In the second episode, roughly titled “Graveyard Rats,” an unlucky grave robber (David Hewlett) can’t seem to hold on to the jewelry he’s digging up because a godless swarm of rats snatches the treasure the moment he finds it. Never seeming good at picking up clues, the tomb raider ignores these obviously paranormal hiccups and stumbles upon what the art team gently dubs the Rat Queen. Well, the term “queen” tends to be associated with an aura of grace, or at least undeserved authority, but the Rat Queen carries none of those airs. If this creature could talk, we’d probably obey its every command because we’re not really trying to be rat food here.
She is a monstrous beast of an animatronic doll with bulbous opal eyes and fine fur that barely covers mottled musculature. Next to Hewlett, the Rat Queen doll is more than human-sized; it’s basically a whole horse. Vincenzo Natali, who directed the episode, told Newsweek that Rat Queen was something of a miracle, even if it seemed like a nightmare. “It’s the first doll I’ve worked with that really works 100 percent,” Natali said. “It was really very special.” Based on his descriptions, it sounds like Natali was unnaturally happy putting Hewlett through the wringer.