The Exorcist: Daughter of Fury
When a series tells you publicly and explicitly that it is not a sequel to something else, but then it turns out to be totally a sequel, is that a twist or a cheat? But more importantly, does such a reveal make it a better show or weak rehash? We’ll get back to that, but first here’s a recap of episode 5 of Lil’ Regan’s All Growed Up.
We open with a Hitchcockian shot of a narrow alleyway outside of the Rance house where Marcus is reminiscing about his childhood home, the one before they kept him in a dungeon in a “dark corner of the church” for all those years. There’s a reference to King Lear because you know those Brits and their Shakespeare. Think we’ll be getting more reference to Marcus’ not so happy childhood this evening?
In a bit of heavy-handed symbolism, there’s a storm a’ brewing because this show doesn’t do subtle. While the priests take a break, Henry goes in to wipe the brow of his wee babe, who bids him closer, feigning innocence. Then she, or it as the case may be, wraps her chain around his neck, and seriously, the priests didn’t put up a “Warning Stay the Hell Out” sign on the door? Having him by the throat, Casey or the Casey Thing sticks her/its black tongue in his ear and whispers something.
What did she whisper? We don’t know, but whatever it was, when he comes downstairs, he looks kind of pissed at Angela but won’t tell her what’s wrong.
Cat is on her bed looking at mementos of Julia. She hears pounding on the wall coming from her sister’s room, and seriously, couldn’t these people have all gone to a hotel for the duration? The wall almost buckles.
Angela looks at her distorted reflection in the kitchen window and doesn’t like what she sees. She starts furiously cleaning the kitchen. There’s horrible black gunk dripping from the ceiling. We hear muffled sounds of the exorcism directly above. Angela gets on a chair and starts to wipe away the gunk because Ajax now has specially blessed Clorox that lifts the stain of Satan right out. Henry walks in. Spooky music plays and there’s a shot of Angela’s feet on the chair. Is Henry going to pull it out from under her?
We finally get a brief view of the actual exorcism. Marcus and Tomas are reciting their litanies as the demon baits them. Marcus starts yelling at the demon, accusing him of having a temper tantrum. Someone should explain to Marcus that when someone is having a temper tantrum, yelling at them doesn’t usually help. The demon makes Casey’s toe crack open and it looks like a claw is emerging. Gross. Not as gross as a 360 head-spin, but maybe we’re just warming up.
Angela is now looking at old photos. Henry comes over and is acting more normal. He doesn’t recognize an old napkin that Angela has kept, so she explains its significance to her brain-addled husband. He’d written his phone number the night they met during a storm when they were both stuck at LaGuardia Airport. This somehow leads him to ask her if she believes in God, and “consequences,” and then he asks her if she’s ever lied to him. This leads her to ask him if she’s saying this whole thing is her fault, and she walks away.
Back upstairs, the Demon starts talking in the voice of Tomas’ sainted grandmother who we learned last week never actually told him she wanted him to be the first Mexican pope. Tomas runs out of the room. Marcus runs after him and then when they come back in, Casey is literally bouncing off the padded walls.
Henry is alone, praying in his bedroom when he notices some water dripping in the closet. Examining the leak, he topples over some box, and a bible falls out. He looks through meaningfully, but we don’t see what he sees except for some pressed flowers and a red feather.
Casey is now resting in Marcus’ arms. (And the way he’s holding her is meant to evoke the Pietà because Catholism. The salesman whose suit is now tattered, and whose feet are now claws, is perched birdlike, on Casey’s chest, telling her how much it sucks to be an incorporeal being, and that she must “Bring her to me?”
Cat and Angela are in the kitchen. Cat is arguing with her mother about this whole exorcism thing and how maybe what Casey needs is a doctor. Wouldn’t someone by this time have maybe clued Cat in on some of the really wacky shit she apparently hasn’t noticed at all? Marcus enters the kitchen for some tea because he’s British. He assures Cat he’d never hurt Casey. Doesn’t look like she was reassured.
While Marcus is enjoying his crumpets, Tomas here’s a voice – Jessica’s voice. And you’d think he’d be smart enough to not follow the voice, but nope. He goes back into the room where Jessica is standing there, in Casey’s shirt and with Casey’s chains. Tomas says, “You’re not Jessica,” but he doesn’t sound convinced. And in no time he’s on his knees, and while we don’t see exactly what he’s doing or how far it’s gotten, based on Marcus’ face when he comes in on this scene, it’s gone way too far.
Marcus pulls Tomas away and tells him he’s useless, and compromised. Marcus goes back in alone, but not before Cat gets a peek inside, and Casey yells that she’s being tortured. The demon starts baiting Marcus about his father, and also repeats to Marcus what he already said to Casey, “Bring her to me.”
Then Marcus’ mom is in the room. She’s walking around with her bashed in head like one of the ghosties in The Sixth Sense, and it’s not a sweet reunion. In fact she tells Marcus about how she tried to abort him and should have flushed him down the toilet. Also totally his fault his da killed her. They were just fine until he came along.
