The Exorcist – Ritual & Repetition
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
Marcus (Ben Daniels) drags Tomas’ (Alfonso Herrera) limp body through the home and props him up against a wall, begging him to wake up. He summons God’s protection, but Tomas is still operating within his mind’s matrix. Tomas, despite the demon’s trompe l’oeil, is aware that something is askew. He pulls his cerebral self away from the mirage of Marcus and Andy only to find himself bathed within the synthetic light of church. His church. Though he knows he is not supposed to be there, he is tempted by the illusion’s wish-fulfillment. In here he is the youngest bishop in decades, with a faithful congregation to call his own.
Elsewhere, two well dressed and highly dangerous men search a Seattle Ferry Yard. The men call out to Father Ortega under the guide of a peaceful conversation, but their loaded guns suggest otherwise. A truck revs in the middle of the car lot. The men make their way over to it only to find the vehicle is empty. Within the blink of an eye, both men are dazed and confused, their faceless opponent tricking them into open firing into one another. They both fall to the ground, but one man doesn’t fall alone. Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) has her hands wrapped around the gun of one of them, firing fatal shots into the chest of the other. A blood cross hangs from each man’s neck – assassins for the Catholic church. This means two things. One, Mouse has safely made it to Seattle. Two, she’s here to kick some demon ass.
Marcus is making his rounds through the island in search of the demon and the Kim family. It doesn’t take long for him to find the bodies of the Holstrom family. Blood stains the walls and an already dirtied mirror, telling the gory tale of the previous night’s events.
Andy (John Cho) has managed to incapacitate each one of his children while Rose (Li Jun Li) looks on, wounded and angry. Andy spots himself in the mirror once, the ghoulish grin of Nikki (Alicia Witt) staring back at him. Rose uses his moment of vanity to her advantage and attempts to leave the home, hiding behind a large stack of firewood. She can’t evade him for long, even with the weapon she managed to pick up. A pitchfork – to be exact. Rose jumps into action and drives the pitchfork through Andy’s chest. It does little to slow him down. Grabbing the hand of the garden tool, he whacks Rose across the head, knocking her out. Later, Shelby (Alex Barima) is at the docks watching as Andy loads the rest of the family into the car. He tricks Shelby into believing he is well, though only for a few moments.
Tomas is fighting hard to escape the demon’s vice grip on his aspirations. He makes his way to the front of his congregation and greets them…but there’s a familiar face in the crowd. The stunning emerald eyes of Casey Rance (Hannah Kasulka) are staring up at him, an uncomfortable smile on her face.
Back in Andy’s car, the demon can no longer pretend that it’s not evil. After quickly gaslighting Harper (Beatrice Kitsos) and threatening Shelby, Andy exits the car. Shelby attempts to fight Andy to protect his siblings, but it’s of little use. Harper and Shelby disappear, leaving Caleb (Hunter Dillon) alone and without his cane. He’s being taunted, sinister laughter surrounding him.
Marcus the lion is on the hunt. As he moves through the island’s property, he notices that animals are fleeing the area – a sure sign of impending doom…but also a sure sign that he’s moving in the right direction. He trudges on, where he’ll no doubt find the Kim clan. Of course, Andy has brought them inside of a nearby ramshackle cabin. They are wounded and tied up, but Rose has ideas on how to set at least some of them free. Verity (Brianna Hildebrand), who had been bound and beaten in her previous homes, has experience in getting herself free from restraints. Rose encourages her to use those strengths. “You’re no victim, are you?” she asks. The answer is no. Verity is a survivor.
Tomas’ nephew Luis (Matthew Velasquez) is waiting for him after mass. He asks about Tomas attending his party, but their conversation is cut short by Casey. Tomas is confused by her presence. “Do you ever feel like you’re not in control of your own body?” she asks. The answer is yes…and he’s experiencing it right now. He challenges the demon inside of Casey. The innocence of her sweet faced is juxtaposed by the deep, guttural tone of her voice as she eggs him on. He is indeed correct, that is not Casey.
