Tagged Ceremony of Ash

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Seven: “Father of Lies”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 7: “Father of Lies”
Directed by Tinge Krishnan
Written by Charise Castro Smith

* For a review of Chapter Six, “Star of the Morning” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Eight, “The Griefbearers” – click here
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Possession has gripped Chicago.
At a Roman Catholic Church service, Angela and Henry Rance (Geena Davis & Alan Ruck), their daughter Kat (Brianne Howey), many people are gathered. Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) is leading everyone, praying for Casey Rance’s (Hannah Kasulka) safe return to her family.
Nine days prior, Father Tomas rushes Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) and a horrifically unwell Casey to see Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan). The girl is obviously close to being “integrated” with the demon inside her. All the same, it looks like Fathers Marcus and Tomas are on the same page. Right now they have to keep Pazuzu at bay. He wants revenge.
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The media circus surrounding the Rance family and grandma Chris MacNeil (Sharon Gless). Sounds as if Chris is taking her role in the family more seriously, regretting the past and what she did to their family using Regan’s plight for financial gain.
Bernadette worries if they can’t beat the demon they’ll be unleashing an “ancient violence into the world.” For his part, Marcus has more faith than anybody. Ironic, no? The man who’s been excommunicated wants to fight the forces against God the most.
With the creepiness going on in the upper echelons involving Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), the police superintendent, the priest with whom Father Tomas meets, there’s no telling what might happen next. One thing is made perfectly clear: Marcus is an enemy of the Church. That means many things at the moment.
The Rances and Chris give an interview concerning Casey. Naturally, the past tries to emerge. Right away things go sour. The interviewer goes hard at them until Angela and Henry walk out. Instead of solely trying to find the girl, the media wants to dig up dirt first. Typical of certain news outlets. At the same time Casey’s being exorcised, or at least the trio of exorcists – Tomas, Marcus, and Bernadette – try doing the job. Tomas walks away with a bite, and Pazuzu smiles from inside Casey; almost loving the exorcism. So damn creepy. Moreover, Marcus feels responsible now for Casey, after the end of last episode when he nearly expelled the demon for good.
Outside of the Rance house people are holding up signs, some hateful Westboro Baptist Church-like and other more Gothic. A woman confronts Angela about Casey having killed her husband in the ambulance, calling her daughter “demon girl.” Henry quickly rushes his wife back inside.

 

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Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) has to deal with all those crooked weirdos, including one of the ring leaders Brother Simon (Francis Guinan). He’s come up with a bit of dirt on the finances of those involved with the Papal Planning Committee. Oh, this is all too ominous! I’m worried for Bennett. I like him a lot, and worry his time is drawing to a close. Hopefully he proves me wrong. Seeing all those kooks around him is chilling.
At the house, Chris mentions to Father Tomas he reminds her of one of the priests who helped Regan; she’s talking about Father Damien Karras. Well, Tomas does his best in comforting Angela and her family. He has “faith,” but Angela particularly isn’t convinced. Having a demon come back for her four decades after the first possession, now for her daughter? I’d probably not be too hopeful about God, either. Meanwhile, Casey’s body is withering. And that nasty bastard Pazuzu, he’s hiding. There are literal maggots eating the girl alive, worming through her flesh. If they can’t draw Pazuzu out, they can’t finish the exorcism. If they can’t finish the exorcism, the girl dies. Even worse Bernadette feels that the case is a lost cause, and that perhaps Marcus holding on so dearly, fighting so hard might no longer be about her; is he fighting because of his own past, or does he still genuinely believe? I’m inclined to say the latter.
Angela and her mother talk seriously for the first time in a long while. Chris tells her daughter she’s a good mother. Even the girl formerly known as Regan admits that growing up in the lap of celebrity wasn’t always so bad. Further than that, she understands now how hard it had to be for Chris to watch her be possessed, virtually helpless.
Back with Casey, Father Marcus tries using love to cast out the “Star of the Morning” (but isn’t the demon itself Pazuzu from when it possessed Regan? Little confused on that one now) and make it understand it is forgiven. The girl comes to a moment, crying: “No more.”

