I’ve compared The Exoricst to Star Wars in the past, and it seems apt to do so again, especially since The Last Jedi is in theaters this week. But it’s also apt because you’ve got similar themes in terms of a master and an apprentice, skilled in mystical powers, fighting evil and trusting in a mysterious, unseen force to guide their way. With Season 2 wrapping up tonight, is it fair to pull out The Empire Strikes Back as a comparison point for the “dark” part of the journey?
Maybe. The Exorcist ends on something of a dour note, and that makes the Empire comparison a good starting point even if it’s not a 1 to 1 matchup. Empire represents the chapter where hero falls, both morally and physically, resulting in a need to take a breather and figure out a new direction. Luke got knocked on his ass in Empire and things went seriously wrong, but it gave him a chance to escape and take his next step of growth.
The Exorcist doesn’t quite end as disastrously as Empire, but it does leave the cast shattered. Let’s start by saying that the family of Andy Kim (John Cho) ends up largely fine, though in a very different spot than the reunited Rance family at the end of season 1. That season ended with Reagan Macneil finally finding peace, maybe broken, but spiritually restored. Andy’s family isn’t so lucky: in order to defeat the demon, Andy allows Marcus to take his life, killing the demon through the death of his physical body. Rose (Li Jun Li) and the kids at least end up OK in time: the murders are covered up, and in a nice epilogue, Rose has adopted everyone and they all carry on in Andy’s memory.
The plot doesn’t really go as well for the priests. Andy’s sacrifice saves his family and prevents the demon from possessing Tomas (Alfonso Hererra), but Marcus is left in a state of disgrace at having taken a life. From a moral perspective, Marcus (Ben Daniels) committed mortal sin by intentionally killing an innocent, and indeed, we’ll never know if Tomas’ ruse in nearly taking in the demon would have worked. At a point where he can no longer hear God, Marcus feels like he’s done with the priesthood and leaves Tomas to continue, now under the tutelage of Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson), who’s a little more triggerhappy than his old mentor. This is…kind of different from Star Wars and other classic heroes’ journeys. It’s necessary for the student to leave the master, but I can’t think of a major fiction where the master just out and out quits.
Who knows what comes next? The Exoricst is on shaky ground as a television show, despite bringing in big names like Geena Davis and John Cho for two seasons running and being overall pretty damn good in quality. This all turns on ratings, and oh, it looks like Disney might own the property now. There might be a Season 3; there might not. We can certainly hope for a Season 3, since the story ends with the door wide open for more. For one, Bennett–remember him?–appears to be fully possessed, thanks to the mechanations of those Vatican conspiracy goons who have been running around the shadows.
Additionally, the show ends on an ominous, unanswered note: Marcus, in solitude, finally gets a message from God that Tomas is in danger–what, we don’t know. It’s a painful point if the show ends here and the plot is unresolved. If nothing else, The Exorcist makes for good horror with a moral element behind it, striking a balance between gratuitous frights and triumphant heroism. It’d be good if we can get at least one more chapter to finish the story, if not more.
Rating: Three and a half exorcisms out of five.