Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 5: “Dreams Die First”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 5: “Dreams Die First”
Directed by Nestor Carbonell
Written by Erica Lipez & Kerry Ehrin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hidden” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Marion” – click here
Pic 1Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) is gradually figuring things out about himself. The more he falls into the delusion of mother (Vera Farmiga) still being alive, the farther he falls into a dark headspace, half knowing he’s mad, half unable to stop the process. He wakes up with scratches on his back, not exactly sure where they came from, but Norman goes on to face the day. Only Norma’s nowhere to be found.
Where could she have gone? Clues are all he has, including a matchbook from a bar. Then Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) calls him up, says she has something they need to talk about. Hmm.
Pic 1AEmma (Olivia Cooke) finds one of her mother’s earrings kicking around, though Dylan (Max Thieriot) claims it was his mother’s jewellery. Ah, the truth on that end has yet to come out. And building that new life of his, all honest and proper, I don’t think Dylan’s going to be able to let that sit. Not forever. I suspect this will have something to do with the last few episodes, and the fate of what happens to Norman in the long run.
Sheriff Greene wants to try prying more information about former Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) – who he knew, his friends, hobbies, anything. Of course Norman only offers that he was a “lonely, very unhappy man.” She knows there’s a reason Romero has escaped, to come back to White Pine Bay and finish some previously unfinished business. She’s too smart, and Norman is up against more than he can handle, for now. He can’t simply bullshit his way out of this one, not with Sheriff Greene.
Again at home Norman can’t find mother. He seethes with rage, believing that she’s hiding or avoiding him. So he calls up the White Horse Bar, from the matchbook. Apparently Norma left her car there last night and the bartender has her keys. Has Norman been actually going OUT dressed as mother? Yikes, that is an escalation.
When Emma brings up the earring to Dylan they talk of contacting Norma. He doesn’t want any part of it, getting a bit angry. But it’s more so the fact he’s pretty sure his brother killed his mother-in-law.


Later on, Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally) calls Norman to apologise for their previous evening. Her husband’s off in Seattle. She offers to drive Norman over to pick up his car; the longer they’re in contact, the more I worry for her. Especially the cold, detached way he acts, which gets worse as he tangles with mother’s influence. Still, he offers good advice for Madeleine – talk to her husband, figure things out. Soon Norman finally reveals to her that the first time he met Sam the guy was bringing a woman to the Bates Motel. She doesn’t respond well, unwilling to believe what he’s told her. Hurt, angry, she leaves.
Norman: “I sure understand what it is to be lonely, although I dont have a choice.”
Except Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) is rolling around in bed with Marion Crane (Rihanna). More than that they’re in love, deeply. She doesn’t even care about his shitty debt. Now she’d like to come down to White Pine Bay for a visit, though he’d rather she not. This starts to setup a revisiting of the plot from Robert Bloch’s (/Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of) Psycho. From what I see so far, Rihanna will make an interesting Marion, a totally different version from Janet Leigh, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. She has the sort of mysterious, alluring look the role requires.
We get a brief look at Marion’s life, her work as a notary, having to deal with arrogant men around her in the financial industry. All working towards her eventual getaway.
Pic 3Norman gets to the White Horse Bar and picks up the keys to his car. Pretty sure the bartender remembers him, probably from wearing a dress, a blonde wig, et cetera. Such a creepy, unsettling conversation, as it’s clear the guy doesn’t realise that Norma and Norman don’t know they’re the same person. Just a fantastic scene! Norman’s really going to pieces.
We’ve come to it – Mr. Lowery gives Marion the hundreds of thousands of dollars to deposit, so that it isn’t sitting at the office over the weekend. He’s also dismissive of her talent, being a bit harsher than needed. And this all but mentally seals the deal for Marion. Sitting next to the briefcase you can see the wheels in her brain turning.
Driving in the street, Norman comes across Dr. Gregg Edwards (Damon Gupton). They have a cup of coffee together. Norman thanks the good doctor for his help. He lies about taking his medication, not having blackouts. Then Dr. Edwards mentions his “coping mechanisms” for dealing with trauma – a.k.a becoming mother – and this all but sends the young man into a trance. He knows that he sees mother when she’s “not really there” and that he becomes her. And certainly Norman denies all of this to the doc, saying it never happens anymore. Yeah, right. Even a blind man would see through that.
Jumping in her little red Mazda, loaded to the gills with cash, Marion hits the highway. What I love is that we’re getting all the same plot points about Ms. Crane, only that they’re adapted to make things a little different and fresh. When a cop pulls her over, she isn’t sleeping like Janet Leigh, she’s got a coat sticking from the trunk; the cop is also played by series producer Carlton Cuse. Tense moment when she pops her trunk, worrying all that money will be found. Then, nothing. She heads on further to White Pine Bay.
Not only that, she’s calling Sam who isn’t pleased to hear she is on her way. Plus, it seems Marion isn’t in on the fact he’s a married man. What a double dealing bastard. This puts Marion in such a terrible position, essentially driven out there to him and only to soon find her way into a horrific situation at the Bates Motel.
Pic 4Dylan sits Emma down and tells her about why he cut off contact with Norma. He explains about Norman, his mental illness. That he could “do anything” in his fits of rage. He talks about Blair Watson, Norman killing his father. Then he brings up the earring, that Norma was holding onto it. Eventually, Dylan says he believes it was possible something bad happened to her mother at the motel, obviously freaking Emma out and upsetting her for not knowing sooner.
Searching for answers, Norman goes to the White Horse where he’s recognised. This is another aspect of the adaptation I love! He isn’t just going into a psychosis at home, hurting people. He’s out living a life crossdressing as Norma, hitting the bar and meeting people. This isn’t merely a way to dissociate into a state where he kills, this is a full on identity crisis. He isn’t dressing up as mother: he is LIVING as mother. Even having sex as a mother. Yowzahs, Norman! He winds up having an episode in the bathroom after encountering the man he hooked up with the night before. One of the single eeriest scenes ever on Bates Motel.
Norman: “I need my mother
That night when Emma Googles the Bates Motel, she discovers that Norma was found dead of an apparent suicide. This will definitely start bringing Dylan back into the mix of Norman and mother’s fucked up lives.
And Marion, she’s pulling up to the Bates Motel to meet Sam. While Norman is in the midst of a state of terrible psychosis. What will happen next?


Jesus, do I ever love this show! The series gets better all the time, and now with the Psycho plot in motion I’m incredibly interested in how the series will do its swan song in the final episodes. Lots to look forward to, and I do think Rihanna will impress as Marion Crane.
Next is the aptly titled “Marion” in which we’ll witness her arrival at the motel, as well as whatever that brings.

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Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 4: “Hidden”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 4: “Hidden”
Directed by Max Thieriot
Written by Torrey Speer

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bad Blood” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dreams Die First” – click here
Pic 1Now that Chick (Ryan Hurst) is officially in on the body count, how will things unfold for him going forward with Norman (Freddie Highmore) and Norma (Vera Farmiga)?
First of all, they’ve got to deal with the corpse of Caleb (Kenny Johnson) that’s sprawled in the middle of the road. Norman wouldn’t mind calling the sheriff, though the other two aren’t so sure about that option. And clearly Chick isn’t keen on that for being the one to have hit him. Seeing Norman navigate conversation between a dead woman and a living man is delightfully disturbing. Then Chick takes the corpse, Norman takes the groceries, and that’s that!
Can’t forget about Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell). He’s been shot on a farm while heading back towards White Pine Bay. He pleas with the kid who shot him for a bit of first aid, so on. Not like Alex is going to the cops, having escaped a police transfer last episode. What motivates him seems to be just an utter need, a burning desire to get home and deal with Norman, once and for all.
Pic 2I love Chick. He’s so weird and quirky, but not too much. He is way out there. Not so far that it’s annoying or that it doesn’t fit. Sort of nice to see someone amongst this cast of characters over five whole seasons who isn’t the same typical White Pine Bay resident like all the other greasy, crooked people that exist in their small town.
Speaking of their community, there’s a new sheriff: Jane Greene (Brooke Smith). What a mess she’s inherited.
At home Norman isn’t happy with “how things are.” He and mother aren’t seeing eye to eye, he doesn’t like that things never go how he plans. More than that the two of them argue about dresses like the wild maniacs they are. And nothing feels better once Sheriff Greene comes poking around to meet Norman. Jim Blackwell, the man who came to kill him, has skipped on his parole; she found the Bates address in his belongings. She worries Alex, who’s now escaped, might be coming to cause problems. Or that there’s something both Blackwell and Alex are after, perhaps in the house, in the motel. Not good for Norman and mother to have an officer of the law snooping. She’s all good intentions. Just that… he’s a psychopath, guilty of so, so many things.
And now this ratchets up the tension between mother and son. He doesn’t even tell her about her former husband and the escape. Knowing deep down that Romero is on the way to their home.
Norma: “So I shouldve just let Jim Blackwell kill you?”
Norman: “Maybe
Norma: “Thats depressing


