We review the CW Seed reality show, Mysteries Decoded, on The Pilot Podcast. Join us as we dive into the lore behind the Lizzie Borden trial, learn about paranormal investigation, and even chat about the plan to storm Area 51. Is paranormal activity the new frame we can use for ancient investigations? Tune in!
The investigative documentary series Mysteries Decoded delves deep into some of America's greatest unsolved mysteries, exploring newly discovered evidence and utilizing high-tech tools in each case. From Area 51 to the Salem witch trials, each episode's investigation is coordinated by Jennifer Marshall, an accomplished U.S. Navy veteran turned top-notch private investigator, as she mobilizes her team to embark on the formidable quest to bring closure to these long-lingering historical puzzles.
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question: Should I Watch This?
My name is BJ.
And my name is Mitu.
And this week we're checking out the new CW Seed series, Mysteries Decoded.
So stay tuned to the end to find out if BJ can talk to ghosts.
You don't know?
Oh, I like that. All right, Beej. What happened in this pilot episode of Mysteries Decoded? Which until we watched, I did not know is a reality show.
Yeah, so this is a real show following Jennifer Marshall. She's a private investigator. And the whole premise is that she's looking at different mysteries in the United States. And she's trying to find out the facts and discover what's really going on. So in this first episode, she travels to Massachusetts to look into the Lizzie Borden murders. Where Lizzie Borden was accused of killing her parents in their home with an axe, very brutally, and no one seemed to know that she did it.
Or who did it.
And she claimed she was innocent. And along the way, Jennifer is also joined by her colleague, frenemy Stephanie Bingham, who is a paranormal historian and psychic who has her own alternative methods of discovering the truth about Lizzie Borden.
I think frenemy is the right term. So I'd love to jump into that first because Jennifer turns to Stephanie and is like, we have different ways of working. I like facts. I like to dig into things and Stephanie's like, well, I'm more inclined to listen to the ghost. It reminds me of when people kept asking Mariah Carey, if she knew J-Lo, and on Larry King Live, she was like J-Lo, and I do two different things. I sing, I write songs. It was so perfect. So I would love to know what was your impression of their relationship.
Jennifer felt forced to work with Stephanie.
Stephanie was very willing to bring Jennifer into her world and teach her about spirits, ghosts, the afterlife. So it was very one sided friendship.
And Stephanie had all of those ghosts on speed dial. She would sit down, close her eyes, flick on one of them fake candles and immediately a ghost would come knocking.
Yeah, she's knows how to channel the spirits very quickly.
Yes, an efficient medium.
Yes. And so one of the scenes which confused us, she actually goes to Lizzie Borden's home with whoever is currently running the home and they speak to her. So they have like a little interview, but Stephanie never asks, did you murder your parents?
Yeah, she asked her if she liked the accommodations. Basically, the same questions you get as you enter and leave an Airbnb is what Stephanie asks Lizzie. Do you feel comfortable in the home? And Lizzie was saying, allegedly, that she didn't want to be kicked out and she was nervous. She wanted to trust the land lord, but didn't know she could and a lot of questions about their relationship. The woman who runs the poperty was starting to get emotional, wanting to assure Lizzie that she would always feel welcome in this space. And yet, no one asked did you hack your parents to death?
I guess that wasn't important. But you will also think Stephanie, who is channeling the emotions of these spirits? Would I don't know maybe feel, I feel that Lizzie is a murderer. I feel that she's innocent. But we don't even get comments like that. I think another interesting part. You mentioned the Airbnb situation. So at one point, Jennifer and Stephanie, stay in the Borden home. So this is the home where Lizzie's parents were killed. And so I guess they were trying to see if they could feel any energy, pick up on any clues. And it turns out it was a bed and breakfast, right?
Yeah. So they could actually sleep there. And they had a nice fruit and egg breakfast there. So it's a chill environment where people just spend the weekend. I don't want to yuck anyone's yum. It's just not my idea of a good time to spend the weekend at a place where a family was murdered.
You wouldn't sleep in a murder victim's bed?
On the list of things I wouldn't do, I would say it's pretty high up there. It's not something that I would ever have considered.
But now that you've stated it, I know I don't want to do it.
You would not travel to Massachusetts to visit the home where two people were supposedly murdered by their daughter and chill there overnight?
Okay. I mean...
And would you?
This isn't about me. So one thing I think stood out is that Jennifer, our fact and logic person, I don't think she didn't much investigating.
No, which is a smart form of investigation. She asked people, who had done research for longer, questions.
But I don't think we got to see enough of her interviews with people who had spent longer investigating the case. We instead spent a lot of the episode really focusing on the paranormal aspect of it. And also Jennifer and Stephanie's interactions and debates over the use of paranormal tactics in investigation.
