This The Exorcist review contains spoilers.
The Exorcist Episode 5
Okay, everything makes sense now. I am not going to bury the lede here, Angela Rance is actually Regan MacNeil! Surprise! If you have been watching The Exorcist TV series without having seen the original film — which might have made the whole pill easier to swallow for you — Regan MacNeil is the girl from William Peter Blatty’s novel and The Exorcist movie.
Can I say that I am surprised? No. But it is too neatly tied up for my liking. However, it does clear things up a bit, like how Angela was so ready to believe her daughter was possessed. For now, though, let’s go back to the events leading up to that discovery.
“Chapter Five: Through My Most Grievous Fault” was pretty much your straight-forward exorcism episode. We have all seen it before. Young girl is possessed and then kept in a room while her family and some generous priests decide to wait it out, intermittently yelling godly jargon like “The blood of christ compels you!” or “Fuck you, demon!”
Casey is in a padded room going further down the demonic rabbit hole. She is battered and dirty with green slime oozing from her, because demons are big fans of Slime Time. Both Father Marcus and Father Tomas are at the Rance residence working on exorcising Casey, while the rest of the family is just exhausted and trying to pretend that their daughter/ sister isn’t chained in a padded room with a demon living rent-free in her body.
In the beginning of the episode Henry is washing off Casey’s face and reciting the Lord’s prayer. Before he can leave she asks if he wants to hear a secret. She chokes the chain around his neck and huffs something into his ear, which at the end of the episode we know is about Angela’s real identity.
As I mentioned earlier, majority of this episode was really just classic exorcism tropes. Lots of Latin, the taking on of different voices and personalities, flying around, etc.
The demon really goes after Father Tomas first. Taking on the voice of his grandmother, who we learned in the first episode wanted Father Tomas to go into priesthood and become the first Mexican Pope. Well it turns out that is probably not true. When that doesn’t work, the demon tries something a little sexier and turns into Jessica. Father Tomas succumbs to the desire and angers Father Marcus who tells him to leave. In a rather unimportant turn of events, Father Tomas ends up sleeping with Jessica.
At the end of the episode, Katherine — who was not convinced that Casey was possessed — calls the cops thinking that the best place for Casey is the hospital where she can be looked after by medical professionals and not wayward priests. This scene makes no sense. A bunch of cops come into the house and find a battered young girl chained in a room, her parents are both very aware of the fact, and yet they only arrest Father Marcus? Casey is taken away and a police officer sits with the Rances and tries to console them. Everyone in that house, except Katherine, should have been arrested. Did the cops think the parents didn’t know? Stockholm syndrome in their own house? I don’t know.
Katherine realizes very quickly that she made a huge mistake when Casey is being carted into the ambulance and pulls off her oxygen mask and gives her sister a little sinister smile. Way to go, Katherine! By the end of the episode Casey, well the demon, has killed everyone on the ambulance and escaped. The episode jumps in time a little and Casey has been missing for two days. So the demon is running rampant around Chicago.
Let’s get back to Angela, now. She goes to the church at reveals her secret to Father Tomas. She tells him all about Captain Howdy and how she decided to run away from it all and changed her name from Regan to Angela for “angel.” As she is telling her story to Father Thomas, her mother, Chris MacNeil, shows up at the house to speak to Angela.
So now we have this little story that sets up the universe for the rest of the season. We know exactly where Angela is coming from and we know that her mother will definitely play a role in connecting the past to the present, as well as causing some tension in the narrative. I posed a lot of questions up until now about the rules of the universe, and I don’t think I needed them answered in this way but at least now the story can move forward. Or at least I can stop obsessing over why “exorcism” was the first thing to come to Angela’s mind when she thought one of her daughter’s was a little “off.”
When I spoke to writer/creator Jeremy Slater at New York Comic Con he did talk about how “Chapter Five” would be kind of where the story really opens up and gets to that point to set the tone for what is to come. I definitely think that is true and I am actually, for the first time, a little curious to see what happens when The Exorcist returns.