The more he and mother fight, the further Norman drifts towards Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally). He actually brings her some of mother’s dresses in an unnerving gesture; scary because he not only has interest in Madeleine, she looks similar to Norma and that’s what propels his desire most of all. There’s a great, sly little Psycho reference when she brings out his shower curtains, remarking that he must go through a lot of those; he casually replies that “Yes, yes. We do actually.” Can’t help believe that’s a nod to Hitchcock and the infamous shower scene, as Janet Leigh and the curtains alike were slashed apart.
Later on at home Norman has a talk with Chick. He doesn’t want him around the house so much. Chick feels a bit betrayed, by how much he’s done for them. Not so smart for Norman to turn his back on a guy who’s seen all the secrets. I see this having serious repercussions.
Romero makes a fake ambulance call outside an apartment building. When the EMTS arrive prepared for an overdose, he slips into the rig and gets himself a few necessities to treat his wounds. Then he does a bit of homemade surgery on the buck shot in his gut. Enough to keep him alive, anyways.
When Sheriff Greene snoops around more at the motel Norman starts putting his foot in his mouth. While he covers his ass, he doesn’t do it very well. Her suspicion is official at this point. Stupid Norman! Should’ve let mother do the talking. Except she’s a bit irrational herself. She hid Blackwell’s car in the woods after killing him. And the sheriff is searching for that very vehicle. Norman wants to be rid of it totally, and Norma insists it was wiped clean, et cetera.
So… what to do, what to do?


They argue. Norman almost kills mother. Things are not good inside this insane young man’s mind. Fractured into pieces is an understatement. Regardless, they decide on leaving the car and heading home for the night. One of the creepier scenes so far this season, just a strange, atmospheric tension, and the way it’s shot makes the moment all the more unsettling.
Those dresses belonging to mother fit Madeleine perfectly. This excites Norman, quite a bit. Or makes him happy. Or makes him want to bang his mom; who knows?! Still this precipitates a dinner between Madeleine and Norman. I wonder if it’ll get romantic. Possibly murderous, if things don’t go the way mother would want.
Chick gets a visit from Norman at his trailer. The kid wants advice, on hot wiring a car. He wants to get rid of that car in the woods. But Chick knows something’s up: “What did you do?” He’ll help, only if Norman tells him the truth. He gets it. Not the full truth: the truth about mother.
At the house, Norman tells Norma about his dinner with Madeleine. She’s not thrilled. Yet off he goes, no matter. When he shows up at her place she’s wearing one of mother’s dresses. Good lord! This is getting scarier with every passing scene. What particularly gets me is that in Hitchcock’s Psycho, Sam Loomis (played in the series by Austin Nichols) is a divorced hardware store owner. Will the history be rewritten to make Sam a widowed man instead of divorce? I worry poor Madeleine’s not long for this world.
Pic 7Madeleine and Norman make cake together, listening to Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” and falling into each other’s arms. Suddenly, mother shows up. Norman has a vision of cutting Madeleine’s throat, or of mother doing it; the blood, the body on the floor. None of it actually happened, though. He runs home. He can’t find Norma anywhere. He finds only the remnants of a man living alone.
Is this an acceptance of his psychosis? No, it’s only a deepening sense of it coming on stronger and stronger. Mother’s will is becoming terrifyingly merged with that of Norman’s, and this means nothing but more bloodshed.
Pic 8A great, great episode that had me on the edge of my seat near the end! Loving this season. Such a fascinating way to go out, plus lots of awesome adapted writing coming out of what Bloch and Hitchcock each did. Excited for more.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 3: “Bad Blood”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 3: “Bad Blood”
Directed by Sarah Boyd
Written by Tom Szentgyorgyi

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Convergence of the Twain” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Hidden” – click here
Pic 1Caleb (Kenny Johnson) is waking up chained to the basement floor after being surprised by Norman (Freddie Highmore), dressed as Norma (Vera Farmiga). He wakes to his sister speaking to him. Only, it’s not, of course. It’s his nephew, dressed as his sister. So awfully creepy. Then there’s whatever Norman plans on doing with his uncle Caleb.
Could be a brutal end for him.
Pic 2And what about Chick (Ryan Hurst)? He knows all the secrets. He’s bore witness to the blonde wig, the odd way Norman sways across the room when he’s in his mother’s clothes/skin. They’ve formed a tenuous bond. I only wonder what Chick is getting out of this, other than maybe a bit of revenge on Caleb along the way. For now, he’s staying at the Bates house to protect Norma/Norman against the nasty uncle downstairs. Hmm. A truly strange situation, all around.
Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is being transferred from prison, and he’s another one I wonder about – he has a card up his sleeve. When they make a stop for gas and a bathroom break, he takes his chance and enacts a plan for escape.
At home Norman and his mother keep on coexisting, as best they can. She takes care of him as usual. In their creepy kind of way. He doesn’t remember that Caleb is downstairs, but she does, and she tries keeping him away from the basement. Always trying to control him. But of course Chick is still kicking around, curious about how Norman navigates his fugue state. He reveals he knows about Norma, and another tenuous bond with the other half of Norman is made.
Chick: “Were all in this sideshow together. And then we die.”
Caleb remembers his childhood with Norma, both of them brutalised by a crazy mother. Trying to survive. They had no one but each other, and despite what came later in their lives I can understand why their bond, for a time, was extremely strong. None of it matters now with Caleb chained in that basement and Chick standing guard.


Alex steals a car and then runs it off the road when he’s far enough. He makes his way back home, one mile at a time. In the meantime, Chick sits down to dinner with Norman and Norma, or y’know, one of them at least. He also brings a recorder with him. He offers to help them around the house, just for a sense of being with people after living alone so long. And what a conversation they all have together! Surreal, and crafty on Chick’s part, as well.
Later, Norman receives Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally) at the motel. She clearly feels comfortable with him; bad move. But she’s having troubles with her husband, obviously. And this is a way for Norman to worm his way into her life.
In the basement Caleb hallucinates and thinks he’s hugging Norma, then her corpse. Then Norman, upstairs, finds out his uncle is trapped down there. That he’s spoken to Norma. Further than that Norman continues straddling the line between sane and utterly fucking psychopathic, as he doesn’t even understand his mother is literally dead, not just figuratively and pretending. So he heads down to talk to uncle Caleb, where mother takes over. Then both of them are hallucinating, in their own respects.
Norma: “Im sorry, Norman will probably have to kill you. I cant do it.”
Pic 5Pic 5ATrying to steal another car, Alex gets shot in the gut. What a tough, bloody journey!
Chick is continuing to record his story about the Bates family. He goes looking for a typewriter, to type up his novel. Getting ahead of himself a little on the true crime writing, though. I worry that, mixed up with the Bates’, he’s only going to get burned. Or worse.
And Norma, he had a little quality time with uncle Caleb. While thinking he was his mother. So, there are issues with his understanding: what he knows v. what mother knows. Never clear, at least for him. She wants him to kill Caleb and get this situation cauterised. Although her boy doesn’t think he can do that. Tsk, tsk, Norman – mother knows best. She advises a quick bullet to the temple.
Can he accomplish the task? We know murder’s not exactly out of his wheelhouse. He’s done plenty of heinous things before, just not all of them while fully conscious.
The answer is no – Norman can’t kill his uncle. He runs him out instead. Prompting Norma to take over and fire on Caleb. Inadvertently, Chick plays his part and accidentally runs him over in the road on the way back to the motel. Oh, shit.


Another great chapter in this last season. So many strange things converging, and now Caleb’s seemingly been taken out of the picture. Is he dead? Or just fucked up completely? Either way, Chick and Norma/Norman have their hands full with another likely corpse; at the very least, now a vegetable. Thing is, Chick has as much to lose as Norman, and their tenuous bond becomes more concrete, stuck together with blood.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 2: “The Convergence of the Twain”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 2: “The Convergence of the Twain”
Directed by Sarah Boyd
Written by Alyson Evans & Steve Kornacki

* For a recap & review of the Season 5 premiere, “Dark Paradise” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bad Blood” – click here
Pic 1Norman (Freddie Highmore) is heading up to the prison. He and Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) have things they need to discuss. And that surprises the former sheriff. He isn’t exactly happy to see his former stepson. Especially considering the guy he sent to see Norma was supposed to kill him. Lots of tense mindgames going on right now. And outright threats, too. While Norman gloats, Alex makes clear he isn’t going away.
But on life goes for Mr. Bates. Another day, another act for him to perform.
In other news, Caleb (Kenny Johnson) has left. Emma (Olivia Cooke) tells Dylan (Max Theriot) she talked to him about their worries with him around. “No secrets,” she tells him. Dylan understands. Although he’s rightfully conflicted. He still has his concerns over what happened to Emma’s mother. Whether Norman did something terrible.
And Caleb, he’s back at the motel. Not knowing the truth of what’s happened there since he’s been gone. Nobody is around, so he lets himself inside the house. He quickly sees something isn’t right, the place is messy and generally looks unkempt. He finds no one. He does find a book called The Lost Art of Mummification. Creepy shit, all things considered.
Pic 2In prison, Alex gets into a nasty fight with another inmate. Taking quite the beating. Because his mind is elsewhere. Being locked up is one thing, knowing your former wife – saint or no – was killed by her son is an entirely other beast. And speaking of the beast, Norman is honing his focus on Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally), whom he watches from afar. She actually offers to fix him up with someone she knows. A double date with her and her husband. Although there’s definitely a weird chemistry between them. Then we see that David Davidson is her husband, Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols). Ohhh damn, he knows a little secret, and that could be a thorn in Sam’s side. Yikes!
At home Norma (Vera Farmiga) is learning French online. Might as well keep her mind active, right? Being dead can really take its toll. She senses something, and coaxes out a conversation about Romero. A little later Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst) turns up knocking at the door with apples. And a business proposition. He’d like Norman to do a bit of taxidermy from time to time, then he’ll help sell the pieces. A partnership is born.
Caleb checks himself into a motel and finds out indirectly that Norma died. That’s rough. Devastating way to discover her supposed suicide.


Sam Loomis goes to see Norman, looking for discretion. He doesn’t wholly get what he wants. Instead, he threatens Norman. God damn, did he ever pick the wrong creepy motel manager to fuck with! As if he could know how insane Norman is, it was like a twist of fate they’ve come across one another.
No matter how unsettling the relationship between Caleb and Norma Louise, there’s still heartbreak seeing him at her grave. I don’t care. I know he’s a terrible person for what he did when they were younger. Regardless, he experiences horrible emotion having to see that Norma died while he ran away elsewhere.
Norman: “Please dont be childish, mother. Its boring.”
Out for his date, Norman plays the part of normal human being, alien amongst people in a skin suit. He asks his date all the right questions, all the while Sam stares him down, wondering if his dirty little secrets will trickle out. The two men are verbally at each other’s throats. Yet Norman is sharper, one step ahead at all times, in every way. Worse than anything mother turns up in the washroom to chastise her boy for lying about the double date dinner. Tsk, tsk, Norman. Of course he isn’t actually lying to her. She’s fucking dead. He’s only lying to himself, which is nothing new.


After getting beat up, Alex is looking to get himself out of prison. Using it as an excuse to say his life is in danger. This would get him out into the free world again. To… take care, of Norman. Like a good stepfather, whose wife the boy murdered and passed off as suicide. So messed up. Not quite as messed up as Norman, though. Who’s interested in Madeleine specifically because she looks like his mother. And that bothers Norma, even though, y’know, they’re technically the same person. So deliciously unhinged.
Seeing him become Norma in his own skin is visually interesting, also a great feat of acting on Freddie Highmore’s part. The way he embodies Norma, moving like her and taking on her mannerisms, et cetera. Amazing work. And the writing is top notch.
Meanwhile, Chick is writing it all down in one of his notebooks. Telling the story of Norman Bates. He also notices, across the bar, Caleb sitting for a drink. That’s a score left to be settled, in a massive way. But Chick knows everything about their family, the darkest of the hidden secrets. That’s a lot with which to be armed. We see that Caleb is more interested in holding Norman responsible for the death of his sister.
He goes to the house and breaks inside. But he finds nobody, again. Aside from the corpse of his dead sister in the basement. All the while Norman is running around dressed as mother. He knocks Caleb out. Right as Chick comes in to witness it all. Whoooa!


I knew this was coming and yet the way the writing manages to weave things it’s all a nice surprise. The addition of Chick as a character in the mix is an interesting one. Excited to see what happens next with him and Norman/Norma.

Damien – Season 1 Finale: “Ave Satani”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 10: “Ave Satani”
Directed by Nick Copus
Written by Glen Mazzara

* For a review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Damien Season 1 finale screening in L.A. tonight, which includes a lunch, plus Q&A with Executive Producer Glen Mazzara and star Bradley James. Unfortunately travel/time constraints would not permit me being there. However, the people at FOX were kind enough to send me a personal screener. Something for which I was very grateful.
SO… if you’ve not yet seen this finale, DO NOT KEEP READING! You will be spoiled. Otherwise, if you want to be spoiled, dive on in.
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 3.21.41 PM
Here we are – the finale of Damien‘s first season. It’s been a great ride, getting better with each chapter. “Ave Satani” is upon us, and with the end of last episode, Damien Thorn (Bradley James) may finally have slipped into full-on Antichrist mode!
We start as Damien leads Simone (Megalyn E.K.) out from the woods. They run up on some big military-style vehicles, men with red dotted sights freeze them in their tracks. Ah, it’s Lyons (Scott Wilson). Of course. Now he’s revealing more of Armitage’s involvement with his supposed future. “Youll rule for a long, long time,” he tells Damien. But the young Antichrist is not happy with any of the explanations and the bullshit.
When Lyons orders Simone shot, then Damien taken in, the power of the Antichrist emerges, as he turns the men and their guns on themselves. While Damien and Simone make off, you can see Lyons is very pleased with how things are going. God damn psychotic. This opener assures us, though – Mazzara and the crew have readied us a properly horrific finale.


Ann (Barbara Hershey) and Amani (Omid Abtahi) take the now dead Veronica back. But Amani makes it clear, mother is to blame. While that’s obvious she clearly doesn’t want to hear that. And downstairs, Amani gets ziptied to a chair. Things are definitely breaking down. Lyons arrives and starts to convince Ann they need to begin action. For her part, she seems ready. Because Ann is one hell of a bad ass lady, no matter if she’s a bit evil and freaky.
Poor Sister Greta (Robin Weigert) finds herself in the hands of Lyons and Armitage. No telling what her fate will be. They’ll keep her around, a while. Then, who knows. The rest of her crew meet a terrible end on their knees in the forest.


Ann (to Lyons): “Blood will spill. Hers, yours, mine.”
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 3.32.50 PM
Meanwhile we’re privy to the terrible creepiness of Damien’s Antichrist presence and how it affects others. When Simone and Damien track down a car, the woman inside confesses her love for him – “Its all for you, Damien!” – then tries to kill herself before Simone intervenes. This was honestly one of the most unsettling scenes for me in the whole first season. Just how quickly the sentiment overcame her. Chilling.
Ann comes face to face with Sister Greta, after the awful death of her daughter. She promises the nun a similar end.
Cut to Vatican City – the remaining daggers of Megiddo are packed up and carried off. All sorts of blades and weaponry are likewise packed, and a gang of holy men are off on a mission. Yowzahs! Love this brief moment, really had dark energy. Then there’s Bear McCreary’s eerie score, which only serves to consistently make the atmosphere of this series creepier and creepier.
Out in the woods again at the old trailer where he and Powell used to meet, Damien brings Simone to lay low. Plus, he washes off all that nasty earth and blood from his resurrection the night previous. He even sees a little flash of the old woman from Damascus. All the evil of his life is crowding around him. And that adds more weight to the woman in the car who tried committing suicide, immediately pledging her life to him: it’s as if all those old evils he’d previously experienced, unknowingly the coming of his place as the Antichrist, are coming back around again, now that his eyes are wide open.


The debate about who’s worse rages between Sister Greta and Ann. They’re each hard, tough women. Although, I can’t help but believe they’re equally as stubborn. If in their world both God and the Devil/Antichrist exist, then the label of “cruel Lord” that Ann gives the former is perhaps most relevant. God has been responsible for quite a bit of pain and suffering, under the guise of his supposed plan. At least the Devil revels in what he does. Even after Greta pleads her case passionately, there’s no selling that old chestnut to Ms. Rutledge: “Satan is God,” proclaims Ann, “Long may he reign.”
Now Lyons is interrogating Amani about Damien’s whereabouts. This doesn’t end the best after Amani gets violent, but as Lyons puts things for him there’s no loyalty left that can save Damien. He is becoming something else now.
Doing her best, Simone sticks around with Damien, who insists she go. But she stays, readily admitting she is part of what’s happening. Then Damien says that he killed her sister Kelly, and that the same will only happen to her, as well. Likely true. Still doesn’t make her love, though. She is one tough character. At first I wasn’t a fan of Simone, but over the course of this first season she has truly grown on me. Now she’s really getting good in this finale.


Sister Greta is shown the rest of her people, shot in the head, thrown in a mass grave. Nasty. She and Amani are given the real, brutal view. Lyons tells Amani he must put Greta in the grave, or else – in a roundabout way – he says they’ll kill his mother. HOLY FUCK. That is some hardcore madness right there.
What does the nun have to say? “Gods will be done,” she sweetly, calmly tells Amani. What follows is a dark, emotionally disturbing moment. That includes Lyons putting Amani down there, too. We finally see how deceptive Lyons is, having completely fooled Amani to the end. Watching the two of them start getting dirt rained down on them is so sad, so brief, it stings.
The Antichrist side of Damien is really breaking through. He is gradually accepting his darkness and his vicious power. Further than that the danger to Simone is getting greater almost by the second. And not far outside lurks the woman from Damascus, coming closer to Damien all the time.


There’s a possible rift between Ann and Lyons now, after he effectively executed Amani. She didn’t want him to die. Most of all Lyons wants to get Damien under his control. He saw a fraction of what could be, and can’t wait to use that terrible power inside the Antichrist to bend the world to the will of Armitage.
AND YES, YES, YES! A hand emerges from the mass grave after it’s all covered up. Not all hope is lost.
Poor Detective Shay (David Meunier) is having a worse time of it, too. He thinks he see his boy on the road, then believes he runs him down. Only to discover it’s the powers of the Antichrist out in the world, the evil, sucking him into the downward spiral. On a side note, Meunier is killing it in this role. Very happy with his performance over this season and I keep wondering what will happen next in his story.
Back to the Vatican City assassins. They’re now in the same city as the Antichrist himself. What will come of this? A wild showdown is coming. Especially considering most everybody is heading for Damien, including Shay, Rutledge, Lyons, all of them, and they’re all converging on that old trailer in the woods.
Then Damien reveals he is headed to Megiddo. He figures all the answers are there, the apparent location of Armageddon. But before he can do anything, all forces rain down on the nearby field, just as Dt. Shay creeps up.


An intense little sequence here before Damien and Simone ends up confronted with Ann and Lyons. “I will kill all of you,” the Antichrist rages at them. He then finds out what Lyons did to his best friend, as Ann lays bare the truth. And of course Lyons finds himself being chased down by a pack of Rotties. Nom nom. All the while, Simone pleads him to stop, and Ann gets aroused.
Then a shocker: trying to shoot Damien, the detective puts a bullet right through Simone’s head. Wow. And just as was saying her character got more interesting to me. MAZZARA, WHY DON’T YOU LET ME HAVE NICE THINGS?
Well this is really setting Damien off. You can feel his heart breaking more. Then the woman from Damascus arrives, Damien pleads to be taken. He speaks in a language we’ve never heard of him, to his ‘father’ and then the forces of evil really start to take hold. Blood from the 666 in his head starts seeping out. It drops onto Simone and breathes life into her again. Whoa. Not only can the Antichrist take life, he can give it, too. Shay watches on and sees the power.
And from the darkness come Damien’s legions, the Antichrist’s followers, his fan club. They’re all there. For him. Kneeling, along with Ann. Even Shay. Towards us, the audience, Damien turns with a knowing, devilish smile subtly across his face.
The Antichrist has risen!

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This was an exceptional finale. I’m hoping A&E realizes the potential for it to grow, as there are already a dedicated base of fans, particularly online that always seem to be watching, tweeting along with Glen Mazzara and the others live. Personally, I wasn’t sold immediately. The pilot was decent, but I didn’t like the large amount of clips from the original Omen. Then after the second and third episode, I was sold. The whole thing progressed magically, so dark and exciting throughout its first season. And the finale spoke volumes to how wonderfully devious this show can get.
Give Mazzara and Damien another season, A&E! The ratings will get better alongside the quality. Hopefully the finale will pump some decent numbers up. Stick with me and we’ll try to make sure the network knows how much we, the fans, enjoyed this show in its initial season. Here’s to hoping for more Antichrist badness!

FatherSonHolyGore’s Exclusive Interview with Bradley James and Glen Mazzara from DAMIEN

I was lucky enough to have been invited by FOX to attend a screening of Damien’s Season 1 finale, “Ave Satani” – sadly, I couldn’t make it to Los Angeles. However, their publicity department sent me a personal finale screener. Incredibly impressed, I got to watch the episode several days before its premiere. Lucky me, right?
Well I only got luckier. Later I received another bit of correspondence asking if any of us critics who were given the screener might want to conduct an interview, either with Executive Producer Glen Mazzara or any of the actors. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to interview Glen specifically. From The Shield (on the top of my list for Best Series Ever; wrote many of my favourite episodes like “The Spread”, “Strays”, & “On Tilt”) onward everything he’s involved in I usually try and seek out. So then a conference call was set. Another unexpected turn; I figured the interview would likely be via e-mail.
And the hits just kept on coming: not only would I get the chance to ask Glen questions, but star of the show Bradley James was also slated to hop on the line with us. Anybody who doesn’t already know Bradley will certainly know him after Damien. He’s already got a built in fan club, though. As if women fawning over him weren’t enough, there’s the fact he played a pre-King Arthur Arthur on BBC One’s The Adventures of Merlin, he turned up in an episode of Homeland, as well as a handful of iZombie episodes.

Seriously, though – I get to talk with these guys?
I’ve never done any interviews for this site before. But my involvement on social media, coupled with the recaps and reviews I do weekly by episode, got me on the line with these two for almost an hour (half hour each). Between myself and a couple other media outlets, we asked Glen and Bradley some questions. Here’s some of their answers.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains minor and major spoilers in regards to the May 9th season finale of A&E’s Damien. The areas which contain spoilers have further been marked as such.


Glen Mazzara
Mazzara
Immediately, things turned to Season 2, as we’d all seen the finale that day. Glen told us he’s already mapped it out. For those of us curious how the show is put together, you can see Mazzara likes to think ahead. Not only that, he has specific episodes and ideas ready in terms of the the cast and characters, of whom he speaks highly. He made clear it’s enjoyable working with and writing for them. He told us there’s no mindset about not getting renewed either; he’s operating as if they’re full steam ahead. A confident approach as showrunner.
I asked Glen about the initial catalyst for why he felt Damien, as a series, was worth exploring. He told me he wanted to follow Damien as an Antichrist and to take that seriously. As in, Jesus is fully God and fully human, so the Antichrist should be fully human and fully devil. He hoped to explore the humanity of this situation. He likes the struggle of guessing what’s really going on. Mazzara says good horror makes us question: what is real and what is supernatural? It keeps you uncomfortable. Not only that, the human drama of Damien’s situation inflicts itself upon the other characters, which helps fill out the story and other arcs.
Mazzara first approached this series thinking of Jesus Christ – an unknown carpenter in a little backwater town in Galilee. How does that person start such a massive movement and change the world over two thousand years? He began powerless. In a contemporary version of such an ascent Mazzara knew people would expect an evil senator or similar character archetype. But he took aim at the meaning of religion with Damien as a young war photographer, not just some corrupt type of character that would make moves using the power of the Antichrist. Because where’s the fun in that? It wouldn’t provide much depth or development. First and foremost, Mazzara tried a completely different angle. Being raised Catholic and understanding the religion gave Mazzara his material. For him, the show is equal parts horror and religion. He considers his take not a subjective, judgemental view of religious faith, but rather an examination of that faith, what it means to people, and in turn how the opposite of faith in God (i.e. faith in Satan) would operate with that same devotion. And all through a wonderfully horrific lens.
It’s hard for a messiah to get people to die for them,” Mazzara says. Also a line he hopes to toss in somewhere throughout Season 2.
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Being a huge Barbara Hershey fan (all started due to her powerful performance in 1982’s The Entity), I asked Glen if we could look forward to more of her cutting and oddly masochistic behaviour, or at least an explanation (note: for those who don’t remember Ann cut a fresh 666 into her scarred inner thigh during Episode 3 “The Deliverer”). Being the massive horror fan I am, Mazzara is likely a bigger one. This moment comes from 666 on the inner thigh of the priest from the original film, which he revealed to Gregory Peck’s character before dying. Mazzara found it fun to consider possibly the priest was involved in the larger group watching Damien, somehow. Further than that, it ties into the Book of Revelations which states “his followers will be marked” also with the Number of the Beast. So Mazarra tied Ann into that larger conspiracy making her part of that secretive group watching over Damien, suggesting there’s an overarching connection to many of them with this branding. Even further, this also shows the devotion of Ann in a sick, twisted way to really elevate how dedicated to Damien, or better yet whoever The Antichrist would’ve been. The relationship between Ann & Damien, ultimately, is what Mazzara calls “the wicked heart of the show.”
“No one knows exactly how this is gonna come around,” Mazzara tells us re: the coming of the Antichrist. Ann feels there is a progression, but doesn’t know for sure. She’s there to nurture Damien’s potential. Mazzara claims she wants to be “first amongst his worshippers.” Ann is the Mother Mary figure: she loves Damien as a son, but knows he “belongs to history, he belongs to the world.”
Mazzara feels the show “did a good job” on the front of female characters, ones with actual developed stories affecting the plot/story. And that’s true: we start off with Kelly, she’s essentially the catalyst then for Damien really searching his soul, and of course Simone then becomes involved, then there’s Ann, Veronica, and you can’t forget Sister Greta (played by the ever wonderful Robin Weigert). As Mazzara mentions, a “large amount of story [is] driven by those women.” SPOILER AHEADThis last sentence & following paragraph reveals several fairly major spoilers from the May 9th finale. Please skip ahead before you watch. Even in the finale, John Lyons (Scott Wilson) gets outplayed by Ann, who is a better player in the game than he is, and gets the last laugh, so to speak.

We also discussed further female character strengths, as well as religious connections. During “Ave Satani”, Simone washes Damien’s feet – right in the middle of a manhunt for him. She is a “religious player in this story,” explained Mazzara. She is also a bit of a Christ figure, as well. She is killed, revived, and she doesn’t have any evil side; a “force of good,” Mazzara calls her. In contrast to her, there’s lots of evil in the finale – suicide cops in the opening, nun execution before a mass grave, then two people get buried alive. Simone represents that incredibly opposite good side. She stepped forward to take the bullet for Damien in the end and effectively illustrates her pinnacle of goodness.
Mazzara believes that above all else Simone’s character is about “gaining her voice.” Everyone’s telling her to shut up, essentially. Even in the finale she finds insects flying out of her mouth, choking her. What’s most interesting is that the series starts out with most people expecting Simone to be a disposable character. Only along the line she becomes integral to Damien’s journey.
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Warning: Ahead are some significant spoilers concerning the finale, “Ave Satani”, so if you’ve yet to see it please don’t read these next bits, or else be spoiled!
Mazzara confirms that Detective Shay has officially converted. He is now a believer, for better or worse, in the Antichrist after the finale’s events.
In addition, the last shot holds a great significance for the show’s DNA. Mazzara says that the last scene had been sketched out before they even sold the show. He knew at the end of the season Damien had to enter a “Faustian bargain”. Season 1 is Damien coming around, at the end is him essentially “sacrificing himself to commit evil”. Mazzara calls the season structure serpentine, in that it brings you back to the old film throughout the course of the season until in the finale’s final moment we are literally thrust back into 1976’s The Omen.


Bradley James
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When asked how he manages to get himself into the dark space required for playing the character of Damien, we receive an honest answer: “I’m maybe not quite as dark and twisted as [certain] scenes would suggest.” However, he went on to tell us that many of the tougher scenes were a “cathartic experience”, which he got through using moments in his own life that he related to Damien’s own struggles. Mostly, he credits the crew for making him feel safe in their atmosphere, so much that he felt very comfortable getting into the skin of the character.
I asked Bradley specifically what the most interesting part about Damien as a character was for him. He said the world weariness of Damien intrigued him, as “a 30-year-old man carrying the pain of someone much older” who has seen so much yet manages to still carry on as a functional human being.
Bradley tells us he didn’t know the full arc of the Damien Thorn character. It wasn’t until shooting Episode 7 or 8 when he read the scripts, and afterwards asked Glen to tell him the “endgame.” Before that, not knowing allowed him “fresh eyes” to tackle the character up until the point where Mazzara laid out his plans.
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Then, I ask a troubling question: who is his favourite actor to play off this season?
Most importantly, Bradley loves variety. He tells us how some actors are set in their way before even coming to the scene that day. Therefore, they’re not “alive in the scene at that moment.” In contrast, he went on to say everybody here provided a great atmosphere for a conduit towards their respective chemistry in various scenes. Being amongst a diverse cast, Bradley acknowledges each actor was different, making for good energy and even better scenes.
Morever, Bradley tells us he and Omid Abtahi (who plays Amani) are great friends now after shooting the show together. This helped the natural relationship between Damien and Amani onscreen, as they got closer offscreen.
He also made sure to add he loves Barbara’s presence as Ann Rutledge. He “felt very respected in [his] process.” Bradley also says there existed a mutual appreciation for and understanding of one another. Only too evident in the final product; their onscreen chemistry is undeniable.
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Regarding particular scenes throughout the series, the grave burial/tree wrapping scene in Episode 9 (“The Devil You Know“) was very physical according to Bradley. Shot in Canada, in the woods at 3am, he claims he didn’t “have to work for” his uncomfortable attitude for the scene, as nature provided that. Even worse, the mosquitoes were “relentless” and so he continually “bathed in bugspray.” As a Canadian, from the farthest East Coast, I know the pain. But he also tells us that drama school “hammer[ed] it into [him] to find the truth.” So aside from the physicality of certain scenes, he dug deep into the well of human emotion to make a supernatural story feel more rooted in reality. He adds Glen also wrote very honestly. He says their fearless leader has a “warped mind”, but is someone truthful that can likewise find it in these characters.

WarningAhead is one final (minor) spoiler pertaining to the season finale, “Ave Satani”, so please do not read this last paragraph before watching.
Of course someone had to ask about the original 1976 film. Bradley tells us he rewatched The Omen at the start of production. Later, they all had to look at it again for the final scene in Episode 10, mainly for technical reasons; to make sure the shot was framed right and looking proper. That look is one of “inner peace,” says Bradley, as Damien has finally come to a realization in the season finale. Evil, but a realization nonetheless.


It was a pleasure to interview these two, an honour really. The series became much better as the episodes wore on, so hopefully Mazzara gets a Season 2 to give us more Antichrist fun, and more of Bradley James’ excellent talent.

Damien – Season 1, Episode 9: “The Devil You Know”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 9: “The Devil You Know”
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by Glen Mazzara & K.C. Perry

* For a review of the previous episode, “Here Is Wisdom” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Ave Satani” – click here
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After the shocking events of last episode, the penultimate Season 1 episode is here! I desperately hope this gets a second season. Damien Thorn (Bradley James), Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) – they all need more time.
We start here as Ann meets with someone trying to track down her daughter. Little does she know. Of course this will cause some major mayhem when Ann figures out what’s happened. No telling what kind of reaction a woman like that might have in the face of personal tragedy. Although, she is sort of like the devil’s lover, or well… she wants to be his lover. Or something weird.
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Sister Greta (Robin Weigert) and Simone (Megalyn E.K.) are busy with the aftermath of what’s happened with Veronica. She isn’t dead, surprisingly, but on her way. Greta decides on holding her. Possibly for her own good. Meanwhile, Damien and Amani (Omid Abtahi) are talking about the possibility of the Antichrist, the idea that Damien is the heir to that throne. Certainly it’s nonsense to Amani, intent on rationality. At least their way forward is together despite whatever else is going on, reality or otherwise. Damien needs all the friendship he can get. He wants Amani to get close with Veronica more now in order to get information.Damien wants to get to the bottom of the whole corporation with Lyons (Scott Wilson) and Ann at the forefront, knowing there is absolutely more than meets the eye. The good friend agrees to do his best.
And then there’s Detective Shay (David Meunier). He looks like a madman when bringing up the strange things that happen around Mr. Thorn. Nobody believes him, but Shay knows there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes. He doesn’t know the extent, though suspects a great deal. His bosses have him turn over his gun and badge citing mental health as the problem. Sadly, we’re aware of the truth. I see danger in Shay’s future especially now with a suspension. He might choose to go after Damien, investigating more on his own, which will only throw him right under the bus.


Finally, Veronica reveals Ann knows about the church’s involvement, Simone getting them into the whole mix. Greta talks a good game to try convincing Veronica of her mother’s evil. “Is that a mothers love?” asks Greta. “You dont know shit about me,” replies Veronica. Not much more information is coming out of this one. She is fiesty.
Another detective comes knocking at Damien’s place. He brings the news about Charles Powell, the therapist. Suspicion is growing around the Antichrist, more and more, even without Shay on the case officially now. Because all the little bits add up. And that’s why I dig this series and why Glen Mazzara has done a great job, along with all the various writers, because you wonder – in a real type setting, a real world, how would these events so obviously linked together somehow be explained? Well having these cops involved is one way of tackling that issue.
Back to Damien. He wants to meet with Sister Greta: “I have nowhere else to go,” he quietly pleads with Simone. Amazing to see the nun meet with the Antichrist. She asks to see the Mark of the Beast. He obliges. But she does not recoil, Greta understands his struggle. “You are Gods child,” she assures him and recognizes his suffering. He lets her know about the incidences at the VA hospital, his visions and so on. Turns out those seven people at the hospital he came across represented the Seven-Headed Beast of Revelation. On top of that, Simone now finds out her sister was taken by something… otherworldly, something evil. An intense few moments and a great instance of solid writing. Earlier aspects get explained in a way that isn’t forced, very organic to the plot. Dig it.
Poor Amani gets taken by some masked men while everything else is going on. Now I’m quite worried for him.
Greta later takes Damien by herself, sending Simone upstairs – and she gets locked in with Veronica. Uh oh. Is the renegade nun planning something? In the meantime, Ann’s got Amani in her custody. They’re having a little chat. Or more like she calls him down to the dirt with an eloquent almost Shakespearean jab. She further wants information about the nun, though Amani plays it cool. Until she convinces him Greta will kill Damien, which finally breaks his stand. There may be a big showdown coming. Yet things feel strange, uneasy. Highly unpredictable.


Damien: “What if I really am the Antichrist?”
Greta: “Then that is Gods will


Alone together, Greta and Damien talk more about his being the actual Antichrist. Resulting in her using one of the daggers of Megiddo to stab him. Cut to her wrapping him in thorns on an altar-like slab. SHIT. Greta, you bad motherfucker. That is some raw biblical vengeance, for sure.
Detective Shay is literally sweating the case out. I knew it – he’s at home, studying pictures, looking over crime scenes, and trying to figure out what is going on with Damien. He knows the murders, the events around him – the dogs, the burning car, the therapist killing Powell – are all being heavily influenced by Thorn. Somehow. “There are monsters,” Shay tells his little boy. And his boy creepily whispers in his ear: “The devil did it.” From the god damn mouths of babes. No sooner does Shay’s husband whisk their kid away do more visions plague the crumbling detective.
Over at the rectory, Simone mounts an escape from the room with Veronica. But down at the altar, Damien’s held in thorns, his 666 being cut into by Greta as some dark figures in black watch on behind her. Wicked little bit of gore here! Also, we see that 666 is literally carved right into the poor guy’s skull. Gnarly as all hell. The group then proceeds to lower Damien into a hole in the ground, so he can be “reborn” apparently. His screams echoing through the woods are viciously chilling. Once he’s in the hole it is just more ghostly, haunting hallucinations for Damien, as he envisions demons poking through the ground trying to get at him, themselves wailing and gnashing away. A truly terrifying little sequence. Simultaneously, Veronica ends up getting an Evil Dead-style death via tree, except without any penetration – well, sexual penetration. So this is one fucked up, awesome episode. Horrifically pleasing.

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Shay winds up sneaking himself into Damien’s place. Then he hears his son out of nowhere, voices whispering. A small figure appears behind him. From the sink in Damien’s photo lab he hears the boy’s voice before being startled by a creepy image. This sends him rightfully running back out the door.
But Damien doesn’t get to do that. He’s trapped in that hole, the visions of those seven people from the hospital attacking him, nowhere else to go except stay put. Up above the hole, Simone shows up, but the damage is done. Down there Damien goes absolutely mental. A bloodcurdling noise emanates from the hole, as does Damien. He rises up while everybody watches on. Ominous music makes the scene even more heavy. Is he reborn now? Greta tries stabbing him again, only he stabs her. Without any feeling, any remorse.
The Antichrist has risen. Or has he? Safe to say the evil is flowing in him, and he’s starting to give in to the pulsing hell inside him.


Excited for the Season 1 finale, “Ave Satani”, and can’t wait to see how the team ends things. My hope is that Season 2 will get a greenlight. Mazzara and Co. deserve the chance to flesh this out for at least another season, possibly with another couple episodes – 13 would be a perfect little fitting number. Regardless, they got better and better every episode here and made this into a good one. Let’s have a devilish finale together, fellow fans!

Damien – Season 1, Episode 8: “Here Is Wisdom”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 8: “Here Is Wisdom”
Directed by Tim Andrew
Written by Sarah Thorp

* For a review of the previous episode, “Abattoir” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here
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So many things happening on Glen Mazzara’s excellently macabre series Damien. First, there’s the Antichrist himself, Damien Thorn (Bradley James), whose search for the truth is bringing him further into madness. Then there’s everyone around him.
Simone Baptiste (Megalyn E.K.) is off on her quest for truth, too. After speaking to Sister Greta Fraueva (Robin Weigert) in the last episode, Simone’s further energized to find out exactly what’s going on with Damien. Simone and Greta track down the dagger of Megiddo that the assassin dropped in the sewers. But what does this mean? Will they just have to kill Damien, is that the only way? Surely it is.
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Speaking of Damien, he’s in therapy. He picks up a copy of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre briefly. Mostly, he feels like he’s “whining“, and his therapist says he’s got PTSD. What’s most fun about this scene, to me, is that we’ve got the actual Antichrist here. That’s part of the premise. Regardless of where things go, how well they get there, Damien is the Antichrist. And here he is, sitting with a therapist and talking about his feelings. Amazing. At once it’s dark and disturbing, as well as darkly hilarious. Damien and his therapist talk about existential crisis, the toughness of making choices, mentions of Sartre.
Meanwhile, Detective James Shay (David Meunier) is getting shit on even though he knows there’s something shady about Damien. Yet there is the fact Charles Powell (Joe Doyle) just murdered a man, on his own (or was it?), and quite brutally at that. So for now, eyes are off Mr. Thorn.
For his part, Damien is dealing with a little boxed up gift left at his door. It contains a bloody little present. A tongue. Inside it, a roll of film. He’s interrupted by Detective Shay – wow, what timing! This is a tense scene, especially when Damien realizes the very person Shay is talking about, Cray Marquand, had his tongue removed. And it’s right there on the table, barely hidden from the cop. Great writing here. Plus, more intrigue concerning Powell. I’m excited to see how his crazy ass is going to play further into Damien’s story from here on out. As if there’s not enough going on for the poor Antichrist.


Cut to Amani (Omid Abtahi). He’s figuring out some things about Damien’s place getting trashed. With a favour from a buddy, he sees Veronica Selvaggio (Melanie Scrofano) outside the apartment. Uh oh.
And then there’s Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey). She’s looking to have a dagger of Megiddo destroyed. A friend breaks out his welding torch. Except the dagger is completely resistant. It will not be burned. Those are some powerful blades.
Now Amani is meeting with Simone and Sister Greta. All their heads are put together now. Greta mentions they’ve suspected someone has been looking out for Damien for years, likely now she believes it to be Rutledge. Also, Amani reveals he’s sleeping with Veronica. But going back to try and get information from her? Is that really smart? I doubt it. Because he’s not subtle enough. And if she sniffs out that he knows more than he should it is bye-bye Amani.


Now Damien is developing the film from the tongue of Cray. When he shines the film under his infrared bulb, every frame is the same but for the last: a solid black frame with the word REMEMBER scratched in. Off Damien goes, followed by Shay. But then the detective’s car shuts down. He’s back in the way of evil. The car locks itself. It catches fire, trapping Shay inside. He just barely manages to escape before the whole thing goes up. Narrowly escaping death. Again. Wonder if this guy will end up getting the axe. I hope not because he’s pretty bad ass.
Damien has officially remembered. He goes to see Powell in a little trailer in the woods. They’d cut classes and go down there back in the day. Charlie’s convinced Damien has killed people, intentionally. “Ive always believed in you,” says Charles. Of course Damien doesn’t see the burning of Powell the same as the burned man himself. And it turns out there are “others“, “nobodies” that Charles murdered… all for Damien. “So, who should we kill next?” he asks a visibly distraught Damien.
The Antichrist almost fully comes out of Damien when he nearly beats the life completely out of Charles, raging, punching him. Now, he may actually become a murderer.
At the same time, Shay is falling apart at home. His son’s drawing a car fire and that freaks him out, naturally. He’s been lying to his husband, though. That’s not cool. Bigger issues on his plate for the time being. He’s a brave dude, heading out into the dark of the forest after all the creepy events starting to cloud around him. He ends up out at the place where Charles and Damien met. He finds Charlie, beaten and raving: “The Devil did this.”
More and more, Damien falls apart, as well. He lets all the anger inside him out to his therapist. She does her best to convince Damien he’s still a human being, that he has a handle on his life, his choices. But the spiral of Damien’s life and delusions are plummeting faster towards something intense.


Damien: “Is that not our responsibility? When we encounter evil, shouldnt we destroy it?”
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Amani finally confronts Veronica, about her mother Ann, her boss. He outright threatens her over Damien, saying he’ll kill for his best friend. She says that their relationship is real. How can you trust her? Well, Amani doesn’t know exactly what’s been going on at the top of all this insanity. Either way, he is pretty serious about it all ending. Not just them, but the whole thing. Only now he’s a part of the whole mess.
Back to Ann goes her daughter. Now that’s another secret out in the wind. So now Ann has got to get some work done. “No more carelessness,” she tells her daughter and puts away the dagger of Megiddo she now knows cannot be destroyed simply by fire.
Greta and Simone do a little bit of bonding. Looks like Greta is pretty on the level. Only I fear for both their safety. Problem is a whole lot more good people are going to die before this is all over. I spoke almost too soon.
Veronica is out looking into Greta, following her in the dark, which attracts Simone’s attention. A very suspenseful sequence shot in the shadowy hallways, lit by stained glass windows. Finally, it’s Veronica who ends up with a bullet in her. Yikes! What will Mama Rutledge do about this now? I can only imagine what wrath that’ll unleash.


Over at Damien’s place, Amani comes to lay bare the truth. He was an unwitting pawn in their game. He also lets Damien know about Ann’s daughter. But further than that Damien realizes it’s his fault Amani is even caught up in this entire debacle.
Worse than anything, in jail Charles receives a therapist. The same one as Damien. She lets slip, very purposefully, that Damien wishes he was dead. She’s a part of it clearly. It all upsets Charles, believing Damien loves him. “Youre not a true servant, youre a liar,” she tells Charles before stabbing him in the neck violently, relentlessly, with a nice sharp pen. Blood everywhere. Did not see this coming all around. Great, gory horror for a few moments.


Anybody who didn’t make it past the pilot episode has been missing out on the all the true horror scenes. This one was a doozy. Dig it. And Dt. Shay is too late to save Charlie, but puts a few bullets in the psychotic therapist. The title of the episode? Right on the pad she’d used for scribbling before murdering Mr. Powell.


What a great chapter in this series. Next up is “The Devil You Know” and it’s the penultimate Season 1 episode! Very exciting. Mazzara and Co have only improved since the beginning. I do hope A&E will give this a chance to develop even further. Season 2 is needed.

Damien – Season 1, Episode 7: “Abattoir”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 7: “Abattoir”
Directed by T.J. Scott
Written by Mark H. Kruger & Glen Mazzara

* For a review of the previous episode, “Temptress” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Here Is Wisdom”  – click here
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This latest episode starts off with Damien Thorn (Bradley James) waking in his hospital bed to a raving lunatic above him. Perks of being in psychiatric care. In the halls, things are no better. Everything is dark, scary, unknown. Damien wanders aimlessly hearing the sounds, seeing the sights, of madness.


Damien goes through the motions. He heads to the cafeteria and gets something to eat, again joined by the psychotic who hovered over him as he woke. Amazingly, the Antichrist is stuck between two people who believe they’re Jesus Christ. He’s sort of going a little crazy himself.
At home, Detective James Shay (David Meunier) remembers the supernatural attack he experienced recently. He tries making sense of what it was that actually happened; surely an explanation can be found. In the bushes of his yard something stays low, growling, watching. Shay may not find anything in the pool, but that’s the least of his worries. All around him the forces of evil are gathering. No telling how long he’ll manage to survive being anywhere near Damien.
Finally released from the psychiatric ward, Damien is off into the world once more. The resident Jesus pleads “Kill yourself” in order to spare them all ruination after the Antichrist fully comes into being. That’s some spooky shit right there.
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Shay’s partner worries for his sanity. And that’s the worst part of all this supernatural terror, nobody will believe the person whose claims speak to otherworldly presence. At least Shay does get confirmation from his son about a dog lurking nearby. The hounds of Hell are never far. At the same time, Simone (Megalyn E.K.) is worried about the men that recently tossed Damien’s place. Both she and Amani (Omid Abtahi) are concerned for their friend. Except Damien saw Amani with Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey). His paranoia has set in. He trust nobody, neither Amani, nor Simone who broke into his apartment. So with everything whirling around him Damien is caught up in the conspiracy, the paranoid delusions. Exactly what people like Ann, and more importantly John Lyons (Scott Wilson), truly want.
Speaking of Lyons, he’s having lunch with his creepy friends. And then Damien arrives, too. He seems to be thinking clearly at least. Because now he knows about John and Ann, their business relationship, and so on. Then a woman in a wheelchair nearby starts exclaiming things to Damien, her love for him: “I serve you, my master,” she shouts as Lyons wheels her off. Damn, that’s a chiller.
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Tracking down people related to Damien, Dt. Shay comes across Charles Powell (Joe Doyle) who roomed with Thorn at Preston Hall. The vigilant detective is trying everything and anything to root out Damien, what he’s all about. And even though Charles gives over nothing, he looks as if a dark cloud crowds over his head when the cop leaves his little flower shop. Hmm, more to come?
And more investigations come at the hand of Simone. She finds footage of the old woman in Damascus with Damien, she compares it to the pictures from Damien’s place, and finds the same old woman staring back at her. The closer she gets, the worse things could look for her.
Shay finds other people related to Damien, such as Cray Marquand (Cody Ray Thompson). He informs Shay of Powell’s idea that Thorn is the “second coming” – a strange, suspicious term to be used. There’s a story about Powell who was convinced, by the Antichrist, to essentially burn himself. An eerie moment.


So Ann and Lyons meet to discuss the new developments. She sees his survival of a suicide attempt as being proof of his strength, of their efforts. Although, Lyons and Rutledge do differ on their approach – he doesn’t see the need to isolate Damien, but rather to bring him, keep him close. They also discuss the daggers of Megiddo.
But more importantly, Damien sneaks in to see that old woman in the wheelchair. Seems that lady is Margot Lyons (Nicky Guadagni). She reveals more to the chosen one, about John, his intentions. “He slithers before the beast,” she tells Damien. On she goes about the ten crowns for “ten horns“, and more biblical madness. Extremely unsettling scene that makes things all the more frightening. That Margot knows quite a deal.
Her words set Damien off to look for a supposed black church. In the nearby woods he finds a dingy dungeon-like cavity in the earth filled with tools, the stains of blood, so many strange things. A sacrificial chamber, maybe? Nevertheless, he finds a useful tool and then heads back up to see Margot.


