Previously on Damien: Here is Wisdom
It’s the penultimate episode of Damien’s debut season, and true to form, with each one an improvement on the last, The Devil You Know is an absolute belter. There is no stopping the juggernaut that is the Antichrist (reluctant or otherwise) and his acolytes. In a bold and welcome move, all the major players (minus Scott Wilsons’ John Lyons for the second episode in a row – is he still feasting on goat flesh perchance?) are present and correct, dead, near-death, or alive, at the climax. The imagery and growing sense of unease that has pervaded previous episodes comes to a head in episode nine. I struggle to find fault, and I sincerely hope that next week’s season closer doesn’t let the side down. Looking at the trailer for it, I don’t think it will.
Ann Rutledge sends her people out to locate her daughter Veronica, who is bleeding out from a gunshot wound in a convent while Greta prays over her. Simone wants to get her some urgent medical help, but the nun isn’t having it. Greta tries to get Veronica onside, saying that no mother would send her daughter out with a gun in her hand. Veronica is “lost in the shadows, away from God’s love,” but she doesn’t see it that way herself. She blames Damien for distracting her mother, and that the women would be better off saving themselves and turn her back over to Ann.
Damien and Amani reaffirm their friendship over a bottle of whiskey, with Damien saying that everywhere he’s gone over the years in his work as a war-photographer his very presence has only made matters worse. Amani thinks Greta can help, but Damien instead suggests Amani should patch things up with Veronica and be his man on the inside. Damien thinks there are more people besides Ann and Lyons in on the conspiracy. Amani goes off in search of Veronica, but is instead picked up by masked men and bundled into a van, and taken to see Ann Rutledge herself. She eventually persuades Amani to take her to Damien, but only after he’s convinced that doing so will save his friend’s life.
Detective Shay’s professional life is all shot to hell (pardon the pun). Because of the haphazard way he’s running the case and his refusal to acquit Damien of having any direct knowledge into – among other things – Dr. Matthew’s murder of Charles Powell, he’s pulled off the case and put on suspension. He goes maverick and breaks into Damien’s apartment, right after his husband Patrick skips town with Freaky “The Devil Did It” Jacob. Further visions (hellhounds) and voices (Jacob) make him get the hell (again, pardon the pun) out of there. His desperation is palpable; his family are being threatened and his career is on the line, but still he tries to make sense of the shit that’s been thrown his way. I wonder what he’ll think when he finds out that his lieutenant has been quizzing Damien over Dr. Matthews. What’s his deal? Is he another acolyte?
As if that wasn’t weird enough, the story takes on further strangeness when Damien insists on meeting Greta. Simone is loath to get them together, but she eventually says okay. Damien’s entrance into the convent is like something out of a Dario Argento horror movie: all Suspiria and stuff, with cowering nuns and Latin chatting. The two adversaries meet up for the first time, and Greta greets him with hugs and sympathy, calling him a “poor man,” and “God’s child.” She asks to see his mark, and he tells her of his strange experience at the Veteran’s Hospital. Greta says his encounter with the seven wounded vets was an encounter with the seven-headed dragon from Revelations. In a moment that stuns Simone, Damien says he suspected that something from below pulled Kellie to her death. Greta then sends her off to keep an eye on Veronica while she further attends to Damien. Simone doesn’t trust her and plans an escape with her badly wounded charge. Using The Oldest Trick in the Book, the women trick a nun into entering the room, where she ends up with a bump on the head for her troubles.
The escape doesn’t end well for Veronica. In a gross-out scene that echoes the classic Sam Raimi horror movie The Evil Dead, Ann’s daughter is entrapped by the undergrowth, penetrated through her abdomen until a tendril exits from her mouth. This gross-out sequence is horrific and unexpected. Ann’s and Amani’s expressions of horror when they come across Veronica’s body tell all: this wasn’t part of the plan. There are Higher Forces at work here.
Meanwhile, Greta has lulled Damien into a false sense of security and stabs him with one of the Daggers of Megiddo. He’s then wrapped in thorns (no pun this time – I actually thought it was barbed wire at the time) and scalped. Yes, scalped. His 666, it turns out, is embedded into his skull. More chanting and cowering from the nuns in attendance. Damien is lowered into a makeshift grave while Greta attempts to exorcise the demon from him.
But Damien has help from the netherworld. The denizens of Hell, the same creatures I assume that helped kill Kellie, prevent the exorcism from taking place, surrounding Damien, protecting him from Greta’s chanting. He emerges from his grave, just as Simone arrives on the scene, and tries to intervene.
Damien is scarred and apparently fearless. When Greta attempts to stab him, he turns the knife on the nun, badly wounding her. He grabs Simone by the arm and leaves, letting Greta’s own acolytes worry over her.
The scene is set fair for what promises to be an explosive season finale. The main question to be answered is: Has Damien embraced his destiny as the Antichrist? After all, as Greta attested earlier, his ascension is all part of God’s plan. But if it is, why the attempt to kill him? Has Greta got her own agenda going on? And how badly wounded is she?
Other questions remain: What has John Lyons been up to since we last saw him? How closely aligned are he and Ann Rutledge? Speaking of Damien’s mentor, what vengeance, if any, will she take over her daughter’s terrible death? And will Detective Shay safely make it to season two (there better be a season two)? I think not, unfortunately.
Like I said at the start, The Devil You Know is a cracker of an episode. Now let’s see how the producers finish it off. I’d recommend praying, if I was the praying type.
PLOT: After the excesses of last week, it’s nice to report that there’s no let up this week. The story and characters are converging nicely for a demonic season finale.
ACTION: Not let up. No let up at all. This is the Damien we signed up for. Tension, imagery, music, biblical death – they’re all there. In spades.
DIALOGUE: Juicy and prophetic. Well written and presented.
PERFORMANCES: Both Bradley James and David Meunier continue their sterling work, but this week’s MVP is Robin Weigert. She totally sells the role of Greta, especially during those tense exchanges at the end. I hope she makes it through next week. I suspect she will. She’s a strong character, excellently played.