These aren't your mama's exorcisms!
Tomas and Marcus must do whatever it takes to defeat the powerful demon inside Andy.
Season 1, Episode 6: “From the Shadows It Watches”
Directed by Tricia Brock
Written by Joy Blake
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Road Before Us” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Damage Done” – click here
Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) watches the tape of an old exorcism. He flicks through and tries to see where he’s gone wrong in the past. The doubt he’s feeling now is what will become dangerous. Up to now it’s been easy. Without faith in himself, the Rev is not going down a good path. It’s like for all the powers Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) holds, his presence back in Rome is more disruptive, for everyone, than it is helpful. Anderson goers through tape after tape after tape. The recurring face of Mildred (Grace Zabriskie) pops up from time to time. Not to mention there’s someone locked in the Rev’s basement at the church.
He’s juggling his life outside the church, the church itself, and all the exorcism stuff at once. That cannot be easy on his psyche. He gets a visit from Patricia (Melinda McGraw), who makes clear they’ve got a burgeoning relationship, but that all gets put to an end because Anderson can’t just be honest. Not that telling a woman about demons would be easy. However, he might do something to make sure she knows it isn’t him either not being interested or having someone else on the side.
“Come with me,” he tells Patricia. The Rev leads her back to the door. To show her “what‘s behind the curtain” and she willingly goes forward. Maybe she’s found a keeper after all.
Kyle is out doing community service on the highway, spreading tar and fixing up lengths of road. Is that just his job, or is it community service, as in court-ordered service? A job from the way it looks. Either way, it’s something to keep him rooted in the real world. Speaking of the real world, Officer Mark Holter (David Denman) has a woman in for a bit of questioning in relation to the DNA he found out in the camper. This lady’s got nothing for him, really. She went missing for a while the year prior, says it was a Disney trip. Not sure if it’s true, but she says it all had to do with escaping a crazy boyfriend. For now, Holter’s big cop routine doesn’t get far, as Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) watches in the wings.
But back to the demon fun. Anderson does some crazy shit, cutting his hand open thinking he can do what Kyle does. Not only that, he even says fuck Kyle. He doesn’t like the boy’s hubris. Yet it’s the Rev who’s got a big chip on his shoulder about being a holy man, doing God’s work, whatever.
Meanwhile, Kyle is trying to put his time in, pay child support, be normal. No matter if the memories and the thoughts are all still there. From what he put up with as a kid, you know Kyle’s mentally capable of dealing with a lot. Stepping outside a moment he sees a car parked outside his place. It’s Patricia. She wants him to go help Anderson, though that does nothing to sway Kyle. For his part, he isn’t ready to make things worse for anyone else. He’s seen what his power does, putting his mother and that little girl into a catatonic state. At the same time it bothers him to sit and do nothing at all.
Kyle: “Crazy Kyle Barnes. Rome‘s own Boo Radley, is that it?”
After Kyle goes out on his porch and sees a little trinket sitting there, eerily similar to one of the figurines we’ve seen at Mildred’s home, he gets hit in the head. He wakes up to – you guessed it – Mildred. She sucks a bit of that black essence out of him. Poor guy can’t catch a fucking break, can he?
Patricia’s own son does not like her being with Anderson. Although he is very crass to his own mother, the boy makes good points about how she lets men treat her badly. But still, that’s his mom. He could have tried to be diplomatic. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Patricia. She’s interesting, both attracted to the Rev and also interested in him as a man of God. There is some good stuff to be mined from this relationship.
When Kyle comes to again there’s no Mildred to be found. Next door, he comes across Sidney (Brent Spiner). He’s still pretending to have been an old friend of Norville, taking care of his estate, that stuff. Really, he only gets closer to Kyle. He’s also got Mildred hiding out in Norville’s old place. Two sketchy motherfuckers. They talk about the whole demon situation. We begin fleshing out, slightly, their world and how they operate, why they’re on Earth. Moreover, it’s the mystery I enjoy. The intrigue gradually stretched from episode to episode. Never too much exposition. Dig the writing, hugely.
Finally we’re seeing more of ole Ogden (Pete Burris), too. He has close relations with the woman from earlier that Holter interviewed. She lets Ogden know about the questioning, and further than that it appears Ogden’s wife has a watchful eye.
Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) goes to see her brother at work. They eat sandwiches together. Unfortunately, she brings back the envelopes of money Kyle’s been sending to Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil). He also brings up the possibility of the supernatural. Only for a brief moment before they finish up. The chemistry between Schmidt and Fugit is awesome, as is the writing of the characters together, their story.
Oh, and Megan gets a call from a mysterious number. Is there trouble rearing its head with the Donnie situation? Or something else altogether?
Over at the church, Giles goes for a talk with Anderson. They talk about Mildred’s exorcism. I dig this relationship, as well. These guys are close friends. Giles even “hushed things up” over the years because he believed in what the Reverend has been doing, or at least convinced himself it was in the best interest of their little town. Things are falling apart now.
