‘The Exorcist’ Chapter Two: Lupus in Fabula – A Touch of ‘The Omen’ (Review)

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In Chapter Two of The Exorcist “Lupus in Fabula” things are beginning to morph into The Omen.  There is more than a touch of the 1976 film and book, as well as some other elements more reminiscent of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.  (Sacrifices in the middle of the night and Father Marcus’ lack of power.)

This week we get more backstory on Father Marcus. He was introduced into exorcism at the age of 12 after being sold to the church.  It appears that the priest has been fighting the devil for a very long time.

The Exorcist  continues to put the viewer in that uneasy place where sleeping with the light on seems like a good idea. Angela Rance is still concerned about Kat, but how realizes the problem really lies with Cassie.

The eldest sister is still full of attitude but the “devil” has not made her do anything. It is Cassie, the innocent who has been chosen as the demon’s vessel and Mrs. Rance kicks up her investigation a notch or two.

Father Tomas speaks to the Auxiliary Bishop who takes the modern day approach to the whole thing. There are no demons in the new church and he does not support the younger priest’s request to start proceedings for an exorcism.

The Bishop also questions Tomas’ visit to see Father Marcus, the man has gone missing since the impromptu Q&A instigated by Tomas.

Marcus turns up at the younger priest’s apartment and assumes the position of mentor. He believes that the child Father Tomas spoke of is indeed possessed.

 

There are no more scenes to equal that creepy and disturbing sequence in the attic last week.  Instead there is a mysterious man at Cassie’s lacrosse match. A player on the opposite team who is roughing up the Rance girl suffers a horrific leg fracture with no one near her.

Earlier Angela meets with the Pope’s Chicago representative for his visit, she gets two calls from Cassie. When she goes home Cassie is not there but the phone is on the pillow. As the phone is picked up a blood red centipede scurries away.

Cassie says she will never sleep on that pillow again. Kat scoffs and replies that it is just an insect. Kat picks up the pillow and there is a boiling mound of the things underneath. Henry moves  off saying he will call the ‘bug man.”

At the church community picnic Cassie is accosted by a homeless man who says he knows her and that “he” picked her.

Angela believes that Tomas is going to leave her in the lurch and during the church community picnic takes some holy water. Father Marcus sees her and suggests she put it in the afflicted person’s drinking water.

Later she pours the stuff in Cassie’s water who drinks it with no apparent reaction.  The possessed girl then excuses herself from the table and rushes upstairs to vomit dark green slime.  She finishes by pulling  an incredibly long centipede from her throat.

Father Marcus tries to track down the homeless man and finds another possessed homeless woman.  He attempts to force the demon out  and learns that his power to exorcise is gone. Either through a crisis of faith or because he caused the young boy to die, his “the power of Christ compels you” has no effect.

At the start of the episode a young black lad is seen leaving his house. The boy has on headphones and he rides his bike down the street. As the youngster returns home, he keeps his headphones on and enters his house.

His family have all been murdered and their bodies lay about the house. The lad is then killed and all of the family have their hearts cut out and put in a cooler.

The homeless man who approached Cassie in the church comes out of the house with a blood spatter cooler. He is joined by a lot of other people also carrying coolers. They get into a van which drives out of the neighborhood.

The second chapter of The Exorcist had some disturbing moments and the one that stood out the most was the eye through the jenga tower.

While the series is beyond compelling and is still able to “put the wind up” the viewer, all these sacrifices and the elderly chap that only Cassie can see feels at bit too much like The Omen. All is missing are people dying who  learn that the youngest Rance girl is possessed.  (And of course the fact that Cassie is not the Antichrist is the main difference.)

In the Blatty novel and the 1973 film there were things that led up to the possession but there was no concerted effort by followers to protect or support the possessed.

Regardless of this morphing of two different tales, The Exorcist is still pretty scary stuff.  Perhaps the change is necessary. After all the book, like the film, was produced during the whole “God is dead,” phase in ’70s America.

There are still homages to the original film. Tomas runs wearing the same sleeve less sweat shirt and there is close up of a jackhammer pounding the sidewalk (although the sound is nowhere near as loud as in the film.).

On a sidenote: There were no tubular bells this week.

The Exorcist ends with the two priests teaming up, Tomas more reluctantly than Marcus.

The series airs Fridays on FOX.

Cast:

MacGyver: Metal Saw – Action Packed Fluff (Review)

Lucas Till as Angus MacGyver

In this iteration of MacGyver, Angus is less of a peacenik and more prone to severely damaging his adversaries. But for all the gunfights, explosions and clever manufacturing the body count is, overall, pretty low. In essence  this reboot is a combination of action packed plot filled out with more than a little fluff.

It is, however, a very enjoyable way to spend an hour.   (Less if one takes out the commercials.)  Like  FOX network’s Lethal Weapon, MacGyver is a revisit  to an ’80s favorite.  If they can just get rid of the annoyingly intrusive screen titles, that explain what each ingredient is when Mac makes something, this will be a bit of competition for the other network.

