking about an auto shop inspecting Roman’s car when Sheriff Sworn walks in and questions her. They have another one of their weirdly layered chats, but this time – instead of dancing around the issue, the Sheriff actually outright calls Chasseur out on her levels of shadiness. “If the issues involve – as your patch suggests, fish and wildlife – have at it. Otherwise, stay out of police business.” Chasseur agrees to stay out of police business, and then promptly breaks into Peter and Lynda’s house to poke around. She’s interrupted by the mysterious priest dude from before, who cheerfully tells her that he was concerned about her after their last conversation so he decided to pop in for a visit. Though she doesn’t look all that pleased to see him, Chasseur updates Mr. Priest Man on what she’s found out so far. She tries to tell him about Olivia Godfrey, but he’s suspiciously quick to shut that avenue of questioning down, and orders her to “bring him Peter Rumancek.” Chasseur looks pretty unhappy about this.

The other Godfrey family in town – Letha, Norman, and Marie are sharing an adorably happy moment for the first time in this show, when Olivia calls to let them know about Roman’s condition. Letha is visibly distressed to hear about what happened, and she and Norman rush over to the mansion immediately to visit him. Norman pulls Olivia away to question her about Pryce’s involvement. They also bang later on in the episode while confessing their love for each other. Roman is still dreaming all throughout these events. Shelley leads him down a series of dark underground passageway before coming to a doorway which he has to enter alone. “Everyone you blame for your mistakes is waiting for you just on the other side,” she says sadly. And Roman walks through the door to see a bright and sunny courtyard with Chasseur waiting for him next to a blood-filled fountain.

Chasseur tells Roman that it’s not his fault he’s weak, that he needs to undergo an ordeal to mark his movement from child to adult – and then dips her hands into the pool of blood and smears it onto his shirt in the shape of a circle, which I suppose is meant to be Ouroboros. She goes on to shove a silver spoon into Roman’s mouth before laughing that his birthright means nothing because the Dragon is going to eat him alive. Roman wanders off in a huff, right into another section of his dream where his uncle Norman is psychoanalyzing/mocking Roman’s catabasis. Norman suggests the point of this “episode” – which one could interpret to mean Roman’s psychotic episode, or the actual episode of the show we’re watching – is for the redemption of Roman’s character. Roman’s about to walk away again in disgust when his father, J.R., appears to give him a lecture about legacy and family. Roman asks J.R. why he killed himself, to which J.R. replies that it’s pretty much all Olivia’s fault. “Half of her is in you,” says J.R. “You’re better off on your own than with a waste of a father.” And then out of J.R.’s mouth spills the shocker of the past eight episodes Norman is Roman’s real dad.

Roman goes on to another section of his dream journey. This time, the setting is one of his high school classrooms, where he watches weirdly sexual black-and-white film reels of his cousin Letha dancing. And then Letha’s mom shows up next to him screaming “You paid your fucking money!” at him with a literal forked tongue. Roman scrambles to get away from her, only to run into Brooke Bluebell, the first girl who was murdered, standing in the middle of the school hallway with her guts hanging out and asking Roman for a ride in his car. Segue into the scene we’ve seen a few times before, of Roman and Peter hanging out on top of the Godfrey Steel Mill while birds tumble out of the sky and into the lake below. Once Roman falls out of that particular setting and back into the blue hallways with non-deformed Shelley, his sister begins to agitatedly tell him that he’s running out of time. Roman freaks out, then rushes to the next setting – his house – intent on confronting the Dragon once and for all. Instead, what he finds at the Godfrey mansion is what looks like an underground portal to hell, a large and vicious wolf that looks suspiciously like Peter’s wolf form, and a nude Ashley Valentine whispering “You are ugly, Roman. Looking for a monster? Try looking in the coke mirror. ”The camera zooms in to Ashley’s hand grabbing Roman’s package, but when it zooms out the hand is not Ashley’s – it’s Olivia’s.

If you’re wondering where Peter’s been in all of this, he’s mostly been ambling around town on his own, friendless once again. When his mother Lynda finds out about his new lady love, Letha, she’s pleased to see him happy again. And then she finds out Letha is a Godfrey, aka Roman’s beloved cousin, and the look on her face says, “Are you fucking kidding me, bro?” At school, Letha tells Peter about Roman being in a coma, but he acts as if he doesn't care. That is proven to be untrue when he randomly shows up at the Godfrey household carrying some sort of item that he says might help Roman in his travels. He hands the item to a teary-eyed Olivia, who seems much more accepting of him than before. She offers to let him visit with Roman if he wants, though Peter says no, and then just before he walks away Olivia softly tells him that he might have been a good influence on Roman, and that she wishes he had met him sooner. Chasseur comes to ask Olivia questions but doesn't actually ask any of the questions. Norman drives away from his house and his wife to go meet up with Olivia for sexytimes. Letha and Peter run into each other and have an impromptu picnic as Chasseur observes them from a distance with a camera that has a ridiculous amount of zoom. Dr. Pryce is doing that self-narration into a recording device trick he’s super fond of, and gloats about how his master plan is going swimmingly (the master plan being: show Roman the Ouroboros, then put Roman in a coma so no one would believe his story even if he were to wake up.) The very last scene of the episode shows Shelley writing an angry note to Roman telling him “You are not allowed to remove yourself from my life. Wake up, Roman.”


Main CastEdit

Supporting CastEdit

Guest CastEdit


Songs from the ShowEdit

  • "Dreary Moon" by Big Black Delta (end credits)