Watching The Exorcist with its winks to the source material and some genuinely frightening moments on offer has been entertaining. Lovers of horror films and the odd television program that thrills and chills cannot help but tune into this series on a Friday.
There is one problem with FOX’s The Exorcist though. It is pulling in imagery and plot devices from a slew of other films and/or books about possession and devil worship and demons that go bump in the night.
References also abound about the “False Church” and there are even moments that reek of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby. Thus far, if one pays attention, the show also references The Omen (remade quite adeptly in 2006 with Liev Schreiber undertaking the Gregory Peck role) and a plethora of other films that have nothing to do with possession.
Jeremy Slater, the series creator has decided to throw a mixture of mythology, superstition and urban folklore into the pot and see what comes out at the end.
This is not a complaint, what Slater has used to this point is frightening, disturbing and downright unsettling. Through all the demon/devil mashup the base storyline of The Exorcist has been maintained. The reveal in the last episode that Angela Rance is Regan MacNeil was a good move.
It took away from the whole demon’s taking over the city and possibly the world. But only for a moment.
Slater, through the auspices of a possessed teen whose mother was that Regan, is going past one child’s danger and telling us that the whole world is suspect. The devil is everywhere, in the bodies of the homeless, the church and in our own family.
We learn in this episode that our suspicions about robust church supporter Maria Walters were spot on. She is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Friars of Ascension Charity, who are, apparently demon worshippers who welcome being possessed.
This is not an organization full of brotherly love. These members do not care one iota for their fellow man or woman. Take, for example, the reaction of Maria when the police chief is possessed. The look on her face was not a congratulatory one. There was hate in those eyes and anger at not being chosen.
The papal visit is another disturbing aspect of the show. Not the actual event, rather the build up to it. Even the poster; showing the back of the pope, facing away from the viewer with the tagline, “He Is Coming,” is disturbing.
It does not suggest a ecclesiastical image at all. The image of the pope turning his back on his “flock” so to speak is disturbing. All the more so because is also has a negative connotation in other ways. In Satanism, for example, prayers are said backwards.
Since we now know that the Friars of Ascension are not rosary carrying members of the church, is their poster a subtle declaration of their true purpose? Slater is telling us with this series that it is not God’s emissary coming to town, it is his opposite number.
It also tell us that Cassie is just one chess piece on the board. She may well be the most important one, but in the scheme of things, Cassie is just another cog in this demonic machine.
Just as her mother was years before.
Slater’s The Exorcist is saying that this version of the story is a remix. The dance track, if you will. A longer more involved attempt at the devil trying to take over.
Marcus, with his expulsion from the church is still attacking this as a singular case of possession. Although after that hellish scene in the underpass where the homeless and mentally deranged were all affected by the demon, he may change his mind.
(On a sidenote: The mass of misery filled outcasts of humanity with their ramblings and pain were more terrifying than Cassie’s crab/spider walk at the end of the scene.)
“Star of the Morning” also made another very valid point. In the scene where Cassie’s family address the press about her disappearance and the police superintendent says, essentially, that they will leave no stone unturned, a woman speaks out from the back of the crowd.
She remonstrates the police and the press for ignoring all the victims who were murdered for their sacrificial body parts. She reads off each dead person’s name as other families hold up placards with pictures of the deceased on them.
This is a clear reflection of society today. A focus on self and a determination to be noticed regardless of what is going on. More often than not, in this age of the eternal selfie, it is about the individual.
“Sure you have a problem. But what about me?” This is the cry of a self absorbed society. Granted the woman in the episode has a valid point (And of course the scene is part of a salient plot thread.) but it mirrors today’s narcissistic problem.
It also points out the gulf between classes and the haves and have nots.
This moment in the show merely points out how easy it has been for the dark side, aka the Devil and his minion, to force their way to the fore. It is easy to walk right in when even the most devout are too caught up in themselves.
Even Father Tomas is not a spotless pillar of the church. He cannot stop seeing Jessica and this human frailty left him vulnerable. Marcus is still a servant of the cloth but without the power of the church, he too is vulnerable but in a different way.
Take too, Cassie’s family. Even before the reveal that Angela is Regan and the introduction of her real mother Chris, the family unit was fractured. This too made it easy for the demon to target Regan’s daughter.
Slater’s vision of the Blatty novel and the 1973 film tells us that this will get a lot worse before things get better. If they do at all.
The Exorcist airs Fridays on FOX. Tune in and watch this expansion of the original tale.
- Alfonso Herrera – Father Tomas Ortega
- Ben Daniels – Father Marcus Keane
- Hannah Kasulka – Casey Rance
- Geena Davis – Angela Rance
- Brianne Howey – Kat Rance
- Alan Ruck – Henry Rance
- Kurt Egyiawan – Father Bennett
- Deanna Dunagan – Mother Bernadette
- Muzak Makkar – Jessica
- Kirsten Fitzgerald – Maria Walters
- Robert Emmet Lunney – Salesman
Guest starring Sharon Gless as Chris MacNeil