Season One, Chapter Three – “Let ‘Em In”
Written by Dre Ryan
Directed by Michael Nankin
[All images courtesy Jean Whiteside/FOX]
Previously on The Exorcist – “Chapter Two: Lupus in Fabula” introduced a bit of backstory for Father Marcus while moving the demonic possession of Casey Rance closer to full-out horror territory. We met Creepy Tall Man – the personification of Casey’s possession that only she can see, along with special guest appearance (via Casey’s green pea soup vomit) by the world’s ickiest millipede. The brutal ritualistic murder of nine innocent people (harvesting of the heart, eyes, liver, genitals and skin from the soles of the feet and palms of the hands) topped off the episode. Good Times!
“Let ‘Em In” opens with such a change in tone you may wonder if you’re watching The Exorcist or a Matthew McConaughey car commercial. Kat looks much better this week (since the scene is set THREE MONTHS EARLIER) as she drives through dark streets lit with gauzy amber streetlights. She chats with her passenger, a redheaded young woman. Their conversation progresses from pretending to talk about other people to their feelings for each other. As her companion says “Kat, look at me,” a man appears in the street; Kat slams into a light pole. We finally get to see the person who meant so much to her. It is Julia, and her dead-eyed stare from a bloodied face tells Kat (and us) she is dead.
After the titles, the scene opens in the present. Angela Rance waits in front of her (unnamed but most likely The Drake) hotel, trying to ignore the very loud and annoying street preacher a few feet away. Up pulls a series of swanky cars and first person she greets in none other than Father Frenemy from Chapter One! His name is Father Devin Bennet, “Prefect of Papal Outreach & Security” but he’s still Fr. Frenemy to me ‘til proven otherwise.
Over in Englewood, cops remove evidence from last week’s ritual slaughter. Two young men observe & heckle while speculating the killer’s probably some white guy with three names like “Jonathan Percy Wilkerson”. Father Marcus overhears them repeating rumors about the killings (such as the missing eyeballs) and somehow convinces Statler & Waldorf to spill more gossip, even though he looks like “one of those scary cops with no friends”.
Henry Rance got spooked enough watching Casey confide to her invisible friend to stop by St. Anthony’s and talk to Fr. Tomas. Henry knows “something’s wrong with my little girl,” but if he can’t trust himself since his head injury, what can he do for Casey? Fr. Tomas see Fr. Marcus waltzing in and reassures the distraught parent that “I know someone who knows about these things.”
Creepy Tall Man makes his first appearance while Kat and Casey shop at Michael Kors (must be nice!) for dresses to wear to a memorial service for Julia. CTM notes how Kat waltzes out of the dressing room “trailing a cloud of me, me, me,” as he helpfully hands Casey a dress that’s a level up in revealing from the “boxy frock” she’s trying on. He tears off the $3,600 price tag and gives Casey shoplifting tips (“just stuff in in the bottom of your bag”) with a smile.
Meanwhile, Fr. Marcus takes a guided tour of the Rance home, grills Henry and Angela about the relationship between ballet dancer Kat and sports-mad Casey, and swipes a jewelry box from Casey’s room.
The first shock moment of the episode arrives during the formal luncheon for the papal advance team led by Cardinal Guillaume. Wealthy Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald) congratulates the team for “planning the Pope’s motorcade with Chicago’s commerce in mind” She brings Fr. Tomas to the conversation about the team’s security concerns. He gets a rebuke from Bishop Oblivious (aka Auxiliary Bishop Eagan) for noticing that Pope Sebastian will spend two hours on the South Side before a day and a half on the wealthy Gold Coast.
A bloodcurdling scream breaks the ensuing awkwardness. The assembled dignitaries rush to the windows to witness a ragged man (the manic street preacher we met earlier?) engulfed in flames, a charred Bible falling from his hand as he collapses on the sidewalk.
In the next scene, Angela and Henry wait anxiously in the pews at St. Anthony’s while Fr. Tomas and Fr. Marcus talk to Casey. Fr. Tomas begins the questioning, but is quickly supplanted by Fr. Marcus. A couple of softball questions lead into a comparison of Casey and her sister as types of plants – Casey the sturdy hardy one, overshadowed by Kat the hothouse diva, thriving at the expense of everyone else. A confused Casey asks “Are you asking if I’m a succulent?”
Fr. Marcus gets to the point – “Do you love your sister? Do you like her?” Casey answers yes and Marcus states, “But you resent her.” He brings out Casey’s jewelry box and the mood of scene darkens. Casey seems to shrink in her chair as Fr. Marcus brings out a man’s watch and a feather; she panics when he lifts up a small black compact with a broken mirror inside (with a 2004 Lord & Taylor sticker)
With the mirror, CTM appears behind Casey and places a hand on her shoulder. Fr. Marcus’ tone becomes more and more needling. CTM tells Casey “Don’t look at me,” and reassures her “You are a beautiful girl.” Under verbal fire from CRM and Fr. Marcus, Casey’s eyes turn black and a wind fills the room as the light go out. Fr. Marcus addresses the demon in German, Japanese, finally Aramaic.
“Casey” responds in the same language, taunting him about Gabriel’s death and God’s indifference with a sly smirk. The low, menacing voice tells Fr. Marcus that while not the same demon he faced in Mexico City, “I admire his work.” Casey seems to reappear as her eyes return to normal, but her expression does not change from that menacing smile.
Bishop Oblivious responds to video footage of Casey’s interview with another recommendation of psychiatric care for the poor girl. Father
Devin Frenemy hands Fr. Marcus some documents and tells him he’s just been excommunicated. But there’s some Good News – he also gets 30 days severance to adjust to civilian life and some bus tickets out of town! So turn that frown upside down, Mr. Keane! Nobody seems to worry about what Fr. Marcus learned in Englewood; the demons are communicating and planning; each Englewood murder victim had their eyes, heart, liver, genitals AND the palms of their hands and soles of their feet removed (Eewwww).
