Previously on The Exorcist: Darling Nikki
Boy, if there’s a more messed-up foster parent than Andy Kim, I really don’t want to meet that person. Apart from taking on the responsibilities of raising a bunch of diverse, intelligent, but traumatized kids in his house on an island possessed by a malignant force, he’s also dealing with the internal damage his feelings of guilt over his wife’s suicide. Could he have done anything to save her? Did he misread the signs over time? Was he ultimately at fault for her tragic death? Flashbacks, which come fast and furious in this episode, reveal a lot of what happened on that fateful day. Nicole isn’t where she’s supposed to be, so Andy goes into the garden to look for her. Becoming more desperate, he reaches the lake where at that point it’s too late to save her from drowning herself, though try he does. Later, when her body is removed from the water, he’s comforted by Peter Morrow, but Andy picks up the rock that falls from his wife’s dead hand. This is the same rock Tomas Ortega finds in Grace/Nicole’s room at the house a couple of episodes back. It basically contains the essence of evil.
Back in the present, Tomas and Marcus Keane are in full-on exorcism mode. For me, this is a better “exorcism episode” than its companion from the first season. For one, it’s more visceral; for another, the demon is more powerful than the priest and ex-priest have encountered before. The crux is: Andy may or may not want to come out of the obviously false visions the demon is feeding him. Better the hell Nicole shows him than the one that is taking place in his room. Tomas and Marcus urge him to let go. Nicole presses him to choose her. If only it were that simple.
Andy’s entire life has been devoted to the care of others. His foster children are his children, and he keeps asking throughout his ordeal if they’re okay. Rose, who’s acting as an independent observer, assures him they are. But the demon plays on this, even going as far as portraying them as accomplices almost in different versions of the day of Nicole’s suicide. One instance has them trying to stop him from saving her, with Harper saying she was glad Nicole was dead. Now they’d have Andy all to themselves. That’s what the demon wants, too. With Nicole gone, followed by his foster children, it would have complete control over the man’s soul. Integration would be total.
The exorcism itself is what you’d expect from this show. Its horror is as much psychological as it is physical. Andy is tormented from all sides, with the two exorcists using all means at their disposal to rid Andy of his uninvited guest. At one point the men are portrayed as demonic in their appearance, but we’re shown that this is a ruse by the demon. It’s using them as pawns to persuade Andy into its arms. Salvation is not on the menu for poor Andy.
In those moments when Andy is lucid, you get the sense he wants to be saved. He needs to be there for the kids. But just when Tomas and Marcus think they’re making a breakthrough, the demon hits Andy even harder, making him convulse and spew black ooze from his mouth. Then it really gets its claws into him at the end. When Andy asks for help, it replies: “I thought you’d never ask.”
The final and most horrific vision is yet another return to the day of Nicole’s death. Only this time, with the kids bound and gagged around the house (the image of Caleb, blind and helpless, his dark glasses missing from his face, trussed up like a hog on a spit, is terrifying), Andy saves Nicole from drowning. Her response to her saviour? “Now, what are we going to do about the children?” Andy is fully integrated. Tomas and Marcus may have no choice but to kill the demon’s host body. That’s if they make it out alive. Pray for them. Pray for the children.
Help Me is a deeply disturbing and scary experience. Once more, John Cho gives a performance of such power and pathos. Alicia Witt is his equal, no doubt about it, with her ability to move from comforter to tormenter in a moment. It’s also Brianna Hildebrand’s best performance this season. She’s given lots to do by a knowing script, and the young actress rounds off a very impressively acted episode. Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels are supporting actors this time around, but what they do is vital to keep the show moving forward.
The Exorcist S2E7 Review Score
The Exorcist – S2E7 – “Help Me” | Starring: Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Kurt Egyiawan, John Cho, Alicia Witt