The Exorcist – Season 2, Episode 6: “Darling Nikki”

Fox’s The Exorcist
Season 2, Episode 6: “Darling Nikki”
Directed by Jason Ensler
Written by Franklin jin Rho & Adam Stein

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “There but For the Grace of God, Go I” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Help Me” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.02.04 AMWe’re seeing the aftermath following Andy (John Cho) coming face to face with the demon haunting him, in the form of his dead wife, Nikki (Alicia Witt). Little Grace is gone, so now they can be together. He’s trying his best to deny what’s happening, but it’s all too real. “Now you have me,” she tells him.
Young Truck (Cyrus Arnold) is gone, taken to another place after his seemingly violent incident recently. The others are left feeling awful, in their own ways. I worry for Harper (Beatrice Kitsos); wouldn’t it be the worst brand of fate for a girl who was made to seem possessed by her crazy mother to actually get possessed by a demon at some point? I feel like the demon’s going to have a lot of nasty fun around that foster home.
What about Marcus (Ben Daniels) and Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera)? Things aren’t well. The older of the two isn’t exactly thrilled his younger partner went back to the foster home. However, Tomas knows there’s a “presence in that house.” He reveals what he’s discovered. But it’s clear he’s not right in the head, letting the demons in has done him no good. He further mentions the mysterious rock he’d found in that room at the house. The priests begin seeing that the demon might’ve been here for hundreds, thousands of years, using the island as its “hunting grounds.”
Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.05.31 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.07.03 AMAt the facility where Truck is being housed, Rose (Li Jun Li) and Andy visit with him. He’s scared, too. He talks of a person in his head, telling him he had to hurt Verity (Brianna Hildebrand). Interesting that he casually identified the voice as a woman. In the meantime, Andy’s wondering about the future of his foster parenthood, the home, worried they’ll shut the place down after all that’s been going on. He also wonders if his wife is the one who talked Truck into being violent. Worse, he’s caught between reality, hallucination, and it’s getting scary.
At home, Harper and Caleb (Hunter Dillon) talk more about the “island witch” before Andy interrupts. The kids clearly feel the tension, they just don’t know why things are SO tense. Outside, Rose receives a visit from the exorcists. She mentions the stress levels, things getting wildly emotional. While it’s a bit far fetched to her still, she’s coming around. At the very least, she’s seen their honesty – they figured out what was wrong at Harper’s home, with her mother. So she knows they’ll actually investigate before assuming an exorcism necessary.
Thus, the priests come around for supper. I wonder how Nikki is going to respond, those men of God so close to her territory. She’s already tightening her grip on her husband. No telling what sort of madness is about to occur.
Elsewhere, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) and Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) are headed to see an old familiar face: Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald). God daaamn. Lady’s looking rough, too. Integrated as a motherfucker.
Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.19.45 AMDuring dinner, Tomas says Grace, during which Andy uncharacteristically makes little silly comments. Already, the demon, via Nikki, is influencing him starting at a very basic level. Harper then brings up the fact the priests are exorcists, making things… pretty, pretty, pretttttty tense. This takes us into a conversation about religion v. psychology. A teleological sort of talk. Conversion therapy, re: Verity, also comes up from Andy; for his part, Tomas apologises on behalf of his faith, the Church, for what they did to her. But you can just FEEL THAT SUSPENSE! LORD ALMIGHTY! A little later, upstairs, Harper tells Marcus about hearing a voice in the woods, speaking to her, believing it was the island witch.
What’s Madam Walters been doing since Season 1, anyway? Right now she’s facing an IV full of holy water for her veins – super unique method of interrogation for a demonic presence – if she doesn’t give up any information to Mouse and Bennett. She says, as a “rotting socialite,” the other demons have abandoned her, she serves no purpose anymore.
Alone together, the adults at the foster home chat. Marcus is turning the screw, whereas Tomas is a bit more subtle. They talk of Andy’s fostering the children, his history. He tells them about why he and Nikki became parents. Slowly, the priests can see the demon playing with her toy. Ole Tomas is having visions, as well; yikes. And Nikki, she keeps on turning up, manipulating her husband. Tension ratchets up further when Marcus hauls out that mysterious rock from the room upstairs. Why did Andy keep it around? What does it mean? Ain’t just a rock. The renegade priest pushes more and more until Andy starts getting upset. Rose accidentally reveals she brought the priests in to help, and that’s gonna cost her, I bet.
In the house of the shoemaker there are no shoes
Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.29.33 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.31.12 AMTomas excuses himself and Marcus reluctantly, leaving Rose, the kids under that roof with Andy and his demon. The priests aren’t actually going to leave, they just don’t want to get arrested. They figure things are going to get physical, it’s the only way. Problem is Tomas is also struggling with the curse of those visions he’s having. He’s got Marcus on his side, and that’s as good as the entire Roman Catholic Church, far as I’m concerned.
In her sick bed, Maria is about to die. Bennett presses for some info before she’s finished off. They find photos of the renegade priests nearby, hearing more about the “little cub,” Father Tomas; the demons are working to take him over. Moreover, the demon in Maria speaks as Marcus, speaking of something that happened at the abbey two decades prior involving Mouse. Sounds scandalous. Mouse puts an end to it with a bullet to Maria’s brain. In a hail of glass, Bennett gets a nasty wound.
Back at the foster home, Andy gets closer to Rose, they go to bed together. Uh oh. Is the demon seducing Rose? Will Nikki kill the woman? Starts getting freaky for Andy, seeing Rose and his wife together during a hallucination. Meanwhile, there’s other troubles: Harper’s mom came back to find her. She’s taking her daughter back, by violent force if necessary.
Andy’s fully hypnotised by the demon now, just as Marcus and Tomas arrive to try saving Harper from her mother. Things are reaching a boiling point. Everyone’s lifted from the floor throughout the house as Nikki tosses Rose around the bedroom. Andy chokes Rose. In the hallway, Tomas wrestles the mother. Until Andy comes out, picking up a knife, and exerting demonic force of his own. He stabs the woman, right in front of everybody, gutting her open from belly to neck. Andy convulses on the floor, the priests approach with prayer and their crucifixes.
Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.37.35 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.45.35 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.46.12 AMWill they save him? Will they save the others? No telling, not yet. ONE OF THE GREATEST EPISODES OF TELEVISION ALL YEAR!
“Help Me” comes to us next week. Bite your nails until then.

