As the show moves on, it’s clear that the producers have decided to use the name of William Peter Blatty’s story to tell a completely different story, one that has only the most tenuous connection to the subject matter.
In the unnecessary dream sequence at the beginning of the episode, the demon inside Casey demands that she give in. What does capitulation to the demon mean? What does it look like? Did the guy who the nuns were trying to exorcize give in?
So far, the most solid parts of the show are Alfonso Herrera as Tomas and Geena Davis as Angela; their performances remain believable and human except in one instance: Tomas and Jessica. The two actors just don’t seem to have much chemistry between them, making the temptation angle seem like a stretch. Despite the letters, Jessica staying at his apartment, I didn’t get that sense of longing, of unrequited attraction. It’s no doubt going to be an issue as part of Casey’s exorcism, but it feels rote, shoehorned in.
The comic relief of the Movable Deceased couple was a little jarring, but the later conversation with Marcus in the trailer revealed a lot when it comes to the show’s theme. When Cherry Rego says to Marcus, “A priest with a gun,” Marcus comes back with, “An exorcist with a gun.” Lacking context, this might be a veiled reference to Marcus’s excommunication, but that’s not the case here: the show is creating a distinct difference between the role of a priest and the role of an exorcist, and it’s only because Marcus has left the clergy of the Catholic Church that he can answer his true calling as an exorcist. He’s no Father Karras, let alone a Father Merrin. He’s not even a priest anymore, but that’s a good thing, because the Catholic Church is “compromised,” a fact confirmed by the Abbess.
Where the show lost me was the Secret Nuns Exorcism Club (SNEC), particularly when the Abbess says of priests, “You coerce and compel. We [nuns] use compassion, forgiveness, and patience.” Compassion. Against a demon. It makes no sense, and reminded me of a particular presidential candidate’s risible quote, “Showing respect even for ones enemies….Trying to understand and in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.” I thought demons were evil. Not misunderstood and in need of compassion and forgiveness, but evil through and through. Apparently not.
Are they going to call in the SNEC in Episode 5, when things get rough with Casey Rance? Will Marcus just give Casey a big hug and show her the love she so desperately needs?