[All images courtesy Jean Whiteside/FOX]
Season One, Chapter Six “Star of the Morning”
Written by Laura Marks
Directed by Jennifer Phang
After a week off due to the 2016 World Series, The Exorcist returns with “Star of the Morning” — surprisingly, the Rance family is too preoccupied with the still-missing (and still possessed) Casey to celebrate the Cubs historic victory. But if the Cubbies can break a 71-year-old goat-inspired curse, anything is possible!
“Star of the Morning” opens with Chris and young Regan appearing on Wake Up San Diego promoting Chris’s new book, The Devil in My Daughter (with a cover in Looking for Mr. Goodbar font).
Regan insists she doesn’t remember much of her ordeal. Chris interrupts, “You do … she does.” Regan tells the interviewer she heard a voice that “kept asking me to come closer. And when I did …” Regan falls silent, ignoring the host repeating her name.
In 2016 Chicago, Henry and Angela argue in the kitchen over the unexpected and unwanted (by Angela) arrival of her estranged mother Chris MacNeil; Kat plays hostess to her new Grandma in the living room. After her daughter ran away, Chris used several private investigators to find Regan. Once they found her daughter, Regan made it very clear she wanted nothing to her mother. Angela isn’t really lying to Henry – “She was dead – to me!”
Kat asks Chris, “The possession – Mom’s – was it like Casey?” Chris replies sadly, “I hope not.” Henry, believing that any help to find their daughter is better than nothing, overrules Angela and welcomes Chris to stay with them.
The next scene moves to the St. Anthony basement/parish hall, now the Casey Rance Search HQ. Angela tries to be useful but is overwhelmed by an overlapping sound of whispers no one else seems to hear. Marcus arrives; he wastes no time in dressing down Angela.
“You let us walk into that room with incomplete information. Now two men are dead. You lied.” Marcus then gives Angela the really bad news. Possession is like a virus, attacking and wearing down a ravaged host until the victim either gives in to the demon or dies. Once “integration” of the demon and host occurs, the soul is destroyed. There is no human soul left to save.
Marcus storms out, followed by Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera). If Fr. Tomas wants to rely on flyers and the Chicago Police Department, that’s his choice. Unlike Tomas, Marcus has nothing he fears losing. He’s going hunting.
A candlelight prayer vigil for Casey is held on the steps of St. Anthony’s, attended by Police Superintendent Jaffey himself. Fr. Tomas impulsively offers the hundred thousand dollars given to the parish by Maria Walters as a reward for information regarding Casey’s whereabouts.
Protesters interrupt the vigil demanding the same concern for the Englewood massacre victims. A woman reads out the name of each Englewood victim, starting with Andre Christopher Williams. With each name we see a heart, a liver, a pair of eyes placed on a tray. The homeless people who committed the murders (then were picked up by a Tattersall Landscaping van) place the trays in ovens. The resulting ashes are carefully placed in an ornate lidded chalice.
After the vigil, Kat finds the Wake Up San Diego interview, watching it on her laptop. Chris remarks, “Not my finest hour.” Chris then relates to Kat the Cliffs Notes version of the original Exorcist story — Captain Howdy in the Ouija board and all. After Regan’s possession, Chris was dropped by her studio. Desperately trying to find any way to support herself and Regan after the ordeal in Georgetown, she made a decision that ended up driving her daughter away, a decision Chris has regretted every day since. “It was my fault,” she admits.
Over at St. Anthony’s, Fr. Tomas is presented with the temptations of power and romantic love in succession. First Maria Walters stops by. She’s surprised Fr. Tomas used her donation for Casey’s search but not displeased. Would Father care to attend the benefit that evening at her home, hosted by the Friars of Ascension to honor the Papal Planning Committee? Fr. Tomas could make some influential friends. Tomas declines; he’s not looking for friends, he’s looking for Casey.
Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Jessica from Evanston. Maria Walters smiles knowingly, telling Jessica, “he’s all yours,” as she leaves the two alone. Jessica takes some “Find Casey” flyers from Fr. Tomas and drops off a set of keys to her new bachelorette pad in Wicker Park.
While Fr. Tomas and Jessica are moping over their impossible love, Marcus and Father Bennett actually get some work done. Working at the Home Sweet Mobile Home of Cherry and Lester Rego, Bennett and Marcus learn all sorts of interesting facts about Tattersall Landscaping. Most importantly, it was purchased two years earlier by (wait for it) Walters Industrial Holdings!
