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The Exorcist – Janus

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By: Maggie Stankiewicz

 

It’s been six months since we last saw Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) make the decision to get out of the proverbial boat and start walking alongside Father Marcus (Ben Daniels). In the Season 2 premiere, appropriately titled “Janus,” we find Father Tomas in a moment of silent prayer. He stands alone within the walls of a vacant church, sun beams shining in through the windows. He opens his eyes and makes his way past the pews and out the doors. As Father Tomas emerges outside, the atmosphere around him is sunny, but unsaturated. An opaque film casts over him as he walks along the side of a house decorated with children’s handprints. The indistinct laughter of children and Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” fill the silence he once occupied.

 

Father Tomas walks with trepidation until he encounters Cindy (Zibby Allen), a young woman holding a baby. He instantly recognizes her, though is surprised to find her here in this seemingly unfamiliar place. The baby in Cindy’s arms coos, but Tomas’ attention is directed towards the children playing in the background as they swing at a traditional piñata. Finally, the piñata breaks, a thick black liquid erupts from its undercarriage and pools on the ground. The children scream as the viscous substance bubbles. Father Tomas is mesmerized by the mystical muck, mouth falling agape as the form of a woman emerges from its undisclosed depths. Father Tomas’ gaze bounces from the newly formed woman, to Cindy, who’s eyes have glazed over with a milky membrane. The sounds of the children fade out, replaced by the voice of Cindy’s demonic passenger, “St. Cecilia, pray for us. St. Catherine, pray for us. St. Anastasia, pray for us!”

 

Abruptly, we see Father Tomas at the wheel of a truck, Father Marcus beckoning him from the truck’s bed. Tomas is roused into consciousness and jerks the wheel, revealing to us that Father Marcus is straddling an extremely possessed Cindy. Cindy, already deep in the throes of her possession, has sores and wounds covering her face. She growls at Marcus, flailing beneath him. A law enforcement vehicle is driving at their heels and they’re obviously not welcomed company.  Tomas puts the pedal to the metal as one of their apprehenders sticks a large shotgun out the window and shoots. It blasts a hole through the truck’s back window, but misses the men of God and their new charge.

 

After managing to evade the law enforcement unscathed (minus one bite to the hand), Father Marcus reveals that Bennett has been feeding them intel, though none of it mentioned that Cindy had extended family who were willing to chase and shoot at them in order to get the young woman back. The demon whispers sinister nothings to the two men and slips into a fitful sleep, still fighting for Cindy’s soul.

 

While Father Tomas and Marcus continue their journey as Outlaw of the Cloth, we are introduced to Andy (John Cho), a foster father in Nachburn Island, Washington. Andy rallies the troops before school, handing brown bags of homemade lunches to his gaggle of children: Caleb (Hunter Dillon), Shelby (Alex Barima), Verity (Brianna Hildebrand) and Truck (Cyrus Arnold). Andy gives each of the kids a once over before reminding them that they’ll have a visitor over that evening. Verity, clearly the resident queen of sarcasm, exchanges playful jabs with Andy. The kids leave and Andy heads up stairs to check on Grace (Amélie Eve) who is younger than the others and is homeschooled. Grace is shy, but gains courage from a homemade “brave face,” a pillow case with eye slits and a creepily crafted expression.

 

Back to Father Tomas and Marcus, who have found refuge in an abandoned barn with “JESUS SAVES” spray painted on the doors. Cindy is temporarily unconscious, allowing the two men to discuss Tomas’ progress as an exorcist’s apprentice. He confesses that he had a vision while driving that he was at a party with Cindy and her baby. Marcus writes it off as exhaustion. Marcus reveals that Cindy’s physical body is failing and that she will need an IV. He gives Tomas a list of supplies. Alone with the demon, Marcus listens as it tells him about its grasp on the other man. The demon exploits Marcus’ insecurities, and claims that Tomas shared his “talents” with her. Tomas let the demon inside his head.

 

In Washington, the teenage foster siblings walk through the woods and convene around a well. Verity sits Caleb, who is blind, down on the well’s cover and tells an urban legend about a witch who dumped bodies down the well. After challenging Caleb to a game of nerves, he stands on the old wooden well cover and begins to count to ten. Before he gets to four, Shelby pulls him down. Shelby scolds Verity, and they head back home – but not before Truck kicks a ball into a ramshackle house, voices calling to him from the inside.

 

Andy meets Rose (Li Jun Li), their visitor, at the ferry. They exchange weighted words; there is history here. They arrive at Andy’s home where he asks Rose to observe him and the kids objectively. She takes offense to this request but insists that she only has the children’s wellbeing in mind.