In a hospital, Megan finds Donnie laid up in bed, beaten to pieces and recovering. He wants to talk about Mark. And she’s got no idea about what her husband did. Apparently there’s a possibility of brain damage for the rest of his life. That doesn’t sit well, certainly. So blackmail is on the table at this point.
The other side is always calling Kyle. He hallucinates a bucket of tar bubbling over, rising up at him. Without much explanation he walks off the job and heads out of there. Simultaneously, Rev. Anderson is in the throes of a crisis of faith. He speaks candidly with God, wondering exactly where is his place. He admits to failure and agrees to any punishment he’s given.
He doesn’t know that Kyle is headed back to him hoping to work things out, or at the very least explore things a little further. From the basement come the screams of a possessed soul. In the church, Anderson pushes Kyle around, yelling. All the while the demon downstairs breaks out. It’s the handyman, Caleb (Abraham Benrubi). When things get out of hand Kyle touches him. Then the black essence worms its way from out of Caleb and into the air before evaporating. Afterwards, the exorcist duo strike a tenuous deal. Being that Kyle is in charge when it comes to the exorcisms while on Sunday the Rev can have his flock. As for Caleb he’s unaffected, not comatose or anything else. That’s a step up from their last job. Though what Caleb tells the Reverend is disturbing. The possession didn’t come with fear. It came with warmth. Almost scarier than pure evil. Their conversation clearly affects Anderson. Out of nowhere, the foundation of his faith seems to have been shaken over the course of the past couple episodes.
Kyle goes to Mildred’s place and confronts her.
Except she’s catatonic. Just like the girl, Kyle’s mom. He calls 911 to have her brought in, but we know what happened: Sidney has his hand in this one. When Giles comes across Kyle, he gets a bit of the truth out of him. Most of all he begins to find out more to make him understand the Rev hasn’t been helping Rome enough. In the house, Giles finds a photograph, an old one. Of a younger Sidney and Mildred outside a camper, like the one in the woods that Ogden conveniently burned to the ground. A bigger fire’s lit now under the Chief, as he tries piecing it all together in his head.
The Holter house is not well. Megan’s freezing her husband out, as the knowledge of what he did to Donnie, how that can affect their future, rattles around in her head.
Anderson finds Sidney in his church office. The unsettling man starts revealing more of himself. Is he a big time demon, like somebody with a title – Leviathan? One of those big baddies? Or just a renegade bad ass demon from hell? He carves Anderson up savagely, though doesn’t realise Patricia’s kid – likely heading there for vandalism purposes – watches through the window.
Left alone, a bleeding pentagram carved into his breast, the Rev has more of a crisis of faith on his hands this time.
What an amazing episode! I say this every time, but it’s true. The series gets better each chapter. I thought this was a solid addition leading into the second half of the first season. Next episode is titled “The Damage Done” and I am PUMPED.
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Road Before Us”
Directed by Craig Zobel
Written by Robin Veith
* For a review of the previous episode, “A Wrath Unseen” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “From the Shadows It Watches” – click here
Allison Barnes (Kate Lyn Sheil), estranged wife of Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), locks her door then starts to head for bed. She finds her daughter Amber playing, talking about drinking the “black poison.” She uses her dolls all to similar to what likely happened between her mother and father. Eerily reminiscent, for sure. Outside, Allison sees a car sitting in the darkness – inside sit Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) and Kyle. The torn up husband worries for his daughter, he worries about if whether a demon still resides in his wife. Anderson tries to talk Kyle out of anything foolish saying he can go and talk with Allison. The younger of the two worries about Mildred (Grace Zabriskie), and that Anderson can’t tell on his own anymore. They’re at odds.
So Kyle calls up his sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) asking her to help setup a meeting between him and Allison. Bad idea. The sisterly advice is he’ll only fuck his family up more. Megan offers to go see them herself, a good woman.
Police Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) goes to see his buddy Fire Chief Ogden (Pete Burris) about the blaze down at the little shack. Of course he doesn’t get much. Though, without being too heavy on the puns here, a fire is lit under Ogden. He knows there’s more to Giles than just a bit of talk.
Meanwhile, Kyle and Anderson head over to see Roy Marcus (Jason Davis), who’s had an experience close to that of the Barnes family. Roy’s daughter is out on the streets now, as things have taken a turn for the worse. He’s a broken man. Not hard to see. Although Kyle is still not sure about the Reverend’s abilities after Mildred, and after their experience with Blake Morrow previously; both of which make him wonder if the demons can’t be expelled completely all the time.
At Allison’s place Megan arrives, unexpected. She tries to talk closely with her sister-in-law. She expresses her worry for Allison, for Amber, their well being. The young mother seems off, though it’s tough to tell whether that’s demons. Because it could easily be the fact she’s just under a ton of stress. There’s still love on Allison’s part for Kyle, just no trust, as Anderson pointed out earlier. She knows he’s a good father, but he also has a danger in him. Or, well, that’s the way it’s perceived. She, and Megan and many others, still don’t know the truth behind what really went on between them. For her part, Allison knows something is “blocking the truth” after discovering there are pieces of her memory missing.
