The Exorcist, ‘Safe as Houses’


Tomas and Marcus tried to save poor possessed Cindy but, unfortunately for Cindy, they’re still Tomas and Marcus. So it didn’t go well. We were also introduced to Andrew The-Almost-Certainly-Possessed foster dad to a gaggle of adorable kids including Red Herring Caleb, and Probably-Also-Red-Herring Verity/Vee, and Probably-Not-Real Grace, a spooky little girl who lives in Andrew’s attic, or possibly just his mind.

But none of that matters anymore, because we’re in the Vatican with Father Sexy, Sexy Bennett at The Vatican — Office Of Exorcism … they … they don’t call it that.

Healed and recovered after his near death encounters with the Evil Cabal of Evil he’s researching furiously to try and build evidence against the group, including Maria Walters. Bennett’s only ally is an aging Cardinal Caro, who is entirely onside, but dubious about their standing with everyone else.

He is going before a court of appeal to argue about the Conspiracy to Possess ( … ? …) the Pope set in place by The Evil Cabal of Evil ,and the cards are stacked against him; not least of all the amazingly distracting soundtrack.

Bennett explains his fear that several integrated demons have infiltrated the Vatican, including the Cardinal Bennett worked under in Chicago, and who literally tried to murder him. Funny enough, here comes the Cardinal now and before an either already evil Court, or just a room full of Doubting Thomas’s (read your own Scripture, guys, there are guidelines for this!) he produces his own Holy Water from a lock box his assistant provides, smugly offers to let Bennett bless it, but then does it himself and drinks it down.

Remember from Season 1, this is meant to be an easy way to test for possession, but since little Casey Rance could fake passing it, it’s no surprise the Cardinal doesn’t even burp. I mean, never mind the highly suspicious set up of carrying a lock box of Holy Water into the Vatican, a site historically known for having loads and loads of Holy Everything.The Cardinal leaves — leaving his fancy ass lock box and drinking set up — and the remaining Cardinals blame Marcus for the entire thing, and demand Bennett reveal his location.

I love Bennett’s body language in this whole scene. Egyiawan is quietly the show’s best actor (well, now that Geena Davis has left), and he sells the hell out of Bennett’s barely restrained tension, conveying real fear, anger and contained violence to excellent effect.

Credits! I still think these credits don’t take the show anything like as seriously as the show takes itself.

Back with Tweedledee and Tweedledum a bruised-up Marcus wakes slowly, and seems confused. He and Tomas are tied to a post in the barn since last week, guarded by friends of the Sheriff who took his wife, Cindy to the hospital. For, you know, her organ failure.

Marcus begs for them to be taken to Cindy and threatens everyone will die otherwise, but they’re dismissed. Marcus, because of COURSE he does, decides this is when to have fight with Tomas over Tomas’ trying to fight the demon Inception style.

Oooh my god dude, this is not the time. Even Tomas rolls his eyes like ‘Really dude? Now?’

On Nachburn Island, Andrew is fixing the old well that Caleb almost fell through … with more quite flexible and rot-prone looking wood, when Rose approaches to be concerned, but also mostly to wonder how Caleb — who appears by all accounts blind — found his way to this well cover.

Good eyes, Rose, especially when only the audience really saw how the other kids have to guide Caleb around.

This is curious because it ties into something Caleb later claims. Was Rose wondering because of her spooky encounter with Caleb, who appeared to look directly at her despite his vision impairment, or is she working an angle? Is Rose bringing the demon into the home?

Back at the house, Truck, Verity and Shelby are home and an older local couple drop off some organic fruits and veggies. While Vee seems a little wary of them, Shelby is delighted to be invited to see their pregnant ewe give birth to a lamb.

Ooooh show, with the symbolism.

Sheriff Cindy’s Husband has come by to ask what is wrong with Cindy, who continues to be dying at the hospital. The Sheriff is, as he was last week, actually fairly reasonable and swears he’ll let them leave unscathed if they just tell him what he assumes they gave Cindy. Marcus … well, he Marcuses, and gets hit for his troubles.

Then, Tomas breaks out his psychic vision skills and tells the Sheriff things he can’t possibly know about Cindy’s life unless he’d spent several hours, or hell, even days alone with Cindy. But, you know …

Sheriff seems like he’s on the fence, even as he promises them that if Cindy dies, so do they.

On the island, Rose and Andrew are talking to Caleb. He’s giving his normal level of sass, and he and Andrew are taking the position ‘He didn’t get hurt, so what’s the big deal’? Andrew … missteps, in my mind, by giving Caleb an out for Rose’s speculative questions about Caleb maybe wanting to hurt himself. Andrew mentions Caleb’s (possibly) neglectful father and Caleb shuts down.

At the hospital Sheriff Husband is tending to Cindy, who is in a terrible state and yet not on nearly enough life support machines for a woman in frikkin’ organ failure. He takes her hand and speaks to her, and she’s hit by what would look to doctors like a seizure, but the audience knows is a demonic attack. The lights flash and Cindy looks exactly as possessed as she is.

In the barn, the boys are, you guessed it, arguing about nothing, or specifically, Tomas new Inception style exorcist powers.

