[All images courtesy Jean Whiteside/FOX]
Season One, Chapter Seven “Father of Lies”
Written by Charise Castro Smith
Directed by Tinge Krishnan
In last week’s “Star of the Morning” Marcus Keane’s (Ben Daniels) impromptu use of Lake Michigan as the World’s Largest Baptismal Font resulted in a soggy, temporarily demon-free Casey Rance (Hanna Kasulka).
Chapter Seven, “Father of Lies”, begins with an overused storytelling cliché I’d hoped never to see on this show. A Mass at St. Anthony’s is conducted by Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera). Flowers, incense, a large portrait of Casey Rance beside the altar – could she be dead? Quick cut to Fr. Tomas driving Marcus and a feral, growling Casey to Mother Bernadette and the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy – Nine Days Earlier according to the caption.
Yes, we get to spend part of the episode finding out how we get from Frantic Car Scene to Missing Casey Religious Service Scene.
Fr. Tomas complains that “I can’t be an exorcist, but I can be your taxi driver,” and presses Marcus to let the Rance family know their daughter is alive. Marcus says no. “This is a revenge … Can you not see that? This is a demon with a 40-year grudge.”
Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan) agrees to continue the exorcism with Marcus. As the day’s pass, she grows increasing worried over the consequences of failure, both for Casey in particular and the world at large. Despite their efforts, the demon has only grown stronger in the preceding nine days. If the exorcism fails, “we are unleashing an ancient violence into the world,” and if Casey will not submit to the demon it will “kill the girl out of spite.” She wonders if Marcus is continuing the exorcism “for the girl’s sake – or your own.”
He’s not the Exorcist, but Fr. Tomas, along with the Sisters of Mercy join their prayers to Marcus’s. During one session, “Casey” viciously bites Fr. Tomas on the hand. Dabbing some of the convent garden aloe vera on the would, Tomas asks Marcus what happened at the lake. “I almost killed her … then God woke up from his nap, he ripped through my hands and he brought her back. She’s my ward now.”
Marcus dismisses the younger priest questioning why God seems to have saved the demon as well as Casey. “God is not some big fluffy Border Collie that comes running every time you snap your fingers. He does what he damn well pleases. It’s not our job to understand why.”
Meanwhile, Rance home turns the site of a media circus, within and without. Protesters demonstrate constantly outside the home. A family interview with “Investigative Hour” goes south quickly over questions about Casey’s breaking a man’s jaw on the train and the death of the ambulance crew.
Henry and Angela Rance (Alan Ruck and Geena Davis) attempt to leave their home with some flyers but end up driven back inside. The wife of one of the ambulance crewmen screams at Angela over the death of her husband – “Your little demon girl killed him!”
If there is one bright spot to the Rance’s imprisonment in their own home, it is the rebuilding relationship between Chris MacNeil (Sharon Gless) and her daughter. Angela can now understand how her mother suffered at her daughter’s side, unable to take away Regan’s pain. Despite having no memory of the possession, Angela can never forget later feeling “so dirty, like I would never be clean again.” As she dips a baby picture of Casey in a glass of water then wipes it clean, Angela vows to tell her daughter “You are good,” – she’ll tell Casey that “over and over until she believes me.”
Between the Convent exorcism and the media siege at Chez Rance, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) has a subplot this week as well, full of Tattersall Landscaping high jinks and Papal Planning Committee skullduggery.
Oblivious Egan (Brad Armacost) and Father Bennett meet with Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), Superintendent Jaffey (Tim Hopper), and Brother Simon (Francis Guinan) regarding last minute parade route changes. Over a “Second City First” map of the route, Bennett asks what exactly Brother Simon is doing at the meeting.
Maria Walters smoothly responds that “Simon heads up fundraising,” and Police Superintendant Jaffey brusquely tells Bennett “I don’t tell you how to say Mass,” so don’t question Jaffey about security for the Pope’s visit. Bennett’s questioning the funding largesse from the bankrupt Tattersall Landscaping company and involvement of the Brothers of Ascension meet with even less enthusiasm from the other side of the table.
Bennett takes time that night to break in at the Tattersall warehouse/Vocare Pulvere supply building. He discovers leftover ashes, a room full of dead bodies, and a pair of left over possessed homeless people. Bennett manages to dispatch one swiftly, then immobilizes the other. The man interrupts Bennett’s prayer with “Your Pope is a pig, and pigs will bleed,” Bennett makes the sign of the cross on the man’s forehead, reciting “Domine, exaudi orationem meam (Lord hear my prayer). A whoosh of air blows past Bennett as the man dies.
Throughout the episode, Father Tomas proves to be (or feel he is) non-essential to either the Rance family or the exorcism. A hookup with Jessica provides no oblivious relief; she won’t stop asking about the real story behind his “dog bite”. Unable to get anything without a prescription for the increasingly infected wound on his hand, Tomas manages to end up in a fight at a drugstore. This gets covered up with the smiling help of Maria Walters; Tomas “didn’t know who else to call.” He returns to the Rance home. Angela is truly breaking down, unable to feel that her daughter is still alive.
Casey’s condition worsens. She cries and begs, “No more.” Marcus resisted Mother Bernadette’s warnings throughout the exorcism regarding the possibility of failure. Casey’s body is, as Mother Bernadette puts it “rotting from the inside.” Now Marcus reluctantly accepts a stark reality; a dose of belladonna tea may be the lesser of two evils facing the girl.
Before Marcus and Mother Bernadette can administer the tea to a gasping, barely alive Casey, Fr. Tomas leads the Rance family into the room. “Casey” smiles. Angela enters and sees her daughter.
“Casey” rises, grins and says “the sow.”
Parish News and Notes
~ Chris Macneil recalls her daughter’s possession and tells Father Tomas that he reminds her of one of the priests who saved Regan. She’s probably referring to the self-doubting Father Damien Karras. Unfortunately, I don’t see the comparison.
The guilt Fr. Karras (needlessly) felt over the death of his mother was movingly and effectively conveyed in a few scenes. Despite all the huffing and puffing and tortured looks between Fr. Tomas and Jessica through seven epsidoes, I still don’t see what all their Sturm und Drang is about, or really even what they see in each other.
*The Litany of Loreto makes a return appearance during Casey’s exorcism if you’re wondering what Mystical Rose, Tower of David, and Tower of Ivory refer to.
~ The episode title refers to a passage from the Gospel of John.
~ Signs outside the Rance home – GOD HATES CHICAGO, CASEY 666, and AMBULANCE CRASHES, GOD LAUGHS seem to be a pretty clear reference to signs displayed by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church .
~ “Casey” refers to Angela as “the sow” – a callback to one of the most … shocking and disturbing scenes in the original Exorcist film.
The Exorcist airs Friday nights at 9/8c on FOX.