TV Brew: The Exorcist S2E6: “Darling Nikki”
Yowza! What an episode.
There’s not a lot new here in terms of theme and plot development. The Demon that’s working into Andy’s heart is following the same pattern we’ve come to figure out at this point: it operates by pain, then pleasure, then pain again. Andy’s heart continues to ache over his dead wife, so unsurprisingly, it takes on a distorted version of her form in order to offer something back to him. Aaaaaaand it’s going to eventually twist him into killing his entire family, because that’s what the demon(s) on this remote Pacific Northwest island have been doing for decades.
Where “Darling Nikki” has a lot of fun is in the collision of the natural and the supernatural: what we Catholics call “the seen and unseen.” Religion is funny in that it believes in a higher realm of existence which operates above in or parallel to our own world. They might interact, but the latter is simply imperceptible to human eyes unless it wants to be seen. We’re veritable Flatlanders aware of a higher world which we can never quite see. Committed Catholics will readily admit that there’s angels and demons all around us, that bread and wine are transformed into flesh and blood, and that dunking a newcomer into water fundamentally transforms this person. This is completely incomprehensible to the nonbeliever, and that…actuallymakes sense, because how do you prove the unseen?
Tonight’s episode has our priests trying to explain the darker side of the world above Flatland to people who people who suspect the third dimension isn’t there, but really don’t want to admit to it because basic reality is comfortable. So Tomas and Marcus are trying to convince Rose that Andy’s home is possessed by darker forces, and she knows something is up…but gosh, it just can’t be a demon, and she’s got to humor these two priests for Andy’s sake, right?
What follows is the world’s most uncomfortable dinner party and follow-on coffee, where the Nikki-disguised demon is very much operating behind the scenes, and Marcus is trying to provoke it into exposure. Rose can’t see any of this, and her entire perception is a well-meaning but nutty priest trying to torture a widower into a gun reaction that’s entirely inappropriate. Poor Tomas, meanwhile, still has the aftermath of the demonic exposure in his head, so he’s seeing dead bodies piled in cars and blood spilling out of a tea kettle, and is probably the most unsettled guy in the room.
What’s becoming an interesting trap is that, by getting caught in the human world (which they want), the demons find themselves having to operate by human rules. On the one hand, this operates to their advantage: Marcus almost but doesn’t quite get “Nikki” to expose herself, so he and Tomas have to leave before Rose and Andy can call the cops. On the other, it means the demons are susceptible to human vulnerability. In a surprise diversion, we cut over to Chicago to see that Bennett and Mouse have caught up with Maria Walters, the Catholic backer who was caught in the larger conspiracy against the Church and was possessed at the end of Season 1. Sucker: turns out Maria had cancer, and the demon is now caught in her bloated, dying body and she can be tortured with a simple hookup of a bag of holy water to her IV. Oh, and she’s taken down with a well-place gunshot to the head, though not before she mentions that Mouse is hiding a dark secret.
But that’ll be imporant later. What’s important now is that while the demon continues to weasel into Andy’s brain by attempting to seduce him at the same time he’s trying to make love to Rose…Harper’s crazy mother breaks into the house to take her back. Remember her? The crazy woman from episode 3 who was torturing her own daughter with the belief that she was possessed?
In possibly the nuttiest scene this season, we end up with a major storm blowing outside the house while our priests return just in time to find Harper’s mom pulling her daughter out of the house by knifepoint and the demon trying to take over Andy. Seen and unseen indeed: the natural evil of an insane mother and the supernatural evil of a demon all come to a head at once, with very, very ugly results. The climax of this episode, if nothing else, will leave Rose and the kids absolutely convinced that there’s a demon in the house, and an exorcism is fully imminent.
Rating: Five crucifixes out of five.
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