Casey prepares for the memorial service while listening to Kat reminds Angela that “her friend” had a name – Julia. As Casey pulls her hair aside to curl it, we see festering boils on her neck. In the mirror Casey sees CTM in the bathroom, smiling and encouraging her as she turns up the heat on the curler and applies it to her body. We hear (but don’t see) a sizzling noise as Casey gazes into the mirror in obvious but silent pain.
After a brief scene in St. Anthony’s – Fr. Tomas tells a drunken (former) Father Marcus he’ll do the exorcism along if Marcus will not help, followed by Marcus telling the stained glass Jesus behind him to “shut up” – “Let ‘Em In” focuses on the Rance family at Julia’s memorial service.
Both Kat and Julia were dancers, and the memorial service is a performance by their form company to welcome Kat and honor Julia’s memory. Since Julia was “more of a whiskey kind of girl” a bottle is passed around the dressing room. Casey grabs the whiskey, chugs it down, then proceeds to loudly and cruelly tell all the dancers how sad it is that Kat lost her dream of dancing and the love of her life in the accident.
The dance performance begins; Kat weeps and Angela wipes the tears from her daughter’s face. Casey seems to slip into a daze and we see CTM hand reach over her shoulder and down her chest.
Fr. Tomas is summoned to the luxurious high-rise home of Maria Walters. An oddly detailed discussion about the unbreakable glass of the Sears (now Willis) Tower and how much the dying Mr. Walters (of the Chicago Walters who made their fortune from that unbreakable glass, don’t you know) loves the Church and Chicago ends with Mrs. Walters giving a check for $100,000.00. Fr. Tomas wonders what is expected in return; Maria Walters simply tells him to do something good with it “make me want to write another.”
Back at the dance performance, Casey breaks for the exit; Henry follows after telling Angela to stay with Kat.
Fr. Marcus ends up at the Rance home after leaving St. Anthony’s and Shut Up Jesus. Maybe he needs a new place to crash before he leaves town and this is the only other address he knows in Chicago?
Then Fr. Frenemy just happens to drive up! He politely orders Fr. Marcus into the car and hands him some bus tickets to Florida remarking that “it’s too bad you’re leaving – you’ve got friends in this town.” He may be more of an Inside Man than backstabbing coworker; on the back of the bus tickets are a list of friends – names and addresses starting with Mother Bernadette at the Chicago area Convent of Our Lady of Mercy. Frenemy doesn’t know if the Church has been compromised, but the lunchtime immolation was enough made him decided help Marcus covertly.
Now we come to the last scene of “Let ‘Em In” – the Train Scene. It raises the level of horror beyond anything we’ve seen and is intensely disturbing to watch.
Casey stands in the aisle of the train, Henry sits by the door. Casey is still dazed, with red swollen boils now trailing down her arm. She rebuffs Henry and insists “I’m fine.” At the Wrigley Field stop, a rowdy drunken pack of young men pile into the train. One particularly loathsome yahoo decides to begin pawing at Casey. She rebuffs him, moving slowly as if underwater. Time slows down and Casey sees her savior, the Creepy Tall Man approaching her from the other end of the train through the passengers who haven’t moved to help her.
The suit we’ve seen him in is now dirty and charred. CRM reaches Casey and in the most disturbing scene in the series so far, possessively kisses her.
Casey’s eyes go black, CRM vanishes, and the lights fail. In the red emergency light’s glow, Casey throws her assailant down the length of the train, and leaps on him. She claws at his chest, ripping open deep gashes before cramming her fingers into his mouth. Casey is prying his jaw off as the light go back on.
Henry comes to and pushes through the crowd filming with their smartphones. He finds Casey stands alone, blood splattered and urinating onto the train floor.
Parish News and Notes
~ Each episode has featured a callback to the original 1973 Exorcist movie. Epsisode One – the rats in the attic. Episode Two – the pea-soup vomit. Episode Three – Casey urinating in the train car is a callback to Regan MacNeil doing the same in front of her mother’s dinner party guests.
~ Creator Jeremy Slater told a panel audience at New York City Comic Con that Episode Five will be an exorcism from beginning to end. After the events of Episode Three, even Bishop Oblivious can’t brush that request for much longer.
~ I had no luck finding a title for the music playing during Kat and Julia’s conversation in the teaser. The haunting “Come, Daughter” heard during the dance recital is from The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang.
~ The episode’s title (most likely) comes from the incessantly catchy Paul McCartney & Wings 1976 earworm/Top Five Single of the same name. The real horror of this episode may be getting that song stuck in my head every time I’m writing about it.
~ The dinner prayer (Bless Us O Lord and These Thy Gifts…) brought back memories of grace before meals at my German Grandma & Grandpa’s house.
~ Turns out getting excommunicated is not as easy in real life compared to TV. Even the specific reasons mentioned by Father Devin – the failed exorcism in Mexico City, pulling a gun on a fellow priest, and leaving “St. Aquinas” don’t mark someone for automatic excommunication. Since we see him later helping Fr. Marcus, the earlier scene may be a feint to allow Fr. Marcus to continue the investigation unofficially.
~ Before handing over the bus tickets, Fr. Devin and Fr. Marcus discuss the body parts taken from the Englewood murder victims as needed for a (made for TV?) demon summoning ritual called “Vocare Pulvere” which translates to “raise dust”.
~ Is Robert Emmet Lunney’s Creepy Tall Man the salesman who gave Casey the mirror compact at Lord & Taylor?
The Exorcist airs Friday nights at 9/8c on Fox.