 


The ever diligent Father Bennett finds himself in a precarious position, snooping around looking for clues. He locates the burned ashes of the organs used in the Ceremony of Ash, Vocare Pulvere. He’s also being watched, by one of the possessed homeless men. When he comes across a room full of dead, bloodied corpses, some of the possessed men attack. He manages to fend them off, then starts killing demons like a bad motherfucker. YES! YES! This must continue. We need more Bennett in our lives.
Tomas is slipping further from the faith, as he’s in bed with Jessica (Mouzam Makkar) and shirking those vows he took; not that I agree with his vows, but still. Although it’s not exactly as if he’s easily doing it, the whole situation evidently weighs heavy on his soul. She can tell. We can tell. He winds up going out to try getting something for his bite and gets punched in the face by a pharmacy customer. Maria bails him out. That ain’t good. She acts as a shoulder to cry on. But maybe, after being passed over for demonic possession, she’ll have a change of heart? Yeah, right.
Things at the Rance house are rough. Angela’s breaking down. She asks to have Father Tomas come over, her mind is frantic, her speech, too. She believes that Casey’s dead. “Part of me is gone,” she tells Tomas, her husband, Kat, Chris, each of them watching with a deep sadness in their eyes.

 


Marcus is about to administer a cup of belladonna tea to Casey when he realises “This is his design; I will not interfere.” He won’t give up on her. His faith is so pure that there’s no stopping him. And likewise, Angela isn’t giving up. Tomas brings her in and from the moment Pazuzu senses her, he comes alive once more. He is drawn out.
A sow,” the demon says looking at the woman he once knew as Regan. It is time for a brutal battle between the one who got away and that ancient evil, Pazuzu.

 


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What a fascinating and well-written episode! Another of my favourites, I think. There is so much depth to these characters, I can’t even imagine where to begin on that. Also, side note: the score is fucking incredible, that piano riff we hear that plays off the intro song. I mean, I honestly feel this series surprised me, many of us. It is leagues better than I ever hoped.
Let’s get geared up for Chapter Eight “The Griefbearers” next week. And how will the showdown between the demon and Regan MacNeil go? I wonder.

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Four: “The Moveable Feast”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Moveable Feast”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Adam Stein

* For a review of Chapter Three, “Let ‘Em In” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Five, “Through My Most Grievous Fault” – click here
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After Casey Rance (Hannah Kasulka) went wild on that young man in the subway, she’s treated to a day of happy, happy, happy – or is it a dream? – by her mother Angela (Geena Davis), as Kat (Brianne Howey) and their father Henry (Alan Ruck) wait at the table. She’s served a nasty meal of miscarried chicken fetuses. The Salesman (Robert Emmet Lunney) shows up, too. Casey’s feet are held to the floor by a strange, evil-looking growth. They all want her to eat. “Why resist, darling?” asks the Salesman. She was sold a bill of goods that aren’t what they seemed in the beginning. Demonic possession ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! The demon needs permission to be let in. He doesn’t have it. Not quite yet. But it’s coming, whether Casey likes it or not.
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She’s stashed away in a psychiatric ward for 72 hours. Seeing as how she tore that dude apart on the train; not like he didn’t deserve it, the rapey bastard. Anyways, the Rance family are all struck dumb by everything that’s happened. Worried sick. Angela calls Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera), naturally, who gets to the hospital promptly. Angela knows there’s something very wrong with her daughter, and upset the church won’t help. How long until she forces the case into someone else’s hands? Well, the curling iron burns to Casey’s genitals make everybody a little more than nervous.
Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) is out rallying for his cause. He’s been given a short list of names to check out, suggested by Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan). He happens to spy a nun at one church with a suspicious injury on her face. Hmm. Then he finds that same nun – Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan) – in the midst of a circle of other sisters, in front of a possessed man in a hideous state. She stands up against the creature’s swiping at her, being pushed to the floor; Marcus nearly rushes in, although she gestures for him to stay put. Eventually, she brings the man and the demon inside him to her mercy, holding him against her chest a moment before laying him to the ground. A mysterious, powerful moment.
At the hospital, the Salesman talks to Casey about how “resistance” is ruining her beautiful face. She understands the trick behind all the seduction. However, now that she’s in pain there’s that temptation of letting go, falling headlong into the abyss. One thing’s for sure: that Salesman is god damn unnerving, every time he’s onscreen.