What is interesting, and I forgot to mention last week, is what Tomas has been doing is not dissimilar to how Father Karras saved Regan, and doomed himself. If that was some latent ability some priests may have, it also might start to explain Maria Walters’ obsession with Tomas in Season 1, which was never fully explored. My theory isn’t completely developed yet, but we’ll see where it goes.

Marcus is just bitching, and for all he thinks Tomas’ is being corrupted, it’s pretty clear the demon has gotten to him way more than it has Tomas. Tomas finally points out how his dreams are sort of prophetic, but Marcus tells a tragic story from his past about a friend who died doing what Tomas is trying. Tomas just quietly says Marcus hates that God chose Tomas, and not Marcus. Guys, this is so dull. Marcus sighs like this is SO far from being his point that he’s almost amazed. No matter, because outside their guards just got a call, and stare ominously at the pair.

On the island (what, no throwback to Bennett, yet?!) Rose is telling Andrew she really should file a report with Child Services about the incident with Caleb. Andrew basically asks her not to, but, you know, she is legally frigging required to do this and says as much. She argues with heart, and I do also respect her one cold comment about the legal hellfire they’ll fall into if she stays quiet, and something does happen. I like that they even mentioned that, it’s brutally honest but it’s right.

Andrew tries to talk her down, but she’s afraid Caleb is self-harming. She says he could end up institutionalised, and it’s clear to me she means in the long term, if action is not taken now. Andrew is thinking short term though, and panics about what will happen to Caleb in a mental health ward. Rose has to … as gently as one can, point out that Andrew doesn’t have good judgement about depression and self-harm, and we get the first hint his former wife took her own life. He storms out, and finds Grace listening, having heard everything. He apologises and she runs off, seen (again) by no one but Andrew.

Marcus and Tomas arrive at a largely abandoned hospital that has been trashed by some kind of mass evacuation of … a whole hospital, and there’s no one else there, no cops, press, nothing? Okay, show. Sure.There’s a bloody trail leading to Cindy’s room, and our boys are escorted/honour-guarded/herded in to deal with her. Cindy has some poor innocent man in her grasp and twists impossibly around his body, hissing threats and terror. The moment really would have hit if not for the impossible lack of any other security or media, or even a single heroic doctor.

After the boys ask her to release her hostage, she kills him and scrambles off into the vents. Not … a great start, lads.

Back in the Vatican (finally!), Bennett and his only sympathetic Cardinal regroup. Bennett seems dazed and in shock. Caro is explaining the eeeeeeevil Cardinal is being protected and tells Bennett that while he was sequestered on his case the Vatican has pulled all active Exorcists out of the field. Despite Bennett slipping Marcus and Tomas information, not one exorcism has been approved in the six months since Chicago. They are, Caro declares, at war, and must respond in kind. Bennett asks what to do and he’s handed a folder, photos of a woman he’s told to find, keep safe, and keep unarmed. Aaaw Yis, team Demon Slayer is growing. Caro asks if Bennett really is ignorant to Marcus and Tomas’ location, and if he did know, would Bennett even tell him? Bennett says yes, he is ignorant. Then no, he wouldn’t tell the Cardinal. Caro chuckles. I like this guy.

On the island, Caleb eats of a rotten apple (Oooh Show. With the Symbolism) when Vee appears to be Vee about his near death experience. She’s teasing, clearly, but the apple has left him freaked and he stumbles off without a word, leaving her confused.

Over at the farm, Shelby is watching the ewe give birth. The lamb is breach and the ewe is in severe distress. A horse in the same barn is also freaking out (because this show keeps confusing its tropes with ones from The Omen), and after an intense birth the … ’lamb’ is out. It has a cowl, still in the birth sack and it’s not a lamb at all, it has teeth and it growls, and with only a warning to Shelby not to look, which he soundly ignores, the farmer kills the thing with a pitchfork. (Ooh show with the symbolism, etc.)

Caleb goes to see Andy, and sheepishly claims Verity was with him that night. Liar. He says she made him stand up on the well, but then left him there alone. Andy looks shaken. Caleb isn’t possessed. He’s going to turn out to be, exactly as Rose suspects, not mentally well.

In the hospital The CinDemon has made her way to the newborns nursery and holds a teeny, fragile, little, wee baby. CinDemon’s voice sounds exactly like Blix from the movie Legend. That’s what keeps making me laugh! She’ll be rhyming next.

CinDemon psychically makes all the infants stop crying, while Marcus tries to talk to it. CinDemon makes obvious threats about hurting the tiny ,adorable little baby in her arms and they keep showing the actual baby’s face LIKE DON’T DO THIS AND THEN HURT THE BABY, SHOW. There are rules. RULES. Tomas starts singing Cindy’s song, getting Marcus choked up against a wall for the trouble, but it works and Cindy starts singing along with him. While Marcus (hilariously) collapses out of the frame, Tomas gets close enough to take the baby from CinDemon’s arms, then just runs the heck away. Marcus dives on CinDemon and with the baby safely in a crib, the boys start praying.

