‘The Exorcist’ Chapter Ten: Three Rooms – Season Finale (Review)

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The season finale of The Exorcist “Chapter Ten: Three Rooms” was, for all intents and purposes a bloodbath.  While there were not that many final casualties, the claret was spilling with abandon and the violence was almost Shakespearean in nature.

A good sense of irony also pervaded the final battle for the souls of the Rance family and Marcus’ tackling Simon “in the act” with Mother Bernadette’s crucifix was poetic justice almost in the extreme.

The battle between good and evil, or to be more correct, between Captain Howdy and Father Tomas as well as the stand-off between the Friars of Ascension, Marcus and Father Bennett was almost theatre of the Grand Guignol variety.

Although Simon devolved into an old fashioned villain in the end. Not quite of the Snidely Whiplash mustache twirling variety but he was darned close.  The cutting of Bennett’s and Marcus’ wrists felt a tad like a metaphorical version of tying the two men on a railroad track in front of a speeding train.

The big fight was between Father Tomas who finally found that deep down inside, he was much more than his mistress, his own hubris and his specious platitudes. It was always going to be Tomas who saved the Rance family from the decades old revenge plotted by the demon just as it was always going to be Marcus who saved Pope Sebastian.

The implication at the end of the episode is that Tomas will become the new Marcus, trained by him to become him, in essence. A bittersweet ending to the tale with the younger priest realising that in the end, his fate will most likely not be too different from Keane’s own fall from grace.

The Exorcist  managed to end on a slightly anticlimactic note.  With the vast scope of the evil threatening Chicago, the Pope and the Rance family overshadowing the subtlety of the original source material this was never going to be a truly satisfactory ending.

Father Tomas has to save the family and Regan/Angela. Marcus has to save the Pope (an unrecognizable Bruce Davison) just as Bennett will not raise to the occasion and attempt to re-instate Marcus to the priesthood. These things are practically ordained as a countermeasure against the massive scale of the series’ deviation from Blatty’s classic tale.

Granted, it has been done very well. The sudden twist reveal showing that this was about Regan MacNeil all along and never about Casey was a nice touch. However the whole “Pope” side plot was, to be honest, a bit nonsensical.

This plan to humiliate the church was good for some almost epic moments of murder and sacrifice on a huge scale, even though the Friars did not really have the best of all outcomes in mind. (Embarrassing the church via a disgraced priest was never going to be that earth shattering in today’s climate of clergy already embarrassing the institution with sexual deviancy being number one on the hit list.)

Still, the chemistry and impressive talents of Daniels, Herrera, Davis, Ruck, Kasulka and Howey added much to the proceedings. Not to leave out Kirsten Fitzgerald’s “always a bridesmaid” Maria Walters as she brought a lot to the table, including an ironic twist of fate at the end.

Kudos to Lunney as The Salesman.  The man sold it from day one when he appears to Casey.

The Exorcist has not been given a greenlight for a second season as yet. In many ways, another grab at the brass ring would not be the best idea in the world. The move to make this season about much more than just a battle for Angela and her family’s souls have made this a pretty tough act to follow.

Any subsequent seasons would have to up the ante, so to speak.  After already going after the “big guy” aka the Pope, in season one, who can the demons go against next? The biggest guy, aka “God?”  If this is the next target then clearly a third season would be out of the question.

It feels that in season one the show’s creator Jeremy Slater opted to go large or go home. This has left the show in a bit of a quandary.  Any new seasons would have to at least match the first in terms of scope, violence and target. This will be difficult since there is really only one “head” of the church and he was picked on in the first season.

The Exorcist has ended on a high. Although the series never really matched that damned scary sequence in the Rance attic, where a possessed Casey freaked out not just the audience but Father Tomas as well, it did manage to at least disturb on a regular basis.

It will be interesting to see if FOX opt to bring the series back and how Slater will address “topping” the first season.

Cast:

Guest starring Bruce Davison as Pope Sebastian.

