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Secrets of Sulphur Springs

Secrets of Sulphur Springs season 3





Paul Asay
Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

“It’s nothing but a pile of old wood and bad memories sitting in a backwater swamp,” grouses Bennett Campbell (senior), wondering why his son would buy Sulphur Springs’ rickety Tremont Hotel. “The past belongs in the past.”

But here, the past doesn’t stay put. Like the water from this Louisiana town’s namesake water feature, history—even dark history—tends to burble up.

Bennett’s grandson, Griffin, along with Griffin’s intrepid friend, Harper, aren’t just wading in the region’s history: They’re positively swimming in it.

Back to the Phantasmic Future

The Tremont comes with an impressive collection of creaky floors, spider webs and, oh yeah, a secret room.  It’s also home to a chair-rocking, “Amazing Grace” humming ghost.

And then, of course, there’s the time-traveling bunker in the basement. You’re not going to find that in your average bed & breakfast, are you?

At first, Griffin and Harper discover that the bunker leads directly to the Tremont as it was 30 years before, when the Tremont was shiny and new, and a kids’ summer camp was associated with it. 

There, Griffin and Harper meet pubescent versions of their parents and Savannah, a girl who disappeared while attending camp with them (and the source of the urban legends surrounding the Tremont).

Soon, with a little supernatural assistance, the kids learn how to change the date that the bunker travels to. They discover the truth behind Savannah’s disappearance 30 years prior—which actually isn’t so bad. But more mysteries and secrets unfurl when the kids discover Harper’s family (on her dad’s side) was the original owners of the Tremont property.

Death and betrayal surround this newfound past. And if the kids don’t start solving the mysteries soon, death will surround their futures as well. Because while Savannah wasn’t the ghost haunting the Tremont, there’s still a malevolent spirit traipsing around the place. And he’s not interested in helping anyone.

The Haunted Mouse House

Secrets of Sulphur Springs is a TV-PG departure for the Disney Channel, famous for its innocuous all-ages sitcoms, where kids (mostly) behave, parents are (mostly) pretty good role models and problems are (mostly) solved by the end of the episode. This is a darker, more mysterious sort of show—and a drama at that—where the family dynamics have a few more issues.

Now, it’s not as if Secrets is channeling Stranger Things, Netflix’s wildly successful and fairly problematic sci-fi yarn. This is still a Disney show aimed squarely at kids. For the most part, it still feels reasonably navigable. There’s obviously no sex here—just a little age-appropriate romance. Foul language is pretty non-existent, too.

But as the seasons have progressed, violence has come to play a bigger role—and so has spirituality. We see a man murdered on the property. Thereafter, he begins to haunt the place, determined to torture and even kill the descendants of all the people he believes wronged him in life. And in the end, we see several spirits either descending into a fiery pit or ascending to the heavens—you know, depending on whether they were good guys or bad guys.

Moreover, our heroes do some pretty un-heroic things by most parental standards. They habitually lie to their folks, keeping their own bevy of secrets as they do. They skip school on occasion. They bribe siblings. Just by hanging out together, Griffin and Harper are disobeying their parents, who expressly forbid it at first.

Their parents still, for the most part, mean well. But they also feel a little more clueless than they ought and are clearly incapable of reining in their curious children. As the show goes on, they start seeing the supernatural beings themselves. And, of course, they do their own share of lying.

Secrets of Sulphur Springs is clearly well named. We see plenty of them at work here. But as far as the show’s family friendliness goes, let’s spoil the secret: This series requires just a bit more pause than most Disney shows.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 24, 2023 – S3, Ep1: “Time Won’t Let Me”

Disaster strikes upon the Tremont’s grand reopening when a malevolent ghost breaks a water pipe.

Several mysterious events happen in and around the hotel’s haunted room 205. A hat is ripped from a child’s hand, the room’s key moves on its own. A woman enters the room after watching brown goop on the door mysteriously disappear. Later, we hear her scream, and she’s found unconscious outside the room, unable to remember what happened. We also see a smoky black shadow moving around the room—the essence of a ghost.

Griffin, who got stuck in the future after traveling there the previous season, learns that the evil spirit in room 205 seeps out and changes everyone living at the hotel—including himself. He watches in horror as the Tremont burns, his siblings bicker and his best friend rejects him. He learns the town turned on him (and that he got expelled) because he somehow caused someone’s death.

Characters lie. A boy describes a zombie movie. Someone jokes about calling a priest to exorcise the spirits of the Tremont. A girl tells her friend that she almost kissed a boy.

Jan. 14, 2022 – S2, Ep1: “Only Time Will Tell”

Griffin and Harper travel back in time to discover that Harper’s relatives were the original owners of the Tremont, back when it was just a farm.

A rocking chair moves on its own. A woman hears a voice humming “Amazing Grace.” An invisible ghost writes words on a mirror. The kids follow a woman back to the Tremont house, where she screams and then disappears. Later, they find the woman’s grave. There are a few jump scares. The portal to the time-travel bunker disappears after they go through it. Griffin’s siblings suspect a ghost tore down some wallpaper, and his mom admits something spooky is happening. A man stalks Savannah, and she suspects he is “Moss Man” from an urban legend.

Griffin appears to have a crush on Harper, staring at her after she dons a fancy dress. A girl states, “you can only get into trouble if you get caught,” as she plans mischief.

Jan. 22, 2020 – S1, Ep4: “Time to Face the Music”

Griffin’s grandfather shows up unexpectedly—much to his own son’s discomfort. And as twin siblings Wyatt and Zoey try to figure out how to capture the Tremont Hotel’s ghost on video, Griffin and Harper go back to the past to figure out what their parents are hiding. And they find themselves on the eve of the camp’s talent show.

Harper and Griffin learn that Ben (Griffin’s dad) kinda liked Savannah, while Harper’s mom Jess—who had a crush on Ben—didn’t like Savannah at all. “I think this place would be a whole lot nicer if she would like, go away,” Jess confesses to Harper (whom she believes is just a friend, of course). They also get a bit of backstory on the strained relationship Ben has with his own father: After Ben as a child begins playing one of his own songs on guitar for the camp talent show, he freezes up when he spots his father. Afterward, the elder Bennett scolds Ben, telling him that he embarrassed both of them up there. We see a lot of tension from both Ben senior and junior throughout the episode.

Griffin and Harper skip school to go back in the past—bribing Harper’s brother to cover for them. (Both sets of parents find out about the ruse, though, and ground their children.) We’re reminded that Griffin and Harper have been forbidden from hanging out anyway. (“It seems those two are bad influences on each other,” Griffin’s mother tells Jess.) The two kids continue to hide the truth about the bunker.

People talk about the ghost and feel cold spots. We hear about a camp dance (and see someone apparently plotting to spoil the dance for someone else). Kids complain about their parents, both when they’re kids and as adults.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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