This The Exorcist review contains spoilers.
The Exorcist Episode 7
The undertone of The Exorcist series is about peeling back the layers of evil. Constantly playing with the idea of whether evil plants its seeds and waits or whether people themselves draw evil in by their thoughts and actions. It’s not a new concept, but one that is definitely worth spending time on when a city is infested with demons. The theme of “Chapter Seven: Father of Lies,” however shifts the focus — in a natural progression —to faith.
“Father of Lies” deals with a question that haunts many faithful people: if God is omniscient force for good, why does he let his people suffer? The episodes traverses the episode arc with keen attention to how each character feels faith and how that is tested when dealing with the tragedy of what’s happened to Casey.
Father Marcus, though the bad boy of the cloth, is really the pillar of faith in this story. His acceptance of God’s will is unyielding. “God woke up from his nap and ripped through my hands,” Father Marcus tells Father Tomas when talking about performing an exorcism where he thought he had lost the victim. “God woke up from his nap,” pretty much sums up Father Marcus’ philosophy on God. It’s not that God lets things happen, sometimes he is just asleep, which is a hard concept for any normal human to understand. It seems lazy. To Father Marcus, though, it allows him the freedom to not struggle with how God handles things.
In this episode Father Marcus is hiding the fact that Casey is still alive. He has brought her to Mother Bernadette’s convent to continue the exorcism. Even mother Bernadette, who is a nun, doesn’t have the simple devotion and understanding of god the way Father Marcus does. She butts heads with Father Marcus because she believes that God isn’t responsible for what is happening to Casey, “Sometimes suffering is just suffering,” she says in favor of putting Casey down to save her soul. Father Marcus almost gives in, until he feels God ripping through his hands again, he believes in God’s plan. Moreso, he believes that it’s good vs. evil and if you are on the side of good, you fight.
In juxtaposition with that, the church wonderboy, Father Marcus is having a much harder time. He has been struggling with his faith since the very first episode. He is in love with Jessica and feels guilty about it, unsure where his loyalties should lie. The more he sees Casey suffer, though, the more his faith is shaken. Father Tomas is lost. He is desperately seeking a sign from god and getting nothing in return, which pushes him further away from his faith and into the arms of the woman he loves.
While Father Marcus and Father Tomas continue to try and save Casey in secret, the Rance family still has no idea that Casey has been found. “Father of Lies” starts off nine days after last week’s events. Angela represents probably the most common struggle when it comes to faith, which is how God can just watch bad things happen and not intervene, “Well the next time you talk to God, ask him how he can just sit back and let something like this happen?” She tells Father Tomas.
Angela, in an amazing performance by Geena Davis, tows the line between sadness and insanity in this episode. There’s barely a moment where she doesn’t have a drink in her hand, and the longer the episode goes on the less “put together” she becomes. Angela’s hands shake and her words seem to jumble a little. The real heartbreaking but best scene for Angela’s thus far in the run is when she is curled up in the shower talking to Father Tomas. At that point in the episode the idea of having Chris MacNeil in the house made sense. Do I still agree it is too neatly tied together? Yes. But now the story is about three generations of women living under the same roof and a child learning what it feels like to be a mother and in the process a rocky relationship becomes smoother.
There is another really great scene of Angela and Chris talking when Angela tells her mother how she understands what it must have felt like for her to watch her daughter go through something so terrible and extreme. Angela then says that when Casey comes home she is going to let her know that she is good, that the demon possessing her didn’t change that. Didn’t take away her goodness. While she is speaking she is dunking a picture of Casey in water and wiping it clean, which I found very touching and powerful.
This episode really redeemed the run for me. The characters got more real and I understood them better, but also I felt them more because faith is a very human struggle.
Moving away from that a little, there was another B story happening that I really enjoyed. Detective Brother Bennet. After the Friars of Ascension events in “Star of the Morning” Brother Bennett does some investigating of Maria Walters and the Papal planning committee. Unfortunately, Brother Bennett let them know he is on to them so I don’t think that will end well for him. But he manages to find what looks like a meat locker where the Maria and the Friars of Ascension have been slaughtering and cremating bodies for their “Ceremony of Ash.”
It was a really terrifying moment in the episode. It felt very much like I was stuck in middle of a horror game and while I looked for clues some big guys were lurking in the background ready to harvest my organs and use them to call on the devil. It made me very nervous to watch Brother Bennet walk through that locker to end up in a closet full of bloody dismembered and mutilated bodies, which was definitely the best set piece in the series thus far.
Next week I think we are going to see a lot more exorcism drama, but I am hoping that the Brother Bennett story line is punched up a little bit. We already had an exorcism episode, plus all the exorcising that happened in this episode — which I actually preferred to the one in “Through My Most Grievous Fault.” Chapter Eight will most likely be heavily focused on the relationship between the demon and Angela. It is also the finale, so something major will happen to set the tone if there is another season. The two biggest questions are really will the Pope show up, and is Casey going to make it out alive?