This The Exorcist review contains spoilers.
The Exorcist Season 2 Episode 5
The Exorcist Season 2 Episode 5, “There but for the Grace of God, Go I,” explores where Andy Kim (John Cho) might go without the grace of Grace. It seems that the vulnerable child who is so deep in his heart is all in his head. Andy’s such a nice guy, even when his safe room grief is shattered, he barely raises his voice.
There’s nothing scarier than cute little kids, they give me the willies. Apparently they’re also so frightening to Andy that they give him hives. Not regular hives, but bee hives, all over and under his skin. If Ally from American Horror Story: Cult were to see this, the holes would send her into a phobia-frenzy. There’s a possibility he’ll join the island’s other mystery murderer from 30 years ago, a loving father who never finished eighth grade but spoke several dead languages as he bade his family to join them.
The audience has been getting hints that Grace is more, or less, than what she seems. The directors have been dropping in Sixth Sense-worthy clues, like have we ever seen anyone other than Andy interact with her, and the dual nature of the art room. But who or what is Grace? Andy thinks she’s a symptom of a break in his mind that came after his wife Nicole’s suicide. Grace could be impression he has given his subconscious of the child who would never be. She is larger than that, she is a dream he will never fulfill, forever locked away in a room in a house she dares never venture out for fear of falling birds.
Grace is a kind of ghost, but apparently not the same sort of entity that is left behind by someone who dies. On an island of lost children, it is an easy guess to say she’s a projection of wish fulfillment, but as the show is The Exorcist, we know she’s some kind of demonic presence. The island is apparently home to a malevolent force which has been possessing sweet-mannered residents and turning them into mindless homicidal maniacs with little warning. We know the malevolent force is centered on the house long before Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) gets a flashlight scene that wouldn’t look out of place on The X-Files. What’s the best remedy for having to sleep in a scary house? A camping trip in the scary woods. It comes with its own demons, of course, but it also comes with S’mores.
While Verity, who escaped an oppressively religious foster system demanding she pray the gay away, gets throttled for waking the sleepwalking Truck, in an attempt to get him to stop smashing his head into the wall on the strings of voodoo doll being pulled by Grace, Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) finds human contact. the former Father takes a boat trip with the Fish And Wildlife Administration monitor, swapping war stories and stealing kisses from the man who did two tours of Kosovo. Each of the men have their inner demons. The visions they can’t shake. While it is easy to pass the scene off as a mere insight into Marcus’ sexual preference before he took vows of celibacy, it is more accurate to see the encounter as two men who have so much hidden inside themselves, they really have nothing to hide from each other. Gay men entering the priesthood is nothing new, but war heroes from different battlefields rarely get to reminisce through a glass darkly.
The island is alive with something and the little girl is definitely keyed into the key lines of the grounds. In the house the walls shake even before the owl painting is pierced by that piece of dirt everyone seems to notice. The land itself might be the reason for the spiritual disturbances. Father Tomas demands, in the name of Jesus Christ, the energy show itself, but in the name of the devil, he actually prefers it go back. Tomas was drawn to the island by visions, which Marcus trusts enough to risk stirring still waters. But the visions corroborate his partner’s research. Tomas sees all the devil’s rejects. He sees murders and suicides going back ages. He sees the witch of the island tossing kids down the well as he himself vomits up the tainted water. He sees the daddy with the chains about to bear down on his loving children.
Andy, who finally admitted to his old flame Rose Cooper (Li Jun Li) that he doubts his own sanity, now sees his dead wife Nicole in the place of his never-born child. He is tortured by the temptations. On the other side of the world, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) tries to only see the good in people. He is keeping a devil at bay in the body of a former colleague, Sister Dolores. She was a selfless nun now running with a bad crowd. Legions of usurpers have taken over her personality, but all of them are ultimately self-serving. This is their undoing as Bennett has to save the old sister from starvation or freedom. The scene where he almost falters is suspenseful because there is a part of the audience which doesn’t want the priest to condemn the body to death. We want absolution for the entity as much as he does, so it is a punch in the gut to see him slice up a throat in the name of good.
“There but for the Grace of God, Go I” is ultimately a ghost story whodunit. The atmosphere of the entire island is wrapped up in the little girl and her relationship with the force on the island. Whatever is there hasn’t revealed itself yet, and the ambiguity adds to the suspense. The series opened with a case that turned out to be psychological rather than spiritual, so The Exorcist has already shown itself ready to push the boundaries of the source material. We believe the source of the evil will be based in Judeo-Christian mythology and be vanquished by the acts of faith because of the premise of the show. But as psychology, ghost stories and an entire island’s history collide on one extended dysfunctional family, we aren’t sure which devil to get behind.
“There but for the Grace of God, Go I” was directed by Alex Garcia Lopez.