May 5, 2018
The Exorcist: The eXorcist-Files
Here comes the sine qua non of horror tropes: teenage lust. In this case, girl on girl, because that’s now a TV requirement. Cat is driving, and Julia is the passenger. Julia and Cat are admitting their mutual attraction. Cat’s hands remain on the steering wheel, but where Julia’s are going is less clear, nudge nudge wink wink.
Cat is neither drunk, texting, nor drag racing—the obvious choices for teenage tragedy, so that’s good. But is God about to rain down his wrath upon them for the sin of same-sex fondling while driving? Julia may or may not be intimately touching Cat when she asks Cat to look at her, but the girls’ actions aren’t what causes the crash. When Cat looks back at the road, there’s suddenly a figure standing in the middle of it. She stops short to avoid hitting him, causing an accident and her friend’s death. While we only see him for a nanosecond, he looks like “the schizophrenic” we’ve seen before, except he’s wearing a suit and tie, and he may or may not have actually been there.
It’s the episode’s first hint that everything has been “designed”, or as Deprak Chopra would say, “there are no accidents in the universe.”
Roll credits with the show’s original music, which sounds a lot like recycled X-Files, as does much of the plotting.
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Speaking of the mentally ill, there’s a crazy preacher yelling in front of Angela’s swanky hotel. A limo pulls up and none other than Father Bennett emerges, and we learn: (1) Bennett is his last name, but probably not even his mom ever used his first name. (2) He’s part of the pope’s advance team, specifically “papal outreach and security.” (3) He doesn’t understand that it would be an act of kindness to chuckle politely and/or crack a smile when the embarrassed hotelier makes a lame joke about the perils of free speech in response to the lunatic in front of her hotel shouting about Satan.
Two guys from the neighborhood, or “thugs” as a basket of deplorables would call them, are cracking wise as the police go in and out of the unfortunate cyclist’s house. (Kids, don’t crank the volume of your headphones up so loud you can’t hear your mother screaming as she’s being slaughtered by demonic homeless people.)
Marcus is listening when one of the guys mentions how the eyeballs had been removed, which sounds to them totally like something one of those white serial killers would do. Marcus interrupts to ask about other missing parts. They ask if he’s a cop. He says, “Do I look like a cop?” One of them nails it, telling him he looks like the scary cop the other cops don’t talk to. Once he shows them his collar, their tone changes, because who doesn’t respect Catholic priests?
Note to showrunner: Please bring these guys back. They would make a lovely Greek chorus to keep us from taking any of this nonsense too seriously. They could be the lone gunmen to Marcus’s Mulder. Please give them names, and don’t kill them off just because the black guy always dies in the horror film, a trope you already gave us last week. Or maybe kill off the one in red, which causes his nerdier looking bro to join the seminary and become Marcus’s mentee.
Henry is talking to Tomas, trying to wrap his addled brain around this whole “demonic possession” thing. We learn that he fell off a scaffold which, given what we saw in the opening, probably wasn’t an accident either, because like William S Burroughs said, “There are no accidents in the universe.”
Casey is in a store dressing room. We are told in mo’ clunky dialogue between her and Cat that Angela is forcing Casey to go with Cat to a memorial for Julia. Sure, send the one possessed by demons. What could possibly go wrong? While she’s alone, “the Salesman” (as he is referred to in the IMDb) shows up with a “frock” as he puts it, which is better than the “boxy” thing she was about to settle for. He can’t keep his incorporeal hands off of her. The sexy number he picked out costs $3,600, but doesn’t she deserve it? He rips the security tag off but there’s no damage—it’s a miracle!—and tells Casey to stuff it in the bottom of her bag.
Note to Casey: If you’re going to hang with a creepy older guy, he should at least be buying you the dress.
Mulder and Scully Marcus and Tomas have dropped by Angela’s to look for some signs and wonders. If Marcus was acting like a cop in the previous scene, here he’s more like an FBI agent assigned to investigate unexplained phenomena. He’s not looking for vibes and a presence. He’s looking for evidence. He notices some pictures of the sisters together, and starts to put together a theory.
Some high-level Catholic clergy, including a cardinal, are having a fancy dinner in the super-fancy banquet room of Angela’s swanky hotel. Mrs. Walters, the big shot from the planning committee who met with Angela last week, is the only civilian present. Mrs. Walters suggests that maybe when the pope drops by, there could be a little more Southside and a little less Gold Coast. Father Bennett has safety concerns. Father Tomas, who’s here either because he’s going places or the bishop thought the cardinal might like some eye candy, speaks up about his parishioners’ devotion to the church. The cardinal seems moved, but then they hear a scream. Everyone rushes to the window, where they watch the street preacher burst into flames. The camera lingers on the black smoke rising from his immolated corpse, no doubt significant because there are no coincidences.
