Previously on The Exorcist, “The Griefbearers”
“This is a victory lap.”
It’s been a long two weeks since chapter eight, so we’ve had plenty of time for the reveal at the end of The Griefbearers – that Angela is under the full control of Pazuzu – to sink in. In fact she’s really no longer Angela or Regan anymore. Her human side has been completely subsumed by the petulant and vengeful demon.
162 is the penultimate chapter of The Exorcist’s debut season, and while the main players have been placed in position ahead of next week’s finale, there’s very little in the way of action. Pazuzu puts it better than anyone: he’s not throwing a tantrum; he’s performing a victory lap, using Angela’s body as a willing host.
I say “willing” because she basically begged Pazuzu to take her instead of her daughter Casey when Marcus, Tomas, and Mother Bernadette were fighting a losing battle for Casey’s life and soul. It’s a case of be careful what you wish for. And having seen of her mother Chris, Angela now sets her sights on everyone who has stood in her path.
(For the sake of clarity, I will continue to refer to Geena Davis’ character as Angela, even though she has three different identities running at the one time.)
With Chris’ body taken away by the authorities, Angela concocts her own version of events, and while Detective Lawrence is rightfully skeptical, Superintendent Jaffrey puts the kibosh on further enquiries because he knows what’s going down. So the Rance family are free to bring Casey home, and Angela invites Tomas around for a turkey dinner to celebrate. It’s an awkward get-together to say the least, with Angela happily ploughing through the Thanksgiving champagne not paying mind to her mother’s recent death or her family’s own turmoil. She’s lording over them all. Henry, though, is plagued by voices in his head. He tells Tomas that all he hears is the number “162” over and over again. He even wrote it down, over and over again. Neither man can work out its importance. Meanwhile Angela is coming and going as she pleases. When she’s not ogling over her eldest daughter Kat’s sleeping body, she’s laying down her marker with the Friars of Ascension. She tells Maria Walters the reason why she wasn’t chosen to be one of the “first born”: Walters has the smell of desperation about her, and the demon hoard look for more confident and compelling vessels to help them take over the Earth.
Elsewhere, Marcus Keane dons a skull cap and goes truly rogue. Still assisted by Cherry and Lester, they find out that Fr Bennett is missing, presumed kidnapped and tortured by Cardinal Guillot. It’s only a matter of time before the Friars know the names of those involved in Casey’s exorcism and beyond. Marcus advises his renegade tour operators to get out of town, but it proves too little too late for the unfortunate duo. Marcus later finds them shot dead. He prays over their bodies and then grabs a gun and some ammunition, with Brother Simon firmly in his sights. Hell hath no fury than an excommunicated priest with blood on his hands.
Having successfully gained entry to Simon’s apartment, Marcus attacks him and eventually finds out the Friars’ diabolical plan. Simon himself is to assassinate the pope on the first day of his visit, thereby causing chaos in the Catholic Church. But Marcus can’t act on this information, as he too is ambushed by Simon’s bodyguards. Trussed up and helpless, it appears that Simon is about to induct him into the brotherhood using the very same process that brought Jaffrey into the fold.
At a gala dinner on the eve of Pope Sebastian (he’s finally given a name on the show), Tomas is offered a promotion to a more affluent parish and is dismayed by the thought of his old parish given a closure order. The bishop sweetens the deal when he says that he’ll deal with Jessica’s husband if Tomas himself will permanently break contact with his paramour. This Tomas does, but the decision weighs heavily on them both. However, when his assistant comes across a copy of Chris MacNeil’s book, The Devil in My Daughter, and shows it to him, signed and all, he thinks back to Henry and opens the book at page 162. He reads:
I knew then that the demon would never rest, never stop, until
it had taken Regan for its own. It would keep coming for her until
the end of time.
He knows that danger hasn’t passed. If anything, the demon would be more powerful.
Angela’s grand tour takes her to Mother Bernadette, where she offers the nun baked goods and a protracted death. The rest of the convent fare no better, unfortunately. Marcus sees her handiwork late on, too.
After missing the obvious for practically the entire episode, Angela’s family eventually sense that all is not as it should be with her. Casey works out that Pazuzu has transferred his possession to Angela, and just as they’re about to hightail it out of the house, Angela traps and tortures them into submission. Tomas appears just as things are about to turn real bad for the family.
162 is Angela Rance’s episode, and by definition, it’s a chance for Geena Davis to get her teeth into some meaty dialogue. She’s a veritable Punisher here, showing no mercy to nuns and family alike. Leading Henry on with a promise of sugar, she almost but quite strangles him to death. The uncomfortable scenes where she leers over her daughter’s sleeping body, as well as the awkward and disturbing dinner, are the kind of moments you need an actor of Davis’ calibre for.
So, with one more chapter to go, the scene is set for an epic showdown. If Marcus can rescue himself from his precarious situation, and if Tomas can somehow release the Rances from Angela’s demon, then maybe – just maybe – humanity can live to fight for one more day. It’s a tough call to see how they can do it, though.
I’m a little disappointed in the Friars of Ascension overall plan. I thought they had a more sinister agenda in mind than just plain old assassination. Maybe there’s more to come.
Maria Walters may have a final say in proceedings. She’s been left out in the cold, so to speak, and I’m wondering if her ailing husband has anything to offer in the grand scheme of things.
Where is Fr Bennett?
We say goodbye to Cherry and Lester Rego, Mother Bernadette and her acolytes, and we’ve yet to hear of funeral details for Chris MacNeil.
The Exorcist S1E9 = 7.1/10