‘The Exorcist’ Chapter Nine: 162 – Take Me Instead (Review)

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The Exorcist “162” takes the entire episode to give up what the cryptic number means. Last week’s episode “The Griefbearers” saw Chris MacNeil die at hands of Angela, aka Pazuzu who is now back where he started; in the body of Regan MacNeil.

Episode 8 was a riff on the main film’s set piece where Father Karras invites the demon to enter him. Although in that film, the good father leaps to his death from the window shortly after having the demon enter his body.

In this small screen version of Blatty’s novel, Angela/Regan has no plans to self destruct and release the demon’s hold on her. She relinquishes control to Pazuzu who starts a bloody vendetta in motion.  On top of Marcus’ short list of helpers, the demon exacts revenge on the entire Rance family.

Meanwhile Father Tomas is wooed by the Friars of Ascension who want him to close down his parish church and take over the more impressive St. Bridget’s.  He is told that he must deal with Jessica in order to take over the church.

Angela goes after Sister Bernadette and her nuns while Brother Simon kills the two tour guides who helped Marcus. The Rance family undergo their own form of punishment as Pazuzu treats each person to an upsetting experience.

Kat is fondled while she sleeps, Henry is invited to have sex with Angela who then strangles him and Casey figures out immediately that the demon is controlling her mother.

Show creator Jeremy Slater has left the original source behind with this conspiracy laden tale of demons going after the head of the Catholic church. The Friars, who all hold places of great importance, are orchestrating what they perceive to be a harsh blow to the church. 

Marcus, who tortures Brother Simon to learn what the group are up to, learns that they expect the Pope to die at the hands of a “deviant” priest. Sounds like a pretty accurate description of either Tomas or Marcus.

Simon is saved from the defrocked Marcus who is then tied up and threatened with the ashes of the sacrificed neighbors of the Rance family. Unfortunately, there is no follow up to the death by deviate priest plan. No explanation of what will transpire next seems to exist.

While this could mean that those nefarious and evil friars are “winging it,” there may be much more to the plot and Simon opted not to tell Marcus about the rest of the plan.

There is an interesting interlude where Pazuzu, in the guise of Angela, comes to visit the Friars of Ascension.  All the acolytes are forced to grovel at the demon’s feet except for the Superintendent of Police and the needy Maria Walters.

She is taunted by the demon who tells the societal devil worshipper that her smell, a mixture of desperation and mediocrity, has kept her from ever being chosen.

Geena Davis manages to be cheerfully evil whilst chewing up and spitting out great chunks of scenery one moment and then gleefully underplaying the next.  The last time Davis was this deadly in anything was the 1996 film The Long Kiss Goodbye where she played an assassin with amnesia.

Even without Kat’s bloody nose and the near suffocation of Casey, Davis is terrifying. She is all teeth and deadly looks while her family suffer near death experiences. This makes her character something that could give grownups nightmares.

On a sidenote: While Ben Daniels and Geena Davis spar for an Emmy award, the rest of the cast have been delivering in spades. Hannah Kasulka, Brianne Howey and Alan Ruck have all been beyond convincing as the family caught up in a decades long revenge mission from a pissed off demon.

Tomas does, incidentally, discover the relevance of “162.” At the end of the episode, he confronts Angela/Pazuzu and tells the demon, in essence, to get the hell out of Dodge…

This penultimate episode of The Exorcist has simultaneously cranked up the volume in terms of plot threads while confusing the audience with the rather simplistic “kill the pope” plot. Presumably the real plan will be uncovered next week in the season finale.

The Exorcist airs Fridays on FOX.  Be sure to tune in and catch the season one conclusion.

Cast:

The Exorcist: Father of Lies – Father Bennett (Review)

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In The Exorcist “Father of Lies” sees Casey taken to Mother Bernadette’s and Father Tomas continues to see Jessica. His continued transgression is endangering the exorcism and deep down he must know this. Marcus refuses to give up on Casey and Angela and Chris seem to bury the hatchet.

The Rance house is under siege. There is a huge crowd gathered around the family gate and the police are nowhere to be seen. (Not overly surprising since the police superintendent is with the Friars institution.)

