The Exorcist: “Chapter 6: Star of the Morning”
This show. You guys. This damned show. It can be so good, and so brilliant…and then soooo very stupid.
We open on a brief flashback to the 70’s where a younger Regan and Chris are being interviewed about Chris’ book on the exorcism. Regan absolutely, completely does not want to be there and she’s visibly shaken when the TV host asks how ‘Regan MacNeil, demon girl’ can ever have a normal life?
Sophie Thatcher who plays a young Geena/Regan is, in her minute and a half of screen time, phenomenal. She looks as if she really spent time studying Geena and props to her for that, because it sells the hell out of this scene.
Back in the now, Henry and RegAngela, who I will call Regan from here on out, are arguing while Kat somewhat frostily receives her grandmother. We learn Kat is indeed feeling some guilt about calling the cops, and Chris basically scoured the earth to find Regan, then set up web alerts so she’d know if anything ever happened to her. Aaaw!
Henry has decided Chris gets to stay if she can offer any help in saving Casey and you better believe Regan is piiiiiiiiissssssed.
And also pissed, as in tipsy because girl is on the wine like it’s life blood. I feel you, Regan. I got you girl.
I do like the similarities in Kat and Chris’s personalities, both a little ‘but what about ME?’ but both capable of admitting their failures.
The next day Tomas has the church set up as HQ for the ‘Find Casey’ effort and Keane stops by in the same clothes he’s been wearing for literally, days. He has very little sympathy for Regan’s dishonesty and I have very much sympathy for everyone inhaling what must be his considerable body odour. He explains that if they can’t save Casey soon enough her whole soul will be destroyed and an exorcism won’t matter anymore because she’ll be gone. Regan won’t or can’t remember any of her own experiences, so Keane storms off to start hunting for strange animal behaviour, as it will indicate where Casey may be hiding.
Tomas follows him to try and help but Keane tells him to stay with his church and his family and the woman he loves. Tomas wigs out and it’s endlessly amusing to me how the only person on the planet that has a problem with Tomas’ relationship with Jessica …. is Tomas. Keane tells Tomas he’s not a very good exorcist and excuse me a second while I laugh until I choke to death because that is the truest and most accurate thing in the world but Keane, are you really in a position to say as much?!
Later, at a vigil and press conference for Casey, Tomas has put up Maria Walters hundred thousand dollars as reward for Casey’s safe return but the vigil is interrupted by an African American woman from Englewood who has incredibly valid questions about why nine dead black people didn’t make the news the way one missing white girl did.
Police try to hush her but are called off as the woman righteously demands, ‘Point your damn cameras in this direction!’ and you better believe everyone listens to her. I love this lady, I love her a lot.
She begins to list the names of the dead over flashes of those poor murdered peoples’ harvested organs being used for something awful and nefarious.
Question; Is The Exorcist woke or was this just a tension builder?
At the house, a police Superintendent, Jaffey, reassures Regan that Casey’s exorcism and Keane’s involvement has been kept out of the press…for the good of the diocese.
That pain you just felt was the show beating you about the head because it is TV law that if a police man moves to ‘protect the Diocese’ he’s evil as fuuuuck.
Kat is watching the old interview with Regan, and Chris talks about how she lost her job after Regan’s possession because society, as it is wont to do, went nuts and protested all her films, called her and Regan Satan’s whores. She wrote the book to pay the rent, but she’s not proud of it.
She talks about how it happened to Regan, the oujia board, the imaginary friend. When she says ‘Captain Howdy’ I freely admit I got a little chill. Chris’s heavy workload kept her away from home for long hours, and Regan didn’t listen to Chris’ concerns (concerns which those who saw the film know she never, ever voiced to her daughter). Kat is having none of that victim blaming narrative and defends 12 year old Regan who couldn’t possibly have known what she was dealing with, but Chris agrees, blames herself entirely and says she’ll live with the guilt for the rest of her life.
Regan, outside, overhears all of this.
At the church, Maria Walters is being wide eyed and creepy all over Tomas because that is what Maria Walters is and does. She asks Tomas about the ‘special mass’, clarifies it was an exorcism and that Casey is possessed.
Tomas is as beautiful as he is stupid and boy is he beautiful, because he does not ask her how in crikey fuck she knows that when the public aren’t meant to know the true nature of Casey’s condition. She invites him to an event hosted by ‘Friars of The Ascension’ as part of the Papal planning committee but Tomas declines the invite.
Keane and Bennett (yay!) are with the tour guide demonologists who have discovered Tattersall is a) a defunct dead company and b) headed up my Maria Walters and c) abducts the homeless off the streets and d) is donating billions of dollars to the Friars who Maria mentioned and wait.
