CBS Strange Angel
Season 1, Episode 7: “Glorification of the Chosen One”
Directed by Meera Menon
Written by John Lopez
“Aleister Crowley” is “not as far as you think,” Susan Parsons (Bella Heathcote) tells a woman at the library, as she looks through reports about the Great Beast himself. Scandalous sort of stuff. At the very same time, the Agape Lodge are undergoing one of their ceremonies. Grand Magus Alfred Miller (Greg Wise) allows Jack Parsons (Jack Reynor), the “Minerval” of Ernest Donovan (Rupert Friend).
As the wife worries about Crowley’s influence, husband partakes in new Thelema rituals to become part of their cult. Including some sex magick. Tsk, tsk, Jacky boy.
Prof. Filip Mešulam (Rade Šerbedžija) has received a package— looks like it’s from home. Inside is a letter, as well as a couple candles. He lights them. After one burns long enough a chunk falls out revealing a ring within. This touches Filip deeply. There are other items encased in the candles’ wax, too, so he digs those out, too.
Out in the desert, Jack does more testing. Alongside him with the camera is Ernest. The young rocketry engineer does a bit of Thelema-like chanting while preparing to set off his latest experiment. They’ve also drawn out a star shape around the testing area.
On campus, Richard Onsted (Peter Mark Kendall) is busy still working for Cal Tech. Meanwhile he’s leaving Jack in the wind for their meeting with Prof. Mešulam. Jack brings the professor his latest bit of film, which doesn’t seem to impress the old man. He also has to explain why things are working the way they are, considering Richard is absent, as are the rest of the original team. Mešulam talks about being Jewish, denied space back home as the Nazis rose to power, and his friend did nothing. A bit of a lesson in friendship.
At home, Susan brings some alcohol and lemonade over to see Maggie Donovan (Elena Satine). She wants to talk about Crowley, Thelema, “animal sacrifice” and “bestiality.” Maggie’s heard the old song and dance from Ernest, but she knows there’s weird shit going on at the lodge, or wherever else her husband runs off to when he leaves the house. Thelema “separates couples” by order of the Grand Magus, apparently. Soon enough, Ernest returns. An argument between the married couple begins, and Susan leaves. Maggie worries her husband’s slipping away from her. And she may be right.
Jack is stuck with an equation. He doesn’t do all that mathematical shit, so he’ll need Richard to help. He doesn’t want to admit it yet. Simultaneously, his old pal’s having to give up their work because things with the government are moving along at Cal Tech. Looks like the two friends are splitting even further now. This drives Jack back to the Agape Lodge, hoping to find more answers. Alongside Joan (Tamara Feldman) he goes on a wild psychedelic trip. He flies through the stars, back to the moon. Except he sees a Nazi astronaut planting the flag, saluting with a heil. Then he sees the surface of the moon is coated in bodies.
At Cal Tech, Jack manages to slip into the Athenaeum where he intrudes on the conversation between General Braxton (Karl Makinen) and the professors. He’s called a “charlatan” by Prof. John Tillman (Dan Donohue). But he manages to tell the General about his recent experiments. He also talks of reaching the moon as “strategic necessity.” He uses his recent psychedelic dream to make a clear point about the early race to space. A slick cat, especially when he’s down and out.
“Whatever it is you think I am, I’m not.”
Trying to search his soul, Ernest seeks out a gay bar. He’s no longer sure if being straight is what he needs. The Grand Magus has put it in his head that Jack is the answer to his lifelong riddle. He seems to see Jack everywhere, even if he isn’t actually in the same place. The whole thing’s a different experience for Ernest, even if he’s been around a few different blocks many times, just never with a man.
Jack gets home to discover Susan incredibly upset. She knows more about Crowley, she already found that vial under the bed. It’s not a pretty picture. Her husband apologises, trying to explain himself. It’s just probably never going to be the same between them, not totally, anyway. I don’t think Jack is searching for the same things as Ernest, he’s looking to manifest his will.
Speaking of Ernest, he’s at the gay bar when cops turn up asking whether any of the men are friends “of Dorothy“— y’know, The Wizard of Oz, “Over the Rainbow. ” He finds himself confronted with a particularly angry officer. This prompts Ernest into violence, and then the cops beat the shit out of him. Oh, lord. He gets arrested for perversion, “attempted sodomy,” and so on. Fingerprinted and booked to a cell full of other suspected homosexual men. Later, his wife comes to bail him out, taking him home to clean him up. After all that she decides on leaving, as well. Before she does she warns Susan that her husband isn’t totally lost yet.
Prof. Mešulam meets with Richard to tell him there’s interest in what Jack was talking about at the Athenaeum. General Braxton has interest in the “military applications” of rockets. We see, once more, Jack’s not the one being chosen, and Richard is being asked to do the designs. Constantly the man is being betrayed by academic world, barred from their clubs and their funding and everything. No wonder he’s driven to other sources.
Following their meeting, Richard goes to see Jack. He has to break the news about Braxton and the project, including the fact he won’t be going to Washington, D.C. That’s sure to propel Jack into darker territory. It sure won’t help that Ernest is heading into a dark place, too. Not a great combination.
Loved this episode. This series has gotten better with every chapter. I’d love to see another season after this one, though I’m still unsure of where it’ll all end up in the end, so maybe they’re only gunning for one season. We’ll see!
“Evocation of the Elders” is next time.