Marcus refuses to give up on Casey even though her condition is deteriorating dramatically. As a result Mother Bernadette is refusing to continue with the exorcism. She even recommends slipping the possessed girl poison.

Tomas has a short chat with Bishop Egan, who wants to know where Marcus is.  Father Bennett has serious misgivings about the near nonexistent security for the Pope’s visit.  He confronts Father Simon, the head of the friar’s group, who treats the whole thing quite lightly.

Father Bennett also wants to know how the Tattersol landscaping company that went bankrupt in 2012 was able to donate $3 million to the church in 2016.  Simon says he will look into.

In the interim, Bennett looks into the company himself.  He breaks into a deserted warehouse that has one empty Tattersol van parked out front.  In the gloomy interior the priest explores the place using his smart phone as a flashlight (torch).

He finds evidence of the ceremony performed by the possessed homeless people who murdered for the body parts. He is attacked by a number of these possessed souls and he kills two of them. The second man, he gives the last rites to and the demon inside curses Bennett.

Back at the Rance household, a reporter does an interview that is cut very short when she veers off the approved Q&A script. Anglea goes through a bit of a melt down and Chris takes on the press outside her daughter’s house.

During one session with Cassie, she bites Father Tomas on the hand. He lies to Jessica about what the wound is and leaves the apartment. He gets into an altercation with a “fan” in the pharmacy where he goes to  have the bite looked at.

When things get violent, the clerk in the shop calls the police. Maria Walters, the woman who supports the demonic friars club comes to his rescue.

Marcus almost gives Cassie the poison but stops. He tells Mother Bernadette that God stopped him. Tomas goes to help Angela and brings the distraught woman to see her daughter.

Cassie recovers from near death and sets up when Angela appears. The demon inside calls her mother “The Sow.”

There is a lot going on here. The Friars of Ascension belong to the devil, or a demon.  Tomas refuses to stop seeing Jessica and it seems pretty clear that she is an obstruction.  Could she be part of the demonic conspiracy?

Even Mother Bernadette seems to be giving up far too easily. She could take lessons from Father Bennett on hanging tough.

Bennett was the real surprise in this episode. From the start the priest has come across as a bit of a prig.  It is his influence that gets Marcus excommunicated from the church. (He also, inexplicably, gives the defrocked priest help in dealing with the teen’s possession after getting him kicked out of the church.)

The priest turns out to be a fighter. Father Bennett does not hesitate to defend himself or to take his attackers out with extreme prejudice. It could be argued that he was aware that his homeless attacker were possessed but that does not matter. Bennett proved, by the very act of entering that warehouse alone, that his cojones were massive and that his faith was absolute.

Marcus points out that  the demon possessing Cassie wants revenge. It was her mother, back when Anglea was Regan, that the thing wanted and when it was thwarted the demon  waited 40 years to get its own back.

We are already aware that Maria is playing for the other team and Henry has been acting rather strange lately. The one person outside the realm of suspect has been Kat.

Cassie’s big sister was initially the first Rance girl to be suspected of being possessed. Angela was convinced of it. Now Kat is acting as a voice of reason, it was Kat who called the emergency services to get her sister out of the house.

Is Kat a part of this? Was she a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from Cassie or was she the first step?

The Exorcist deviates pretty wildly from its source material. However the show does say influenced by Blatty’s novel and not based upon it. In this version we are being told that Cassie is not the be all and end all of this demonic fight.

Once again, it feels like Angela “Regan” Rance’s youngest daughter is a diversion from the demon’s true purpose.

Father Bennett may turn out to be more than beneficial to the cause. Marcus is still the power here while Tomas vacillates between his lover and what really needs to be done.

Show creator Jeremy Slater has managed to create a version of the novel and the film that steps outside its original boundaries.  Regardless of whether you are a fan of the book or not, this is cracking television.  Scary and disturbing on so many levels, this is some scary stuff. 

The Exorcist  airs Fridays on NBC. Tune in, turn the lights on and watch with a friend…

Cast:

‘The Exorcist’ Chapter 6 – The Remix (Review)

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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.

