The Exorcist: “Chapter 5: Through My Most Grievous Fault”
Well, I will be DAMNED.
I need to stop shaking.
I need to collect my thoughts.
So, last week was a great, big, boring heap of filler which was rendered so insultingly useless in Week 4 that I still don’t know why they bothered.
This week jumps straight in with the exorcism two days deep ,and Tomas and Keane both fatigued and close to burnout. The show finally appears to have figured out what makes exorcism so scary: not the raw bones of the act itself, but what we can imagine happening in the things we don’t see. These two seemed so empowered just last week, but now they’re already beaten and worn out. That’s more effective than anything.
Equally exhausted, Keane sketches landscapes on the Book of Revelation in his Bible; sketches of Charnwood Forest, a particularly beautiful ancient forest in the UK, which I actually make a habit of visiting. Keane (actor Ben Daniels is from Nuneaton, near where I reside) was taken to the forest as a child by his mother, which he claims is about all she was good for. He reassures Tomas that the younger priest has a knack for the work and encourages him to keep at it. Overhead, a violent storm gathers.
Inside, Kat is tuning out the grimness as best she can, listening to music, watching dance videos, going through some of Julia’s old things.
Angela sleeps on the couch and Henry is with Casey, mopping her fevered brow. She doesn’t respond, so he moves to leave, but she wakes and as Casey calls him back. She grabs him and forcibly whispers something in his ear, but we don’t hear what. There’s a creepy, slimy tongue that makes it more like it plants something in his head rather than tells him something.
Angela wakes up with Henry watching her from the stairs, his face a mask of so many emotions. We don’t deserve Alan Ruck. Henry looks pensive; angry; a little afraid.
I thought he was possessed; I’ll say right now. I thought the demon had skipped to him and this whole episode would quietly build to that revelation.
Keane and Tomas are working on Casuzu (like Casey and Pazuzu? Don’t give me that look, it’s hilarious and I’m doing it).
I have to brace myself for this because every scene of the exorcism was just so bad. Like, I feel embarrassed for everyone involved.
Casuzu speaks in a “demonic” voice and it honestly sounds like they ran a text-to-speech program through one of those sound distortion apps that 13-year-olds use to ruin YouTube every few months.
Casuzu makes feeble threats at the boys in this sad-ass Mr. Movie Demon voice and, despite the amazing silliness of it all, Tomas is thrown off and losing focus.
Keane notices and uses the chain to yank Casey to the ground, where he grabs her and tries some of Mother Bernadette’s Gentle Bella Donna Style Exorcism-Fu, but Casuzu ignores him and starts back at Tomas.
Aaand that’s as much as we’ll see of Keane trying that. I am, you guys, so pleased we spent an episode watching him learn that new technique and grow emotionally. For that half an hour back there at the Abbey.
Casuzu sits back and her big toe turns around, the bones shattering and breaking.
Downstairs, Angela is finding comfort in old photos and keepsakes and a still pensive Henry approaches and asks about an old napkin she has found.
She joyfully tells him it’s his old number, the first one he gave her when they first met. She can remember the bar, the date — even a specific storm that blew through at the time, back in ’91.
Henry asks if she believes in God and that a higher power will judge their actions, and Angela is appropriately weirded out and points out none of them have eaten and blood sugar sure does make people intensely weird all of a sudden, Henry. He asks her directly if she’s ever lied to him and Angela quietly freaks out and gets up to leave. He asks again and she takes amazing offense, so he asks a third time and, still, she denies it.
How New Testament of them.
Angela tells him what she needs is cooperation and ask what he wants. She asks if he thinks Angela had something to do with what happened to Casey and Henry just stares at her. She storms out.
When … when did she suspect he knew?
Upstairs Tomas is bandaging Casey’s toe, which … how is it still on?
In Spanish, in his grandmother’s voice, Casuzu tells Tomas she never wanted this life for him. Tomas, who, I can’t stress enough, has once spoken of his grandmother, has a bit of a fit and crosses Casuzu with holy water before fleeing the room in terror.
… mmkay. I get it; it’s just the writers haven’t done any of the legwork to make this as impactful as it wants to be.
Keane chases after and tries to calm Tomas, but Tomas is wigging about feeling the demon trying to get to them. They’re drawn back to the room by a scream and, in the room, Casuzu is … fucking hilariously, she’s being flung around the room and bouncing off the walls, singing “this little piggy” and I honestly, I just laughed myself dizzy. Not at the poor girl being thrown at walls, but at how goofy and silly the whole thing is and looks. It’s just madcap shenanigans when it should be terrifying.
I feel like I’m watching some straight-to-VHS 80’s horror schlock right now.
Henry is praying in his room and hears a dripping sound and it’s neat what this leads him to find, because dripping sounds are a symptom of possession. He follows it into a closet and sees rainwater dripping onto a box, which he drags away to try and rescue.
He drops the box and spills the contents, among which he finds an old, hand-softened leather Bible, and he flicks through the pages. He smiles at some pressed flowers, a red feather caught between the pages; then he turns to the front page. We don’t see what he sees, but his expression darkens.
In her room, Casuzu is being cradled gently by a praying Keane. In her mind though, she lays bound to the bed while an incubus-like Salesman sits crouched on her chest, his ragged toenails brushing her throat while she begs and weeps. He’s encouraging her to give him what he wants or else she’ll never see sunlight or leave this room again.
Casey begs him to leave and he tells her she knows what to do. He demands, “Bring her to me!”
A burnt cross appears on her forehead and, in the room, Keane is drawing the cross on Casuzu’s forehead with his thumb.
Downstairs, Kat, thinking she’s being a good sister, is begging Angela to take Casey back to the hospital. She’s so worked up about it that she’s spent a good half-hour tying a complex braid into her hair!
Kat wants to do the right thing and Keane walks in just in time to ask her what exactly she thinks the right thing is. He promises Kat that, whatever happens, he’s not there to hurt Casey.
Tomas is washing his face and begins to hear Jessica call to him. He returns to Casuzu’s room and sees Jessica wearing Casey’s nightdress.
She’s coming on to him hard and heavy and it’s such an eye-rolling cliché, but whatever. Tomas begins to pray, but he’s clearly tempted. He calls her unclean and Jessuzu wipes her hand under her own shirt and then rubs her sweaty-ass fingers on his face, purring that he always loved her smell.
No, eww, that’s fucking nasty; come on. Damn it.
Tomas falls to his knees, out of frame, and leans into Casuzu and …
… what is he doing, exactly? Nuzzling her abdomen? What is the 34-year-old priest doing to the teenager?
Casuzu turns back into Casuzu, Tomas still kneeling before her and moaning and just what in the fucking hell is happening?
Keane busts in and hauls Tomas out and Casuzu, I swear to fuck, makes an oral sex joke, before Keane socks Casuzu in the face like he’s Nic Cage in Wicker Man or something.
Outside Tomas is freaking and Keane tears him a new one about how, now, he’s compromised. Just because he fell for it or did it become physical in that room?
Tomas says he made a mistake and begs for a second chance, pointing out that Keane made mistakes, but Kat choses then to duck into Casey’s room, and Casuzu convincingly whimpers and begs for help as Casey. Keane throws the older girl out and slams the door.
Tomas … oh, my God, we’ve gone from a crappy 80s horror film and now we’re in a 90s music video because here is Sad Tomas, walking sadly through the rain, trudging along all up in his feelings. Someone out there needs to loop this shot of him walking with some Bon Jovi or some Bryan Adams.
Is this scene fanfiction? This scene is fanfiction, guys.
He has gone to Jessica’s house (a few weeks ago, she complained it took her three hours to drive over to him and be dumped, but this scene makes it look like he walked to her place) and, over a series of cuts and edits, she and he fall into her bed and finally consummate their decade-long burning passion.
Is that his first time?
While Tomas takes the “go hard or go home” approach to his newfound corruption, Keane is trying to fight the good fight, except that he’s fucking terrible at it.
Seriously, why did he see Mother B last week? It wasn’t to learn there’s a widespread demonic problem; he knew all of that. She taught him her clearly powerful and effective method that he lazily tried once and hasn’t tried since. What was the point of any of last week?
Now he’s back to compelling and coercing the demon after he and Mother B had that lovely talk, and Casuzu makes the same demand of him it did Casey: “Bring her to me!”
He promises Casuzu that God’s love will save her and she asks what he knows of love, making his mother appear in the corner of the room.
I actually liked this next part, setting aside the cliché approach the demon took: a ghostly form of Keane’s mother appears and calmly tells him how wonderful his parents’ lives were before he was born, and how Keane made his father go mad and kill her. She approaches him, her head all mashed up from the hammer blows that killed her, leans in close, and tells Keane she should have flushed him while she had the chance. Behind him, Casuzu demands he kill “the bitch,” Casey, like he killed his useless mother.
Whereas that would have probably seen Tomas turn entirely into jelly, Keane is made of hardier stuff and, with a wicked smirk, he asks, “Is that all you’ve got?!”
Casuzu starts to levitate and Keane prays intensely and demands the demon leave the girl. She screams.
Downstairs Angela is horrified to see Kat greeting the police, whom she has called. I mean, as someone who thinks her sister is medically ill, Kat is being an amazing, protective big sister right now. But, since we know Casey is possessed: damn it, Kat!
Keane is kneeling beside the girl and, if she’s still Casuzu, she won’t be for long, as he reaches for her hand.
But, like The Salesman last week, before they can touch and apparently finish whatever is happening, the door is kicked in by the police. Casuzu whispers to him, “Ipse venit!” and, over Angela’s shrieks of protest, the cops haul Keane out of the room and into cuffs.
Casuzu is loaded into an ambulance, looking on at Kat and smiling as her big sister watches.
Kat stares at her and you know what? She doesn’t look relieved.
