This episode was more focused than the first, though what it showed us doesn’t bode well, thematically speaking. We’re moving away from the source material and heading toward tired, well-trodden ground. Spoilers await below.
In the film version of The Exorcist, the Catholic Church was a force for good. Brendan Stewart says of it, “Even more unusual for a horror film, or any film made after the 1950s, is that the good is represented unambiguously by the Catholic Church. There’s no ironic detachment, no Christian bashing.” This is clearly not the case in the television show. The unappealing papal ambassador describes the Pope thusly, when arranging for his arrival: “Poverty, humility, be nicer to the gays.” Why the last part? It’s a nudge-nudge wink-wink to the audience to tell us that we all know that the Catholic Church is super mean to the gays, you guys. Catholics are, according to TV’s The Exorcist, homophobes.
Not only are Catholics homophobes, but they also buy children from foster homes to be used as exorcists in training, according to Father Marcus’s story. So they’re slavers, too. If an exorcism is such a horrible, grueling, risky experience for both priest and possessed, why have a child attempt it alone, in a dark basement? It made no sense.
Father Marcus says of the Bible, “Most of the words in here are man’s words, not God’s.” This gets to the heart of the problem with the show: they’re secularizing the source material. Which parts, exactly, are God’s words, then? And why didn’t those words work on the possessed homeless lady on the street? Which Biblical scholar in the production crew decided the difference between man’s and God’s words?
Talking about differences, what’s the difference between Father Marcus and Dean Winchester of Supernatural? Both have been trained since childhood to fight demons, and have literally nothing else in their lives. Both talk about demons in combative terms, using devices like holy water and crosses as weapons. When Marcus tells Tomas to break it off with Jessica, he doesn’t couch it in terms of saving his soul or upholding his priestly vows, but because it might make him vulnerable in combat with a demon. Marcus isn’t a priest, but a hunter, and we’ve seen that show before.
Father Marcus is a Catholic priest. Father Tomas is a Catholic priest. The Rance family is Catholic. But the show has an obvious animus toward the Catholic Church. It’s a stupid, unnecessary conflict that reflects the Hollywood mindset, not adherence to the subject matter.
I liked the schizos with the coolers walking into the Tattersall truck; and it’s clear that the demons are massing because of the Pope’s imminent arrival. Why don’t the posters advertising the Pope’s visit show the Supreme Pontiff’s face? I’d hate to think that the avuncular-yet-sinister externalization of the demon in Casey is being set up as the Pope, but who knows?
One question: If Casey is sickened by drinking holy water, how is it that she can stand being inside a church?