In many ways this new spy series feels a little closer to The A Team. Another popular ’80s action series that featured bullets flying at absurd rates and no “kills” whatsoever. No bodycount was expected for the fluffy action/adventure series and it seems that MacGyver 2016 may be using that template.

(Although to be fair, if memory serves, the original MacGyver had an almost non-existant bodycount as well.)

However, far from being snarky about this new version; these  really are not complaints. Rather, they are observations. Except for those oh so annoying screen titles. (Are these for the millennials who watch? Do they need written confirmation of what Mac is saying in the voiceover? Answers in the comment section below, or if over a certain age, on a postcard please.)

In “Metal Saw” Jack’s old flame has been captured in South America by a crime lord.  The team go down to extract the agent, Sarah Adler (Acker) and her evidence against the crime lord.  Cue some manufactured solutions by Mac and a bit of gunplay.

Riley, who has broken parole yet again, is almost caught by the bad guys but is saved by big boss Patricia Thornton who arrives in the nick of time. By the end of the episode the Phoenix group have caught the bad guy, gotten all the evidence and saved Sarah Adler.

MacGyver has also found out that Nikki is apparently not “Nikki” at all. He finds a burner phone and a passport hidden behind the plug socket in her apartment. The name on the document is Alice Hunter.

MacGyver is enjoyable if not a bit simplistic however  it  does lack the pretentious nature of Scorpion as well as a big name co-star to pad out the cast.  It does offer up some familiar faces as guest stars though.

Thus far the show has featured Vinnie Jones as Nikki’s nasty accomplice in episode one and the beautiful and talented Amy Acker in episode one.   Not too bad, as guest stars go.

The show also features more than its fair share of strong female characters.  Riley, Patricia Thornton and the elusive Nikki are all powerful figures that do not need to be coddled or assisted. Even Sarah Adler, although she is a prisoner, gets the drop on MacGyver when he enters her cell.

MacGyver has managed to be fairly international so far. The start of “Metal Saw” took place in North Korea and ended in a very tiny DMZ stand off. Later the action moved down to South America.

This series is pretty close to mindless escapism.  A reboot of a popular ’80s action/adventure series that was wildly popular.  If they can just lose those screen titles (Yes we are aware we have mentioned this three times,   but it really is that annoying.) MacGyver might just be a keeper.

The show airs Fridays on CBS.

Cast:

Guest starring  Amy Acker as Sarah Adler.

Van Helsing: Episode Three ‘Stay Inside’ (Recap/Review)

 Van Helsing - Season 1

Episode three of Van Helsing “Stay Inside” sees the savior of humanity bonding with Axel and coming to grips with the fact that her daughter is most likely dead.  It also shows the backstory of Julius, a leader, like Dimitri but lower down on the “managerial” scale.

It is shown how the ash from the super volcano in Yellowstone allows the blood drinkers to walk around during the day.  Julius discovers this and wastes no time infecting as many people as he can.

Flesh is one of the first that Julius turns. The man returns home, infected, and kills his daughter and then presumably infects his wife.

Three years later: Axel is still feeding Doc, Mohamad and Sam are telling the group about Vanessa killing Ted, and Flesh climbs out of the chute. He is cured, confused and frightened.

Van Helsing and Axel argue about what changed the vampire back. Vanessa  maintains that she is nothing special and Axel disagrees.

John’s wife is tortured in front of the hospital. The vampire’s want Van Helsing and John grabs Vanessa.  As the vampires start to bleed Wendy,  Axel shoots the woman and kills her.

John and Axel fight and knock over the wind generator. The loss of power means they have three hours to live.

The survivors still do not trust Van Helsing and she decides to accompany the Marine while he gets a new engine for the generator. Miller tells everyone to stay inside and to watch Doc.  He reminds both Sam and Mohamad to watch out for John, “He’s an a**hole.”

Axel gives Vanessa a quick lesson on killing the vampires. Massive trauma or decapitation will guarantee that the creatures cannot heal from their wounds.  They are, like Van Helsing, fast healers.

Back at the hospital Flesh wakes screaming from a nightmare and sets Doc off. The vampire is clearly agitated and keeps screaming sporadically. Mohamad and Sam calm Flesh and John goes after Doc.  He prompts the group to kill both Flesh and the Doc.

Sam diffuses the situation with the help of his friend.

As Axel goes underwater to grab the engine, vampires move in for the kill. The Marine grabs the part as Vanessa yanks him up and the vampires attack.  She wounds one who then overpowers her and bites her neck.

The vampire is turned and then dies of its wounds.

Just as the two approach the hospital the power goes off and the UV lights that kept the vampires away shuts down. The vampires attack the building. Flesh comes out and shows the creatures that he has been turned by Van Helsing.

The vampires run off and after Vanessa frees John’s dead wife, they enter the hospital.

Van Helsing asks Doc if she knows what she is.  Another survivor wants to know what Vanessa was saying. She moves forward and Doc snarls scaring the woman off. Doc grins as she turns away.

Axel asks Vanessa to turn Doc back.  She tries but cannot entice the vampire to bite her. Doc is clearly terrified of Van Helsing and she strikes out knocking the woman away. Furious, Vanessa grabs Doc and bites her.

The vampire then passes out.

A short while later she regains consciousness. Doc is human again.

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Julius

Meanwhile the vampires from the hospital have returned to their lair. The leader reports to Julius and explains that Van Helsing turned Flesh. Julius says that Dimitri has to know about this latest development.

The final shot of Van Helsing is of Doc. She is cured and the camera focusses on her now human face and beautiful smile.

Van Helsing is moving very slowly towards an explanation of what makes Vanessa  so special.  Her ability to cure vampires terrifies the creatures and Van Helsing’s  other abilities mean her human colleagues are uneasy around her.

Doc being “revived” was the highlight of this episode. Although Sam and Mohamad’s double teaming of John came a close second.  At this point in the series, it is official: John is definitely an a**hole. Granted he did lose his wife but clearly, even before this,  he has never been a pillar of society.

Van Helsing airs Fridays on SyFy.  Tune in to find out if the new Doc can help Vanessa out.

Cast:

Z Nation: Murphy’s Miracle – Short Pants (Recap and Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

Only Murphy would honk his vehicle’s horn at an unmoving car in front of him and his little entourage in the middle of the apocalypse.  Z Nation sees Warren and her team are tracking the elusive Murphy who pauses to work a miracle on a dying “apoca-billy girl.”

The blue wanna be caesar will let nothing get in his way. Murphy is heading to Spokane, aka “The Lilac City,”  where he plans to center his new “blends” empire.

Warren and the rest meet a postman, Postmaster Becker,  who seems to have his own pet Z’s and Kaya continues to look after Simon.

This episode is essentially one long gag about an apocalyptic postal worker who went “postal” on Day one.  Hats off to Craig Engler and Karl Schaefer (and to Michael Cassutt who wrote the episode) for slipping in this sly bit of very black humor. 

(Sidenote: This episode marks the second time this season that the name Mrs. McGillicuddy is used. Obviously an in-joke as the name was made famous on “I Love Lucy.” It was Lucille Ball’s character’s maiden name. It must be a further play on Murphy’s “Lucy” who may still have “some ‘splainin’ to do.)

10K has a moment where he almost figures out that he is now a “blend.”  Back at the postal center, the postmaster explains to the group why he refuses to kill the zombies in the town.

He offers the group help in return for push starting his mail truck. Sun Mei wants access to a two-way radio and learns there is one at the motor pool. Addy is intrigued.

Sun Mei finds the radio and learns that all the rest of her team have died. Addy tries to reach Citizen Z and while he can hear her, she cannot hear his replies.

Simon now has hope and after learning that Kaya and her family are running out of food he relocates them all. Murphy meets his first “ender” and inadvertently kills the man. This happens after he orders 10K to do it with an “empty” gun.

It is interesting that Murphy’s new blends are not like Cassandra (Pisay Pao). Dr. Merch and 10K are reluctant followers of his orders. They lack the mindless obedience of Cassandra and are very articulate.  Both of them also seem to be able to think pretty clearly as well.

Z Nation - Season 3
King Murphy

This may signal a problem behind Murphy’s plan to build an army.  His new blends are not just able to think more clearly but 10K can still be rather derisory of his new “leader.”

“Did he just say throne?”

Becker turns out to be a mass murderer who killed all his customers turning them into Z’s because he hated them all. The zombies that he has protected are trophies, as Sun Mei points out, and not beloved neighbors at all.

She also outwits the madman and the zombies kill “Short Pants” (as Hector calls the postman).  Hector actually told Becker that his neighbors would kill him early in the episode.

As the team leave the postman’s town, Doc gets the line of the episode:

“That postman licked the wrong stamp.”

This episode looks as though it may reunite Citizen Z and the gang.  There was no sign of  The Man although it is certain that he is not far behind the group.

Z Nation “Murphy’s Miracle” continues the slightly more serious vein prominent in this season.  The black humor is still there however.  Hector’s fight with the Z proves that.

Firstly, only Hector (Rivera) could beat a Z to death with a “cancelled” postal stamp. Secondly his line, “Don’t you look at me,” is a direct quote from SlitherIt is what one of the Grant Grant creatures says to Mayor MacReady (Gregg Henry) before he is turned. 

The episode ends with the apace-billies coming to thank Murphy for saving their daughter and the father asks Murphy to bite his wife.  The camera zooms in on the  new world leader’s smug grin.

Z Nation has changed things up somewhat. Murphy’s break away this time may be more successful because of his blends but with both The Man and Roberta Warren on his trail, it will not last long.  Simon seems to have found love with Kaya and her truncated family and Sun Mei may have a hard time producing a vaccine if she is the last surviving member of her team.

Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in and “Z” out.

Cast:

Guest starring  Carl J Johnson as the postman.