Andy’s not one making an example out of his kids. When he wraps his hands around Verity’s neck, Shelby fills with protective rage. He manages to get his newly demonic father to leave Verity in lieu of torturing him, instead. He doesn’t do it physically. He challenges Shelby’s faith, insisting that his God is the one to fear. “You God,” he says, “…has taken far more children than me.” In that instance, Andy decides to save Shelby for last. His faith is the strongest and he will delight in destroying it. He moves on to Caleb, who is shaking and terrified on the ground. Rose is feeling courageous – and desperate to get him away from the children. She taunts him and suggests that he’s losing to much blood to remain powerful, but he dismisses her. He uses his words to cut her down; why should she care if she’s not a part of the family? To him, she is nothing. “What are you waiting for?” She asks.
He decides to stop waiting. The sun is coming up now. Andy has Rose, still tied up, levitating over the mouth of the open well. He counts the seconds up to her demise, where she will be plunged into the well’s depths without another word. He hits ten and down she goes. He sends her off with a steely, “Welcome to the family.”
Verity has managed to free herself. Her brothers encourage her to run and she does. Verity sprints into the woods and seeks refuge among the massive spider webs. As she runs from the danger, Tomas is attempting to do the same. Doubt dressed as Casey Rance is obliterating Tomas’ self-worth, reminding him of the rot he invited to spread on his soul. He knows it’s a fantasy now, but will he decide to leave it for the pain of reality? Before we find out – we see Father Marcus entering the cabin full of Andy’s captives. Andy has gone off after Verity, providing Marcus with the opportunity to free the rest of the children. Shelby has suffered the most physical injuries from the rest of them…except maybe Rose. We are yet to find out.
Harper refuses to leave without making sure Rose isn’t still alive. Calling out to her savior, she receives a response back. Rose is still alive, but she begs the kids to leave her. They refuse. Shelby drops a rope down, and up she climbs.
Meanwhile, Tomas has made a breakthrough. The demon inside his mind is challenging him to a duel of grit – and he’s not backing down. An exorcist’s power is in the ritual and repetition of what they do, but so is a demon’s. This demon has been working within its modus operandi for centuries and the power it has accumulated is unfathomable. Tomas isn’t afraid, nor is he tempted. The demon doesn’t deceive its victims. It gives them their deepest desire, so that they can deceive themselves…but he won’t let the hellacious wool be pulled over his eyes again. He stands up to the demon, looks into the eyes of Casey Rance and promises he’ll watch it die.
Harper, Caleb and Shelby have done it. Rose is free from the well’s depths. Family doesn’t get left behind. (Cue the tears).
Just because Rose is safe, doesn’t mean that Verity is. Andy has found her and he’s not pleased. She tries to appeal to whatever is left of the real Andy, but he’s not answering the proverbial phone. He attempts to suffocate her with the thick cotton of the creature’s web, but Marcus finds them just in time. He manages to knock Andy to the ground and lands a few blows to the face, but his earthly strength is no match for the devil’s disciple. Marcus sends Verity off and finds himself alone with Andy. The moment Andy wraps his hands around Marcus’ neck, it doesn’t look so good.
Both priests are fighting their own demons now. Tomas declares his desire to wake up, but the demon isn’t finished making a toy out of him just yet. The demon shifts forms, moving from Casey to Nikki; where it appears to be at its strongest. The demon is spreading itself too thin now. As Tomas rejects the demon, its strength falters enough to loosen its grip on both men. If only for a moment. The demon disappears from Tomas’ vision, but Andy appears. The real Andy. He begs Tomas to keep the kids safe, and to kill the demon at whatever cost. Tomas promises Andy that he will end it, one way or another. Even if Andy isn’t strong enough to fight it, Tomas will try to be.
Mouse’s voice breaks through to Tomas, reciting prayers that will deliver him from evil. Before he is pulled out of the ether, he begs Andy to keep fighting. Finally, Tomas wakes up. Mouse is staring at him and a look of triumph washed over her face.
“I’m Mouse. And I came a long way to find you.”