On the road again Anderson takes Kyle to see another soul he’s… helped. The guy is another broken down sort. His pet store is shut down. The wife left, got the house. Something is not right with him immediately – Kyle notices he strays from his handshake. So the young exorcist grabs the guy by his shoulders and things set off. The former pet store owner grabs his gun, pointing it at the duo before they take off. Smart idea. Only there’s a demon left sitting inside that man. Now they’re both incredibly worried for what the rest of the people Anderson has ‘saved’ are doing, out there, maybe still possessed. Then Megan calls Kyle, letting him know something isn’t right with his estranged wife. He wants to go see her. Uh oh.
In the meantime, Sidney (Brent Spiner) makes his way out to the Barnes residence. He looks around, in the closet, the kitchen. Everywhere. Even straightens up a picture before laying down in Mrs. Barnes’ old bed. Over at the station, Officer Mark Holter (David Denman) brings Chief Giles some results from his work down at the burned down trailer. An ID and everything. Well, turns out they’ve got the “DNA of a missing woman” that was present at whatever happened in that creepy little camper. Giles suggests before making a big deal to do some follow-up and figure out whether the woman is actually disappeared. But Giles, he worries more, as Ogden is clearly into some troubled shit.
Kyle foolishly goes to see Allison. He wants to talk and does his best to make her feel comfortable, going so far as to take steps away from her off the porch. When Amber shows up things are brutally awkward. She calls her mother a bitch and says she wants to go with her father. In the midst of it all Allison accuses him of trying to turn their daughter against her. Not the case at all. However, we see a moment when Kyle ends up touching her, just for a second, and she flinches. The flinch of an abused woman? Or of a woman possessed by a demon?
Flash back to Allison waking up, beaten, bruised in a women’s shelter. She can’t remember anything from the trauma. Kyle admitted to beating her, though nobody knows the truth, and it all upsets Allison.
In the present, Giles goes to see his old buddy Ogden; gun ready to draw and everything. He talks about their friendship: “I might go so far as to say best friends, maybe,” says Giles. He’s clearly been hurt by the lack of trust between them. Yet Holter calls with news about the missing woman: she isn’t missing. Hmm. The plot thickens, so literally. There’s still something going on with Ogden, obviously. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what.
The devious Sidney goes to see Mildred. Right away, she understands who he is, no introduction necessary. That’s creepy. They have their chat about physical possessions, how they keep busy as human lifeforms, so on. Sidney wants to know about Kyle Barnes, planning on taking care of him and the Reverend Anderson. Moments later Mildred tries to suck the life out of Sidney, just as the demons often do to Kyle. Does this mean he and Sidney are similar, or one in the same? Very intriguing, brief moment. Mildred mentions something about “the merge” which almost seems like an event the demons wait to see.
On the streets, Kyle and Anderson are out looking for the missing, possibly possessed daughter of Roy Marcus. They find her and she leads them down into the subway tunnels. And she is most certainly still afflicted with a demonic influence. She rambles some madness at Kyle before attacking him, trying to suck that black force out of his body. A battle begins that soon sees Kyle being wrapped up in the black, fog-like, oozing substance from within the possessed girl. Just like his mother, she’s left catatonic.
Sidney: “Humans are so desperate to express their individuality, to separate themselves from each other. Seems so short sighted.”
Allison discovers a trail of blood in her house. Or she thinks so, until discovering it’s red paint Amber tracked in from the garage to throw around the walls. This prompts the little girl to hide in a closet, so painfully similar to the way her father once hid from his own mother. We can see the direct parallel. At the very same time, Kyle is tearing himself up over the Marcus girl, now lying in a hospital bed; again, exactly like his own mother. So many things are directly paralleling his own existence and his life that it’s like a weight bearing down on his chest. Reverend Anderson believes those souls are “in God‘s hands now” while Kyle isn’t happy with any of it. None of it is holy or redemptive to him. No miracles. “Cause no one‘s fuckin‘ listening. If your God is out there, he‘s laughin‘at you,” Kyle berates Anderson.
Back home, Allison is waiting for Kyle. He can’t explain exactly what it is compelling him to protect her. She also wonders why he hasn’t apologised for what happened, seeing as how he’s a chronic apologist, even for the smallest things. This makes her curious and begs the question: did he really do it? Then she goes in to kiss him. She touches him. Nothing bad happens. They embrace. “You‘re safe,” he tells her quietly. Allison doesn’t understand, but can’t remember on her own. She begs to know the truth. But he can’t. The truth is too unbelievable, no matter how true. A rift still exists between them and unless Allison witnesses a possession, or experiences it again herself, there’s no telling if it will ever close.
An amazing episode. The best so far, in my opinion. What a great chapter to this first season. Can’t wait for “From the Shadows It Watches” next!
