Exorcist creator and Executive Producer Jeremy Slater has promised big things for the series’ fifth episode next week, most notably a 43-minute exorcism that takes place in real time. It’s understandable why he’d let the cat out of the bag just two weeks after the premiere of the series. There was a significant drop in ratings after a solidly watched opening, and it would be a shame if a new, slow-burn TV show that gets so much of its horror right got canceled so soon. Best to entice audiences to stick around a bit.
The downside is, most of the fourth episode, “The Moveable Feast,” is about getting to said exorcism. Since we already know that big centerpiece is going to happen just one week later, an already transitionary hour ends up feeling twice as transitionary. Casey spends the entire time restrained in the hospital as doctors scramble to figure out what’s wrong with her, their tests and treatments playing like a tamer version of the grueling spinal-tap sequence from the film. Father Tomas continues to grapple with going off the reservation to perform the exorcism himself, and Father Marcus drifts about, moving from a covenant trying to banish a demon from a young man’s soul to a bus offering cheesy ghost/murder tours around Chicago.
Although his story reads the most meandering because of its satellite position to the central plot, it does contain some subtly intriguing production contrasts. First, he’s standing outside a circle of nuns bathed in neon purple light, their ranks trying to collectively expel a very real force that’s all dark eyes, fangs, and brute force. Cut to the bus’ tourists, lame sound effects, and melodramatic narration about H.H. Holmes, and it’s a welcome moment of momentum-dropping comedy from a show that’s getting increasingly dark.
But when Marcus gets invited into the nun’s circle himself, it’s a bit of a letdown. To be fair, the sisters have been confronting this particular demon for a week now, but we’ve only seen the man in one scene. To see Marcus quickly draw out the evil from his body with a technique that starts off pugilistic and ends lovingly—it’s anticlimactic, to say the least. As a morale booster, he probably needed a successful—if unconventional—exorcism after he couldn’t save the last possessed boy he encountered. But the scene’s mini-exorcism, well-shot as it is, feels like an appetizer for the main course.
There are a handful of other plot advancements as well—most of them minor. Tomas’ nephew senses evil in a bedridden old man, the purpose of the organ-harvesting ritual from two weeks ago starts to become clear, and the tour-guide couple actually have some insight into all the ominous events that have been happening. As they explain to Marcus, “Evil is a moveable feast”. Great rifts of the stuff can open up around the world, as if they’re geographically specific gateways to Hell. This resorts in an uptick in violent occurrences. Perhaps Chicago’s caught in one of these satanic fault lines.
Most of these developments seem to be part of a larger puzzle. So, while necessary to the story, they pale in comparison to the grotesque horror show going down in Kasey’s hospital room. Throughout the episode, she keeps fighting back against the demon (or “The Salesman”) from overcoming her entirely. “All you have to do is say ‘yes,’” he tells her over and over again. The more she struggles against uttering that one small but damning syllable, the more unbearable The Salesman’s torture becomes. First it’s just bad dreams, then it’s the hallucination of a plump, blood-red spider crawling out of her nose. Finally, it’s his physical abuse of the innocent nurse who’s trying to help her.
This will all likely seem like child’s play compared to what’s in store for next week, and perhaps the season finale of the sixth episode. And because we know what’s to come, the most exciting moment of “The Moveable Feast” ends up being its most simple. When Father Marcus and Father Tomas enter Kasey’s room in the closing shot, it’s a basic yet adrenaline-rushing act. They open the door. She turns around and shoots them a wolfish glare. They shut the door. Cut to black. Maybe spilling the beans on episode 5 wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
- That opening dead-baby-bird omelette sequence was something else. Did it remind anyone else of this?
- While we’re on the Stephen King visual references, those tendrils sucking at Kasey from the floor looked kind of like this.
- Outside of III, I’m not as familiar with the Exorcist sequels as I am the original, so maybe this has already been depicted in those. But it was fascinating to see the possession from the POV of the person being possessed. In the original, you never saw the ordeal through Regan’s eyes.
- I’m not going to look it up, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m wondering if that “summoning” ritual is an actual thing. If so, are the other priests going to grind up the organs and somehow bring angels to Earth?
- “Welcome to the mere-mortals club.”
- “‘Join the club,’ I think is what our flag-waving friends say.”
- “Let us begin.”