Season 2, Episode 9: “This Is How It Starts”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Adam Targum
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Mercy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “To the Sea” – click here
Dr. Kenneth Park (Hoon Lee) notices a sore on his human suit, so he slices open the skin to take care of that pesky blemish, only a reminder that it’s either rot away as a human being, try to wait out until the Great Merge, or find another way. He’s definitely determined to figure out something else, though it’s obvious his time is numbered as a flesh and blood mortal. Poor demon.
Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is busy taking care of his wonderful wife Rose (Charmin Lee) and their property. After having to do what was needed. But I wonder how long they can live like this, particularly when it comes to their consciences. Neither of them are happy with what’s happened; she takes it hardest after having to kill her best friend Kat Ogden.
Then there’s Allison Barnes (Kate Lyn Sheil) and her daughter Amber (Madeleine McGraw), sitting in a motel room and waiting for Junkyard Bob (M.C. Gainey) to show up. He assures her they need to stay put, occupy time, take care of themselves. All the while Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) are up at the Lighthouse in that cellar, Sidney (Brent Spiner) strapped to a chair, bleeding, coughing. “You‘re never gonna see your Merge,” the outcast taunts him. However, there are other things at play. That white-haired devil didn’t come to Rome to find Kyle.
So who exactly does he need to bring on the Great Merge? Might that be Simon Barnes. It’s likely who we saw at the end of last episode, the one who took Sarah Barnes (Julia Crockett) from the hospital. None other than C. Thomas Howell himself.
Poor Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt). In all this it’s easy to forget she’s also a widow, the demon inside her having taken her husband brutally. Now she’s also got trouble at the Lighthouse, with Dakota (Madelyn Deutch), after the death of the woman trying to do some strange shit with her fetus. At the hands of Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen). Doesn’t help that Anderson and Megan figure out that the Lighthouse is, essentially, a doomsday cult at its core, and Dakota’s leading them all in preparation for The Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, Byron’s worried for Rose. Might just be she’s only got a flu. Or is it that there’s a demon taking hold? He calls Kyle, in the meantime he cares for his wife. “This is how it starts, isn‘t it?” she asks. “This ain‘t that,” he tries telling her. Oh, my. I hope something tragic won’t happen. Christ, I can’t handle losing Rosie! For now she asks to be tied up, just in case.
And on the road, after Bob’s truck gives out, an unsuspecting Kyle gets knocked unconscious by Blake Morrow.
Allison talks more with Amber about “the monsters” and how she can “push them” out of other people. The little girl talks about how it isn’t so much that she loves her father more, she loves them alike. Amber says being with her father is like “a pool” of strength, which is the only reason she prefers being with him more. Best part is mom comes to feel vindicated about the abuse in their family past, as her daughter explains she knew that her mother was still inside while the demon worked its terrible ways.
Taken hostage, Kyle is at the mercy of Blake. The demon is pissed, he feels there’s nothing good ahead for him or his buddies. He wants to know more from the outcast, and starts by strangling him a bit.
At the motel, Amber hears a knock at the door while her mom showers. Housekeeping, they say. Even if it isn’t, I’ll never bet against young Ms. Barnes. She is an ass kickin’, demon killin’, tough cookie.
The insanity goes up a notch with Blake stalking around the house, beating the young women at his side, with Kyle chained and sitting on the floor forced to listen to his ranting. “I‘ve been following the wrong Beacon,” he says. He’s looking for Amber, she is the one who will slam the door in the demons faces. Yet Kyle and the young women fight to escape Blake’s clutches. She helps free him and then the outcast wrestles in a savage brawl with their captor. But Blake winds up escaping him in the end.
Back at the Giles place, Rose’s fever is gone. She feels great, and Byron is beyond ecstatic. He tries to tell her they’ve got to do certain things while at war. And they’re certainly at war with those wretched devils. I’m not so sure I believe Rose, though. I’m afraid she’s fixing to do something; something I ain’t gonna like. Later Byron finds her in the yard having hung herself from a small tree. He tries saving her. No luck.
Megan packs up her daughter Holly, looking to hit the road. Anderson doesn’t stop her. He encourages her to leave before things get too wild. A tough road ahead, no doubt. I keep wondering about the Rev, if he’ll find his faith again wholly or if he’ll be forever ruined by his experiences in Rome.
Bob gets back to check on Allison, finding the room open. The shower’s running. Nobody there he can find. Uh oh.
And Sidney, well, he’s got himself free from the Lighthouse cellar. Plus, he’s downed Anderson temporarily. Although he isn’t doing so hot, that cough only gets worse by the minute. He manages to stumble out into the woods once more. Until Anderson finds him again putting a bullet in his leg. Tough bastard. Kyle shows up and has to stop the Rev from killing Sidney, wanting to know why his daughter’s so special. All Sidney can say before he dies is “You lose, Kyle.”
Finally, Simon Barnes arrives to the Lighthouse. To greet his followers, his son, and expel Anderson for what he’s done. It’s not such a happy reunion for Kyle, he isn’t thrilled to see his long lost father show up from out of nowhere. Most of all, he’s unsure of what’s next more than ever before.
At a gas station Megan is headed off by Dr. Park, he wants a chat. She’s got life growing inside her. A life that Blake told him of, now the one-man council is looking forward to the birth. They all are, in fact. This is fucking terrifying stuff, we’re standing on the precipice of a horrific prospect in this revelation.
Anderson wanders back to his church, to find somewhere safe to lay his head. Everyone there’s been rocked since the last town hall. They need hope. And now they want their old Rev to show them the way towards the light. Is this how he finds his way back? Can he?
This episode had such an impact, man. The character development across the two seasons of this series is fantastic writing at work. If Cinemax doesn’t renew this for at least another season, they are insane. The family connections appearing more and more with Amber, the reappearance of the previously in-hiding Simon Barnes, they’re so thrilling. Such an exciting, fresh look at demonic possession.
“To the Sea” is the Season 2 finale next week. We’re in for a real treat, too.