Season 1, Episode 4: “A Wrath Unseen”
Directed by Julius Ramsay
Written by Robert Kirkman
* For a review of the previous episode, “All Alone Now” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Road Before Us” – click here
Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) presides over a very small funeral for poor Norville, after Kyle (Patrick Fugit) found him bloody and murdered at the end of last episode. And then Sidney (Brent Spiner) shows up, claiming himself as a “friend” and claiming Norville must have been distraught over the loss of his wife. Sidney says he’s in town to take care of Norville’s affairs, all that stuff. What a god damn liar. Although I can’t wait to see more of his character. He’s sinister, as we know it was him to have done the need. Or at least it’s highly likely, anyway. So I want to know his full deal. I suspect he’s a demon, but won’t jump to say anything. I’ve never read the source material, I wouldn’t know where this is headed. I can only judge by what we’re given. And I dig the slow burn nature of the plots coming together.
Anderson is an interesting character, too. He has a bunch of keepsakes at home. Little trinkets he keeps from the exorcism work he performs. When he touches them the memories come flooding back, of the demonic possession he’s seen, the victims of said demons. Tragic life to live. In other parts of town, Mark and Megan Holter (David Denman/Wrenn Schmidt) are happy. At least they seem to be, even if she’s got other things happening in her life that he doesn’t know about – Donnie Hamel (Scott Porter) kicking around town and all. He actually shows up while they’re out at dinner. He brings up awkward conversation and while Mark does his best to be polite, his wife is rocked by his presence. There’s a very aggressive element to his presence. More plot and character development/history to come out. I’m sure there’s something deep lying behind their relationship.
Then we get more of Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey), this time at home with his wife and friends, Mr and Mrs. Ogden (Peter Burris & Debra Christofferson). When they’re alone, Giles passes the gold watch over to his buddy. With that, this plot thickens.
At a bar, Kyle runs into Donnie. The whole family clearly has a connection to him. That comes up quick and violent after Kyle attacks him right off before they’re both tossed out of the bar. They fight some more outside. Mostly, Kyle gets his ass beat down. “Always playing the guardian angel,” Donnie smirks above him: “Haven‘t you figured out they don‘t exist?” Next morning Kyle calls his sister. He’s not willing to “ignore” whatever it is that’s happening(/has happened) between them. For the time being he promises not to do anything too drastic. Something big is behind all this and I’m intrigued as hell.
Later on Kyle goes to see Anderson, who’s busy cleaning up the cemetery, picking up trash. The Rev lays it on his younger friend, saying that to get into this whole thing and help people, to fight those demons while using that gift of his there’s a need for people to trust him. They don’t right now. Lots of talk, then his dust up with Donnie. No matter what’s going on there is a good bond between these two. Because really, they’re the only two who know for sure that there’s something dark going on, that the devil is more real than many are willing to believe. And it’s no big religious thing, at least not to Kyle. It’s merely a stand between good and evil. Well the exorcist duo head over to another house, the door has a German “Willkommen” on the door. Inside Anderson sees a few ceramic boys on the window ledge and starts to have flashes of what he’d thought of earlier while touching the trinkets he keeps as souvenirs. Meanwhile, Kyle goes in to see Mildred (Grace Zabriskie). She knows all about Kyle. She alludes to him beating his wife, and in general having a problem with violence. Mildred has trouble sitting down, but when Kyle goes to help her it all but sears her skin. The whole thing is incredibly unsettling, which sends Kyle out fast. We discover more about Mildred, how she’d supposedly been exorcised. And Anderson says she’s been in church for the past couple years, singing, praising Jesus. Could he maybe be a bit too naive? Perhaps the fresh eyes of Kyle Barnes are really needed to figure out exactly how devious the devil can get in his work.
Out on his own, Giles is suited with rifle in tow for a trek in the woods. He’s back at that dirty old trailer trying to find out more about what’s going on out there.
Poor Megan is twisted up over the appearance of Donnie in her life again. Her husband’s worried, and their life is being affected. She can’t even think of anything related to Donnie without getting upset. Then we get a flashback from Megan, she peeks through a bathroom door before running to her room, towel on, and then who I can only assume is a young Donnie corners her, crushing the tail of her white stallion toy on the floor. In the present, Megan takes out a gun and holds it with a look of intent in her eyes.
On the street Mark picks up his brother-in-law Kyle, who reluctantly gets in the cruiser. They go for a beer. Mark wants to talk about Donnie. Right away you can see the look on Kyle’s face change, his entire body language and demeanour becomes more tense. “Is that him?” asks Mark. He obviously knows about whatever happened, just not who did it. We find out Donnie was a foster kid that their family took in and he abused Megan. Yowzah. Lots of explosive stuff about to happen. Disgusting that Mark had to figure it all out this way. Furthermore, Kyle tells Mark about how when he found out what Donnie was doing, he started sleeping on the floor of Megan’s room. So more and more he’s painted as less of a bad guy, and even Mark comes to see him a bit differently, even after all the stuff with Kyle, his wife, his child – something we still have yet to fully discover ourselves.