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The Exorcist – Season 2, Episode 5: “There but for the Grace of God, Go I”

Fox’s The Exorcist
Season 2, Episode 5: “There but for the Grace of God, Go I”
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez
Written by Alyssa Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “One for Sorrow” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Darling Nikki” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.11.48 AMAndy (John Cho) is seeing his world slip, after Verity (Brianna Hildebrand) confronts him in what’s meant to be Grace’s (Amélie Eve) room. She asks about what’s going on, and he sees reality for the first time in a while. She worries about him, though he doesn’t particularly react well, either. There’s something terrible happening in that foster home. And it’s only going to get a lot worse from here.
Is the demonic presence taking over Andy? Is it breaking him down until he’s a malleable bit of flesh it can use to its own end? Grace is everywhere Andy turns, even as he tries dispelling the thought of her from his mind: “Youre not real,” he tells himself. Might not be enough, Andy, my buddy. Especially with the memory of his wife, whom he proposed to 14 years ago to the day.
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.12.39 AMNow Andy wants to take the kids on a camping trip, overnight. Because he’s trying to get away from spooky Grace. Rose (Li Jun Li) isn’t so sure, not with Harper (Beatrice Kitsos) just arriving, not entirely settled in or feeling one-hundred percent. And then Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) arrives, wanting to talk with Rose. He mentions that he and the former Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) have sensed a presence in that place, wondering if she’s seen any strange things since getting there. The woman’s not ready to hear any of that, after what Harper went through. Sadly, the two priests are the only ones standing between good and evil.
Speaking of Marcus, he’s back chatting with his new pal Peter Morrow (Christopher Cousins). He asks about any strange history around the island, which brings up a story about a supposedly normal guy who suddenly killed his family, as well as a bunch of people at a party where he was looking for his daughter. She survived the incident, and lives nearby. Peter agrees to take Marcus to talk with her. The woman, now in her old age, tells the renegade priest how she saw something that looked like her father that night, just not actually him; clear sign of a demonic influence. Dad also spoke in a hideous voice, an unknown language he shouldn’t have known. The demon speaking through him, “wearing him like a cheap suit.”
We witness more of Grace. She tells daddy to “be careful,” followed by him feeling a burn where a fly recently left a red mark on his chest. He checks the mark to find there are holes all over his skin, from which emerge hornets. She’s not pleased with being left behind while the others go camping.
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.20.52 AMIn Belgium, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) is still trying to help Sister Delores (Karin Konoval), regardless of her integration. Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) implores him to stop, that it’s of no use. He’s just a good man, unwilling to leave people behind. Within the demon, the old woman remains. Delores speaks right to Bennett, pleading for help. He must weigh his options. Then he realises it isn’t Delores anymore, only a demon, putting an end to its miserable existence.
Even out in the forest, Andy cannot escape Grace. He believes her only a delusion, though we know it’s more, it’s worse. He confides in Rose that he may be losing his grip on reality. She supports him emotionally, yet always lurking on the edges is the little girl, and that evil inside her. Worse than that? She might have started working her terrors on Truck (Cyrus Arnold), as he sits around the campfire with Harper and Caleb (Hunter Dillon).
Out on the boat, Peter and Marcus get to know each other better. Turns out the former was in Kosovo, he saw some bad things. Marcus can relate, just on a different level. What’s interesting, though, is the parallel between a religious evil and the evil of man; both are, at the core, the same. But Marcus also knows the evil of men, going back to his childhood home where there was atrocious domestic violence. Later, the two men share a kiss briefly. A beautiful moment, especially for Marcus.
Tomas, he’s trying to warn everyone at the foster home. He goes back there looking for Rose, finding only the demon’s presence waiting for him. It’s getting dangerous, since he let a demon into his head. Could complicate this latest battle.
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.52.48 AMShelby (Alex Barima) asks Verity about possibly seeing any supernatural happenings around the island. This is where we find out she was brought to a conversation therapy-type camp, run by religious types who believed she could “pray the gay away.” Moreover, we discover Shelby’s “first birthday present” from mom was being born hooked on methadone. They’ve all got hard pasts of varying degrees. This is a great scene because Shelby represents the sensible, moderate Christian, the one who feels the love of religion, and doesn’t concern himself with the hateful extremes.
And what about Truck? Where’d he wander off?
Verity goes looking, tracking him down in one of the farmhouses in the woods. He’s banging his head on the wall. Simultaneously, we see Grace at home, banging her doll’s head on the wall, in her room where Tomas finds her. The little girl makes her doll move, so Truck moves. He chokes Verity against the wall, slamming her. Tomas fights with the Bible, as Andy runs to help Verity. Luckily it all stops. Poor Truck doesn’t remember doing anything, and Andy’s continually having troubles with reality, too. This further throws the foster home and the kids into disarray.
At the house, Tomas investigates more. However, when he commands the demon reveal itself, Grace takes him someplace else. There, he sees what the demon’s been doing around the island, dating back decades and decades. He experiences bullets in the gut, he spews the water of a drowned boy from his mouth, he dies figuratively as those people did long ago. And he’s helpless to do anything, as the killers each speak the words: “Aeternum vale,” which translates to farewell forever.
When Andy gets home, he lashes out at Grace. Smashing the painting in the room upstairs. Then beneath the little girl’s pillow mask is his dead wife Nicole. She never ever left.
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.45.48 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 1.54.47 AMThis is one of the BEST episodes of the series to date! So insane and strange and sexy (re: Marcus and Peter) and John Cho is giving us one powerhouse performance this season. Cannot get enough, all around.
“Darling Nikki” is next week. Can barely contain my excitement.

The Exorcist – Season 2, Episode 2: “Safe as Houses”

Fox’s The Exorcist
Season 2, Episode 2: “Safe as Houses”
Directed by Deran Sarafian
Written by Adam Stein

