Netflix’s Midnight Mass
“Book IV: Lamentations”
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Flanagan & Dani Parker
* For a recap & review of “Book III: Proverbs,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Book V: Gospels,” click here.
Erin’s getting another checkup with Dr. Gunning, talking about how things have been going. But the doc seems to be slightly worried about what’s going on with the baby, even turning the screen away from the expectant mother. No heartbeat, like there’s literally nothing inside Erin anymore, not a trace of her growing baby. All Dr. Gunning can figure is Erin miscarried, but Erin’s not satisfied. Not a good sign later when the doctor watches a blood sample from Erin smoke in the vial and semi explode.
Bev and Sturge are both amazed at the revelation about Father Paul being Monsignor Pruitt, though she’s more inclined to find it wonderful, whereas he’s pretty “scared shitless” about everything that happened. Then there’s Father Paul, dealing with his recent resurrection, while Bev can’t stop comparing him to Lazarus and Jesus Christ. He also insists this is all “a matter of faith” and doesn’t want to bring science into the mix by calling a doctor to check on him. He tells Bev something’s “shifting” in him: “It‘s like I can feel God move inside me.” Right now they’re going to keep things quiet, but Bev wants to tell people on Crockett Island the truth eventually, if not soon, believing it’ll give everyone more hope.
Riley continues to help his father Ed out on the boat. This morning his father takes this time to talk with his eldest son alone. Ed admits to resenting his boy, long before prison, most of it stemming from his blue collar background and believing Riley thought it was beneath him. The entire trip to prison, and the crime that put Riley there, certainly made things worse, too. But Ed ultimately blames himself for Riley’s problems, and he apologises for not being able to show his son love properly.
At home, Erin’s trying to keep herself busy by going through old things belonging to her mother. She has company when Riley comes over, though she’s deeply depressed from the strange baby situation. She talks about her mother a lot. Such as one incident when mom was clipping doves’ wings so “they wouldn‘t fly away” and made her little girl hold the doves while it was happening. Little Erin let one of the doves go and got beaten for it. Her mother generally resented her entire existence. Such a sad monologue from Erin about being saved by her baby, only to somehow lose the child mysteriously. Riley talks about the dream he keeps having since prison, about being out on the water alone before sunrise yet never making it to sunrise before he wakes up, and he takes it as a sign of having no future beyond Crockett Island again. Then he and Erin pray together. After that they talk about God, life, and death. Riley’s descriptive idea about dying and becoming organic matter is an interesting way of thinking spiritually but by way of logic and science.
We see Father Paul praying with his rosary beads when he gets the taste of blood from a cut. He likes it! So, he slices open his skin a little more and gets a bigger taste, even when he doesn’t want to eat any regular food. At the same time, Joe’s at the store doing his best to resist the temptation of buying beer, saying a prayer, and he eventually walks out. Then Father Paul decides to go see Mildred, to perform Mass for her. It all makes sense now why Mildred thought Father Paul was Pruitt, because, y’know, he is, and it isn’t her dementia talking. Also now it’s becoming clear just why they used Alex Essoe to play the old lady. We’re definitely going to see her become young again, like Father Paul. However, what’s the downside to Pruitt’s transformation into Father Paul? I mean, he was hacking up blood, he died at one point. There’s clearly a downside.
“Everyone gets their wings clipped at some point”
At home, Father Paul’s not what you’d call ‘doing well.’ He’s in rough shape. He screams into the night outside: “Where are you?” He continuously prays and readies some sacramental wine that he chugs down, right as Joe turns up at his door looking for a bit of Alcoholics Anonymous faith while struggling. He invites Joe in for a talk but can’t ignore the pain wrenching his guts. Joe notices the old picture of Monsignor Pruitt on the wall, noting the uncanniness and that Father Paul could be the man’s son. Then he excuses himself.
But Father Paul stops him, saying he’s proud of Joe for fighting against “that hunger.” He offers a hug and won’t let go, causing a struggle that results in Joe cracking his head on the coffee table. Father Paul ignores Joe’s pain and goes for the tasty blood running out of the man’s crackled skull.
When Erin and Riley wake up he talks about having a different dream; this time, it’s not only him out on the water, he’s there with Erin. She’s decided to go get a second opinion from a doctor on the mainland about her baby, instead of attending church. She also suggests Riley come back again that evening. Elsewhere in town, Sheriff Hassan’s watching his son get ready to go off to Sunday Mass with Leeza and her family. He encourages Ali to be curious, but advises him not to forget his own faith.
At Mass, Father Paul’s late. This gets Bev in a huff, so she goes out back to the house to check on the priest. She lets herself inside and sees the bloody aftermath from the night before. She’s not even that shocked, only wondering if Father Paul’s okay. “We‘ve got you,” she says. Big problem? Father Paul’s burning in the sunlight, like a vampire. Bev heads back into the church and lets the congregation know their priest’s got “a stomach bug.” She asks Dolly Scarborough to lead in singing instead. Bev enlists Mayor Wade and Sturge to get rid of Joe’s body in the meantime, even if the men are shocked. She’s hellbent on Father Paul, the real Monsignor Pruitt, being a miracle sent to Crockett Island, even if he’s actually some kind of vampiric angel-demon who needs blood to survive.
On the mainland, Erin has tests run and a doctor says there’s no evidence she was ever pregnant. Very confusing. It’s like Erin’s own body and blood are biologically gaslighting her. She heads back to Crockett Island more confused than when she left. At the rec centre, Riley meets with Father Paul, just the two of them again seeing as how Joe’s dead. He and the priest talk a bit, and he notices a lie about Joe visiting his sister, who he knows actually died a while ago. And that sticks with Riley after the meeting. Meanwhile, Annie thinks there are more miracles happening on the island; she doesn’t need her glasses much anymore, Ed’s back is getting better exponentially. She’s convinced God is working his mysterious ways there. She can’t convince Riley of that, though. Especially after Father Paul’s little lie earlier. So he asks his mother to be careful with her faith in the priest.
Intriguing twist on addiction with Father Paul dying for a taste of his own special sacrament. He receives a visit at the rec centre from a tall, shadowy figure with long fingers and awful nails, who opens their wrist to pour blood into the sacramental chalice. Simultaneously, Riley can’t let go of the priest’s lie about Joe, and he goes to the rec centre, where he witnesses Father Paul praying while the tall figure bleeds. And that’s when Riley gets attacked by the angel-demon-vampire thing, sucked off his blood.