Welcome back to The Exorcist which, between my vacation hiatus and American Thanksgiving, feels like it’s been off the air for ages.
These last two episodes – episode seven, “Help Me,” and this week’s episode, “A Heaven Of Hell” – dialed back the action in favour of delving more deeply into character, in particular Andy (John Cho) and Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson). This makes sense considering that we’re heading into the final few episodes of the season and these two, in addition to Marcus (Ben Daniels) and Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera), will compromise the main players as the season reaches its climax.
“Help Me” was all about why Andy would ultimately reject Marcus and Tomas in favour of a demon wearing the visage of his dead wife Nikki (Alicia Witt). It worked primarily as a stand alone, focusing on flashbacks to flesh out Andy and Nikki‘s decision to become foster parents, the rapid growth of their family and, eventually, their doubts about their capacity to be good parents.
Even as far back as season one, The Exorcist has been a show about how families simultaneously support and hurt each other. The foster family elements in season two have played heavily into this central theme, particularly when regarding Verity (Brianna Hildebrand), who is arguably the most damaged – and core cast member – of the five foster kids.
“A Heaven Of Hell” takes a different angle in its use of flashbacks. While “Help Me” more or less established the chronology of Andy and Nikki‘s relationship and then revisited those scenes under the poisonous spell of the demon, the flashbacks in this week’s episode are a relatively straightforward depiction of how Mouse and Marcus are connected and, more importantly, how their relationship has informed his friendship/partnership with Tomas.
Considering her expertise in dispensing demons and her generally vengeful nature, the revelation that Mouse was attacked, possessed and cured under great duress isn’t particularly surprising. And yet, the fact that a young Marcus (sporting one of the worst wigs ever seen on television) ultimately absconded before she was cured is genuinely shocking. Despite how close they were, he abandoned her; this will clearly play an integral role when the pair reconnect in the final two episodes of the season.
Mouse‘s inexperience – addressed both by Marcus and the rude, petty priest who eventually cures her – has important implications beyond her relationship with Marcus. It explains why Marcus was also so protective of Tomas (particularly in the first season) and why Marcus has only recently come to see him as a capable exorcist in his own right. The veteran exorcist has been down this road before and it nearly cost him one of the most important people in his life.
With Andy now on the loose and everything at risk, it may still…
Odds and Ends
- I detected a hint of a romantic connection between Mouse and Marcus, though it may have a sisterly affection from him. Still, his reluctance to engage with people on a deeper level, including romantically with hot park ranger Peter Morrow (Christopher Cousins), appears to stem from his belief that he can’t get close to people so long as he remains an exorcist.
- It is unclear to me how we should interpret the vision of Andy‘s empty bed and Tomas sitting and praying with cloudy white eyes. Clearly the former part has already come true, but what about the second. Is this foreshadowing Tomas‘ possession and is it inevitable? Considering where season two began, I wouldn’t be surprised if things ended on this very cliffhanger going into a potential season three.
- Major props for Hildebrand for nailing the tricky emotional balancing act when Verity confesses to Andy that he was a good dad. If we don’t connect emotionally with these characters, none of the twists or action scenes matter so scenes like this are integral to its success. The Exorcist‘s ability to attract actors who can imbue their roles with this kind of depth is what makes it special.
- Are we in agreement that at this point all of the non-Verity kids are all just bait? Oh and Rose (Li Jun Li) is definitely going to die, right?
- Quick shout out to the still tableau that ended “Help Me” – just another example of The Exorcist‘s A+ visuals this season.
The Exorcist airs Fridays at 9pm EST on FOX. What did you think of “A Heaven Of Hell”?