 

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Riding around Chicago on a Serial Killer Tour bus, Father Marcus is still curious about the latest murders, the organs and limbs and various human bits taken by people into the night. He’s worried for whatever is coming.
The Rances try hard to get through their predicament. Henry comforts his wife saying he’ll do what’s necessary to help their daughter. We’ll see if the help comes from Father Tomas or Marcus. I’m betting the latter. Because Tomas is busy with Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), trying to do a bit of political-type leaning in order to get higher permission for an exorcism. When I imagine Marcus would probably just go for it. Such are the benefits of excommunication, I guess. But Father Tomas, he has the will. He bones up on his study of exorcisms. Right as his almost more than friend Jessica (Mouzam Makkar). She’s found that her husband has been being unfaithful to her. Oh, my. Something else to conflict Tomas, as he wrestles with the most extreme lengths of his Catholic faith.
Over in a trailer someplace, Father Marcus sits with the tour bus guides Lester and Cherry Rego. The know Bennett, it turns out. “An exorcist with a gun,” the priest calls himself. “Evils a moveable feast,” says Lester once they get down to talking business. The Chicago crime rate is brought into the concept of evil touching down in the heartland of America. So, the body parts, “vocare pulvere” the “Ceremony of Ash” and all that comes into play.
Casey has it worse and worse by the minute at the hospital, her condition seemingly out of control. Except the Salesman comes back talking to her about nasty things. There’s no escape for her.

 

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Finally, Father Marcus meets Mother Bernadette, whose humour is much better than you’d expect. They’re both pretty sly characters, I love it. Their chat circles around, of course, the act of exorcism. She knows Father Bennett, but likewise understands the plight of Marcus, as well as that of the Holy Father and his looming visit. Possession cases, like crime, are heading up, up, up. Bernadette suggests Marcus doesn’t need to necessarily follow all the rules. Rather, he must take his ego out of the picture a little more.
Kat’s not happy about her sister being prepped for exorcism. Even Henry, after the train in the last episode, is on board. Although I worry about Tomas hoping to “unofficially” take care of things. He might botch it, and who knows what that’ll do. Speaking of exorcisms, Father Marcus is in the middle of the nun circle, face to face with that possessed man. He brings the demon into an embrace: “You are redeemed. You are loved.” He learns of a new approach in the fight against the devil’s legions. One with a slightly more feminine touch out of Bernadette’s handbook that just might give him the edge he needs in the battles to come.
Continually Casey is taunted by the Salesman, to let the demons inside. He chokes one of the nurses, insisting she give in and say the word. She nearly does before Angela barges in. For now the Salesman recedes. He’s not gone, only in the background again for a moment. Casey’s let out of the hospital. He’ll be back.

 

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With Father Marcus refreshed in the concept of exorcism, he heads back to see Father Tomas, who keeps on studying. Better than that the younger priest asks for help. He doesn’t care anymore about the rules of the church, and is willing to go all the way to help Casey. So now there’s two renegade bad asses ready to take on the devil. They prepare themselves a proper room with restraints, boards nailed with coverings in the windows, all kinds of things to make Casey’s room in the Rance house suitable for exorcism.
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Can’t wait to see what happens next. Chapter Five “Through My Most Grievous Fault” ought to be quite a trip!