That's a good point. Jennifer brought in experts such as an author who's written a book on this and also a local forensic investigator to get his opinion on the murder scene and how the murder went down. And so I guess these people already can really give her the end statement on their opinion. So she didn't have to go through the full process for her investigation.
Yeah, I mean, the smartest thing to do always is to gather information that other people have already spent a long time doing. I just think we didn't get to witness too much of it.
What did you think of Stephanie bringing in her expert team of the paranormal investigators who had some fancy equipment that could quote unquote, see spirits in the room?
So I'm not a person who watches shows where people look for spirits or ghosts. So I don't want to yuck any yums or knock any beliefs. It's just not for me personally.
So it's something I haven't seen a lot of. And I was confused when they were doing the readings of the room, they had those stick figures as what would represent the ghostly figures. And I wonder why they wouldn't use something a little more compelling to look at. That was my only feedback. They're like he looks angry and it was this really jauntily shaped stick figure next to her. And that's how they knew he was angry, that ghost because it was bent in a strange way.
Okay, so you're not doubting their method or their technology. You just want more detail, more information about what they are claiming.
Oh, no, no, I just want better drawn figures to come up on the screen.
You just wanted to look better.
I couldn't get into the stick figures. They were trying to say that one was holding her hand. Another one was just standing there. Another one was angry. And I didn't get that read off of the literal shapes. It was two triangles on top of each other with sticks hanging out for the arms and sticks hanging out for the legs.
Yeah, like, hang man, you draw the body.
So you're just saying, if you're gonna do this, get some better graphic.
Put the razzle dazzle on it.
Get someone to design you a nice app.
That's what I was looking for. So do I believe it? Do I like their methods? No opinions there. I just needed it to look better. How did you take that whole scene?
You know, as a scientist, who likes facts and logic, me and Jenny, we're on the same page. I don't think they explained their equipment well enough for me to comment on it. I don't know what kind of readings they were getting, what kind of sensor they had attached to their device. So I don't even know what they're claiming.
We didn't get a lot of information from them. And you also mentioned there might have been some level of maybe come from formation bias because of the heightened emotions in the room.
Yes, I think Jennifer was starting to believe a little bit more of what was going on. Being in the same room where the murder went on, when people were telling her a spirit's touching your hand, an evil spirit is looking at, you know, you have an emotional reaction. And so maybe she felt a gust of wind against her hand. And then that was at the same time someone said, there's a ghost touching your hand. You might connect those two things.
She did say I'm feeling some weird static right here. And then after she said that, they were like, well, there's a ghost child next to you at exactly the same height that she was feeling static.
What I will say and this is something you pointed out, the editing of this show is not sequential. So it's hard for me to believe what order any of these events happen.
Usually when shows are shot like this, they tell people to wear the same outfits consistently try to stay in the same spaces in a room. But on this show, I think because it was a CW Seed show, maybe there was just a lower focus on things like continuity. And so they were recapping things that happened a day prior, but based on the outfits and what had happened up until that moment, it actually likely wouldn't have happened yet, but they just have them talking about it already. It was just a little bit odd the way it was spliced. Even when they were having breakfast, they were in the middle of a meal with the conversation. So she was scooping food onto her plate, but then when they pan back to her a moment later, her plate is completely clean. So it's not clear because the end of the conversation, she was done eating or they spliced the beginning of their conversation right there. It was just a little bit messy in that regard.
Even in the bed and breakfast, they had their hair done and makeup on in their pajamas. We see them lie down in bed and then the next thing we know it's supposedly morning, but they're still put together but in their pajamas. So I might even question, did they stay the night there?
Oh, you're gonna take it there.
Just putting that out there and there is a chance they did not. Based on the number of outfits, this could have all been done in three days, but the way they edited it, it feels like it was a week's worth of investigations.
I'm feeling spooky. But I also want to learn history.
Lucky for you and our listeners. This episode is brought to you by Audible, where you can find books on Lizzie Borden, believing she done it or not, like The Trial of Lizzie Borden and A Night at the Inn.
Among other titles! Just go to audibletrial.com/thepilotpod You'll get a free 30 day trial membership, be able to browse their unmatched selection of audio programs, historically spooky or not, and pick a title to download free and start listening.
Again, that's audibletrial.com/thepilotpod. Happy listening!
And now back to our show.
Did you think this mystery was interesting? What did you know about the Borden murder going into this?
