This The Exorcist review contains spoilers.
The Exorcist Episode 9
When we last left off on our Rance adventure, Casey had just been freed from the grip of Captain Howdy who found a new home inside the one that got away, Regan/Angela. Just before The Exorcist cut out for hiatus, Angela/Regan/Captain Howdy snapped Chris’ neck and sent her flying down the stairs.
Which brings us to “Chapter Nine: 162,” the episode where it takes everyone far too long to realize that Angela’s got a screw loose and everyone gets murdered. Okay, not everyone, but enough to show us just how many unimportant characters there were.
The main chunk of this episode follows the now-possessed Angela. We learn that the transfer from Casey to Angela happened back at the convent when the demon was about to snap Casey’s neck and Angela held her daughter’s head and begged the demon to take her instead. As we know, that’s all the demon ever really wanted.
The minute we learned that Angela was actually Regan, we knew that the demon was back for her, and for some reason the series felt it important to let us know that. The episode is titled “162” which Henry has stuck in his head and turns out to be a page number in the book Chris wrote about Regan’s possession. It basically says that the demon would never leave Regan alone and would chase after her forever and ever. Father Tomas discovers this in the “big reveal” with only a few minutes left to the episode. This is nice because then he barges in to save the family, but largely unnecessary because the cat was already out of the bag. I mean, someone really should have read through that book earlier.
Really, the main problem I had with this week’s episode, and the series as a whole if we’re being honest, is the lack of subtlety. Possession stories usually have a little bit of mystery to them, but demonic Angela makes no attempt at a facade. Angela, who has been largely stoic and expressionless so far, is running around all of a sudden, smiling and wearing tight-fitting cocktail attire, and somehow no one seems to notice a thing.
Casey and the demon were roommates for a while and it even takes her a beat. She only figures it out when she stumbles upon her demonic mother inappropriately caressing Kat. The overstated perversion of the demon towards women is something I’ve had a problem with the throughout the series. It was muddled for a little, but is back in full force this week. Personally, I think it is too much. I understand that it’s a demon, but the majority of its evil nature manifests itself in this very aggressively sexual way. Again, something that is not at all subtle, like demonic Angela and Casey having that extremely uncomfortable conversation in Casey’s old room that was used for the exorcism. It was too much and lacked any nuance, especially from someone who is supposed to be pretending to be a kind and nurturing mother.
Moving away from Angela, Father Marcus learns about Maria Walters and her relationship with Brother Simon from the Moveable Feast couple who end up getting killed, but not before they send Father Marcus proof of a three-eyed pupil Brother Simon.
Father Marcus finds Brother Simon, beats him, and then waterboards him with a holy water bath just to confirm that they plan to assassinate the Pope. Brother Simon gives him this whole spiel about what it would mean for a city full of people to see the embodiment of their religion killed. Which brings us once again to the really interesting part of the run so far: the setting and what it means.
The question of whether evil begets evil or how the circle works has been fluttering around in the background since the pilot. The plan to kill the Pope, at first glance, seems a little lackluster. So big deal, it’s terrible, but then there is just going to be another. But when you look at it more closely and throw it up against the backdrop of Chicago and the themes of the show, you realize that one little seed might be all they need. Like pulling one card so that the whole house falls down. If you take the faith away from the poor and hopeless, in a place where there is so much evil already, what becomes of them? Can the evil slip in easier? Does the city turn to chaos? Those are the idea ideas that really hold me. I care little about which Rance family member is about to be possessed next, but the tug-of-war against good and evil on the shaky ground of Chicago society is very appealing.
I would hope, moving forward, that the series puts more focus on that aspect and keeps asking those kinds of questions.