 

Marcus is still alone with Cindy. She appears to be in control for now and confesses to Marcus that the demon promised her she could hold her baby once more if she let him in. This is what her heart wanted the most. Cindy tells the story of her and her husband, Jordy (Warren Christie), also known as the cop chasing Marcus and Tomas. When it comes time for Marcus to talk about his love life, he reveals that he is married to the man upstairs. The demon comes back out to taunt Marcus, who responds with prayer. Marcus is determined to prove that God is listening to him, and fights the demon with his ritual.

 

God is the topic of universal talk at this moment, with Shelby leading his foster family through grace. Verity, a clear non-believer, plays along but expresses more interest in giving Rose a hard time. Rose explains her purpose at their home and Verity responds by revealing she will be eighteen years old soon and, through the system’s fault, homeless. Caleb talks about his father gaining custody, but Andy admits that the arrangement is unlikely. Andy, Shelby, Truck and Verity express their love to Caleb. Through love, touch, and food offerings until he cracks a smile.

 

Back on the road, Father Tomas quickly moves through his shopping list and checks out – but not without being identified.

 

Rose walks through Andy’s home, curiosity pulling her into Caleb’s doorway as he plays with an old record player distorting the sound with record scratches. The young boy catches wind of Rose’s presence and allows the record to play unadulterated. He looks in her direction, but what is he truly seeing? Under the same roof, Andy flips through his social media profile, pining over a picture of himself and Nicole Kim, presumably his absent wife. He closes the laptop and is startled by Grace, wearing her brave face and claiming to have heard a noise. He gets up to tuck her back in. Hearing a disturbance himself, he moves downstairs into his kitchen. Truck is standing in the center of the room, rocking before a terrified Rose. Andy explains that it’s a symptom of Truck being on the autism spectrum and wraps his arms around Truck’s trunk, calming him down before leading him to bed.

 

Father Tomas has returned to the barn. Marcus reveals he now believes that Tomas went “somewhere” and warns him against letting the demon inside his mind. Tomas contests this, arguing that he believes God gave him the ability to fight the demon inside, versus with prayer and ritual. Marcus again warns Tomas against being prideful, but the two men have more to worry about when the demon turns to look at them through sunken eyes. This and Jordy has arrived at the barn. The two men are passionately, desperately attempting to exorcise the demon but are interrupted by banging on the door. Marcus leaves, telling Tomas that he can complete this on his own – admitting that his student does not need him.

 

In Washington, Caleb has gone missing and the open window of his bedroom suggests he left on his own. Rose, Verity, Shelby and Andy pick partners and break off into search parties. Andy, in the woods, spots a maggot-infested…thing in the trees, but continues his search for Caleb. Shelby prays and Verity taunts him, but they are together in their concern for Caleb.

 

In the name of God, Marcus distracts Jordy and his companion while Father Tomas continues the exorcism. Jordy points a gun at Marcus, who explains that there truly is a demon inside of Cindy, that her sickness is not simply the product of grief. Jordy appears to be listening. Inside, Tomas struggles to remain present, though the demon beckons him to fight on the inside. Jordy’s companion hits Marcus with impressive force, but neither Marcus nor Tomas are ready to go down without a fight. While Marcus begins punching and kicking the men outside, Tomas decides to get his hands dirty as well. He grips the demons face and challenges it to a cerebral battle. His eyes glaze over with the same milky membrane Cindy had adorned in his earlier vision.

 

Andy has finally found Caleb standing at the mouth of the witch’s well. The wooden boards split beneath his weight, but Andy catches him before the well can swallow the boy whole. Caleb is confused, unsure of where he is or if Andy is the one holding him.

 

We again witness Father Tomas move through the empty church, seeing the thick black muck where holy water should be. He steps into a confessional booth and turns to face Cindy, who is seated on the other side. In the booth, it is just Tomas, Cindy and the voice of Patsy Cline.

 

Another man joins Jordy outside and they beat Marcus down. Entering the barn, we see Tomas, still holding Cindy’s face.

 

In Tomas’ mind, we watch as Cindy crashes through the confessional window and wraps her hand around his windpipe. It doesn’t take long for Tomas to physically fail in his efforts and Jordy picks Cindy’s limp body up. They leave while Marcus and Tomas watch from the ground.

 

The episode’s final moments follow Andy up the stairs while he carries Caleb, whose sunglasses are off for the first time since we met him. His eyes, glassy and grey, suggest he too might be seeing more than anyone truly knows. Grace watches nervously, but goes to bed at Andy’s request. Still making observations, Rose examines the walls of Andy’s home, allowing the audience to make a startling discovery of their own. The same handprints that Father Tomas had passed during his first vision are the ones that run down the length of Andy’s upstairs hallway.

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