Season 1, Episode 2: “Second Death”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Mark Kruger
* For a review of the first episode, “The Beast Rises” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Deliverer” – click here
After an uneven pilot episode, A&E’s Glen Mazzarra-run Damien glides into its next chapter.
Damien Thorn (Bradley James) is still reeling from recent revelations, as well as the death of his close friend. In other corners of the world, an exorcism of sorts is being performed by Sister Greta Fraueva (Robin Weigert). She prays over the body of a young man lacerated from head to toe. The ceremony involves him being lowered into a grave, then later pulled out. By all accounts, she saves him, as the boy comes to asking for his mother. The forces of darkness are clearly heavy. Will Sister Greta come to play a larger part in Damien’s life? Is she a counterpart to the deviously eerie Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey)?
The hounds of Hell are kicking around everywhere. This time, in Greta’s apartment. Or at least she sees it, anyways. Exciting to see Weigert in this role. She is an amazing talent who often ends up with less than stellar supporting roles, aside from her excellent turn on Deadwood. Her nun character will slowly converge with the life of Damien.
Speaking of the Antichrist, he’s busy highlighting Bible quotes, searching out pictures that he’s taken and relating them to those passages describing his destiny, supposedly. In between all that his memories keep flashing: “It‘s all for you, Damien.” His photography partner Amani Golkar (Omid Abtahi) chastises him for not going to Kelly’s funeral; Damien blames himself for what happened, but Amani reassures him it isn’t, and there is a need for closure.
A clandestine meeting in a church vaguely discusses the Antichrist, confirming he’s there in the city of New York. The ceremonial dagger from the first episode, one of the “seven daggers of Megiddo” (more original The Omen references), and the task is set: “Strike where the heart should be,” says the priest to the mysterious man on the other side of the confessional. At the same time, the priest dies out of nowhere, sudden and violent. Evil lurks; everywhere.
At Kelly’s funeral, Damien spies the mysterious confessional booth man. More than that, he flashes back to memories of his childhood, the fit before going into a church. Everything is coming loose inside Damien now, he’ll soon begin to figure it all out. Inside the church walls his skin sweats profusely, the sight of the stained glass makes him short of breath. More and more, clips of the original film make their way in, showing us those old memories curling up around his brain, taking hold once more. A ways behind him, Ann sits watching in pleasure, as he struggles not to explode from the evil bursting inside. Fun to see a grown man going through this, as opposed to a child. He doesn’t understand it, but there’s more crisis as an adult, not understanding what’s happening. Very creepy.
Amani (re: Damien): “It‘s like weird stuff happens all the time, but never a scratch.”
Struggling in the city, Damien wants out. He asks Paula Sciarra (Sandrine Holt) if there are any jobs happening. She replies by handing over a massive cheque, made out by none other than Ann, who’s buying up all sorts of his photographs. Worst of all, though, Paula’s letting her two photographers go. Surely this won’t sit well with Damien, after all that’s been going on.
A conversation between Damien and a priest shows the former is already lacking faith. Being a war photographer, he’s seen some shit. Now, he’s discovering his fate as the Antichrist, and this undoubtedly shakes his faith further. He challenges the priest’s notion of faith in the face of atrocities such as “rape being used as a political weapon“, going off a bit hard in front of everyone at the reception: “I‘m sorry, father, that‘s not good enough. It‘s a cruel joke. And if God‘s the one telling it then he‘s a sadistic prick.”
Again, I love that Damien is a war photographer who sees the worst of humanity. His faith is challenged as it is, let alone being the son of Satan. This character detail of traveling to war torn areas aids the overall story and his development.
Then, while taking some photos, and followed by the mysterious confessional assassin, Damien is confronted by an odd homeless man who prophecies: “The darkness is coming.” He continues to see strange figures in the streets, including a little girl with a sewn up eye who writes 666 on the fog in her window, as Damien stares up at her terrified. Such an unnerving moment. Then out of the shadows comes the assassin. He swipes at Damien, but misses. Luckily the hounds of Hell are there to help. A cabbie gets run from the road after one appears from nowhere. The car his the assassin, killing him, and saving Damien. And the dagger slips into the sewer of New York City.
In Kelly’s notebook, her sister Simone (Megalyn E.K.) and Amani discover notes on Damien, Megiddo, the Apocalypse, and more. Scary find for them, as it looks almost like the ramblings of a madwoman. But they’ll soon find out.
So now the cops are poking around Damien, his involvement with the dead confessional assassin. The police are slightly suspicious about the couple accidents he’s been near lately. If they only knew. For now, Ann to the rescue; she poses as his attorney to get him out of there. Damien is just as surprised as the cop. Ann wants to know more about the knife, which Damien calls an “artifact“, and she reveals: “I‘ve been watching you.” She further promises all the answers “in time“, if he can be that patient. And then she drops the bombshell of his adoption in Rome, plus his true identity, or at least part of it.
Ann: “You want answers? Come with me”
The cops discover a tattoo on the dead man. It signifies an old organization, a sort of cult. Ahhh, intrigue!
With Damien in tow, Ann divulges her worry for him. She also has a dagger of Megiddo, which she shows him to verify whether the assassin had one. Further, we get more flashbacks to the original film, as Gregory Peck tries to kill the Antichrist boy. Those memories seep into Damien, too. He remembers now. Everything slowly comes back with time. Leading him downstairs, Ann reveals the artifacts of his childhood – a red tricycle, the one used to send mommy on her fateful fall, among other items. A shrine to the Antichrist. “Welcome home, Damien,” says Ann in a final eerie line.
Excited for more. This episode brought things together better and built well off the first. Next up is “The Deliverer”, so stay tuned with me until next week, fellow fans!