Birds and Communion and Pea Soup, Oh My! The Exorcist: ‘Unclean’

Previously; The Possession Club had a Possessionparty, Cardinal Evil from season one spooked Bennett out of the Vatican; Marcus and Tomas are still fighting over NOT A DAMNED USEFUL THING, and one or maybe several of the foster kids might be possessed.

We open alongside the River Seine in France, where the Cardinal Evil performs another Possession Mass and another willful acolyte is possessed by a demon. We see some sneaky lady chef is has performed Communal Mass over communion wafers, then powdered them and scattered them over some desserts. Oooh, they gonna get it. Apparently this party is way less lit than Maria Walters, because while hers ended in an orgy, Cardinal Evil is serving almond tarts — the same ones we just saw get Holified.

Cardinal Evil literally picks up a Sphinx breed kitten like he’s an honest-to-Satan Bond Villain, and he talks up how eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil they all are. They dig into their desserts with just way too much crazy ‘eating’ ADR, and then Cardinal Evil and the other possessed violently vomit blood all over everything. While they choke and die horribly, the killer — a waitress — rescues the kitten and makes her dramatic exit. So, that’s him dealt with.

On Nachburn Island, Andy buries the grisly remains of the … lamb thing that Shelby brought home, but then is distracted by some unseen thing in the woods. Because, he is possessed, dudes.

Later he speaks to Caleb who is administering eyedrops, while Andy talks about Verity denying she took Caleb to the well. Caleb acts offended at being called a liar, though Andy thought Caleb was sleepwalking, like Truck does.

Caleb sticks to his story, but it seems clear Andy isn’t accepting it, and asks Caleb to consider the possibility he was sleepwalking. He chases a passing Verity, and tries to apologise; she’s having none if it. Andy gets a door slammed in his face just in time for spooky Shelby to spook up, and warn Andy to stop everyone from going into the woods.

Andy respects Shelby’s faith, though he points out lambs blood = bad, prayer = good, or Rose shuts down the house.

Rose is up already working on a folder with a photo of a kid, and they have coffee while she reassures him she wont file her report. Even though … she … seemed to last week? He’s relieved and grateful, and she reminds him that technically two people have to run a group home. He easily segues that into asking her to move in, because Andy is SMOOTH. Even better, she looks like she doesn’t hate the idea.

Tomas has a nightmare about a possessed girl with a hole where her face should be and wakes afraid in the truck. Marcus is creepily watching him, when Tomas looks at the street they’re parked on and realises it’s the one he just dreamt about. His face makes it clear he’s never been here before.

Tomas fires up the dog collar, and we learn some Deacon called Marcus to look at a girl. Tomas is like a Deacon from the Archdiocese from the Church we just realised is like 96% Team Satan? You trust this guy?’

Apparently, Marcus does. They greet Mrs Graham at her door, and the sight of Tomas’ dog collar gets the door opened for them. I mean, also probably that perfect face. Mrs Graham’s daughter is Harper (and is she the same kid whose file Rose was looking at? I think she could be), and was healthy her whole life until 6 months ago. She describes escalating behaviour, acting out which graduated to hallucinations — an old playmate from Harper’s childhood who came back, and now …

The boys go up to Harper’s bedroom to check on her and Harper is sickly in her bed, seemingly possessed.

On the Island, the kids make idle chatter as they walk to school, while Verity is staring death lazers at the back of Caleb’s head, and Shelby is off into the woods with his bible. Really, Andy? You can’t walk them to the ferry today of all days?

The boys speak to Mrs Graham, and gently test her Faith. Tomas is ready to promise the world, though Marcus is more grounded and asks for further telltale evidence of possession; speaking in languages she can’t know, knowing things she can’t know. Mrs Graham shows them a picture Harper drew three weeks ago that while childish, clearly portrays our boys fighting a monster.

Speak of the Devil; once they talk to her, Harper wakes and begins shrieking. Mrs. Graham says what we all know; the thing inside her daughter knew they were coming.

Later, Mrs. Graham asks if the boys know about Chris and Regan McNeil (reminder; in the show, Chris took Regan on a media tour and wrote books about the possession, compounding Regan’s trauma even though it was all Chris could do to keep them from destitution). The boys are like ‘ … a little familiar, yeah’.  Mrs Graham says the book gave her comfort, knowing it can be overcome. Marcus and Tomas exchange looks like ‘Do YOU wanna tell her?’

Harper calls for her mother and everyone rushes up to see her. She’s clearly terrified of the boys, but seems thinks they’re doctors. Despite her lifelong good health, she’s afraid of needles and doctors. Hmm. She thinks they can’t help, then they ask about her imaginary friend. The friend is called Tobias, and no one can see him. Marcus figures out he’s the monster from her drawing, and he’s also DELIGHTFUL AND CHARMING because when Marcus wants to be, he’s such a people person. Mrs. Graham gives her a sip of water from a bottle at the bedside.