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Janus” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Unclean” – click here
Pic 1We open on the Vatican. Studying, deep in the Officio Di Esorcismo, is our friend Father Devon Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan). Apparently he’s having trouble, the tribunal wants his evidence. In a court of appeal, he presents the council his case. He speaks of the “integration” when there’s a “permanent fusion” between human soul and the demon. Then he explains his belief about those who’ve already integrated having infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church, at every level.
And then Cardinal Guillot (Torrey Hanson) arrives, to testify about his supposed demonic possession. Nobody believes Father Bennett’s story, though he’s insistent about the man: “I know who you are.” After that Guillot sets about proving he isn’t a demon. He’s poured a small chalice of water to bless and swallow back. Nothing happens. So the tribunal is satisfied. They’re only concerned with the rogue priest, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels).
Speaking of Marcus, he and Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) are still in that barn, at the hands of those angry men. And one of them’s a cop, Jordy (Warren Christie), so that makes it all the more uneasy.
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 9.11.49 AMAndrew ‘Andy’ Kim (John Cho) is fixing up the boards over the well, explaining to social worker Rose Cooper (Li Jun Li) there’s never anything like that around their place. Although she worries, it was an intense situation. At the foster home, the kids take care of themselves pretty well while Andy has things to deal with; Shelby’s (Alex Barima) even invited by a neighbour, a farmer, to view the birth of a lamb, clearly he has an interest in medicine, maybe veterinary work.
Elsewhere, in the barn, Marcus tries explaining to Sheriff Jordy his wife Cindy (Zibby Allen) has been taken by Lucifer, “the Morning Star,” and they’re her only hope. Naturally, these men don’t believe this religious insanity. Until Marcus talks about things he shouldn’t know, by any natural logic, from being with the demon in her mind. However, if she dies, those men are going to kill the priests.
Back on that Washington island, Rose questions Caleb (Hunter Dillon) about what happened the night before. If he wanted to hurt himself. The kid doesn’t want to talk about it. Obviously something’s up. We further find out about Andy’s wife, who it seems committed suicide, or at the very least died because of deep, emotionally traumatic issues.
Marcus keeps warning Tomas of his “unnecessary risks.” He talks about a friend, back during his training, who walked into a room with a demon and did not come back out for six months. He worries for the younger priest’s soul, whereas Tomas believes he’s jealous. Oh, Father Ortega’s getting lost, and fast.
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 9.16.15 AMThe men take Father Keane and Father Ortega to the hospital, after Cindy’s had quite a… fit. They’ve cleared the place out, but there’s streaks of blood, bits of gore in the hallways. In a nearby room, Cindy’s got a man held hostage. She’s in the full grips of the demon, contorting her body, frothing black bubbles from the mouth. She speaks in cryptic scripture-like sentences, chewing pieces out of the man’s face, gouging him open. Then she takes off into the ceiling like an animal.
So sweet. Sweet like stolen candy.”
Father Bennett’s discovering his office and exorcisms in general within the Church are being undermined; the integrated are most certainly infiltrating. At least he’s got himself a few friends left, behind the scenes. Such as Cardinal Caro (Philip Craig) who shares what he knows in private.
Poor Caleb bites into an apple finding a mouthful of squirming maggots. He spits them out, rinsing his mouth. He runs into Verity (Brianna Hildebrand), but he’s acting strangely. Later, he goes to talk with Andy – he says last night, he was with Verity, that she made him go out to the well and stand there, counting to ten. He says she left him. Is this the truth? Could Verity be possessed? Or is it him, playing tricks?
Next door, Shelby watches the lamb’s birth. Only there are issues with the delivery, the other animals even seem to know. When they remove the baby it breaks out of its sac, looking like some sort of demonic creature. And it has to be put down.
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 9.22.08 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-07 at 9.27.24 AMIn the maternity ward, Cindy has lots of babies to enjoy. Marcus and Tomas confront her. It’s quite difficult, when she has her hands on a child, power over the others in the room. Suddenly, Tomas begins singing a familiar song to the woman, but she grips Marcus by the throat, choking him powerfully. After a moment, she sings along with Tomas. He manages to get the baby away from her. Giving his partner enough time to tackle Cindy, reciting the necessary prayers.
Shelby goes out in the woods at night. He prays to himself, though soon the forest is filled with hideous, terrifying sounds. At the foster home, Andy talks to Verity. She denies taking Caleb out there at night, admitting to taking him there earlier that day. So, who’s lying? It makes the girl look untrustworthy, given her apparent history of trouble. Andy’s worried about her, and Verity is pissed that he would believe she’d try to hurt one of her friends. Then there’s little Grace (Amélie Eve), stuck in the middle.
The priests keep battling. Except that Tomas is being pulled deeper into the demon’s mind, his own mind. He’s called to another place with it, as Marcus loses a grip on his friend. In a dark church, Tomas meets with Cindy, she points him toward the confessional. The demon tries to turn him further against the other priest, as Tomas inside and Marcus outside fight to save Cindy. And eventually, she comes back to the world in the hospital. That evening, Father Bennett calls Marcus to let him know the Vatican are coming for him, the integrated within its ranks. So this means he’s got to get moving.
This is where the priests get closer to the Washington Island, on which the foster home is situated. Where Andy’s seemed to have cleared things up, thinking Caleb went out there as a ritual sort of thing. At least that’s what he tells Rose to keep the kids together. But in the night, outside, Andy finds there are more troubling things going on around the place after finding bloody hand prints on his door, and Shelby, holding the bloody lamb fetus in his arms: “Theres something in the woods.” So fucking creepy.

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 9.45.28 AMFantastic follow-up to the premiere. Also love how we’re not sure WHO is going to be possessed at the foster home, or who’s ALREADY possessed, because there’s a swirling bunch of events happening that takes us in many directions.
“Unclean” comes to us next week.