Meantime, Tomas is a’ walking in the rain, all the way to Jessica’s, where her husband is conveniently away on business. What business? The devil’s business probably. Things heat up.
The demon is trying to get Marcus to join team demon because apparently an excommunicated priest would be a real feather in their cap. But what’s the sign on bonus exactly? Also the demon tells Marcus he didn’t think girls were his “flavor.” That’s a surprise, I was pretty sure he and Angela had a little chemistry, but I’m figuring an eternal hellbeast probably has better gaydar.
Storm rages. Casey screams. Sounds of a police siren. Cat looking out the window. She’s the one who called the cops, and Angela says “No, no, no.”
Before the police, grab Marcus and take him out of the room, Casey whispers, “Ipse venit,” which we might not understand if we didn’t go to Catholic school or major in Buffy Studies at Wicca University, but it will be explained soon enough.
Casey is taken away by ambulance. There’s a moment when she takes off the oxygen mask and stares at Cat with a smirk. It looks like Cat just figured out she made a huge mistake.
The ambulance pulls over to the side of the road, and then starts to buckle. There’s a lot of screaming. Casey runs out into the woods, leaving behind bits and pieces of the poor medics.
Marcus is sitting in a jail cell where there’s an old timey portable television set parked on a shelf conveniently within his view. The news is on: It’s been two days since the “bizarre and deadly crash” and Casey is still on the loose. Also there’s something about the pope’s upcoming visit. Marcus is muttering about this “ipse venit” stuff, which means “He is come.” Bennett shows up to bail him out, and Marcus tells him they need to warn the pope.
And that might have been a good place for the episode to end, but of course there’s more.
Angela wakes up from a bad dream. Henry is already awake. He shows her the bible he found, and tells her she needs to confess. Speaking of confession, after his dirty weekend with Jessica, a repentant Tomas crawls back in to St. Anthony’s. He hears a noise. It’s Angela.
Let’s hope he doesn’t mention molesting Casey because I don’t think that conversation will go to well. She tells him how much she loves that story about how he became a priest – the one he totally made up.
He tells her that they’re going to find Casey. Then she launches into a story about her childhood. Single mom, always moving, changing schools, and then they lived in DC…
And suddenly we are all in one of those bad dreams where you know how it ends, and this is the point when I usually change the channel, but I committed to doing these recaps, so I don’t.
It seems back when she was a teenager, she had an “imaginary friend” like Casey did. In her case it was a little red birdy, and she had a breakdown, but she doesn’t remember much about what happened because of post-traumatic amnesia, but she wanted to move on with her life. According to her, her mother wanted to use the story and “make a buck” so ran away, changed her name and never looked back, but now it’s clear that “it” wasn’t done with her. And our we hearing bells again? Tubular bells?
Now she tells him? Mightn’t this have been a relevant tidbit say when she was trying to get permission for the exorcism?
Yup, she’s Regan MacNeil.
We see a figure in the back of a taxi. Mostly we see the outline and the hat, which looks a lot in outline like the hat the original-brand exorcist wore in the movie. The figure gets out of the cab at the Rance house and goes to the door. Henry answers. It’s Chris O’Neil, and she’d like a chat with her daughter.
It should be pointed out that we already in the realm of revisionist history. Chris O’Neil was NOT a two-bit lowlife in it for the monies, but a mom doing the best she could, and a genuine international film star (modeled in the novel read on Shirley MacClaine.)
Also, the idea of Regan, escaping and living relatively “free” as Angela ignores The Exorcist II – The Heretic, which was the worst movie ever made, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Plus there were a couple of other sequels, maybe, that nobody saw, that also involved Regan’s post-demon life.
Sure, the show can ignore canon. It’s not, after all, Buffy. If Star Trek or Sherlock has taught us anything, it’s taught us that rebooting is permitted. But the difference is that we care about and Kirk and Spock and Sherlock and Watson in a way that we don’t about Regan MacNeil. The 1973 movie was iconic and spawned some unfortunate sequels and imitations, but that didn’t come from a love of Regan. She was a blank slate. Why revive her? Given that most people watching weren’t even born when the movie came out, what’s the added value?
The only mystery the reveal resolves is to answer the question: What is Geena Davis doing here? Thelma didn’t step down from being commander in chief (10 years ago) to become “the mom” in a supernatural drama. She took the role because she’s the stealth star.
Despite a four out of five thumbs up from the Agony Booth in our Fall preview, The Exorcist hasn’t been a ratings blockbuster (and these are the loneliest recaps on the site). If only they’d gone non-linear. We could have jumped between two separate story lines — Regan’s possession in Georgetown, with the fathers Merrin and Karras coming to her rescue, while also watching history repeat itself forty-three years later in Chicago. It would be like This is Us — Possessed. We would have cared about the characters in both timelines before we discovered the relationship.
So dear watcher, what do you think of this reveal? Will it save the series or kill it deader?