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Nightmare in the underpass

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.

Cast:

Guest starring Sharon Gless as Chris MacNeil 

The Exorcist: Let ‘Em In – Excommunicated (Review)

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The Exorcist continues its “The Omen” type onslaught of Cassie and the city of Chicago, specifically Father Tomas’ parish. “Let ‘Em In” changes the playing field somewhat as Father Marcus is excommunicated and the demons are talking amongst themselves. They know who Marcus is and about the boy Gabriel.

There is some backstory given for Cassie’s sister Kat; the artistic one, the dancer, the beauty of the family.  The love of Kat’s life; Julia, dies in a car accident and Kat herself suffers a knee injury that takes the world of dance away as well. (The man who causes the accident by  standing in front of the car looks an remarkably like Cassie’s special friend.)

*On a sidenote: Julia was the title of Peter Straub’s first novel dealing with supernatural themes. The book’s heroine, named Julia,  was either being haunted or unstable, a sort of “The Turn of the Screw” scenario. It would not be too surprising to see the dead friend show up in later episodes.*

Cassie becomes more affected by the influence of her new friend. She steals a dress, acts inappropriately at the memorial for Julia and she attacks a sexual predator on the subway. Cassie also does something with a curling iron, what the audience is not privy to, but that may have been the TV series’ version of the cross scene in the film and Blatty’s novel.

While nowhere near as shocking (No pun intended.) the inference is that she is doing something bad with the appliance; something it was never intended to be used for.

Later in the episode there is the urinating incident, right after Cassie apparently breaks the neck of the “bad boy” who was groping her on the train.  (Like everything else in the series, this is a “one up” on the book and the film. Regan wets herself in the middle of a dinner party at home. Cassie lets loose on a crowded subway full of people focussed on her every move. Definitely a move up from the original. Although with the dead body behind her it is doubtful whether anyone noticed.)

It is not just the Rance family afflicted by this demon’s homing in on Cassie. The entire city appears to be under siege. The grisly murders on the South Side, where not only hearts were taken but genitalia, eyes, the skin from the palms of the victims’ hands and feet were all removed.

These acts were committed by acolytes in order to summon,  not one, but possibly several demons according to Marcus. A religious zealot immolates (burns to death) outside the building where the religious hierarchy  are sitting a meeting. Even the doubting Thomas who got Marcus fired is impressed by that act.

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Cassie spoiling the mood.

Tomas will not give up on Cassie however.  Although he is clearly over his head here. Marcus proves that when they question Cassie. The demon who possesses her knows all about the priests failure in Mexico.

It is interesting to note that the last time the entity appears, when he kisses Cassie on the subway, his appearance has changed. The demon’s projection is no longer dapper and neat. It is covered with either ash or dirt and its fingernails are caked with blood and gore.

If the thing appears in any more scenes one can imagine that it will be quite horrific looking.

Although this version of The Exorcist has been modified from the 1971 novel and the 1973 movie adaptation of the book,  it is still taking a good bit from that time period, in terms of theme.

Mrs. Rance believes that Kat is the daughter possessed by the devil initially. She says it is because Kat has been acting oddly, which in a way could be seen as true.  It becomes clear, in this episode, that Angela’s definition of “odd” comes down to Kat being in love with another woman.

Clearly in Angela’s mind, lesbianism equates to possession. This is clearly a throwback to the ’70’s and the mindset that being gay was not just sinning as such, it was evil.

The attitude of the Catholic church also echoes that time period, where the entire country was going through a “God is dead” phase and the church veered away from devils and demons. In all three instances, the pope is coming to visit the city while priests perform the exorcism.

By the end of this episode, Cassie has upped the ante and killed someone and Marcus is sent on a treasure hunt of sorts. The defrocked priest has discovered a list of friends on the back of his train tickets. It appears that someone, or something wants Marcus out of the way.

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Father Bennett and Father Tomas.

The Exorcist airs Fridays on FOX. Tune in and catch this gripping tale of possession and demonic activity in the windy city.

Cast: