CBS Strange Angel
Season 1, Episode 9: “Sacrament of the Ancestors”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Mark Heyman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Evocation of the Elders” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Sacrificial Dance” – click here
Jack Parsons (Jack Reynor) continues reeling after his argument with his old friend and partner Richard (Peter Mark Kendall). He retreats into the world of the Agape Lodge and Thelema. As does Susan (Bella Heathcote), searching for the origins and meaning of her own pain. Meanwhile, Jack’s getting a promotion at work, he’s been diligent ever since giving up on Cal Tech. Will he take it? Or, will he choose to keep pursuing his will?
At the Agape, Grand Magus Alfred (Greg Wise) does more spiritual work with Susan on their own. She was shocked by some of the sex magick during the latest “mass.” She’s got an aversion to all the weird sex, given she was raised a Roman Catholic. Eventually, the Grand Magus uncovers a piece of Susan’s past, involving another woman. But we don’t hear much of it. Still a mystery.
After she’s done, we see how Thelema gets between married couples, as Jack and Susan are at odds further while he wonders what the Grand Magus was up to with his wife while he waited outside the Lodge.
“May you be granted the accomplishment of your true will”
Up in the desert, Richard and the crew are finding things aren’t so easy without Jack. Other chemists are limited, they can’t see past their training and all their preconceived notions about science and the world. So, this sends Richard over to see Marisol (Veronica Osorio). He wants to get together with Jack and Susan for dinner, in order to try soothing things a little.
Thus, the four of them dress up and head out for a fancy night on the town. It’s a little awkward, between Jack and Marisol being acquainted from the lodge and Jack also remaining pissed at Richard. They try having dinner normally, though it’s certainly not easy. Slipping off to the bathroom, Susan gets a bit of truth out of Marisol. They have a talk about the whole situation, as well as the Grand Magus and his intentions. At the table, Richard levels with Jack about the rocket project, the “new chemist” Marvin Nickels (Josh Zuckerman). But he also lies quite a bit about their progress. Then everything ends abruptly, and nothing’s resolved.
Back at the Agape, Alfred nails Susan below a crimson sheet. He questions her about a girl she saw many years ago. We return to the image of the girl Susan saw, an orange in her mouth. She was in the orchard by her house, where an older boy helped her reach one of the oranges. Susan is afraid to admit it was her, and Alfred questions: “Why would you be so afraid of yourself?” Something dark lies in her past.
The next day, Jack goes to the desert, where he searches for his work so he can take it back. He runs into Marvin, who lets slip the lies Richard’s been telling. The two chemists talk briefly about the fuel problem. The solution requires “a solid and a liquid” at once. Before they talk more, Richard turns up and things become even nastier between the once friends. It all may serve to light a bigger fire underneath Mr. Parsons than ever.
At home, while Jack works, next door Ernest (Rupert Friend) is conducting some magick in a circle of candles. Is he working to help Jack achieve his true will? Looks like it to me. He desperately wants his pal to succeed. He also wants Jack to know him intimately, deeply. Soon, the two men are heading out to shoot rockets off at night. They set one off that explodes not too far from the ground, disappointing Jack. Yet he says it will send him in “the right direction.” Ernest doesn’t want him to give up, he urges his friend to keep fighting. And that puts them into a brutal fight for a moment. Eventually it sends Jack off, angry with Ernest.
The doubt in Richard, sowed by Jack, is beginning to show. He works out a mathematical equation to show Marisol is “the one” for him. He’s worried after what his former colleague said about the two of them being together. He admits to her he’s in love, too. After that he suggests wanting to marry her. She then reveals to him how they met was planned.
Susan is back in her orchard memories. She recalls the older boy there. When Virgil (Michael Gaston) found her talking to him, he beat the boy and pulled her back home forcefully. Whoa. I wonder if there’s a darker history concerning Virgil hidden beneath his Christly family demeanour.
We see Jack take his promotion at work. When he gets home he sees Ernest has vanished, the house being repainted and cleaned. Things are changing drastically now, he’s doubting all Thelema taught him and he’s seriously questioning all the time he spent working on chemistry and rockets. When Susan arrives, she finds her husband burning all his things in a fire out back. Jack decides to abandon his dreams, wanting things to be like they were before. Except Susan’s turned a corner, not willing to let go of the Agape. The married couple keeps coming apart at the seams, reversing the positions in which they began this strange journey.
When Jack burns his Thelema book, the embers catch the house on fire. Across the roof he sees footsteps of some Great Beast, which appears to him, howling. Oh, my. I wonder if this will turn Jack around.
“Who am I and what shall be the sign?”
Next episode is our finale! Can’t believe we’ve gotten this far, and it’s only gotten better with every chapter. Truly a great vessel for Heathcote and Reynor, too. “The Sacrificial Dance” is next time.