Season 1, Episode 5: “Seven Curses”
Directed by Mikael Salomon
Written by K.C. Perry
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Number of a Man” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Temptress” – click here
On we spin into the abyss, right alongside Damien Thorn (Bradley James).
This episode begins in the darkened halls of a basement; a hospital, in fact. A little girl shows up to proclaim that the “beast” is on its way. Foreboding, definitely.
Speaking of Damien, he’s off to the hospital meeting with a doctor who specializes in PTSD amongst veterans. He sits and waits for seems like forever. Then it’s as if he’d never even walked in, completely ignored by the woman at the front desk. Damien runs into the mother of the boy he saved on the subway platform. He’s brought up to see her husband, Alex (Jose Pablo Cantillo), who’s happy to meet the man who saved his son. Damien even offers to take pictures of his struggle, what he’s dealing with post-service in the military, and the couple agrees. It’s amazing to see the humanity of Damien, as well as is atheism. Amazing lead character.
Afterwards, as he takes pictures of Alex in water therapy, Damien almost sees the poor guy drown. As an entity lurks just below the surface. It’d be tough if the darkness in Damien were to claim someone such as Alex, whose life has already been covered in darkness. When Alex reveals he’s “ending” his life, that it’s the best option for everyone in his family, it really shocks Damien to his core. Even more than that Alex wants his suicide photographed, he wants the truth of the veterans like him told, in raw, graphic nature. But how can someone agree to photograph that? It would be devastating. Yet Alex asks: “Isn‘t that what you do? Bear witness?”
Simone Baptiste (Megalyn E.K.) is busy trying to connect Damien to the death of her sister. All the while, Amani (Omid Abtahi) is convincing her otherwise. He lets slip the fact the old woman was in a ton of pictures, apparently “photoshopped” by Damien. Not the case, though, and Simone knows it. She’s sly. Perhaps her intuition may land her in a bad place, instead of in one of power. Especially if she gets too close to the truth.
Then there’s Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey). She’s looking concerned, asking questions about her motherhood, wondering if she “kept all the wolves at bay” and so on. This whole thing with Damien is tearing her up inside.
At the hospital, Damien’s trying to find Alex, who evades him at almost every turn. He even sees the vision of a little girl in the hallway, the one with a messed up. In the dark halls of the lower levels, Damien searches for Alex. Like something out of Jacob’s Ladder we’re plunged into the very heart of madness. Hanging prosthetic limbs, hospital attendants dealing drugs, creepy whispered voices in the background. Slowly, Damien follows Alex father down the rabbit hole.
Everywhere he goes things are strange, otherworldly. He cannot find solid footing. Each room is another strange nightmare. What an amazing sequence, both in writing and in execution, from editing to makeup effects to overall direction. Perfect, and terrifyingly upsetting, unnerving, all of it. Certainly gets to Damien, as well.
Ann makes a call: “I need two men, now. I have someone who needs a bit of housekeeping. No, no, not that. Yes, it‘s him. Don‘t hurt him; too much.” An extremely ominous conversation indeed, and the fact Ann has tears in her eyes is also creepy.
Cut to Sister Greta Fraueva (Robin Weigert). She’s trying to make off with one of the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, to leave for New York and take care of the beast. Although, the patriarchy wouldn’t want that now, would they? A woman running off and taking care of church business. The mystery surrounding her character is hugely interesting. She has no time for the male-run church, either. Only as far as she needs to pretend. Which is fucking awesome.
Getting closer to some kind of truth, Simone finds the pictures at Damien’s place. At the same time he’s trying to work his way out of the hospital. He calls her right as she’s standing in his place, looking through the pictures. Worst time for her to be there – the two men Ann called for show up. They trash the place and toss everything, wrecking lights and furniture, everything. Luckily, they don’t find Simone.
But poor Amani, he’s still hanging around Ann’s protege, Veronica (Melanie Scrofano). When is his number due to be punched?
Damien goes back to see Alex. The injured vet is ready to take the drugs, to fade away. And Damien is ready to take the photographs of his suicide. An emotional, devastating moment here. What a scene. Both men struggle to do what it is they need to do; Alex with the needle, Damien shaking behind his camera.
Later on, Damien heads to the house where he lived years ago as a boy. The picture of his family still hangs looming large. He has a look around the old estate. Sits in the old red convertible in the garage. And he has his own plans for suicide. He prepares the garage, taping up the cracks in the door. He readies himself to inject drugs into his veins. The carbon monoxide is flowing.
Except something will not allow it. The hounds of Hell arrive, an entity peels away the duct tape from the door’s cracks. The Beast cannot die. He will not. Eventually, the dogs drag him free of the smoke, and he ends up waking to the night air. Not yet, Damien. Satan hasn’t gotten all he needs out of you.
Next episode promises to be more demonic fun. This was a great one, very powerful, full of weight, and trippy, too. Next up is “Temptress” – stay with me, fellow fans!