At the hotel, Megan confronts Donnie. She wants him to leave and he tries saying that he’s changed, that he was a “fucked up kid” and nothing like that anymore. Not sure how this will all play out. I’d like him to get shot, Megan definitely has her gun. Though I doubt she’ll do that.
Anderson is back to visit with Mildred. After the incident with Kyle he wanted to be sure she was all right. Truthfully, he’s doubting his own work. He believes Kyle may be right, underneath it all. He questions Mildred about her grandchildren, the fact she doesn’t want to be around them these days. This is a truly eerie scene. I love it. “What if we like who we become?” Mildred ponders out loud to the Reverend. It becomes clearer by the second there is still something demonic, something evil lurking inside that woman, and it’s obviously gotten better at concealing itself beneath her skin. The Rev finally admits to Kyle he didn’t get the job done on Mildred. Off they go on their merry way, exorcism kit in hand and ready to fend off evil once more. Only Mildred’s daughter won’t allow them in, she knows what Anderson did to try and get the devil out of the old woman before – the demon tells lies, of course.
In the woods, Giles sees his old pal Ogden throw a load of gas over the trailer then proceed to burn it down. Ah, more developments.
Out on the highway Mark pulls Donnie over. He orders the man out of his car, and you can feel the tension fatten up, so thick you could cut it with a knife. And in this day and age you can be sure the dash cam catches Mark beating the hell out of Donnie, throwing him to the roadside, laying into him. At home later that night, Mark gets a call from the Chief to run all that evidence he collected previously down at the trailer. But now Mark has to deal with his own morality, he has to live with himself. No doubt Donnie deserves all he gets, though this whole thing has definitely damaged Mark’s moral core.
The worry in Kyle for the mistakes Anderson has made mounts. He worries now for his own wife Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil), even if she’s got a restraining order on him. What if the Rev has failed to exorcise many demons, not just Mildred? Might mean a ton of dark souls are out there waiting to be saved, or trying hard not to be.
In the trees somewhere, Megan sets up a bunch of glass. She smashes it with a hammer taking out her rage in the privacy of the forest. The pain inside her has to come out, and luckily she isn’t doing anything nuts. I thought she’d have killed Donnie, or maybe she was heading down to do some target practice in preparation. However, I think what we’re seeing is that she is a good person, she’s been degraded and abused terribly yet she chooses to take out her aggression without hurting anyone, putting her in juxtaposition with her husband. Here, the person that was abused isn’t the one wanting the revenge, or at least she isn’t taking it herself. The man always has to step up and make it about his own feelings and his own rage. At the same time there’s a division between people willing to step over the line when necessary and those who will never step over it on principle. Mark is a good man, but this episode sets up a big duality between those who choose to take care of evil firsthand and those who would simply rather try to get past it, however they can.
A great episode. Love this series so much already. Some think it’s too slow, I find the pace extraordinary. It sets things up well and gives us a chance to speculate, before the plots and the characters develop. Lots of surprises, lots of creepiness. Can’t wait for the next episode!
Season 1, Episode 3: “All Alone Now”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Chris Black
* For a review of the previous episode, “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Wrath Unseen” – click here
Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen) is with law enforcement partner Luke and his wife, being setup on a date, they’re out for a night of bowling. He starts to feel strange, sweating and ill. Only there’s something a bit more strange than it initially seems. Suddenly, he’s feeling much better, and that means trouble for his partner’s wife. She tries to fight him off, but his strength is almost inhuman. More than human. Supernatural, even. When the partner returns home with a few grocery items he finds nothing but devastation. What I love about this opener is we don’t see what this man sees, only his reaction. We’re left to assume. And likely we can assume the worst. Also, dig that Tergesen is a part of the cast right now. he is a fantastic actor, so I look forward to anything he brings to the series for whatever length he’s in there. Excellent addition.
Reverend Anderson: “Call me old fashioned, but I think our vices should leave a rotten taste in our mouth. Helps keep us honest.”
Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) are headed out together. The younger of the two still isn’t sure how he’s meant to play his part in the whole thing. Nevertheless, he rides along. We get a bit of a look at Anderson and his son; a picture of the boy flies out the window, sending him into a frenzy. Look forward to seeing more on that. When Kyle and the Rev arrive at their destination, it’s a military facility. And Morrow’s partner Luke is there to greet them. Inside we see how badly Blake has deteriorated. What he did to Luke’s wife was savage and hideous. Clearly something has gotten into him. All too literally. In comes Rev. Anderson and Kyle, the exorcism duo. Can they help or heal this man?
Meanwhile in other parts of town, Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) and Mark Holter (David Denman) are at odds over the dead animals in the woods, and what exactly’s been going on. And Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt), she seems distracted. On her way home she sees someone that startles her. Later at school she thinks she sees the same man’s car, though it’s only a parent. There’s something intense going in there.
