Season One, Chapter Eight “The Griefbearers” Written by Marcus Gardley Directed by Louis Milito
[All images courtesy Jean Whiteside/FOX]
Last week, “Father of Lies” promised the long-awaited (at least one side) reunion of Angela Rance/Regan MacNeil and Captain Howdy, the demon driven from her over 40 years ago. Except for a bit of Jessica and Tomas melodramatic nonsense at the end, “The Griefbearers” more than delivers on that promise.
“The Griefbearers” proves the old adage that the Devil gets all the best lines. Captain Howdy – the demon possessing Casey Rance – dominates this episode. Even tied and restrained, he deliberately and methodically manipulates everyone involved into working for his ultimate goal.
The storylines in “The Griefbearers” are straightforward.
~ The exorcism of Casey Rance (Hanna Kasulka) comes to an (apparently) successful conclusion.
~ Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) warns Cardinal Guillot (Torrey Hanson) about – well, everything relating to the Brothers of Ascension, their infiltration of the Papal Visit Planning Committee for the Pope’s upcoming visit, and that business of a charnel house harvesting organs and body parts for a demon summoning ritual. Fr. Bennett gets (possibly) asphyxiated to death by some of the Cardinal’s heretofore unseen goons for his trouble.
~ The ritual slaughter of the Vocare Pulvere victims is blamed on the homeless man who accosted Casey at the St. Anthony’s soup kitchen. Turns out his name was “Red” Harplen (Alan Metoskie).
~ Jim the Jug-Eared Husband (Andrew Rothenberg) of Jessica from Evanston (Mouzam Makkar) visits St. Anthony’s with his weepy estranged spouse. Fr. Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) takes off his collar, ready for a fight. Jim declines but promises to call and report Tomas to “the Bishop, or whoever your boss is.”
Of these story threads, Casey’s exorcism is by far the most important. The consequences of how Casey is freed will have a huge impact on the final two episodes. So let’s look at it in detail.
At the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, Captain Howdy (Robert Emmet Lunney) is revived by the presence of “the Sow”; Regan MacNeil, “the girl who got away.”
Father Tomas leads the entire Rance/MacNeil family into the exorcism room at the Convent of the Sisters of Charity. Howdy insults each in turn.
Chris – “Mother MacNeil (Sharon Gless)? Someone got old.”
“Kat (Brianne Howey),” Casey’s pleading voice transitions to “you’re a terrible driver.”
Henry – (Alan Ruck) “Is that you, Daddy Dimwit?“
Finally, Angela (Geena Davis) snarls, “Get the Hell out of my child!” and Howdy smiles. “Do you know what Hell is, Regan? It’s where Casey is right now. In a room with no windows, nailed to the floor, surrounded by nothing. Alone forever. Knowing it was her mother who put her there.”
Angela convinces Henry to go home with Chris and Kat. She asks him to start packing. If her experience is any guide, they’ll want to get Casey out of the spotlight as soon possible.
Inside, Marcus, Tomas, and Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan) continue the exorcism; Captain Howdy continues his work also. Amid the rising noise of buzzing insects, the demon smiles as Marcus and Tomas come to blows. Marcus warns Tomas that the demon is pitting them against each other. It “worms its way in and lays its little eggs.”
Reluctantly, Marcus agrees with Tomas’s urging to let Angela participate in the exorcism. With the best of intentions, Marcus and Tomas have just given Captain Howdy what he craves. Every word he utters from this point has one aim; to get inside Angela’s head and lay those little eggs.
Howdy begins with a sarcastic admission of blame. “I suppose it’s my fault for stretching you out, leaving a hole that nothing could ever quite fill.” Howdy casually mentions that Angela had a child before Kat and Casey. “She scraped the first one out … worried it would come out like her. Rotten. Filthy. Putrid.”
As the group read from Ephesians 1, Howdy achieves his aim; time slows down and distorts and Angela finds herself in the basement the Georgetown house.
Young Regan (Sophie Thatcher) sits at a card table, oblivious to her adult self sitting next to her. She asks the Ouija board, “Is my Mom ever going to get married again?” Howdy, now nattily attired in a red circus ringmasters jacket, leans down to move the planchette to NO. “Stillhaven’t found Daddy, have we?” he sneers at Angela.
Regan is frozen. Drool slowly falls from her mouth while Angela and her once and future tormentor spar.
To Angela’s “Why me?” Howdy retorts. “Because you were under my foot, you stupid b*tch!” He laughs. “Why me … I will say this, it has a good vintage, your whine. Why? Because you don’t get to walk away! Besides, I miss your taste.” Howdy licks Angela’s face as she writhes in disgust. “You taste different, like death.”
Angela snaps back to the present to see her daughter’s head getting slammed into the table she’s restrained on. “Casey” rises, smiles at Angela. “Time to give the people what they want.” As her daughter’s head begins rotating, Angela embraces her child. Violently convulsing, Casey floats above the table. Her struggles stop. Her eyes clear; we see Casey again.
Fr. Tomas carries Casey through the front door of the convent to a waiting ambulance. While Henry and Kat stay by Casey’s hospital bed, Angela and Chris continue packing.
Angela rebuffs Chris’s attempted bonding talk with increasingly cruel sarcasm. Angela jokes that she and Chris can make soup while Casey and Kat “prepare to pass along their rancid MacNeil genes.” Chris sighs, “Forget it,” and heads to the stairs. Angela follows her mother. “I’m going to forget everything that you ever said to me, you little stinkpot.”
Hearing her long ago nickname for Regan brings a realization to Chris. She only has time to whisper “You!” before “Angela” twists her head 180 degrees, pushes Chris down the stairs, then smiles at her dead mother with a pupula duplex eye.
Parish News and Notes
~ Can Cherry and Lester Rego get their own spin-off show? After their crackerjack stealth assistance helping Father Bennett and Marcus this episode, they could carry on the proud legacy of Windy City reporter Carl Kolchak.
~ I am totally on Team Unlikable Aggrieved Husband with respect to Jessica and Tomas.
~ “Casey” says “Last rites, priest?” Marcus, Mother Bernadette and Father Tomas pray the Act of Contrition – here said as part of the Last Rites.
~ The catch tune playing during the flashback scene is 1972’s “Son of My Father” by immortal English band Chicory Tip. Since their version only reached number 91 on the US Hot 100, we may be listening to Georgio Moroder’s version, which made it to 46.
~ I didn’t find much with respect to the concept of “griefbearing” or the idea of a Grief Bearer. It could relate back to Chris MacNeil’s comment in “Father of Lies” remembering watching Regan suffer, unable to take away her child’s pain. Ironic that Angela is able to accomplish that for Casey – at the cost of her own soul and Chris MacNeil’s life.
Check out The Exorcist recaps at Horror4Me.
The Exorcist returns Friday December 9 at 9/8 Central on FOX.