What are the chances Kat is in on something? She saw The Salesman the night she crashed, but we didn’t see anything after that. What if Kat’s working to keep Casey sick?
While Casuzu is driven away, a cop gently assures the family they are here to help and support them, but they need to know what was happening. I mean, where were you when Casey was hospitalized after she eviscerated the guy who tried to rape her?
The ambulance, we see, has crashed and, from inside, we hear shrieks as the ambulance is crushed inwards by an unseen force, like a giant hand squeezing a soda can.
The doors burst open and an animalistic Casuzu bursts out, leaving a fucking slaughterhouse behind her, scrabbling and bounding off into the fog and into the night.
We see Keane in jail, watching the news. It’s been two days since Casuzu vanished, the ambulance crash and what people think is her abduction having made the news. Keane is working over her final words to him. He figures out that it basically roughly means “He is coming” and, as Bennett arrives to pay Keane’s bail and return his ambulance, Keane demands they warn the Pope.
Angela wakes from a nightmare, and a pensive Henry is watching her sleep. He asks again if she needs to tell him something and she softens a little, saying that she’s been selfish and closed-off lately. He presents her with the Bible he found and she freezes.
Later, Tomas is at St. Anthony’s and I honestly don’t know if he’s still a priest or not, but he’s fiercely praying for strength and forgiveness.
Angela is there, hair covered with a scarf in a fairly old-fashioned way that will look really familiar in just a second, and they sit together and talk about Casey and their desire to bring her home. Tomas, people can’t just disappear. Angela astutely points out that Casey was already disappearing before she became ill, what with Kat’s accident and Henry’s illness.
Illness? He fell from scaffolding, didn’t he? Hm.
Angela recalls Tomas’ story of how he came a priest and begins to talk. This whole scene is just so, so well done: wonderfully acted, beautifully lit, infused with atmosphere, building shots of a cab traveling through the rainy Chicago night.
Angela’s parents split when she was small and her dad was basically gone all the time. She lived with her mother and, because of her mother’s work, they moved a lot. Most of Angela’s friends were adults, her mother’s friends.
Then, they moved to DC.
Yeah, did you feel that little thrill? I got it, too.
Angela explains that she had … well, they called it a nervous breakdown. She had an imaginary friend, a little red bird who could do anything and could make her do anything. At first, he made her feel special. She hesitates and admits she can’t remember most of it, because of something called post-traumatic amnesia.
After she got better, she wanted to move on with her life, but her mother was always looking for ways to make money off what happened to her, claiming it was the path God had given them.
We cut to the taxi driving through the city; a dark figure inside can be seen wearing a compact fedora hat, like the one Merrin used to wear.
The cab arrives at the house and a Merrin-like figure stands silhouetted in the street light. The scenes only flaw is that Tubular Bells did not quietly underscore everything.
Angela tells Tomas she ran away from home. She changed her name, never told her mother where she was; where she was going. She would always take the name “Angela” — Angel. As if it would protect her.
She hoped she could have a new life, but it didn’t matter. “It” wasn’t done with her.
Her old Bible sits open on the table as Henry goes to answer the door. The inscription reads “To Rags, Love, Mama, 1974.” Rags? Rags? (For your reference, at this point I was standing up in my chair, screaming.)
Angela looks at Tomas.
Henry opens the door to the visitor.
Angela tells Tomas, “My name … is Regan MacNeil.”
Henry opens the door to none other than Chris motherfucking MacNeil, who demands to see her daughter.
I shrieked. I literally shrieked, I scared my cats and my boyfriend and I couldn’t breathe right for ten minutes. I did not see that coming at ALL! Well played. Well fucking played.
I’m back on board. Regan MacNeil is part of my make-up as a person. I need to know where this goes.
And, now, so much stuff makes so much sense: about Angela, about her readiness to accept demonic possession over … literally any other rational explanation.
This moment from the pilot?
Suddenly takes on about seven hundred thousand new layers. Angela wasn’t just mad at being spoken down to. Angela knew.
And the scarf Angela was wearing when Tomas sees her at the church?
This is Chris MacNeil the first time she meets Father Damien Karras.
I know they’re not the same scarf, though I wish they were, but what a beautiful, subtle little reference in the seconds before such a spectacular twist ending.
That said, the show still has some issues. The exorcism scenes were uncomfortably bad, and I can’t accept the excuse that a TV show may be limited in what it can portray. This show has been plenty violent and gory when it wanted to be. One can only assume this was just a low-level “starter” exorcism and the big event is still to come, but that’s not much better when you think about it. Whether they’re saving up for something or half-arsed it or lost their nerve, it sucked.
And the show has a pretty significant amount of unaddressed plot threads: why Tomas had psychic dreams of Keane, how Henry psychically told Tomas how to find Keane, and why Keane was so convinced demons brought him and Tomas together. It now seems Keane was right in his assumption, but how did he know and what does it all mean?
Geena Davis as Regan MacNeil is the biggest case of Things I Never Knew I Needed in My Life of all time …don’t waste this, show. Don’t you dare.