Anderson can’t find anything demonic hiding in Morrow. When Kyle decides to have a crack, things are a little different. “Do you know me?” he asks before grabbing Morrow by the face. The skin burns under Kyle’s touch. “You – outcast?” mutters Morrow. A-ha! Well, there’s a bit of elaboration on the part of the demon. Through Morrow he feels charming, he’s talkative, intuitive even. They chat a little about Kyle, his life, why the term outcast fits him perfectly. What I love is the parallel that comes out between Anderson and Kyle: the former wants to chase the demons, needs to almost, to the detriment of his personal life and his family; the latter would rather not have anything to do with the power that holds onto him, he’s lost his family (likely because of this shit), and all he wants is to give all the demon hunting up to have them back. Great writing on Robert Kirkman’s part, excellent writing for the series that keeps things building and interesting.
As for Megan, she’s tracking down the man in the red car – Donnie. Her husband, he’s out in the woods where the nailed and mutilated animals were displayed, in an old camper. With his little DNA kit, Mark tries to figure some things out. The Holters have trouble headed their way, as Donnie’s apparently tracking Megan down.
And can’t forget about the mysterious Sidney (Brent Spiner). Holed up in a motel. Resting his fedora. Shaving with an old fashioned straight razor. Can’t wait to see more of this guy, as well as his connection to Kyle, his mother, that whole debacle. Should be fun to watch that develop. Oh, he’s spitting up black blood, too.
Kyle and Anderson are at odds because the Rev only wants to get their exorcism business finished up. Morrow and his demonic influence fight back with their sassy behaviour. And Kyle, he walks away. He ends up talking to Luke whose passionate plea makes him reconsider. Anderson can’t get the job done. Afterwards, Kyle takes on Morrow and the demon inside in a bloody confrontation that ends eerily. A great sequence. This series does the supernatural horror well. The exorcism sub-genre of horror can get tired, but this gets exciting. Even better, we find our expectations subverted when not all the demons can be exorcised. Not all the victims can be freed, such as Morrow, left with a sinister spirit coursing through his body.
But maybe Luke shouldn’t have been told that. He knows there’s no way out for the evil in Morrow. So, that means other methods must be considered. Such as death. Luke opts to take the high road after indulging himself a moment. Should’ve killed the bastard.
When Kyle goes to see his neighbour Norville, he finds the old man dead. A pool of blood underneath him, a straight razor sitting in it. We know where ole Sidney went after leaving the motel. Now how does that connect with Kyle? I guess there aren’t just demons out there looking for him. Or is Sidney one of those, too? I would think so, judging on the black stuff that came out of the kid Kyle saved, the stuff Sidney spit up, the black blood on the teeth of Morrow as he looks maniacally at Kyle. Lots of demonic shit going down.
Another solid episode. This season keeps building up each episode with a great amount of tension, lots of character development, and similar to AMC’s Preacher it doesn’t give us too much while giving us enough to keep things interesting, allowing the interest to grow. Next episode is titled “A Wrath Unseen” – stick with me, fellow fans.
Season 1, Episode 2: “(I Remember) When She Loved Me”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Jeff Vlaming
* For a review of the first episode, “A Darkness Surrounds Him” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “All Alone Now” – click here
I’ve been waiting for Friday to roll around so I could catch this next episode of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. Excited to see how the characters and the supernatural elements all come together, flesh out. On another note, one thing I loved right off the bat about the whole show itself is the opening credits, the theme. Spooky, foreboding, and that ambient element you can tell Atticus Ross had his sweet little fingers in there. Gives each episode an ominous start that I love. Sets the atmosphere up without anything but some random images and the score.
This episode starts with a young Kyle Barnes. Everything is so light, breezy, beautiful. It feels surreal, in the tomb of memory. We see the change in his mother happen so fast, going from the nice mother to demonically possessed in the matter of minutes. Back in present day, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is fighting back all that horror in his mind. Meanwhile, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) preaches from the pulpit about the only thing that can “inoculate us from the darkness” – because he’s seen it. The congregation hasn’t, but he has, and Kyle, as well. Even if the latter tries to deny that at times, despite what he witnessed last episode. And all he knew as a boy at the hands of his insanely mad mother.
Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) has some doubts about Kyle kicking around. He goes to talk with his friend Rev. Anderson and worries about how the young man affects the town. Everyone there is talking already. But Giles is only warning the reverend a little.
Other more nasty things are happening. Some animals are cut up, nailed on his property. Yikes. I can see now how this is about to play into everything else.
In the meantime, Kyle goes to sit with his mother in the hospital, in her catatonic state. He talks about the boy he and Rev. Anderson saved. Instead of feeling good about saving his mother from a demonic force, Kyle only feels guilt for putting her in that bed. Although he’s conflicted because of all the horror she put him through. “We were all we had,” he reminisces to her in pain. To see him fluctuate between the distinct memories of her being an awesome mom and those of her in that terrifying state is tough. Fugit does a fine job selling this role. I wasn’t sold right away in the pilot, though I loved the episode as a whole. Now, with this second chapter, I’m starting to understand completely why he was cast. Never should have doubted that, as I’ve enjoyed many of Fugit’s performances.
