This week, I don’t have as much to say about The Exorcist…which is not a bad thing. If anything, I’d say the show has really hit its stride with this episode, if not earlier. Yeah, ok, probably earlier.
There’s not a lot to be said about the content here, and I don’t mean that to say that it’s devoid of any. It’s just falling into the natural rhythm of a penultimate episode of a closed-story season. Tomas is trapped in the demon’s tempting fantasy, but escapes it. The kids and Rose are at the mercy of the demon, but they escape it. Marcus spends a lot of time running around the woods, but catches up with the thing (does this demon have a name, anyway?) and kicks some ass. Unless there’s some surprise ending next week where the demon does manage to permanently possess Andy and kill all the kids, we have a good idea of how things are going to turn out. Heck, Mouse even finally manages to make it to the island, catching up with Tomas at a much-needed moment. (I guess she left Bennett back at that hospital.)
No, this week, I want to take the time to acknowledge the showrunners, directors, and set designers who pulled off a pretty creepy and well-done episode. The Exorcist has been doing a good job of creating terrifying, haunted settings that are strong enough to make your hairs stand on end. Everything about “Ritual and Repetition” has played well with horror elements: taking the familiar and turning it dangerous (like the house), muting things with just enough sepia tones to let us know something’s off. The episode toys with our adrenaline–things are dangerous, then calm, then back to dangerous in moments that quickly manipulate our nerves back to where they were. Particularly “fun” was seeing the demon manifest as a drowned version of Nikki (Alicia Witt), jumping out at the wrong moment and scaring us out of our skins.
As an added bonus, this episode had a few easter eggs and callbacks. Notably, Verity’s run through the woods and backtrack through the mud was an open homage to Danny hiding from Jack in The Shining, though it didn’t pay off as well for our heroine. Tomas’ being caught in dream after dream was, no doubt, an additional wink to Inception, and we now have to wonder if he’ll permanently be questioning whether he’s back in reality. And finally, we had a surprise bonus appearance by Hannah Kasulka as Casey Rance…in Tomas’ fantasy, of course. But still, given that The Exorcist deleted most of its cast at the end of last season, it’s very nice to see a return character.
Anyway, I don’t want to say that next week’s episode is going to be predictable. I am going to lay money that the family is freed, Rose is welcomed as part of the clan and maybe starts a romance with Andy, the demon goes off to Hell, and Tomas, Marcus, and Rose embark on their quest to solve the larger demon conspiracy. We know how this goes. But that doesn’t mean the ride won’t be fun, and I look forward to seeing it all wrap up.
Rating: Four inceptions out of five.
Note: Last week’s review mistakenly referred to the episode as “Ritual and Repetition” and has since been corrected.