Fox’s The Exorcist
Season 2, Episode 1: “Janus”
Directed by Jason Ensler
Written by Heather Bellson
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Chapter Ten: Three Rooms” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Safe as Houses” – click here
Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) is ever faithful. He basks in the power of the Lord. But still, he knows evil. He walks outside the church to find children running, yelling, playing. He sees a woman named Cindy (Zibby Allen) with her baby. A group of children beat a pinata and outcomes black, boiling blood, flies buzzing. From it rises a girl’s face. Cindy speaks in the voice of a demon.
Suddenly, Tomas is in Jefferson County, Montana, he’s in the truck with Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) in the pan, the latter trying to speak the evil out of Cindy who’s possessed. They’re being chased by men in a truck, shotguns and all.
They manage to pull off a road and hide. Enough time to get away from Cindy’s “extended family.” She’s not doing well, so they’ve got to get her somewhere safe, more comfortable.
In Washington, Andrew Kim (John Cho) goes about his daily life, running what looks like a foster home, kids of all colours, shapes, sizes under his car. One girl, Grace (Amélie Eve), doesn’t go to school like the others, she learns at home. Andrew’s a pretty involved, charming man, we get a good first impression of him as both encouraging and also stern in a constructive sense.
Although Tomas has known Marcus a while now, he’s still adjusting to being an “apprentice” under the man, going outside the law just barely to get the job done. Because it’s based in faith. They know about the demons infecting people, they understand it’s corporeality, that it’s not just religious jargon used to scare people into believing and into being good. So, in that way, they’re both on the same page. Marcus is just fucking rock n’ roll.
But the demon’s taunting. We know the renegade priest can take it, he’s been in worse places. However, what the thing says has him intrigued. He tries to help Cindy through the process while she’s being torn apart from the inside. What I love about Marcus is how he can separate the flesh from the demon, the person from that other thing inside. At least until the demon gets nasty. “You‘re nothing but an empty vessel,” it shouts at him.
Andrew meets Rose Cooper (Li Jun Li) coming to his little island in Washington off the ferry. They’ve got a past together, apparently. He worries this might tarnish her opinion, as a social worker coming to see how the kids are living. She makes it clear, if the kids are fine, everything’s fine.
When Tomas goes to a local store somebody seems to recognise him, they make a call. To the police? Or someone else?
At the foster home in Washington, Rose finds the kids are mostly okay. The young blind boy Caleb (Hunter Dillon) isn’t happy, his real family having fallen apart long ago. Verity (Brianna Hildebrand) is all jokes, except she’s worried about a few months time when she turns 18 and has nowhere to live. There’s also another boy who has stress issues, and more. Andrew does a pretty damn good job dealing with it all from the look of things.
All the more reason he panics when Caleb is suddenly missing. When they all go out looking for him,
In Jefferson County, Marcus tells Tomas he can’t internally fight the demon, they can’t let it inside. If they do, it becomes dangerous. Headstrong as he is, the less experienced of the two priests believes he can battle it that way. Marcus warns it’s more than failure, it’s the loss of his “immortal soul.” Tomas sees demons as part of God’s world, a gift in some way, just one which brings suffering. I suppose if you buy into Christianity, suffering’s at the heart of it, Jesus, all that.
Either way, that demon’s looking to play. Tomas keeps battling against the thing in Cindy, and Marcus goes to deal with the family trying to take her back. The men are armed, the priest tries explaining the sickness with which Cindy’s dealing.
“What good is a God that never shows up?”
Tomas finds himself on the precipice of reality and hallucination, ripped between the two by the demon. He fights against it, but struggles. Outside, Marcus fists fights the men in his own struggle. For a priest, he can throw ’em, baby!
Pulled deeper into that dreamspace, Tomas is at the church once more. He heads inside. There’s a font of bubbling blackness like he saw before in the grass. In the confessional booths he hears music, the stuff playing in the barn in the real world, finding Cindy on the other side. She opens her mouth, a hand reaches out to choke Tomas. After that he’s back in the real world, the men breaking in with Marcus beat to a pulp, taking the girl away from there. A demon still lurking inside of her.
Out in the woods, Andrew finds Caleb standing on the rickety well the kids found earlier. He tries to take the boy down, before the thing collapses. He barely catches Caleb and pulls him to safety. He’s angry. More glad that the boy is safe. Clearly, though, there’s trouble at the foster home. No abuse, just troubled kids.
Back at the foster home, the familiar “Tubular Bells” plays. The hand prints Tomas saw in his dream on the church’s exterior? They line the halls here, near Grace’s room. I wonder if the little one is where Pazuzu will show up again, or if it’ll be another kid, or several. So exciting.
Love this season opener! I’ve loved the series from its beginning, just happy to see this get a Season 2. Especially starting out with such intensity and exciting plot, added to a whole bunch of good imagery. I mean, that hand in the end choking Tomas? C’mon, that’s fucking gnarly! This series owns.
“Safe as Houses” is next week. Bring it on.