After a bit of trouble at the hospital Kyle decides to do something a little drastic: take his mother home. Norville (Willie C. Carpenter) notices and tries to offer his help, but Kyle refuses and goes to tend to his mother. Outside, a mysterious man from the church earlier lurks, watching. Awesomely enough, it’s someone played by Brent Spiner (Mr. God Damn Data to you).
Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt) shows up with groceries and all the necessities. When she does, Kyle has a little gift. He wants it to go to his little girl, but Megan knows there’s none of that allowed. Apparently he can’t have any type of contact whatsoever. Finally, Megan breaks down and takes the gift, advising him about everything from eating better to trying to fix his life: “Just take it slow.” He’s taking care of mother right now, though. And all those horrible memories are flashing back, more all the time. He keeps imagining her locked in that closet, the same one where she’d lock him. At this point she’s locked inside her own body.
Over at a little meeting with some of the church ladies, Rev. Anderson is preaching his ideas of growing the congregation, getting asses in the seats, all that sort of things. The ladies are a little worried about Kyle Barnes and his involvement. Anderson does his best to sell his good qualities, no matter all the bad mojo surrounding him because of his past.
Out in the woods, Chief Giles and Mark Holter (David Denman) are searching for the nailed and slashed animals. They talk about how things went down with the kid, Kyle beating him up. Mark doesn’t buy any of the exorcism bullshit. At the same time, Giles doesn’t discount it. Clearly his relationship with the preacher extends to more than just a little faith.
We get a bit more on Kyle and his ex-wife, their little girl Amber, tons of stuff. Even a brief mention of the little girl locking herself in the closet; coincidence? Either way, dig it. The thing I enjoy about these opening episodes of the series is that not everything is spelled out completely. The writing gives us bits and pieces without spoiling everything with all out exposition. That makes everything more mysterious and more fun.
Giles and Holter stumble upon the animals eventually. A bunch of them, all crucified in a row. Someone’s been doing naughty business out there in the forest. They find a dirty camper along the way, scratch marks everywhere inside and blood all over them. An eerie scene.
At the Barnes place, Anderson shows up. He knows about her being taken away and isn’t happy. He tries making Kyle realize what’s best for his mother. Regardless, they’re at odds. Kyle doesn’t know why curing his mother of the demon didn’t end like it did for the boy he helped. “What if it‘s still inside of her?” he asks the reverend. I have a feeling they’re about to start messing around with something they don’t fully understand. Unless the ole rev knows something we haven’t figured out just yet. Well, they decide to go for it. Anderson breaks out his cross, the whole deal. They lay prayers down on her. The memories come back to Kyle, all that hardship he experienced. Nothing works, and this starts to drive Kyle batty. He opens up the wound in his hand then squeezes blood onto her, in her mouth. Still, nothing happens. After things settle Anderson has Kyle’s mother brought back to the hospital where she belongs right now.
Over with Kyle’s ex-wife and little Amber, Megan sees her niece open up the gift from her father. She watches uneasily, as if feeling guilty on both sides; for helping Kyle, for not doing more. A hard position in which to find oneself.
Part of what intrigues me most so far is Kyle’s character, the guilt he feels and the overall loss of not having a mother because of a demonic influence taking over her body, her mind, her soul. Then he has his own power that isn’t something he yet understands. All this makes for a powder keg of emotions. Later after Kyle goes home, he finds a note from Megan that his daughter loved the present. This only adds that further bit of emotion to the character and his moral dilemma. We don’t yet fully know the extent of what’s happened between Kyle and his ex-wife, the daughter, but I have a few guesses.
Oh, and before the episode closes we see Brent Spiner’s character arrive to see Kyle’s mother Sarah in the hospital. He knows her well. He knows more that we’re going to see soon. Worst of all, it torments his mother even in her coma state. Then we watch a flashback to see the demonic thing exiting her back then, choking her young son Kyle by the neck, as if claiming him for its own. What an unsettling finale to this episode.
I am beyond excited now for the third chapter, “All Alone Now”, which promises more development in these rich characters. Really great start to this series. No wonder Cinemax has faith and already greenlit Season 2. More to come, so stay with me, fellow fans! This is a solid show with plenty to offer on both the dramatic and horror ends respectively.
The Exorcist. 1973. Dir. William Friedkin. Written by William Peter Blatty, based on his novel.
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, and Linda Blair.
Rated 18A. 132 minutes.
★★★★★ (Blu ray release)
By now, everyone has either seen The Exorcist or knows all about it. Simply put, it is the story of a young girl who is possessed by some type of demon; her non-believer mother eventually gives in and realises what she needs is not modern medicine, not psychology, but a Catholic exorcism. This is the plot of the film. From there, the wild bits begin.What I’d like to talk about instead of the plot itself are the effects because on the Blu ray release from Warner Brothers there are tons of amazing special features. The best, and my most favourite, is one called “Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist.” This basically features tons of shots from behind-the-scenes, filmed originally without sound – explained to be because they wanted the extra filming to be inconspicuous to Friedkin who might’ve gotten annoyed had they been dragging more crew around the set than was needed – and over top we get interviews with everyone from Friedkin to Blatty to Blair, to people working on the crew. It’s amazing.
