Netflix’s Midnight Mass
“Book III: Proverbs”
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike & James Flanagan
* For a recap & review of “Book II: Psalms,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Book IV: Lamentations,” click here.
At the church, Father Paul sits alone in a confessional: “Bless me Lord, for I am going to sin.” He says he’s going to lie to his congregation about Monsignor Pruitt. Apparently the Monsignor was very ill when he went on his pilgrimage in Jerusalem, much worse than everybody knew. He was doing lots more wandering, falling deeper into the grips of dementia. Father Paul’s saying he wants to prepare his congregation for “the miracles to come.” But at what cost?
We see Father Paul after he helps Leeza walk again. He starts to cough, rushing out the back and into his house, coughing more until he spits up blood. Bev follows him concerned. Meanwhile, Dr. Gunning’s having a look at Leeza, asking if the girl had felt anything before that morning. Seems like a miracle, “a gospels real one.” The doc’s not willing to go that far. She’d like to do tests, but the family’s poor, they can’t afford to “interrogate a miracle.” Plus, Sarah’s got problems of her own dealing with Mildred, who’s wandering around the house.
People in town now want Father Paul to pray over their ill loved ones, yet Bev meets them all outside the house, telling them it isn’t how things work. She prays with them in the meantime. That evening, Father Paul and Riley have another AA meeting, just the two of them. Riley wants to talk about the priest’s big miracle, whereas the priest doesn’t want to make a big deal over it. He’s not sold on religion, but he’s shocked by Father Paul somehow knowing Leeza could walk. The priest has no real answer for Riley; at least not one that sits well, anyway.
Everyone around Crockett Island is amazed by the miracle of Leeza walking. Everyone wants to talk to her, or walk near her, like the miracle might rub off on them, too. At home, Ed’s feeling pretty good himself, in spite of a historically bad back. He and Annie have a dance together, to more Neil Diamond (“Holly Holy“). Upstairs, Riley keeps seeing the girl he killed in the crash, even when he’s not asleep. So he heads out to sit with Erin on her porch for a while. He keeps going to church with his family, and the whole town continues to fall in love with Father Paul post-miracle.
Everyone continues their own cycles and the town’s collective cycle from day to day on Crockett Island. Things seem good, generally. The crowd at church only gets bigger all the time with people in town starting to come regularly without fail. Father Paul goes on preaching to his congregation, giving them hope for the future. He says “God‘s gifts” are not metaphors but realities, not abstracts or “colourful exaggerations” but concrete things. He also says God gives out miracles rarely and deals mostly in mysteries. Then Father Paul gets dizzy and suddenly passes out.
More of Father Paul in the confessional, talking about Monsignor Pruitt’s trip to Jerusalem. Pruitt wandered from his group and wound up in the desert during a sandstorm. He came to a cave where he took shelter. We’re interrupted by Father Paul getting a checkup from Dr. Gunning, hearing that it’s like his body’s “fighting a virus” but nothing particularly’s showing itself. Theory Time: Did Father Paul absorb Leeza’s paralysis? Is that why he immediately started coughing and hacking up blood?
Quite the moment when Joe gets a visit from Leeza. She comes into his trailer and sees his gun up on the wall, asking if it’s the gun that caused her paralysis. He tossed the gun after the accident. Leeza came to tell Joe about the day he shot her and then tells him: “I hate you.” She wants him to feel bad and to suffer for what he did to her and her family. She’s glad to see the way he lives. He tries to apologise, but it can never be enough, even if she’s able to walk now. Yet Leeza forgives Joe, despite her hate.
At school there’s a meeting and Sheriff Hassan has to school Bev, as well as everybody, about the Muslim faith, after the sheriff found a Bible in Ali’s things recently. He’s a brave man in a small town, trying to help everybody understand his faith like they, mainly Bev, are trying to make him understand their own. He makes clear a public school shouldn’t be pushing religion, of any sort. If he were handing out the Koran it’d be a different story, definitely. Bev tries to make herself seem less racist and walk things back a little ways, then she tries to equate a Bible to a book of history or science, quietly rebutted by Erin; she doesn’t quite do a good job. Though she does roll into helping her cause with hyperbole, along with “actual bonafide miracles” happening.
And lots of folks on Crockett Island agree with Bev. This just leaves Sheriff Hassan to have a troubling conversation with his boy. He also sees something outside when turning off the light. Or, does he?
Now Father Paul and Riley have Joe joining them at their new AA meeting. Still a small group, but a trio nonetheless. Joe and Riley can certainly relate to a degree, given they’re both alcoholics who’ve done awful things. Riley doesn’t think he’s able to offer anything to Joe because of his own history, but he tries, telling him “it‘s enough” to simply show up at the start, the journey needs to begin somewhere. Father Paul can barely wait for the two men to get out of there before he’s hacking again. On the walk home, Joe tells Riley he feels like maybe his life’s worth fighting for after all, following their little meeting. They’re two pariahs on Crockett Island, they understand one another’s plight.
Bev’s with Mayor Wade and his wife planning a celebration to honour Father Paul when the priest comes home and starts choking, spewing blood. Then the priest’s dead. We go back to Father Paul’s story about Monsignor Pruitt in the cave-like ruins of Jerusalem’s desert. The Monsignor saw two eyes glowing in the darkness, and then he was attacked by a demon-like thing, the blood sucked out of him; it was an angel. The angel then fed Monsignor Pruitt from its own wrist, giving him blood again. Why? Because fuck it, that’s why! Eventually Monsignor Pruitt crawled out of the ruins and he was young again, he was Father Paul.
And then, the dead Father Paul resurrects, scaring Bev and the others.
Another miracle for Crockett Island.
Great angel in this episode! So creepy. Looks like a traditional demon, which fits well with Christian mythology and the idea of demons being angels cast out of Heaven. Not sure if that’s where any of this is going, I just love John Milton. Excited to see more of Midnight Mass.