I remembered the Lizzie Borden murder incorrectly. Or I was fed incorrect information because as I understood it, I thought her parents were found together in their bedroom. And I didn't know that the maid was murdered as well. And I didn't know that the uncle was considered because he had stayed there the night before. I did know that there was shaky evidence that Lizzie did it. I thought it was understood that she did it but that they couldn't draw exactly that direct line. And it helped that she was a woman without a family to back her up. So she was basically alone in the world. All that said when Rebecca Pittman came through with the facts at the very end that Lizzie Borden had apparently purchased poison and tried to poison her parents' milk.
Twice, that she had changed her dress. So the reason there was no blood splatter on her dress from such a gruesome murder was that she actually turned in a dress no one had ever seen her wearing and it was a new dress that she had purchased. So those were all things I hadn't heard before.
So you think she did it?
I do. I didn't know that that was so aggressively up for question. And I also didn't know that there was such lore around this murder.
It definitely seems like it's a draw for tourists to come to this particular area.
Did you know anything about the Lizzie Borden murder? And did you have any interest in it? Or theories?
No, I think it's just a name I've heard. Just famous murders in the country. But I didn't know any details about the axe and the beating and the suspicion around her.
I am interested in true crime. But stuff like this that is so old doesn't interest me because my interest in true crime really stems from trying to understand human behavior as in how could someone do this? So a more nebulous case from 127 years ago of not knowing even if she did it, let alone why. Because we just don't have that information. Other than apparently, the land deal theory that Rebecca Pittman had. It just doesn't interest me as much.
Do you at least think it was interesting how Mysteries Decoded presented in in this case? Or do you think you would have been better off reading the book or just better off not knowing any details?
That's basically asking me if I regretted watching the show or if I thought it was worth my hour.
Your words, not mine.
With regard to how everything was presented in the show, I would have much preferred a harder focus on the facts. Because while I'm not interested in 127 year old case, I've certainly read books or seen documentaries on things that have happened a long time ago that present a new angle, especially things that have a lot of lore around them. It's interesting to know that the way you remember something is maybe a little bit off or is influenced by narratives or other larger things happening in society. So the angle they took wasn't as interesting to me personally, but I was slightly obsessed with the woman who did all of the paranormal aspects of the investigation, Stephanie. When she got really emotional when she channeled Lizzie Borden's mom, how did you feel about that? Because at that point, even if you're a skeptic about this, at the very least, it's clear that she firmly believes what she's doing is channeling spirits or she's a fantastic actress because she really became emotionally connected to Lizzie Borden's mom.
I agree at that moment, that's when it became very clear that she truly believes in spirits and communicating with people in the afterlife and that their energy is detectable by people and that she does have the ability to channel these spirits and talk to them. And what you were saying, she was probably the most fascinating part of this episode, the most fun because she was at odds with Jennifer. But I also think you need the paranormal aspects for a murder mystery this old. Where there's not much freshness you can bring to it. At the beginning of the episode, I was wondering what new material could Jennifer uncover that people haven't had 100 years to investigate themselves. And the new aspect is bringing in a psychic paranormal historian and just comparing that with what people have already investigated.
Honestly, I bet that's not even new either. Because because there's a whole paranormal investigating community in the northeast and especially in Massachusetts.
Which I think is going to be a major theme because at least a future episode which is available for streaming as of the time of this recording is on Area 51. Where I think a lot more of that is going to be myth, rumors, paranormal investigations versus the few facts that the government will let us know about Area 51.
Have you seen that internet trending topic of storming Area 51?
Are you going?
No, but I love all those memes of me and my alien and it's people like dancing with the Snapchat filter alien and stuff.
I hope foolish people don't go because military around Area 51 have hurt and killed people who trespass.
Yeah, don't go. Don't storm Area 51. PSA
Real. I think we're ready to hop into our ratings. BJ, what would you rate Mysteries Decoded?
I would rate Mysteries Decoded, would watch again while doing laundry. I think for this particular show. It's an hour long show, which is a little long for this, but I thought that the two main hosts were fun. And I would try and jump in for episodes where it's a mystery that I care more about. So I was not familiar with or connected to this Borden murder, but Area 51 I think could be fun. I know they have the Salem Witch Trials as a future episode, that could be interesting. So I would say hop in and out and you don't have to pay attention that closely because you probably won't learn any new facts about these mysteries, but you can still have a fun time learning about them.
I would actually go further and add the caveat that this sometimes airs on TV. So if it were airing on TV, then I would watch it while doing laundry. Otherwise, I likely won't actively seek it out on CW Seed app to watch it, I doubt that. But if I were flipping channels, as I often do, and it's on, then for sure I would have it on to the background and it would probably be similar to when you watch, you know, those did the aliens build the pyramids History Channel documentaries.
I love the show.
Alright, Beej. Where can people find other episodes of The Pilot Podcast?
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai