From Alan Ruck

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Three: “Let ‘Em In”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 3: “Let ‘Em In”
Directed by Michael Nankin
Written by Dre Ryan

* For a review of Chapter Two, “Lupus in Fabula” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Four, “The Moveable Feast” – click here
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Five months before current events, Kat Rance (Brianne Howey) and her friend Julia (Charlotte Thomas) are driving together, talking about men. Until the conversation takes a turn to the fact Julia seems to be in love with her. Kat’s in love right back. Ah, the intrigue pours out now. After the crash, it wasn’t just the loss of a friend. It was the loss of a great, beautiful love between the two. Even more tragic. No wonder she was utterly devastated. Bad enough to have a friend die, which I’ve experienced, but to then have been in love with said friend, a likely secretive lesbian love, it’s so damn sad.
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Angela Rance (Geena Davis) hears a zealot ranting on the streets. He locks eyes with her, almost falling to the ground. Fucking weird, and definitely unsettles her. She receives Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) at the same time, who’s likewise entranced by the ravings of the man on the street. Except maybe even more.
At one of the crime scenes from the end of the last episode, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) tries getting a bit of information from some men outside. They say someone took the victim’s eyes out.
Over at the church, Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) speaks with Henry Rance (Alan Ruck). We discover that he had an accident at work, some scaffolding hit him in the head and that’s why he’s been so aloof. But still, he’s worried for his daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka). No worries, though. Father Keane and his street corncob are on the case!
Speaking of Casey, she’s talking to that dreaded Salesman (Robert Emmet Lunney). He keeps showing up when nobody’s around, as we now know he’s a mere apparition of her mind; I would assume of the devil. In the meantime, Father Marcus is looking around Casey’s room, getting a feel for her personality.

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During a fancy dinner, Cardinal Guillot (Torrey Hanson) is being applauded for his efforts in planning the Pope’s motorcade. There’s discussion of the Pope going through some of the poorer neighbourhoods. Of course the Holy See team aren’t exactly excited about that, although Father Tomas gets to have his say, hoping to extract the idea of “violence” out of a discussion on the poor. He further speaks about how they have much to offer in that “spiritually they are rich.” Everything’s interrupted when that crazy street zealot turns up, burning alive outside. What a fright.
Casey sits with Father Tomas and Father Marcus in the back of the church. When the younger priest gets a bit far ahead of himself, the older, more experienced exorcist steps in to ask questions. He ingratiates himself with Casey, talking about the things he’s learned of her at the Rance house. He refers to things in terms of gardening, plants and their nature. This is all a segue into prodding at the demon inside Casey. When pushed sufficiently, the Salesman turns up behind her, looming. He whispers instructions in her ear. “He doesnt lie,” she tells Father Marcus. The Salesman pleads with the girl to get out. The room then starts to shake, lights flicker, a picture falls from the wall and smashes. Finally, the presence in her comes out, strong and in control. It talks of Gabriel, the boy Father Marcus had tried to exorcise before his neck was cracked. “The universe burst open. The eye of God dilated wide and you were at the centre of his disinterest,” speaks the demon. It knows quite a bit, which horrifies Father Tomas.
Bringing their recording to Bishop Egan (Brad Armacost) and Father Bennett, the two rogue priests aren’t received too well. Father Marcus pleads that she spoke in “Aramaic” and is obviously possessed. Also, Bennett has brought along with him a letter of excommunication for Marcus. He’s naturally pissed, particularly considering he now knows the demons talk to one another, that they are “sharing information” like spies. But out he goes, kicked to the curb.

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Everyone is getting ready for a memorial to Julia, a dance performance by their company. While in the bathroom, Casey finds herself being manipulated by the Salesman, the demon in her. It pushes the curling iron against her skin, to the point she eventually begins to look to love it. Very eerie. And if you notice, she… goes lower than you might expect. Yes, that old crucifix scene has become something far more nasty and sinister.
With Marcus now booted from the church, Father Tomas wants to be taught how to exorcise demons. Because without the church, as Marcus says: “Im just a man in a room.” Ultimately, Father Tomas wants to help the Rances, to get that demon out of Casey. Marcus warns against getting too deep, that he ought to gather evidence then put it in the hands of the church. You know Tomas is not going to do that.
Before the memorial all the dancers give their props to Julia, pouring out some whiskey, drinking some. At least until Casey grabs hold of the bottle, as everybody whispers and points, wondering what she’s doing. Then when Kat confronts her she goes a bit wild. The demon’s been provoked by Father Marcus, lashing out at the golden sister. Who knows how bad it will get from here on in.
Father Tomas meets with Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), the head of the committee concerning the papal visit. He tells her a story about coming to America for the first time. Afterwards, she gives him a hundred thousand dollars for his parish. She’s rich, coming from a wealthy family that makes sturdy glass. What she truly wants is help to clean up their city.

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Father Marcus, saying fuck excommunication, goes banging on doors, but Father Bennett picks him up, obviously keeping tabs on him. Marcus is worried about those murders, the body parts taken; something to do with summoning a demon. Then Bennett brings up the self-immolation of the street zealot, which was found to have no source other than the body. Hmm.
During the dance performance Casey takes off, her father following. On a train, the two of them talk, though suddenly Henry has a bit of problem and fades out. Some guys get up in Casey’s face, one specifically, and not a soul does anything to help. That’s when the evil starts to break loose, as she sees the Salesman come towards her, no one else the wiser. He kisses her on the lips, passionately. The final embrace.
And so Casey kicks the shit out of the guy. A bit… unnaturally. She starts to send men flying around the train car. The iPhones trying to film all zap out. Casey tears the skin right from the one guy’s bones: “If you want it rough, all you had to do was ask.” She further reaches into his jaw and cracks it sideways. Covered in blood, she stands wobbling. After that she goes full Regan and pisses herself on the floor. Wow.

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This was the BEST EPISODE YET! Amazing. Lots of terror, more interesting bits of character. And lots of Ben Daniels being a fucking bad ass. Love how the demonic possession is framed, using The Salesman, as a seduction. Interesting and unique.
Next is “The Moveable Feast” – nice Ernest Hemingway reference for the literature lovers.

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Two: “Lupus in Fabula”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Chapter Two: “Lupus in Fabula”
Directed by Michael Nankin
Written by Heather Bellson

* For a review of Chapter One: “And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Three: “Let ‘Em In” – click here
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Young boys in a dark room are ordered around by a nasty man with a thick Irish brogue. One of them is lead down into a darker part of the large basement, in whatever building they’re stowed away. The kid takes a Holy Bible with him into a long tunnel-like corridor. At the end is a man plagued by a demon possessing him.
Cut to Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) – that was little Marcus, back in the early days. Oh, I love the intrigue! In his own personal Bible, he annotates various sections. By the look of it he’s quite the devout man in his older age. Or is he merely a man trying to figure life out? Likely both. He’s troubled though, that’s more than evident.
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Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is having trouble, too. Her daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka) is speaking in an eerie voice, sitting alone in the dark. Whatever demon that’s possessed her is a pervert, as it turns out. And he warns Casey about her “lying, sneaking mother.” One of the creepiest scenes yet, if not the creepiest.
Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) is talking with Bishop Egan (Brad Armacost) about whether he might be able to conduct an exorcism. Obviously that goes over like a fart in church (appropriate joke). The modern day Catholic Church clearly looks down on all that old demon and hellfire nonsense they once preached. Ah, the ever shifting plague of Catholicism.
Meanwhile, Angela’s out keeping up appearances because that’s clearly the type of family she and space case husband Henry (Alan Ruck) have together. There’s a looming visit for Pope Sebastian on the horizon. A perfect addition for any horror, particularly one involving demons. Speaking of which, Casey calls mom in a speechless panic. At home upstairs, mom finds no Casey. The family gets home and things are feeling confused. Gets worse when they uncover a sickly nest of centipedes squirming around on Casey’s sheets. The beginning signs of evil.

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Father Marcus has broken into Father Tomas’ place. A man of many talents. Love how the difference between these two men couldn’t be more vast, as is explained easily with this harmless little act of breaking-and-entering. So it seems Keane is back in the game. He lets Father Tomas in on what’s happening with the demon, or what’s soon to happen. The guy’s definitely seen his share of shit. But there’s also Tomas, his pen pal relationship (and possibly more) with a woman named Jessica; who is she? Makes Keane, and us, very curious. Turns out there was a brief relationship of sorts before he took his vows. All Father Marcus is trying to make clear is that the demon can tell everything. It will use all of it against them.
During a lacrosse game, Casey sees an old man (Robert Emmet Lunney) wave to her in the stands. On the field she has a run in with a particular player, after which she turns into… someone else. She focuses on the other player whose leg soon snaps. Spooky.
At home the family is playing Jenga and having a laugh together. Except things take a turn when Angela lets slip her ideas about what’s going on with Casey. And the demon’s ready to play.
The next day at the church, Angela pleads with Father Tomas to get things moving. He’s reluctant because of what Bishop Egan said. They want more psychiatric evidence about what could be going on with the girl. Trying to snatch up a bit of holy water the mother winds up talking to Father Marcus. He happily gives out a bit of advice on the sly. “God helps those who help themselves, right?” he quips; a Ben Franklin quote. In the food line at church, the man with the messed up scalp from last episode goes up to Casey, speaking about her being chosen and then calling out: “Let me touch you.” He also makes Father Marcus double-take back to his childhood in the dark tunnel.
Tomas goes to meet with Jessica (Mouzam Makkar). There’s obviously a deeper connection between them than a platonic relationship. Her marriage is crumbling. His faith slips a little each time they communicate. He’s tempted by her, but that goes against his vows. So much conflict inside him. Nicely juxtaposed, though. He’s questioning his faith due to this woman, as well as coming up against something that absolutely represents the fact of his faith as reality: demonic possession.
Then there’s Father Marcus. He looks for the homeless man from the church, only to find another possessed wretch claiming he’s “the one we feared until you lost that little boy.” That oh so famous line comes out, only to get the reply: “Do I look compelled, man of God?” It mocks Marcus and his faith before leaving.

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At home, Angela and the family sit to eat. She apologises for being distracted lately and for lashing out emotionally in the wrong ways. She tries slipping the holy water into Casey’s drink, watching eagerly for its effects. Nothing happens while they sit around the table, which makes Angela feel at ease. But the demon rushes off quick when it can so that Casey can puke up that slimy green stuff. Plus haul a centipede out of her throat. Yikes. Possession is rough.
Later that night outside, the man from the lacrosse game tells her that a “glorious seed” is “breaching the soil.” He sits with her, Casey tells him everything. Clueless father Henry watches from the window to see nobody is actually there.
Father Tomas goes through Marcus’ things to repay the favour. When the older priest arrives, he’s a bit surprises, probably not expecting it from the younger man. Tomas is troubled, but Marcus assures: “Speak of the devil and he shall appear,” which is in part the Latin from where this episode’s title derives. Marcus reveals his father murdered his mother in front of him. He was later sold to the church for “five quid.” That’s how he ended up being 12, locked in a dark room with a demon-possessed man. But instead of feeling fear as that lonely little boy, he felt he’d discovered his purpose in life. Through this conversation Tomas and Marcus come to terms on themselves, as well as each other.
Note the amazing performance from Ben Daniels, a fabulous actor; he takes the material and lifts it off the page magically.

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In another part of the city an apartment of people are murdered. Their organs are put into containers and men take them away, joined on the street by the homeless man, and others, all carrying similar containers and loading them into a truck before heading out. “A mass homicide,” as it’s called on the news. Father Marcus listens to this and finds it suspicious, wondering if there’s more to it. The billboard advertising Pope Sebastian’s visit looms large in the street, the slogan HE IS COMING feeling prophetic in many ways.

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A fabulous follow-up to the premiere episode. Some interesting bits that I’m looking forward to watching play out over the next episodes. I like that they’re not going too hard and putting everything out there. While you can see where things are headed, there’s still a great bit of mystery involved.
Next episode is titled “Let ‘Em In” – hope they let Father Marcus loose, because you know he’s a wild one.

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter One: “And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Chapter One: “And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee”
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Written by Jeremy Slater

* For a review of Chapter Two: “Lupus in Fabula” – click here
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Here we are at the premiere of The Exorcist, a new series based on the classic from William Friedkin and based on the novel by William Peter Blatty.
We start on a familiar image, one of a man in a long coat and a brimmed hat walking, bag in hand, to some destination; it is Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels). In the distance are strange and unsettling noises.
In a brighter, more sunny place, Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) gives a sermon to his congregation, which includes Angela and Henry Rance (Geena Davis & Alan Ruck), as well as their daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka). Off near the street outside after the service, Father Tomas sees a man who he believes is speaking to him, mouthing words. But when he talks to Angela a moment, turning back, the man is no longer there. At the same time, something seems off about Henry. In church he’s aloof, heading home he is distracted and not altogether there. Is headed for demons, possession and the like?
Ortega has issues of faith going on. Maybe. His sister Olivia (Camille Guaty) believes he doesn’t want to be a priest anymore, that he’s in love with a woman named Jessica. Of course, he denies it. Looking forward to more of that.
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In Mexico City, Father Marcus sits disillusioned yet firm in that “the powers in the repetition.” Another priest, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan), has come to try talking sense into him. Although he didn’t anticipate Marcus having a gun. There’s more to him, as we’re seeing a man of the church, a man of god whose path clearly strays from that of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution. And why? What drove someone to take the vows of priesthood but then divert to his own method? On his own again, he tries to help the boy that’s been possessed at the moment. He prays, flicking holy water at the beast inside the boy, the one that speaks to Marcus by name.
Back at Casa del Rance, Angela hears odd noises, whispers in the walls. She shakes it off quickly, though something clearly bothered her. Then we find the other sister Catherine (Brianne Howey) upstairs, depressed, in her own world. So is dad going to get demonic? Or is it going to be Charlotte? Hmm.
Love the digital organ system that plagues the organist – the ancient church and its customs meet the modern world. More importantly, this takes Father Tomas downstairs into the dark basement for a little jump scare when Angela turns up looking for him. She’s worried for Catherine, saying there are “things going on in the house.” Such as furniture moved, books thrown all over the floor, voices in the walls. Y’know, standard haunting madness. Angela straight up believes a demon is trying to take Catherine. Father Tomas explains demons are a construct of the church, as a way to rationalise through “metaphors” in regards to mental illness, et cetera. But Mrs. Rance can’t take those answers. She knows better. Particularly once a bad omen flies into the window: a raven gets stuck and bloodied smashed through a crack in the glass. Nasty.

 

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Ortega goes to see Catherine. She doesn’t put much stock into the thoughts of others. Not after losing someone close to her in a car accident. She’s merely in a depressed state after such an emotional trauma. Nevertheless, the family sits at the table eating along with Father Tomas, too. More and more we see the fact Henry is not who he was once. Catherine notices it, even if she’s the only one who says anything. I continue to believe he’s the one that’ll be possessed, one way or another. He gives Ortega an ominous sort of message about Father Marcus. This sets the young priest aflame wondering: who is this man? He has visions of Keane, the young boy’s possession, the exorcism. Until the boy jumps from his bonds, his neck twists around, and his spine breaks. Fuck, that’s vicious.
Father Tomas meets with a man called Brother Simon (Francis Guinan). He’s a little cryptic, offering up the supposed right question to be asking next: “What now, God?” Out of the corner of his eye, Tomas spies someone familiar. He follows the man to find it’s Father Marcus and tries to chat him up about demonic possession. However, the older man is pretty reluctant to say much. Finally though, Ortega gets more out of him and he reveals the circumstances of that possession Tomas dreamed. It seems that Father Marcus has become afraid of what lies beyond, as he’s seen it up close and personal, the damage it can do in the real world and not just in the spirit. His faith is quite broken.

 

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Eventually Father Tomas goes to see Angela once more. They have a heart to heart about God, their faith, family. He’s driven by the pure faith in his heart to help the Rances in their distress, no matter what it is truly. Then, upstairs comes a noise, a scream from one of the girls. In the attic, Ortega finds Casey lurking, killing rats without touching them, moving in an extremely weird way. Once Angela turns the lights on, nothing is as it seemed a moment ago. Casey is fine. Nothing looks out of the ordinary. But one thing’s for certain, Father Tomas is shaken; badly. Great throwback in this sequence to old school music from Friedkin’s classic with “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield playing – we see Ortega walk off in the night, and simultaneously Father Marcus gears up, ready to take on this next possession.
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I personally loved this premiere episode. It doesn’t remake the original film, it’s merely an extension, inspired by Blatty’s work. I say give it a chance! Next up is “Chapter Two: Lupus in Fabula” and I think it’ll bring some great stuff. Ben Daniels is a favourite of mine, so I look forward to what he brings. And you can’t go wrong with Geena Davis, either. Plenty we can expect from this series. Let’s see if it holds up in the second episode.