Previously on The Exorcist, “There But for the Grace of God, Go I”
“Darling Nikki” is the best episode of the season so far. So. Much. Happens.
For one thing, Andy (the increasingly excellent John Cho) now has to deal with the return of his wife Nicole (Alicia Witt) from the depths of the Abyss. (Farewell, Grace, we hardly knew ya.) For another, poor young Truck is under psychological evaluation following his possessed attack on Verity, who doesn’t want to press charges. Andy, however, is willing to throw him under a bus if it means getting to keep his charges and house. Rose gets more suspicious by the minute.
Tomas and Marcus reunite after their separate expeditions, and decide it’s high time to get to the bottom of what’s going on in the island. Tomas is still plagued by visions of murdered children from times past, while Marcus takes what appears to be their final opportunity to check out Andy and his residents at a family dinner. Egged on by Nicole, Andy goes from realising he’s not just going mad, but also he’ll do anything to protect his position in the house. When Harper lets slip that the two priests are exorcists, Marcus becomes full inquisitor and grills Andy with the hope of bringing what demon is possessing him out into the open. Correctly he assumes it’s all down to the guilt Andy feels over Nicole’s death. He’s still grieving; Andy readily admits this. But Nicole is there to “help” him through his pain. If this means slaughtering all those around him, then what the hell! No pain, no gain, right?
Over a pot of freshly brewed coffee, the two priests question Andy, with Rose looking on as an interested observer. She’s not the only one: Nicole is both controlling and flaming Andy’s emotions. When he and Marcus square up, you get the sense that death is lurking around the corner. Ben Daniels and John Cho are remarkable in this tautly written and performed scene. One wants the truth, while the other will go to great lengths to hide it. Andy turns on Rose, too, when he finds out she accepted the priests’ help, even though this kind of confrontation was not what she signed up for. The priests eventually leave, but Rose stays with Andy, which in hindsight isn’t the wisest of moves.
On a night that will go down in infamy, Andy admits to Rose that he hasn’t dealt with Nicole’s death in a healthy way, but he wants to make things work between them. Rose is happy to make out with Andy, and just as things look set to get real intimate between the two, Nicole makes an appearance and suggests a threesome. Yikes! With Andy now fully welcoming Nicole into his soul, “Darling Nikki” delivers shock upon shock.
The episode’s physical effects (compounded by yet another storm outside) take center stage. Rose levitates from the bed, and Andy proceeds to strangle her. He’s brought out of his trance by a scream from one of the children. Harper’s mother has tracked her daughter down, and threatens her by knifepoint. Andy goes from attempting to murder Rose to all-out assault on Lorraine. Marcus and Keane try to stop the inevitable from happening, but in full view of the household, Andy guts the woman. Both priests, realizing that Andy’s soul is not under complete control of a demon, brandish crosses and Latin chants.
There are shocks abound in Chicago, too. Maria Walters (Kristin Fitzgerald) returns to the cast, now bedbound, terminally ill with cancer, and fully integrated. She/it taunts Mouse and Bennett as they demand names of those involved in the church conspiracy. Despite IV administration of holy water, the demon inside Walters suggests Tomas is being groomed by the conspiracy and is nearly ready to take his place. Mouse isn’t spared Walters’ words, either. The assassin has a connection with Marcus Keane from way back in the day, but Mouse shoots her point blank before anything else is revealed. In the ensuing destruction, Father Bennett is hurt.
There’s a lot to take in here. Matters have risen to a head on the island. Will Marcus and Tomas’ attempts at exorcism succeed? And if they do, what effect will it have on the rest of them, and how far down does the possession go? And what of Tomas? Is he even aware of his link to the conspiracy? There are only a handful of episodes left to find out.