One of the moments I absolutely just died for was when they show two things. First, is a moment where Reagan (Blair) attacks a man. Friedkin wanted a shot following the man all the way down as he fell to the floor, shot tight looking right at his face, as if from Reagan’s POV. This is brilliance right here. Friedkin clearly has an innovative spirit. We watch as they show the contraption they’d built to do just that one shot— it’s the best thing ever. Second, they show a bunch of shots detailing the house set for the film. I should’ve known, from how some of the camerawork goes, the house was a set, open at the top and such, but just to see them doing actual shots going up the stairs with the rig they’d built to get the camera operators up and down in smooth ways. Beautiful, really, to see all the effort that went into making this film so god damn great.Another aspect worthy of note in regards to The Exorcist is the lighting. At one point on the “Raising Hell” documentary, they talk about the use of wires in the bedroom— for pulling people, as well as objects, around the room in certain shots. It looks perfect on film, but to hear Owen Roizman (D.P.) talk about how he had the wires painted in broken formations of black and white so it would make the wire less visible on camera, it’s an absolute treat! These tiny tricks of the trade are really cool to hear from the mouths of those involved in the production.
Later, we get to watch as Roizman talks about all the wire work, including how they dragged all the furniture around in Reagan’s room during those frenetic scenes. Wild. I knew it had to be practical the way they’d accomplished such shots, to actually see it and watch the process is something special. Roizman has a very nostalgic memory of the production, and a lot of his comments, especially concerning a young Linda Blair and her performance/attitude on set, which seems to be remarkable for such a young actress at the time, are great to hear. These features really help give The Exorcist even more appreciation amongst its fans, and genre fans in general.One of my favourite things about DVD and Blu ray is the fact we get commentary on a film while watching it. Probably one of the best things to come along with the advent of these new technologies. William Friedkin’s commentary on The Exorcist is fascinating and pretty damn informative. Even in the first few moments, Friedkin puts to bed any notions people have about the opening scenes not belonging in the film. He explains why it is there, what it means, and I love it, I understood anyways, though it helps to actually have a director of a film say “this is the reason,” and having it match up with what you thought. Just delightful to hear Friedkin talk about his experience filming the opening of the film in Iraq, how he was there without the protection of the U.S government, and telling us about how he enjoyed the Iraqi people and their hospitality. Hearing the director talk over beautifully framed and perfect looking images on a high quality picture of the film is sublime.
The story works on its own, but Friedkin really hammers it home. The acting from both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn is on point. Burstyn’s one of the greatest actresses ever to grace the screen. Here, she really excels, as a mother who doesn’t believe in religion or any of that stuff yet soon comes to understand the devil has taken hold of her daughter, seeking out the help of priests. Not many could pull of such a horror role. Burstyn’s so wonderfully natural here.
Blair did a fabulous job as a young girl. Incredible to think she was able to do such a role and give the performance she did. On the Blu ray documentary, she talks about how Friedkin would often shelter her from the reality of what she’d be doing onscreen by joking with her. Friedkin himself talks about it, and it seems they really had a cool relationship, a lot like an uncle and niece sort of thing where he coaxed her into some of the scenes by tickling and teasing. You can tell Friedkin works well with actors and actresses just by how Blair, at such a young age then, was able to work with him and give it her all in a tough role. Combined with the effects and the pure intensity of Blatty’s writing, the performances lift The Exorcist above a lot of trashy horror that was coming out in the 1970s and makes it an absolute masterpiece of filmmaking.The Blu ray release is far beyond the state of perfect. So many special features are available here, you’ll take days and days to get through it. “Raising Hell” is absolutely the best of them all, but there is more than just that. You get a real in-depth look behind the making of The Exorcist. I couldn’t believe how much bang for my buck I got when purchasing this, especially seeing as how HMV recently had it there for less than $10 (the ultimate steal of a lifetime if there ever was one!). It is really worth it if you enjoy the film. You get some great inside looks at the make-up effects Dick Smith pulled off; a master of the trade. Those alone are worth the price of the Blu ray, just to see him work at the craft.
Anyone who has yet to see this, go buy a copy now. If you’re a horror fan especially, don’t sleep on this. When I first saw The Exorcist I was about 15 years old. It didn’t really affect me at the time. However, I still enjoyed it a lot. Years later, I revisited the film, and I couldn’t get over it. For days, the story lingered on me like cigarette smoke. I couldn’t shake it. Burstyn and Von Sydow really pulled me in and rocked my world. The performances and the effects, it all got to me. It’s now one of my most treasured Blu rays, as well as one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen. Once again, this is a film that has no hype – the hype is very real, in fact.
And if you don’t get a chill running up your spinal fluid into your brain when you hear the repeated line from early in the film, “Father – could ya help an old altar boy?” then you know what? Check your pulse. Because the rest of us are absolutely terrified.