Sister Greta Fraueva (Robin Weigert) has arrived in town. She follows Simone in the street, not unnoticed. At the very same time Simone thinks she sees the woman from Damascus. This prompts Greta to introduce herself, already knowing Ms. Baptiste by name. And they’re also being watched by someone in the distance. Greta wants to know more about anything Simone’s seen, the visions passed off as nonsense by others. More are on the case! Is this good? Likely bad. For them.
Back to the flower shop goes Shay. He questions Powell further on his relationship with Damien. On the outside it seems like love. On the inside, Powell was sucked in by the lure of the Antichrist and his persuasion. Damien burned Powell’s hands all those years ago, an awful act, which the latter hoped would keep him away from the eye of the Antichrist. Well, I’d bet money that evil is about find Charles again after all these years.
And when Lyons comes home he finds Margot, the bloody tool in her hands. A veritable omen. Later on down in that chamber, Lyons and his terrifying friends sacrifice a goat on their altar. To appease the beast. They cut its throat, drain the blood. Their ritual continues.


At Damien’s place, Ann shows up. She has one of the daggers of Megiddo, revealing John came looking for it earlier. She tells him about how the daggers, used together all seven, will destroy the Antichrist. Only one would just take his life; all seven rid the world of that evil altogether. But if Damien dies, another simply takes his place, next in line. Ann bares her soul to him. Her commitment is staunch, unwavering. With the option of death now, once and for all right in front of him, Damien chooses not to die, or Ann decides not to help him. One or the other.


In a bathroom, Powell comes face to face with Marquand. The scars all over Charles are savage. The two men have a brief chat. Before Powell heads into the shower behind Marquand and stabs him with a large pair of scissors, over and over. A brutal, bloody death. Has the Antichrist still got a hold on Charlie?


This was a wild and at times devastating episode. Great writing, great direction. Lots to build on heading into the next episode, titled “Here Is Wisdom”, so stay tuned with me.

Damien – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Beast Rises”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Beast Rises”
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Written by Glen Mazzara

* For a review of the following episode, “Second Death” – click here
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A new series from former The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara begins! No doubt it was a long time coming, after all the revival series talk lately and films being turned into tv shows all around us. Mazzara does his best to transfer The Omen in all its horror glory onto the small screen, which is no easy task. Let’s see how he does.
The premiere starts out with Damien Thorn (Bradley James) heading inside an old church, moving towards the large crucifix on the altar. Candles blow out, either by wind or by him. “What do you want from me?” he asks Jesus on the cross – “Whatd I ever do to you?” A nice opener, with Damien tossing rosary beads at Christ.
Flash to three days earlier in Damascus. Damien is a photographer working in Syria currently, alongside his friend Amani Golkar (Omid Abtahi). Taking shots among the crowd, Damien witneses an armed patrol come rush out apparent illegals, who are really suspected of harbouring terrorists. He too is pushed out of the way. Then he runs into Kelly Baptiste (Tiffany Hines) also in the area. They end up having to get clear once things start to go haywire. When Damien tries to help a few people in the street, an old woman he saw earlier grabs him and recounts those oh-so-infamous words: “Damien, I love youits all for you.” We get actual flashes back to the Gregory Peck-starring classic, as the young caretaker hangs herself for little Damien. Now they’re like his flashbacks, running through his head.


This event is the catalyst for Mazzara’s series. It’s as if Damien is determined now after briefly viewing his own past, moments lost to him over the years.
Amani and Damien end up separated from Kelly, unfortunately they further end up in the hands of the authorities. Back in New York, they find themselves “banned from Syria”, which is wild. And Damien is now hooked on discovering those secrets of his past. He calls Kelly, who heard and saw what happened with the old woman. Problem is Kelly has a sore spot with Damien re: their past relationship. I like how the concept is that Damien’s forgotten or repressed his heritage, whatever the case may be, now those bits and pieces are starting to slip through the cracks. And he’s got a life, a whole existence aside from that. This being Antichrist thing sure will cramp those things. Crush them, maybe.
Damien goes to see an old buddy, likely from military academy (if that’s canon here), named Cray Marquand (Cody Ray Thompson) – he works for the International Monetary Fund, head in fact, so the old buddies Damien has kicking around certainly have high connections; or they’re at the top of the food chain.
Even further, up pops Ann Rutledge (eternally talented babe Barbara Hershey). She knows all about Damien. “The past is like a noose around our necks,” Ann says eerily: “Wouldnt you say?” She describes herself as in the “protection business“, whose job description is looking after “special interests” and such. Ominous, dare I say?


When Kelly meets up with Damien, she reveals the old woman in Syria spoke to him in Latin about a “beloved son” and a connection to John the Baptist/a voice from the sky. There’s a further connection to Christ, his supposed 30th birthday. Damien reveals “visions” that are essentially repressed memories, that they’re coming back to him; the party at his house where the nanny committed suicide, again. The words of the nanny echoed through time to set Damien on a course to discover his true self again.
Damien and Amani go about trying to find pictures of the old woman, though, the latter does not know the extent of why his boss/friend is so keen on finding her. Kelly comes to help later. She and Damien go see a professor in relation to Damien, his father, who sought out a “biblical scholar” and the professor tells him of Mr. Thorn’s obsession with finding out about Satan, and so on. Lots of “end of days” type stuff from the aging professor, which Damien doesn’t exactly buy it. “The devil has many names,” says the professor. The number 666 comes up and makes Damien look terribly uneasy. So what about the birthmark? Does he have it, or did it disappear like so many of ours?
Great atmosphere and mood so far. The tone of the show isn’t all the dark yet, but there’s a foreboding aspect, with shadowy cinematography, and a wonderfully creepy score so far. Watching the priest in his home attacked by the dogs is a brutal moment, which builds up perfectly with the score behind it. A little dose of blood, too. Dig it.


A call to Kelly informs her and Damien of what happened to the priest. Now Damien’s worries deepen. He casts her out, fairly emotionless. Their relationship is rocky as is, now he makes it worse. But perhaps it’s because of his lingering emotions, he may not want to bring anything worse on her. Especially if all this Antichrist business is true. Unfortunately, Damien doesn’t realize how damn true just yet.
When Kelly gets her car stuck, strange things begin happening. A river of mud starts to suck her into the earth, car and all. A pit of quicksand forms in the mud and the message is clear, as Damien tries to save her: she isn’t safe anywhere. The pit sucks her under, or something in it does, anyways. Cut to the daytime, as Kelly’s body is dragged from the mud. Her sister Simone (Megalyn E.K.) rushes to the scene where she at first gets mad with Damien, an already negative presence in her mind. Then they begin to bond a little. “She’s in a better place,” Simone says to Damien: “This cant be all we have. I really need to believe that right now. Death isnt the end.” All to the man who may have recently discovered his claim to the title Antichrist. Yikes.
In the meantime, in the world of the Holy Scripture there are forces gathering in preparing for the Antichrist. Word of Damien being in Damascus has spread, as well as the fact the priest who recently died had met with Damien. More callbacks to the original film here; daggers and such.


Cut to Damien stumbling into the church from our opening. He looks haggard, worn out, sickly even. He kneels before the altar and the statue of Christ crucified. And then, as if screaming out too much, the statue crumbles. The head of Christ lays at Damien’s feet. Too much, Mazzara? Plus, more flashbacks directly to the original film; edited in clips. Not digging that aspect, I must say.
Outside the church, Damien encounters the old Syrian woman. She grabs a handful of hair from his head. Will this reveal the birthmark? Yes?
Too much calling back to the original here, as Damien looks at old pictures of his – the old woman from Syria is glaringly obvious in many of them, looking sinister in windows and huts and street corners behind even old family photos of Mr. Thorn and the family.
I love that the birthmark is there and all. But how’d he not notice it for so long? Too many questions. How did he NEVER see that creepy old woman in the photo? Sure, it might just seem out of place before and now it’s relevant, but still – this entire finale reeks of being jammed in, as if they wanted Mazzara to give more connection with the first movie. Not digging that one bit.


I’ll give the series more than just its premiere before judging too heavily. There were bits I really liked, then others that were forced, contrived, and too conveniently placed in there to be organic. Hopefully it gets better with the second episode “Second Death” – show me what you’re made of Mazzara! Build on this one.