The new format of web series allows writers to adapt novels to their full capacity. Even if the series is not based on a novel, the writers can still fully expand on the characters and go deep into the story, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. The new series Shelter (aka Harlan Coben’s Shelter) is based on Harlon Coben’s book of the same name, and it follows Mickey Bolitar as he begins his journey into a deep, dark world of murder and intrigue after his father’s death. There have been many series that have had school-going kids involved in a mystery much beyond their initial grasp, but through sheer courage, they find out the truth. Recently Stranger Things and Dark, are two that come to mind, and Shelter spins its own yarn to pull the viewer into its world.
There are multiple characters in the plot. Mickey is definitely in the center of it. The story begins when Mickey’s father Brad returns to America with his family, and Mickey is supposed to join Kasselton College. Then tragedy struck as the family met with an accident, and Brad died. Mickey started to live with Brad’s sister, Shira, while his mother was in the hospital. Things take a strange turn for Mickey when he sees an old woman, simply known as ‘Bat Lady,’ around the area who tells him that Brad is still alive. The plot thickens when Mickey’s friend Ashley disappears from school on the same day Brad’s school friend Dylan disappeared 27 years ago. Mickey starts to believe that everything is related and that the ‘Bat Lady’ definitely has something to do with it all. It’s one of the most mysterious characters, at least in the first three episodes, and it deserves a closer look as it sets up the series to deliver the thrills.
What Happens To The Bat Lady?
Much more than the Bat Lady herself, it is her house that is haunting. Situated in the middle of New Jersey, it was unlike any other house in the whole city. There were urban legends about the Bat Lady. She was the ‘boogeyman,’ the famous folklore archetypal character that had a thing for young kids. Twenty-five years ago, Brad was there in the house’s basement in some kind of bunker with other kids. Maybe that’s why Mickey’s journey had to start with this house.
Brad had died, and Mickey had just started to cope while making friends at Kasselton. But then suddenly, the Bat Lady appeared while he was passing by the house. She could have said anything, but she knew his name and also told him that his father was alive. How could that be? Mickey had seen him die. A paramedic had arrived on the scene of the accident and taken the mortally wounded Brad on a stretcher. Shira had told Mickey that only he and his mother survived that crash. Then why did the Bat Lady tell him that Brad was alive? Was she a psychic? Mickey almost ended up in jail because he caused a ruckus in the neighborhood by trying to break into the house. He wanted answers. Who wouldn’t? As a son who loved his father dearly, he wanted to know how the Bat Lady knew his name or about Brad’s accident.
Shira was a lawyer, and she got him out of trouble. Something to be grateful for. Mickey blamed everyone, including himself, for Brad’s death. Now that four months had passed since his death, Mickey had just begun to process it, but everything changed with what the Bat Lady had told him. He got some answers from Shira, like how the bat lady was connected to his father, Brad. She told him that Brad’s best friend had disappeared 27 years ago, and everybody thought the old woman had eaten him alive. The police, of course, did not believe anything that absurd and believed that Dylan’s father was behind the disappearance. Later, Brad, too, went into the house after being bullied into breaking in. Brad, fortunately, was found by Shira, but she did tell Mickey that he was never the same after he went into that house.
So the Bat Lady was somehow related to both Brad and Dylan. One vanished forever, and one remained. As Mickey spent more days in New Jersey, he believed she was involved in many other gruesome plots. Ashley Kent, whom Mickey had met on his first day in school, disappeared suddenly, and it turned out that she had lied to Mickey about her parents. The mystery was too overwhelming for Mickey, but thankfully he had the help of Ema and Arthur. They helped him break into the Bat Lady’s house, but all that he found was a hippopotamus figure, the same one as the one he had seen with Ashley. So had she been kidnapped by the Bat Lady? Maybe yes. Later, it was known that Kasselton’s drama coach was Ashley, and he worked for the Bat Lady. He had the job of locating Ashley, and he may have even kidnapped her, but she got away, which is why the Bat Lady had him killed. She had a bald man with sunglasses working for her who was doing all her dirty work. She wanted to stop Ashley from doing whatever she was trying to do, and apart from that, she wanted Mickey to come into her fold.
Mickey was deeply confused, and he desperately wanted to find out what happened to his father. If he was alive, where was he? Where was Ashley? All these questions revolved around his head. As September 15 approached, which was the day decided by the Kasselton authorities to commemorate Dylan, the disappeared boy, things started to unfold. Rachel, another girl from school, was in deep trouble as she was right in the line of fire. A man with the tattoo of an octopus, aka Octoface, was after Ashley, and because Rachel had stolen from Ashley’s locker, now he was after Rachel. Rachel was terrified but was acting normally. She even partnered with Mickey to do her homework on Holocaust survivor Lizzy Sobeck. The name is important, as when Mickey followed the bald guy into the Bat Lady’s house, he finally met her, and she told him that she was Lizzy Sobeck. She was part of the history books now, as she had saved many children from the Nazis. Nobody knew that she was still alive.
Why did she reveal her true identity to Mickey? Well, because according to her, the man who murdered her father was the same man who murdered Brad. The man, disguised as the paramedic, taking Brad away on a stretcher was the Nazi officer known as ‘The Butcher.’ Lizzy was known to have saved many girls who were destined to die in the Holocaust. There were 49 girls on Lizzy’s train, out of whom The Butcher murdered 43, and Lizzy managed to save only six. But how is this possible? Mickey saw the paramedic as being a middle-aged man at the most. If Lizzy was telling the truth, he should have been much older. There was a deeper mystery that was defying the logic of time here, but Lizzy only wanted revenge at this time. She and Mickey had a common enemy.
So was Lizzy also involved with Octoface? Or even the tattoo artist who made the octopus tattoo on that man? It’s very hard to speculate. But it looks like Brad, who went inside the house 27 years ago, met Lizzy and was brought into her fold while fighting the evil in the world. A special kind of butterfly was this group’s symbol, and the special ones, who had the job of protecting young kids from evil, were marked by it. Ema and Ashley were also one of them, but Mickey didn’t know that yet. Ashley may have known the truth about her tattoo and her greater purpose, which is why she befriended Mickey, but Ema was still unaware. There are so many possibilities, but Brad was probably working for Lizzy and would have told Mickey about his purpose in the world, but the butcher got to him first. Lizzy could turn out to be Mickey’s true guardian, but who knows? She might have joined hands with evil herself. The next episodes of Shelter will shed more light on the truth.