If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this episode, it’s to never let the catering staff put their own sprinkles on your French pastries. Cardinal Guillot and his cohorts find this out for themselves, only too late and fatally so.
“Unclean” introduces a new major player into The Exorcist franchise. Mouse (played with intensity by Zuleikha Robinson from Lost and Homeland) is a rogue operative with the Catholic Church. Driven by an agenda we’re yet to be made aware of, it is she who sees of the evil cardinal, and now she’s dragging Fr Bennett (Kurt Egiawan) along for the ride. She suspects his mentor is dead, murdered for knowing too much about the conspiracy. Bennett, and by extension Marcus and Tomas, are now very much on their own. Whether Mouse turns out to be a force for good or not depends on how Bennett gets on with her source, Sister Dolores – half nun, all demon.
Also in this episode we see how the two disparate story lines will merge in episode four. Recovering from an exorcism gone riot in Montana, the pair end up in Seattle where they take on a case of possible demonic possession in Seattle. Harper’s mother Lorraine insists her daughter is possessed and is anxious for the two priests to do their thing. Whereas last season, Marcus was all gung-ho, with Tomas acting as his sceptical sidekick, this time around, the roles are reversed. Marcus wants more proof, but Tomas wants to exorcise first and ask questions later. The young priest is still very much haunted by getting too close to the demon in Montana. Marcus suspects he may be getting too reckless, thereby putting them both in mortal danger.
Marcus is proven to be correct in his assumptions. Acting on a kind of tip-off from Harper’s social worker Rose Cooper (Li Jun Li), who’s also overseeing Andy’s (John Cho) foster home in Nantucket, Washington, Marcus realises that Harper’s mother has been deliberately medicating her daughter in order to keep her sick – a case of Munchausen By Proxy. Following a struggle between the priests and Lorraine, the police step in and it seems Harper will be sent to Andy’s place up in the sticks. I guess this is where Marcus and Tomas will end up next.
So what’s happening with Andy and his foster kids? Quite a lot, actually, and none of it good. Caleb insists it was Verity who pranked him during his midnight walk, but Verity (Brianna Hildebrand – Deadpool) passionately claims her innocence. She’s furious that Andy doesn’t believe her. Andy, for his part, is anxious for the whole incident to blow over. He doesn’t want to lose the home or his foster kids. He suggests to Rose that she co-manages the place with him.
Meanwhile, nature is throwing some disturbing curveballs at the residents. After the birth of a malformed lamb sets Shelby on a course of religious fervour, a flock of birds arise from the place where Andy’s wife committed suicide and dive-bomb the house. Andy sure has his hands full in this remote location. Each of his wards is carrying his or her own past trauma, mostly connected to understandable feelings of abandonment. A dark power hovers around them, and if help is to come, it may be too late to stop a possession. But who is going to be the unfortunate soul? We have yet to find out.
Taking the story a number of steps forward has been the challenge of The Exorcist showrunner and writers this season. It would have been only too easy to retread past glories and go for another “possession-of-the-season” storyline. Having Marcus and Tomas operate independent of Vatican oversight is a welcome move, and removing them from the main plot for the first three episodes is a gamble that might not have paid off. But pay off it does, thankfully. We’ll see this from next week.
Adding new strong characters (Mouse, Rose, Andy, Caleb, Verity, etc.) mixes things around in a compelling fashion. It’s a short season this sophomore run — only eight episodes — but I think this brevity will provide an urgent focus for writers and viewers alike.
The Exorcist S2E3 Review Score
The Exorcist – S2E3 – “Unclean” | Starring: Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Kurt Egyiawan, John Cho