What? How? And no one knows what the company even does? What?
Bennett is concerned they won’t find Casey in such a big city, but Keane sees your doubts, Bennett. Keane don’t care.
At the Casey hotline, Regan answers a call and The Salesman’s voice calls her by her real name and purrs that she wanted him inside her, just like Casey did.
Okay, wow. That is the kind of disturbing creepy tone the show should aim for all the time. My skin crawled. This show has tried hard to draw parallels between possession and sexual assault, and this is the first episode when it finds its feet in that respect. The Salesman tells her to see Casey she should just turn around and when she does, she sees Casey as a rotting, maggot coated corpse and she shrieks. She wakes from her nightmare and no one around her even notices her distress.
That was a good scene, I have to give them that.
Jessica stops by to see Tomas and offers him a key to her new apartment for when ever he might want to come over for some shame free, guilt free, super hot sexy times.
He tells her he won’t be coming over and because Jessica is just too sweet, she just smiles and takes some posters of Casey to hang up at her work.
Later, Tomas does go over, presumably they bang. That’s the sum of his adventures this week, to be honest.
Regan talks with a still upset Henry who breaks every last shard of my heart by telling her that after his injury his wife and girls were the only constant he had left. She assures him everything they had was real but that’s not really why he’s upset. He’s upset she didn’t trust him enough to be honest. Not even when Casey got sick.
And to be fair to him, Regan is sort of like that grandma from Insidious who lets her grandson lay in a months long coma, and her family bounce between two different houses before deciding to admit she’s had a solution this entire damn time.
At the Friars’ event…here is where shit gets ridiculous; Bennett is here and Tomas was invited but these Evil 1 Percenters are the least fucking subtle people on the planet, so their plan here is an utter mystery.
Bennett, who is wearing a well cut suit like he’s doing it a favour (like, hot damn) is glaring at a Professor Rexroth who is hosting a lecture on how Lucifer and the Renegade Angels who stood up to God are the reason humanity has free will and were almost … freed from Eden to build the society we have today.
Is his next lecture going to be about how Satan, who is the only one punishing the sinners, is misunderstood?
Is he a 12 year old Goth? I ask this as a 30 year old goth who was a 12 year old goth. I had this argument with my Chaplain before all my adult teeth came in, and not because I’m particularly precocious either, but because it’s Anti Establishment 101, its on the first page of ‘How To Rebel For Dummies’.
And, he is doing this in just plain sight of Bennett ? Even though it seems fairly obvious the man Bennett translates for is in on the evil, Bennett is not. Yet, this is all played out right in front of him? What was the plan here, seriously?
At the house, Regan returns home to hear Chris spewing more platitudes but it’s not to Kat this time; it’s a reporter. Regan throws him out as Chris tries to protest they need to keep Casey in the press.
Casey, who is front page news and just had a televised vigil in her name. No, okay Chris, sure.
Prepare yourself for some Geena Davis brilliance because holy shit does she bring it;
Regan tells Chris she won’t let Chris make what happened to Casey about Chris, like she did to Regan. She unloads decades of emotion as she demands answers from Chris on how she could dare to use and exploit Regan, what happened to her, what happened to her body.
There’s those rape parallels again and it says a lot for how well this works when they let Geena Davis handle it, unlike that awful mess from a few weeks back.
Chris deftly manages to make it about herself (oh she is definitely Kat’s kin) by talking up her drug and alcohol abuse after Regan left her, and Regan lets slip she knew where her mother was, always. Just like Chris knew where Regan was. They gaze at each other, so much unspoken, so much unsaid.
Aaaaw. Their legitimately sweet moment is ruined when the phone rings. It’s the coroner. They think they found Casey.
Oh fuck me that whole scene was just outstanding . We do not deserve a second of Geena Davis, we are not good enough.
At the Friar’s house, Bennett confronts Professor Demon Apologist over his exalting of the angels that Bennett prefers be called what they are; demons.
Rexroth is a smug prick who argues the semantics of the word ‘demon’ because he really is a jumped up sixteen year old who wants to stick it to his religious parents, but isn’t sure enough of his convictions to just be an atheist.
Bennett leaves with his archbishop while Jaffey and Walters watch on. Oh, also, safely assume that when ever I mention Walters, she’s being creepy and intense.
Again, what was the plan here? They know Bennett is not onside, they clearly know far too much about Keane and Tomas; so what was that reaction? Disappointment? Concern that he’s on to you? In that case, maybe have a quiet word with the singing Professor about not proselytising about fucking demons in full view of a dude who works at the Vatican. These people are dumb.
Also show, if Bennett dies? I riot.