Despite not having a valid business license, Tattersall vans are all over town. The Walters family has also given almost two million dollars to (guess who!) the Friars of Ascension. Good thing Father Bennett is attending that dinner at Chéz Walters with Cardinal Guillaume!
At the Walters residence, Fr. Bennett arrives to see Professor Rexroth of the University of Chicago Divinity School holding forth on Angels in general and the fallen variety in particular. He describes them as “beings strong enough to challenge God.” By tempting Eve to eat the apple, these fallen angels can also be seen as bestowing all that humans value in “life” — knowledge, free will, civilization, culture, and music. Police Superintendent Jaffey listens in rapt attention, along with the head of the local Teamsters Union and the Chicago Stock Exchange.
After the dinner, while Cardinal Guillot tells Maria Walters he hopes she’ll be “rewarded for all her hard work,” Fr. Bennett stops by Professor Rexroth with a question. Aren’t the angels he described so glowingly also known as demons? Rexroth, Maria Walters, and Police Commissioner Jaffey watch Bennett leave with Cardinal Guillot.
A chosen few remain. Twelve are seated around the dinner table, including Rexroth, Maria Walters, and Jaffey. The thirteenth guest at the table appears: Brother Simon from St. Aquinas, who was so welcoming when Fr. Tomas visited the retreat. The cheer now has a sheen of contempt. Brother Simon uncovers the chalice we saw earlier, filled with the ashes of the Englewood victims.
Simon asks those seated at the table if they ready to claim the birthright handed down by their True Father. All reply in unison, “Body and Soul are His to Command.” Simon continues, “Star of the Morning, Son of Dawn, we beseech You and your Legion to rise and walk among us. Come forth, my brothers and sisters, to Eden again.” He gathers some ashes in his hands, then gently blows them into the air.
The others assembled at the table murmur “Come … Take me … Choose me.” Maria Walters gazes at the writhing cloud of ash, begging, “Please come. Please take me. I am your daughter. It is my turn. I’ve waited. Take me.”
The ash chooses Superintendent Jaffey instead, pouring down his throat. The double pupils appear in his eyes. While everyone else at the table congratulates Jaffey, Maria Walters silently weeps.
Marcus searches a very different part of Chicago while Father Bennet dines on the Gold Coast. Before heading over to Jessica’s for a chaste dinner of butternut squash(!), Fr. Tomas texted information overheard by volunteers about bizarre dog behavior. Marcus follows that lead to a dank tunnel. Rats are fleeing en masse, but Marcus proceeds inside.
Among a mass of lost, sick, and despairing people, he is confronted by Casey. Casey is following her mother’s footsteps — literally. She capers up the walls of the tunnel, scampering on all fours in an inverted spiders scuttle at breakneck speed.
Marcus follows her out of the tunnel to the lakeshore and manages to subdue “Casey” in the shallow water. Asking God to bless the water, Marcus cries, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be buried with Christ,” then lifting the girls; head out of the water, “and raised with Christ.”
A massive wave emanates from Casey and Marcus. Casey gasps, “He’s coming back. Help me!”
Parish News & Notes
~ Professor Rexroth was mentioned in episode four, The Movable Feast. Professor Rexroth was the teacher of a class Cherry Rego audited at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Maybe he was also responsible for cheating her husband Lester out of his Doctorate.
~ Mother Bernadette and the sisters of the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy featured in that episode also. Their exorcism ritual spoke directly to the Son of the Morning (aka Lucifer) but its aim was to persuade the “profane thing” to leave a possessed person.
~ There are 13 people, including Brother Simon, at the Vocare Pulvere ceremony. Just like the Last Supper! Maybe the unhappy Maria Walter will be this supper’s Judas?
~ In the tunnel, Casey recreates a famous unseen moment from the original Exorcist film. A deleted scene showed Regan “spider walking” down the stairs, blood flowing from her mouth. It was included in the 2000 “Version You’ve Never Seen” DVD release. While it’s interesting and certainly shocking, the “spider walk” actually detracts from the mood of the film.
~ Brother Simon’s invocation asks “you and your Legion to rise and walk among us.” William Peter Blatty directed the 1990 movie Exorcist III: Legion, adapted from his novel.
*While I’m enjoying these two parallel plots (the possession of Casey Rance and the Vocare Pulvere plot), I’d like to see HOW they intersect – what is the connection?
The Exorcist airs Friday night 9/8 pm Central on FOX.