[Exorcist] Recap • 102 Lupus in Fabula

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By Nate Waggoner / The Observer

The episode begins with a flashback in which a young Marcus and some other boys are being yelled at by a sort of monk drill sergeant, who tells them no one wants them and that they must prove their mettle by defeating a demon. The monk has about five different accents over the course of a single sentence. This is the first of a few moments where the show seems to have absolutely no idea how funny it’s being– the juxtaposition created by Jesuit school, demonology, and boot camp is like something out of a Zucker brothers movie.

The next scene is way scarier, because it relies on that classic demon voice that will never fail to frighten me. Angela walks into the kitchen in the middle of the night to find Casey being felt up with her own hands by the demon, with the demon talking out of Casey’s mouth and instructing her.

The show now has an intro sequence, which is a fairly generic, black-and-white ominous computer graphics affair. After it’s over, we see Tomas talking to a Church official about exorcising Casey. The guy tells Tomas he’s got a bright future with the church on account of his extreme hunkliness turning his parish around, and that therefore he should leave evil enough alone. The Catholic Church turning a blind eye? Well, I never!

Angela meets with someone who has connections to the Pope, and we learn that the Pope is a pretty chill, Pope Francis kind of dude, and that he’s coming to visit Chicago– the climax of this season / series is therefore likely going to involve our heroes having to rescue the Pope. Then Angela comes home to find a swarm of centipedes, the most Satanic of all bugs, under a pillow on Casey’s bed.

Tomas comes home to find Marcus, having broken in, listening to old-time rock and roll and talking about Nicolas Cage. Marcus bullies Tomas for being horny for Jessica, the married woman with whom Tomas corresponds. Marcus accuses Tomas of thirst and even of sliding into the DMs.

Casey plays lacrosse and, after signaling to an old creep in the stands, snaps an opponent’s leg with her mind. Demon lacrosse should 100% be a spin-off of this show. Or maybe the sports world would treat demonic possession like doping.

Later, the family plays Jenga. A disagreement flares up, and Casey, using the power of metaphor, removes a lower block and lets the tower remain suspended impossibly for a moment before allowing it to crash to the ground.

The church is doing some vague good works (an addict is telling a testimonial like in AA and they also have soup kitchen stuff set up). Angela hectors Tomas about the exorcism, then Marcus catches her stealing holy water and tells her to slip it into Casey’s drinking water. A homeless guy recognizes Casey and tries to touch her, and Marcus– seeing the man’s demonic affiliation– bounces him.

Tomas meets up with Jessica, who is completely uninterested in listening to his life and work woes and only interested in boning down, which he, of course, rejects. Marcus talks to a homeless woman who recognizes him. She opens her mouth and the sounds of the kid Marcus failed to save come out. So far 100% of the homeless population of Chicago is possessed by devils.

In a Breaking Bad-style ridiculously drawn-out “suspense” scene, Angela slips the holy water into Casey’s regular water at dinner. We wait and wait to see if she’ll drink it. She drinks it and seems to notice something. She drinks more of it, continues to act normal throughout dinner, then runs upstairs to hurl up a very long centipede, pulling more and more of it out of herself like a clown doing a trick with a ribbon.

The creep from the lacrosse game–possibly Lucifer himself?– advises Casey on the front steps of the house using a gross “seed” metaphor. Henry looks out the window to see Casey apparently only talking to herself.

At Tomas’s place, Marcus tells Tomas about his first exorcism experience. “I was the gun, and the church was the hand, and the words– were true.” Hoo boy. In an emotional monologue, the second from him in as many episodes, he details more about reconciling his faith and the many traumas he’s lived through. Tomas, the self-absorbed fuck, responds with a tortured, “I saw Jessica today.” The show again seems to have no idea this is hilarious.

A kid that we’ve seen riding his bike around the grittier establishing shots of Chicago throughout the episode comes home to his parents being murdered. One of the ghouls doing the killing is the homeless guy from the church. He kills the kid and harvests the family’s organs, and we see several other maniacs in jumpsuits coming out of neighboring houses with organ coolers as well. Marcus’s TV tells us the police assume the killings to be gang-related, and a poster reminds us that the Pope is coming.

This episode has a serious problem with suspense. Angela, Marcus, Tomas and the audience all know Casey is possessed. The only new thing we learn in this episode is that Casey is kind of complicit in her possession, so why all these scenes that seem like they could just be from a show about a young girl with mild supernatural powers who’s kind of an asshole?

Furthermore, we know Marcus is on the level despite being A REAL MAVERICK WHO THROWS THE RULE BOOK OUT THE WINDOW. We see him acting alone without the other main characters around, we see him fighting demons in flashbacks, and we see him talking to God. Why is so much time spent with characters trying to figure out whether to trust him or not? I hope the power of Christ compels you, because these scenes will not.

The show is starting to touch on relevant themes of poverty, mental illness, and miscarriages of justice. Like the original Exorcist, it reflects a world where the Church, and the rational world at large, are ill-equipped to handle true evil. But the dumb stuff is so dumb, and it seems so clear what’s smart and what’s dumb. A weirder show could pull off this kind of camp, and a more high-brow should would just cut out a lot of the fireworks. Maybe the issue is the studio and some producers wanting a grimly serious but super-intense show no matter what, not wanting to confuse people. I have no way of knowing. Anyways I’ll see you next week unless I’m too busy horking up praying mantises or something.

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