Shelby is walking home, and reading his bible by torchlight. He hears creepy lamb monster sounds in the dark and shadows of the woods, and because he is a smart and not stupid boy, he runs like hell.

Andy goes to see Verity about Caleb. She admits to winding Caleb up about the well earlier in the day, so Andy thinks the rest might be true. Verity is initially calm in her dismissal, but Andy is pretty far gone, and rages at how she may have destroyed their home. She’s more horrified he thinks she would hurt Caleb, and throws him out. He realises he may have messed up and leaves, but hey look, here’s Grace again, serving as Andy’s emotional centre, and being unseen by everyone else. Seriously, show, just get to the fact she’s invisible already.

At the hospital, the boys pray over CinDemon and it asks Tomas to let it in, then it will release Cindy. At first he ignores it, but he’s easily and immediately won over by the promise of a revealed secret. Oh, Tomas. Inside the Psychic Church, Cindy directs Tomas into the confessional booth, but even in here Tomas is calling back responses to Marcus’ prayers out in the real world. Nice play, Tomas. CinDemon tells Tomas that ‘he’ is afraid of you but the combined efforts of Marcus and Tomas come together perfectly, and Cindy is saved, the Demon burning away to ash and nothing.

Cindy awakes, shaking, looking sick, and calls for her husband, who sweeps her up and they cry, and the boys breath heavily, and oooh, that was a pretty good scene.

At the now fully operational and not-at-all-locked-down-for-security-reasons hospital, the boys … fucking …. argue. Again. Even though they clearly just showed, clearly, it can at least work. Marcus is afraid of it and Tomas is not, and neither understands the other.

Sheriff Husband tosses the boys their car keys and finally, they’re allowed to leave.

At the Vatican, Bennett sees his Cardinal friend, Caro, seized by Vatican guards, and the other corrupted Cardinal from the appeal.Bennett legs it, calls Marcus, and warns him to destroy his phone and run, as the Vatican is compromised. He will find Marcus when it’s safe. The call ends, and everyone throws serious looks around.

Andy goes to see Rose, and super, super downplays what Caleb and Vee have each told him. While he’s not actually lying, he omits Vee’s claimed role in any of it, and he omits the fact Caleb might have lied about her. He talks about the kid’s little ritual as just a harmless game that got out of hand, and it’s Rose’s failing she doesn’t find it weird how light and casual he is all of a sudden.She apologises for her words about Nicole, and he assures her it’s all fine. She goes back to her work, and we see she was writing up her report. If you read the text, you see she appears to have already written up what Andy just this second told her, so great work continuity editors, and she finishes the report with the advice no action be taken. So, there’s that.

Elsewhere, Andy watches Caleb and Truck play together, and goes to speak to Vee, but is distracted by a sound and heads outside. Wait, is Shelby home yet?

Andy and Rose are really not great at watching these kids, guys. Andy follows rustling noises and finds bloody handprints on the door of the house. He hears Shelby behind him, and turns to see Shelby holding the dead lamb thing, talking of the biblical belief lamb’s blood protects the home. Probably … probably not that specific ‘lamb’, though.

While Andy ‘… ums, Shelby intones, ‘There’s something in the woods’.

I really adore this shot of Shelby. He looks more real and present than anything around him. It’s effective, almost dreamlike.

So, another heap of … sort of nothing, at least with Marcus and Tomas, especially considering the outcome. I was into the fact that Tomas actually kept giving the calls and responses to Marcus’ prayers, and it seemed obvious to me that the combination of approaches was what finally worked. Tomas is like a special ops guy who can get in closer and do more damage, while Marcus directs the battle. Though Marcus’ fear is understandable up to a point, it’s going to get very old, very fast, especially if Tomas keeps showing results. And, remember, with Pazuzu and now the CinDemon, he’s two for two. But, I suspect this silly rift will continue and grow, so, Sigh.

On Nachburn Island, things are getting … interesting. I still maintain that Caleb is not possessed. I think the show wants us to think Caleb is; it wants Andy to think Vee is, but it will be Andy when it all comes down to it. The fact he appears to have accepted Verity’s truth without actually challenging Caleb’s claims is interesting, and suddenly makes Andy capable of deception that he wasn’t just last week. He is changing, rapidly, and it’s more than fear of losing his kids.

I like the effect the onset of the possession is  having on the different children with their different backgrounds. The Rance family had different approaches to it too, but these kids are from such wildly varying backgrounds, and such potentially troubled ones, it does make it harder to guess what is just an expression of their trauma, and what might be signs of possession. I could also consider that all of them are to some degree possessed, as in Chicago there were multiple … what could be called ‘lesser’ possessions surrounding Casey’s affliction. Could the pattern repeat here? Except for, it seems, Verity. Shelby has had an encounter, maybe Caleb, and Truck’s sleepwalking, while explained as his Autism, could be a response. Verity hasn’t had one yet. Could she be the only one not at risk? What about Grace, you ask? She doesn’t count, she doesn’t exist.

We will see. I need Tomas and Marcus to … just stop, and just do their jobs, but otherwise … Season two is working out pretty interesting. See you next week!

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life. Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident. Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor. She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90's fashion die.

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