They ask if she can bring Tobias out, but he hides under her tongue. Marcus asks to have a look, like a dentist, and reassures her Tobias isn’t home, or maybe he’s run off afraid of Marcus. But then she’s struck by a fit, and the mother knows what’s happening. Harper pukes pea soup on the boys, and they pin her down and start demanding the name of the demon in Aramaic ,and then Spanish.

Harper shrieks.

In Belgium, a priest gives Mass, specifically and again, the Communion, and Bennett sits in the pews, doesn’t give the responses, and wears a beautifully cut three piece suit, and excuse me. I must fan myself.

Okay, I’m back.

The woman who assassinated a room full of demons from the cold open sits behind him, and points out his sullen refusal to give the sacraments. He’s been coming there for three days and hasn’t taken communion the whole time. She knows because she’s been watching. And since we know this is a quick way to prove possession, she threatens him at knife point to head on up. I LIKE her. Bennett takes Communion and fails to explode and spray his guts everywhere. So does she. So, I guess they’re friends.

They talk up the fact Caro was arrested and is likely dead, but it’s okay because Cardinal Evil super-tragically and totally accidentally burned to death with a bunch of friends. Bennett is cool as a cucumber about her admitting to just so much murder (because we know he goes on Demon slaying missions of his very own), and just asks her name.

She is Mouse though; she seems unsure about partnering up. Bennett offers to just exchange what information they each know, but she’ll go one better. She will take him to her ‘source’.

At the house, Tomas is worried about Harper’s health and wants to start soon, but Marcus isn’t convinced. She doesn’t speak different languages, and her other symptoms could be medically or psychologically induced. Mrs. Graham overhears and starts to freak out but Marcus explains (and this is basically how the real life RC church approaches exorcism) if Harper is mentally ill and believes she’s possessed, then an exorcism could just compound that delusion, and lead her to self-harm or even suicide. Mrs. Graham thinks only Tomas should decide but as she says this, Harper starts chattering her teeth and suddenly the mother has a bleeding bite wound in her side.

Shelby is alone in the woods somewhere, and creepy whispering voices terrify him.

Andy has gone to see the farmer who is weirdly okay with Shelby’s actions, as long as it wasn’t his house. Andy agrees to break open a morning beer, and talks about how he wanted to be a rich dude with an Italian sports car, before he met a girl who made him realise how much better life is helping kids. Sometimes, he admits, he misses it, but the kids are the best thing that ever happened to him. He asks if Russ the farmer ever saw anything weird on the island, and when he can’t clarify what, he leaves.

Shelby kneels on a beach, breaks out his Bible and Rosary, and starts praying fiercely. I am afraid for this kid and this actor is selling his intense fear brilliantly.

At the Graham House, Rose has turned up at the door (it WAS Harper’s file she looked at), because someone has called about Harper’s behaviour and absence from school. Mrs Graham lies about Harper’s very bad flu and contagious state, but Rose — smiling beatifically — will not be moved. Graham won’t let her in, so Rose turns hard and threatens the cops, noticing the blood on Mrs. Graham’s shirt. Marcus notices how well Mrs. Graham noticed it and she casually drops how she’s been dealing with social workers for years.

Oh, really?

Upstairs, Tomas is Tomas-ing, and is starting the Exorcism. I think Mrs. Graham has Munchausen by Proxy, or a bastard cousin of it. Tomas talks about his dream, and his assumption it was of Harper, but Marcus isn’t hearing it. He spots Rose out the window and runs to speak with her, and as she leaves on threats to call the cops, she drops how Harper has been sickly all her life. Oooooh, really?

Suspicious, Marcus digs around the bathroom and finds a mystery box.

On the island, Andy is managing to coax Grace to go out onto the porch without her mask on. And then he gets her to go all the way to the bottom of the garden to look at sunflowers. Which is when The Birds attack. Literally, a giant, massive flock of crows swarms overhead and Andy tries to act not terrified of it, and calmly leads her back to the house.

Shelby is knee deep in the water, praying and sees the flocking birds. As Andy gets Grace inside, the birds in their hundreds, crash into the side of the house, smash through windows.

Later on, Andy tries to explain the birds behaviour to his terrified charge, but the damage is done and Grace doesn’t want to go outside any more. Russ has arrived and they regard the absolute carnage of the dead birds all over his lawn. They came from the lake, Russ says and then forgetfully  ‘You know where Nicole …’

Andy looks stung, runs off in that direction, and it turns out it’s the same bay where Shelby is knee deep in the water and praying. He tells Andy he’s helping them, and that whatever is on the island killed Nicole. Andy corrects that Nicole was depressed, and Andy missed it. Shelby’s worried the same thing tried to hurt Caleb but it’s too much, and hurts Andy enough he storms off.

