The Middle Reaches tells a story in fifteen-episode, interrelated “cycles” that lead toward a conclusion of cosmic proportions. The story focuses on characters who, in different ways and on different, jumbled timelines, get caught up in The Middle Reaches, a mysterious and malevolent bridge between worlds. The worlds of The Middle Reaches relate to Cooper’s other works as well as works by authors such as Ambrose Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, and H.P. Lovecraft.
Cycle One: Shadow Man is adapted from and expands on Cooper’s screenplay The Middle Reaches, which won Best Horror Script at the Hollywood Horrorfest, Best Feature Script at the Bloodstained Indie Film Festival, and was a semifinalist in the Stage 32 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Screenwriting Contest. When five friends reunite to seek the truth about the otherworldly place where their high school friend, Sheldon, disappeared more than a decade earlier, they journey into a dark realm of sex, violence, and creatures hungry to keep them forever.
Nick Andrews: Perhaps more haunted by Sheldon’s disappearance than the others, Nick is withdrawn but still exerts a definitive influence on the group. He might be unstable, but where he leads, they tend to follow. Secrets surround him; he may hold back information the others need.
Leslie Jarndyce: A lawyer and over-achiever on course to become the first black woman to make partner at her firm, Leslie is naturally wary of concluding the events from the group’s teen years, which they have largely forgotten, were supernatural. Her skepticism might make the strain of her experiences even worse.
Celia Mastroianni: Celia is a free spirit contained by cynicism. She finds the muck and murkiness of what she and her high school friends are getting pulled back into distasteful, but she feels the lure of the past as well as the attraction of The Middle Reaches, and she’ll go on–unless the discomfort breaks her.
Ambrose McClure: He still can’t figure out why he moved back to this Georgia suburb after college in New Jersey, bro, but he’s here, and now he’s remembering his high school trysts with Celia, among the dozens of others since, naturally. He knows how to relieve tension, but he creates it, too.
Pedro Jimenez: Pedro is devoted to his wife and kids, not to mention the auto shop he runs with his father, so he resists The Middle Reaches’ allure. Typically unassertive, he does what people expect from him, but he knows and understands a great deal, and he will only tolerate so much.
Episode One, “Dreams and The Mouth.” (2/27/23) Nick dreams of going into a dark cavern that summons intense erotic feelings. He encounters the horror of The Mouth and awakes. Later, the others come to his house for a get-together after their high school reunion. They all have apprehensions, and some discuss dreams with commonalities.
Episode Two, “What Happened to Sheldon Vere.” (3/6/23) Ambrose remembers more than he cares to share, Pedro tells a disturbing story about the fate of Sheldon’s mother, and everyone struggles to imagine what might really have happened to Sheldon.
Episode Three, “The Middle Reaches and The Shadow Man.” (3/13/23) Celia recalls a terrifying dream–or experience–in The Middle Reaches. The group puts together details about what and where The Middle Reaches actually are. Nick adds information about The Shadow Man, a denizen of The Middle Reaches. The group faces the decision they’ve all seen coming–whether to go back to their adolescent haunt.
Episode Four, “The Picnic.” (3/20/23) The group meets for their picnic at the place between the two Acton Ways and begins their physical journey back into The Middle Reaches. They receive a horrific welcome.
Episode Five, “Follow the Creek.” (3/27/23) Ambrose, Celia, and Pedro struggle to escape the picnic site. The group puts Nick’s recent encounter together with their memories and realizes they will do what they used to do: follow the creek toward, or further into, The Middle Reaches. Leslie notes the environment and time changing. Ambrose feels himself changing as well.
Episode Six, “Secret Fork.” (4/3/23) The group comes to a crucial turn in their path and starts sharing anxieties about the changes around and within them. They also share observations and secrets that make The Middle Reaches seem more dangerous—but nevertheless irresistible.
Episode Seven, “Herd.” (4/10/23) The group tries to reverse course, finally sees the things that howl, and realizes at least one purpose of the creatures that have been stalking them. Confronting a new sexual revelation from the past increases tensions.
Episode Eight, “Carcosa.” (4/17/23) Under pressure from others who feel he is holding back, Nick reveals Sheldon’s larger conception of The Middle Reaches. Somebody breaks.
Episode Nine, “Efflorescence of Life and Death.” (4/24/23) The Middle Reaches put on an unforgettable spectacle of pain and human defilement. The group finds itself shepherded once again, but this time they face a deadlier confrontation.
Episode Ten, “In-Between Creatures.” (5/1/23) The group speculates about the types of creatures and people that dwell in The Middle Reaches, and one group member has a run-in with The Shadow Man that puts them all in a frenzy.
Episode Eleven, “Snake.” (5/8/23) Two group members slide from unusual cooperation to bitter confrontation, the group explores a darker side of “its” yearning, and a new in-between creature gets a nasty introduction.
Episode Twelve, “Bone Pool.” (5/15/23) A recent confession finds a grotesque counterpart in the creek, a lost group member reappears in an unexpected way, and an attempt at erotic problem-solving goes horribly wrong.