At the coroner’s, Henry and Regan view the body but to the family’s relief, it is not Casey. Regan races to her mother for a hug and to be held and to sob that Casey is still aliv and if you will excuse me, I am having a moment and calling my mum.
Keane has followed a tip about odd animal behaviour and finds himself in a tunnel jam packed with possessed men and women. His presence is noticed and he’s viciously attacked and is clearly terrified for his life and just when I think this show might have the balls to have Keane beaten to death in some horrific damp tunnel, he invokes God and the attackers call back.
Casuzu springs from her hiding place and scurries off in, as yet, the very worst homage to the film; the spider walk. The one from the film was cut out for being too terrifying for cinema.
This TV show? Didn’t get that message. Casuzu scuttles off like some scrabbling kids toy. Fuck’s sake. The switch between amazing and garbage gives me whiplash, y’all.
At the Friars’ event Walters, Jaffey and the other More Evil Than Normal 1 Percenters are awaiting their guest who turns out to be none other than Father Satan (Brother Simon in the show, Francis Guinan in real life) the possessed priest who plagued Tomas with questions about God.
He’s disappointed Tomas isn’t there but he’s the cheery kind of evil who takes it in his stride, and chuckles his way into the meat of their gathering;
The gathered talk of their ‘true father’ (The Devil) and begin to pray and chant and the ashes of some poor Englewood residents’ organs are opened up to flow into the air and form the creepy demonic shape Keane saw all those weeks ago. The acolytes begin to beg it to enter them and take them and Maria in particular is hissing that it’s her turn! But, the demon enters Jaffey. Walters cries while he celebrates and the rest of the room descends into an orgy but, I ask again, why did they want Tomas there?
Considering the clearly…voluntary nature of what happens with these people, what where they hoping would happen? That Tomas, who has spent two weeks seeking permission for and then performing an exorcism, who donated the hundred thousand Walters gave him to the effort to bring Casey home safe, did they think he would suddenly be Team Satan? That because he has a few lingering doubts about his faith, which boil down to his being horny, he’d jump on the satanic bandwagon without hesitation? Is this why he was randomly at that first meeting in the hotel, when by all accounts he’s a small time Parish priest with no real place at the table full of Bishops and Deacons planning a papal visit?
Why? Seriously why? Casuzu called for ‘her’ to be brought to him, clearly Regan. So what the fuck do they want Tomas for?
What even ever, I kind of liked the next scene;
Keane has followed Casuzu to the shores of the lake and she attacks at once ,and they grapple in the shallow waters. Casuzu is feral and strong, but despite us witnessing demonic strength and telekinetic powers before, Keane easily overwhelms her and dunks her under the water. He begins to bless the very water around them which finally shows Keane to be as smart and resourceful as the show wants us to believe, though it’s hard not to think that they ripped off the gimmick from Dogma.
There’s an underwater pulse of some kind which does look very cool, and Casey fells abruptly still. Keane lifts her motionless body out of the water and just when I thought the show had the balls to have had him accidentally drown her, she wakes and gasps in terror ‘He’s coming back!’
So, in so many ways, an improvement. The show stopped beating us about the head with the ugly and less than subtle rape parallels, and made the smart move of handing all of that stuff to Geena Davis to deal with. And, she was amazing and it made so much of it work.
I warmed to Kat considerably seeing her challenge Chris in so many ways, but also just seeing the similarities in the women’s personalities and I loved the choice to have the pair spend so much time together. Well acted and well written scenes that I actually enjoyed watching immensely. I feel like Kat will understand so very much more about her mother now, and might finally start to back down from her position of ‘Mom is wrong, always’. It was also wonderful to see Regan overhear Kat defend her so vehemently. Regan needs something, damn it.
But the Friars’ thing, this cabal of evil who are working to…I want to say they’ll try and have the Devil possess the Pope or something? Or have the Pope killed and try to install Father Satan? Did this show suddenly think it’s The Omen? Because that’s what this whole ‘rich folk working for Satan’ shtick comes from. We always knew there was the larger demonic conspiracy but seeing it fleshed out like this it feels…a little hackneyed. And Professor Rexroth and his juvenile little lectures made me cringe.
All told, they did a decent job of following on from my favourite TV twist of the year (sorry Sam Esmail), but the show still has these weird logical issues and inconsistencies. It’s not that a lot of the plot doesn’t make sense, it’s the characters’ behaviour. Letting Rexroth hold his clearly satanic little court in full view of Bennett is so fucking stupid. Is it meant to their arrogance? It didn’t feel that way, less so when Rexroth’s position is one shared by angst ridden rebellious teenagers the world over.
I’ll stick with it, though my patience runs thin. Promos for next week appear to place my beloved Bennett in very real mortal danger, and show, I am deadly serious.
If he dies, I riot. Your move.