At the house, Mrs. Graham is giving poor Harper more ‘water’ when Marcus rushes in and drags her off. He reassures the terrified girl she is clean and good and nothing is wrong, then rounds on Mrs. Graham about her lies. The water is chock full of drugs to make Harper sick, make her hallucinate, and Marcus realises she has the McNeil book for instructions. She even wounded herself. Mrs. Graham throws them out and Tomas is like, OH HELL NO, and chases the fleeing woman. Marcus moves to comfort Harper, which is fine and all, BUT CALL THE AMBULANCE NOW, MARCUS.

Downstairs, Tomas finds the drugs himself and realises just how wrong he was, though in his self pitying little distraction, he forgets a criminally dangerous woman who will harm her own child is just … wandering around. So Mrs. Graham clobbers the fuck out of him with a hammer. Marcus tends to Harper who is weak and sick and says ‘it hurts’, and she clearly means THE FACT SHE IS POISONED, but Marcus talks about life in general and how painful and hard it is to be an abuse survivor, how much stronger you’ll be on the other side, and it’s nice and true and all  — but, MARCUS. LOOK AT HER. CALL A FUCKING. AMBULANCE.

Harper; *is dying*
Marcus; *chatter chatter chatter*

Marcus’ damn blithering delay lets Mrs. Graham get the drop on them. Marcus rounds on her, and doesn’t take his eyes from her even to tell Harper not to look, no matter what happens or what she hears.  Mother Dearest comes at him with her trust hammer, but if there’s one thing Marcus can do, it’s fight, and he tosses Mrs Graham into a mirror … and then absolutely does not try to disarm her, and lets her get a shard of glass which she promptly slashes his arm with. Honest to fucking god, this brain trust right here. Thankfully, while he and Tomas continue to be basically useless, Rose, the real MVP, has turned up with every cop in Seattle. HELL, yeah.

At the hospital, the boys are both incredibly depressed at how horrible Harper’s life was, and the irony  that least a Demon is, you know, a fucking demon. A parent doing that to their own kid …

Tomas admits he was wrong, and Marcus is SO smug that he smugly asks ‘Which bit!?’ MARCUS. IT’S CALLED GRACE, TRY IT. Tomas knows Harper could have died if he’d pushed the issue, and admits he’s not ready to do this alone. Marcus says it’s good he’s there, then. Rose comes over to casually discuss Harper’s incredibly private protected information with these two total strangers, but the end result is Harper will go and live on the Island with the kids. Oh now, there’s an interesting choice. I like that, even if I’m not sure how plausible it is. Unless, like I speculated last week, Rose is some kind of demon double agent.

Speaking of the island, a sad Andy is watching an old video on his phone of Nicole at a birthday party. The video cuts before we see her face clearly. Interesting.

Back in Belgium, Mouse leads Bennett into some kind of catacomb. She asks if he’s heard of Dolores Navarro, who has been missing for months, presumed dead. Mouse warns ‘they’ are not killing exorcists, but doing something much worse. The catacomb turns out to be a ossuary, with bones and skulls stacked and fastened up. Mouse shows Bennett what remains of Sister Dolores, who is entirely possessed. That was … not new information, that’s what happened to Bennett and Marcus last year.

But okay, great reveal there, show. Totally worth ending the episode on.

So, that ending fell incredibly flat when it just rehashed something from the plot that has been rehashed already, in flashbacks and in dialogue. But otherwise, I liked this episode. Maybe it was just me, but Graham story cleverly borrowed from a few different movies — the whole plot was reminiscent of Mischa Barton’s storyline in The Sixth Sense, and the Mother-fed story Harper told about Tobias sounded like Mrs. Graham had seen The Shining a few times around her reading Chris’s book. It was a nice little glimpse into how someone broken and cruel might piece together their lie from familiar elements. I’m also curious about the introduction of that kind of deception. Is it a clue we should look for more grounded explanations for say, Caleb’s behaviour? Not every possession is a possession.

All of that said, she appears to have drawn that picture of Tomas and Marcus, and she IS going to the Island, and promo suggests the boys follow, so Tomas, though he’s questioning it right now, does appear to have had a real prophetic dream about what’s coming. (Promos also appear to depth charge my Grace theory, but we’ll see if that’s a matter of clever framing or what)

It will be curious to see what this all means, especially with the bold step of adding two new fairly important characters four episodes deep.

The Exorcist returns Fridays on Fox.


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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