This The Exorcist review contains spoilers.
The Exorcist Season 2 Episode 2
The Exorcist, season 2, episode 2, “Safe As House Houses,” is held together by red tape. There’s a social worker on an island off of Seattle taking notes on blind kids walking planks over ghosts. A tribunal in Rome, right above the Office of Exorcisms, is dong the paperwork on an insubordinate cleric. And there is a pissed off cop who cuts through the red tape to kick the shit out of a pair of closed-mouthed priests.
“Safe As Houses” opens in Vatican City, in the underground Officio di Exorsismo. The Rance family exorcism of last season shook the upper reaches of Chicago’s Roman Catholic hierarchy and word reached the tribunal in Rome. Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan), the renowned expert on possession, explains that the second phase of it is integration, where a demon and a soul are finally linked so tight that it can’t be undone. Bennet believes and has accused a cardinal of his own undoing. This goes far beyond the reaches of the original film or book, so the series is striking out into new territory, with fears that have nothing to do with deviltry. The fear many people have that there is collusion between a satanic cabal and the forces that be to influence the earth to a downward spiral.
The conspiracy at the heart of the church rises to the highest levels: The very same level that examines conspirators. The Cardinal is very considerate to the Father Bennett when facing the accusations. He understands the scholarly exorcist has been under a lot of stress. But the cardinal lets the matter of his possession be settled in a godly way, over drinks. He blesses and downs a chalice of holy water, even puts a dip behind his ears. His gathered brethren are all convinced, acting on faith that the water was indeed both holy and that the integration of the devil inside the cardinal has not gained some kind of immunity.
The Cardinal even winks at Father Bennett in full view of the tribunal, and still no one sees any cause for concern. Bennett wears enough concern for everyone assembled. Egyiawan’s face was so troubled, it’s a wonder not everyone within six city blocks didn’t start to worry. This reviewer wasn’t sure whether to brace for the Cardinal imploding or root for it. But the tribunal is absolutely indulgent as they lay the conspiracy on disgraced and rogue priest Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels), who disappeared shortly after a series of killings threw Chicago’s holiest rollers into chaos.
The fugitive ex-priest is being held with Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) in the aftermath of an off-road exorcism. They drove a pickup truck that beat out a muscle car while exorcising a woman in the cargo bed. But the men of god got collared and are now being questioned by some very angry country boys. Marcus really should learn to read his audience better. He’s already alienated most of the clergy and is working on pissing off the very people who are keeping him prisoner. He’s not so light on his partner Tomas, either. It seems nobody can do anything right by this guy. He’s been hanging around with demons far too long. But he can throw down with the worst of them in any setting.
The phrasings of Catholic masses are pretty scary whether taken in the context of a possession or in between shaking hands on Sundays. When the possessed Cindy goes into the whole “take this and eat it, this is my flesh, this is my blood” spiel we wonder whether Christ was a vampire, and then she entrances Tomas just by opening her mouth. Although, this could have been because of her breath.
The Intensive Care Unit scenes are very intense. The horrors of the demons come to life in the antiseptic setting and the mottle-scarred possessed woman Cindy is more threatening than staph infection among the newborns. Her teeth alone should be quarantined. The devil really should get a water-pick and some floss. This bodes well, though, for a series based on a movie that sold itself on projectile split-pea soup. One of the best effects of the night is Cindy’s face falling apart.
On the island for wayward children Andy Kim (John Cho) is under the careful watch of his ex, Rose Cooper (Li Jun Li), who witnessed the blind and traumatized Caleb (Hunter Dillon) almost fall into a well while in trance. We know this is the devil’s work because we don’t want to mistrust Verity, the goth kid who has an alibi for everything. Rose also brings up the past in a reference to the island becoming shrine to someone named Nicole.
Meanwhile the farming neighbors traumatize another wayward kid by letting him watch them bring a breach lamb into the world, only to lead it to slaughter in a show of righteous mercy. There is something in the woods and it’s not held back by paperwork. The red tape that holds “Safe as Houses” together is the color of blood, not a Cardinal’s robe. The players are moving together as the action begins to give way to suspense.
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