Casey is in Tomas’ office being
inquisited interrogated by Marcus and Tomas. Tomas begins the questioning, but then Marcus steps in since Father Guapo is clearly out of his depth. Marcus starts off complimenting Casey, acting like he’s her friend because he saw that on every cop show ever, but he’s going in for the kill, accusing her of being resentful of her beautiful but troubled sister. Then he confronts her with a music box he’s stolen from her room, out of which he takes out a make-up compact. He present it like it’s a kilo of coke he found under her bed. He knows she didn’t buy it herself. Who gave it to her?
The Salesman shows up. He places a hand protectively and creepily on Casey’s chest, and tells her to say nothing like the sleazy lawyers in procedurals do. They can’t see him, but Marcus knows he’s there. The lights flicker, the wind blows, a painting falls, the compact starts spinning around, and Tomas takes out the video camera. The demon’s voice comes out of Casey’s mouth. He knows about the boy in Mexico, but he’s not the same demon. Marcus’ theory is that that he didn’t choose Casey, and Cat would have been the better target, so Casey must have chosen him, let him in. Then the perp says more than he meant to, the way they do when you get them rattled. The demon yells that Casey was chosen “by design.” Like Baba Ram Dass said, “There are no accidents in the universe.”
Tomas and Marcus take the videotape to the bishop, who’s there with Bennett. The bishop tells them to get Casey to a shrink, proving he’s a tool… possibly of Satan. Marcus tries to warn him that the demons are communicating with each other. It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya. Bennett gives Marcus his ex-communication papers, and the bishop tells him he’s revoking his Chicago privileges because bishops are totally gangster and can make you leave town. Marcus really is the cop the other cops won’t talk to, and now he’s just been asked to turn in his badge.
Casey is doing her hair. She’s wearing the dress she stole. There’s a gross mark on her neck, which apparently no one has noticed because no one notices Casey much at all, and a quick shot of the Salesman scene behind her from the mirror. The curling iron has a distinctive shape. We’ve been here before with the original brand Exorcist‘s masturbating with the cross scene, plus all those movies like American Pie involving adolescents having inappropriate relationships with anything that’s handy. But sheesh, I hope she let that thing cool down, because otherwise that’s really gotta hurt, and not in a good way.
Tomas finds Marcus at the church. Marcus is drunk, and explains to Tomas that without the church’s sanction, he has no demon fighting mojo. Tomas argues that the church excommunicated him, God didn’t, but Marcus says that’s semantics, which translates as: These are the rules we’ve set out for this drama and the reason why Tomas’ role here is critical. Tomas must take up the mantle, but he’s not ready, and this could cost him his “immortal soul.” Marcus tells him they went to the Church too soon, and need to wait till the demon does something really big. There are about ten more minutes left. Countdown to something big.
Casey and Cat are backstage before the memorial performance by Cat and Julia’s dance company. Casey is generally inappropriate and blabs about Cat and Julia’s relationship. Nobody notices the really ugly mark on her arm. Then the performance starts. Henry and Angela are there for that, too. Casey starts dripping sweat and the Salesman shows up and gets handsy again. Casey gets up and leaves. Henry goes after her.
Mrs. Walters meets with Tomas and gives him $100,000 to buy his church something nice. She claims she doesn’t want anything in return except that he do some good with it. Her husband’s cancer is referenced, as it was last week. Theory: Is she doing the devil’s work to save her husband? After all, as Oprah has said, “There are no accidents….”
Marcus is going up the steps of a rectory. Why? Who lives here? Not explained. Bennett pulls up in a chauffeur driven limo. How did Bennett know he’d be there? Never mind, just go with it. Marcus gets in the car. There are meaningful shots of the chauffeur listening. Bennett asks for some music to drown out their conversation, even though the first rule of this kind of thing is that by the time you ask for the music it’s too late. What do we learn? The particular organs taken from the bodies can be used to call forth demons, and there was enough taken to call forth several. Bennett is worried about the pope’s visit, and that the Church itself might be “compromised.” He gives Marcus a bus ticket to Tallahassee, telling him he has “friends in the Church.” On the back of the ticket, someone has written an address in Elgin, Illonois.
Casey and Henry are on the L train. Henry starts starts talking about that darn “accident” again. He suddenly closes his eyes and loses consciousness as though someone turned a switch. A group of baseball hooligans gets on the train. (Is baseball that different in Chi-town? Because in New York, no one gets this hyped up after a game.) One of them gets trumpy with Casey, and he must be celebratory or something, because nobody stops him.
A passive Casey sees the Salesman coming toward her. His suit is burnt, and he he’s covered in soot… which is not explained. They start making out, though nobody else can see him. They don’t actually put the Divinyls “I Touch Myself” on the soundtrack, but I’d recommend you pair the scene with it anyway. Her eyes go black, just like dark Willow’s (because this show isn’t taking chances with originality), and the next thing you know she’s attacking her attacker. The cell phones come out to film before they mysteriously die. It’s not clear exactly what damage she did, but it looks like she might have castrated him with her hands, pulled out his tongue, and scratched him to death. When it’s over, the lights come back on, and Daddy Henry wakes up. Casey’s eyes turn back to blue, and in this week’s homage to the source material, she pees herself.
That was fun. Derivative fun that could definitely use a dollop of knowing irony, but it’ll do.