***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for The Exorcist through Episode 3, “Let ‘Em In”, follow. Spoilers***
… I … I don’t know what to say.
The show opens on a five-month-ago flashback to Kat’s crash. As I speculated, Angela’s discomfort with Julia is at least in part because Julia was gay and was helping Kat figure out that she is, too. Not only that she’s gay, but that she and Julia share an incredible mutual attraction and what even in dialogue sounds like powerful sexual chemistry.
In a very oddly shot scene, Julia is kept mostly hidden by blocking and camera angles, reducing the most important person in Kat’s life to a series of body parts and a seductive voice. Julia tells Kat to look at her, makes her glance away from the road and when she glances back at Grandpa Creepy, Casey’s demon, appears long enough to make Kat smash the car into a lamppost.
Kat wakes hurt and screaming for the already dead Julia. When we finally see the girl’s half-destroyed face, Julia stares blankly forwards, eyes dull, the blood on her face a clear visual callback to Pazuzu from the film.
…. Huh. What … a curious series of choices that were made in the portrayal of the show’s only gay characters.
In another discomforting move, we jump to the modern day, where Angela is receiving the earliest delegates of the Papal visit, including, *dramatic music* Father Bennett! Bennett was the priest from the pilot, on whom Keane thought it wise to draw a gun. If his presence in the Papal party immediately rings alarm bells, well done; you’re paying attention.
Angela and Bennett are distracted by … oh, hey, look, it’s yet another crazy and probably possessed homeless person. That’s 3 for fucking 3. What are you trying to say about the homeless and the mentally ill, show?
Over in the massacre-stricken neighborhood, two youths provide colorful commentary on the police heading in and out of the murder homes until Keane arrives and overhears them talking about the victims’ eyes being cut out. His dog collar somehow encourages them to let down their initial guard against him and they talk about what they heard. I’d be scared of Keane on sight; I’d be terrified when I learned the man was a priest. Dude radiates the bad kind of intense.
Henry, sweet Henry, is visiting with Tomas while Tomas fairly justifies Angela’s concerns by pointing out believing in God means believing in the whole kit and caboodle, including demons and the like. We learn Henry got hurt in a fall from a scaffold. It’s made him pray more now than he did before. Awww, Henry. Show, if you kill Henry, I am going to lose it.
Keane pops in just in time for Tomas to reassure Henry he knows someone who can help Casey.
Speak of the Devil … we hop over to Casey trying on a nice dress she’s meant to wear to the memorial being held for Julia.
Kat tells her the dress looks great, but, because she’s Kat, she whines about Angela forcing Casey to attend the memorial with her (which is weird because the entire family is attending, so why wouldn’t Casey?). Also, Kat is just ignoring her family’s righteous and violent Being There For Her. Casey reassures Kat she wants to be there, always.
Grandpa Creepy/The Salesman appears after Kat leaves and talks shit about her “me, me, me” attitude to Casey. He even points out Kat’s own outfit choice — a floaty, backless top — but wonders aloud why Casey gets stuck with a boxy, unflattering dress. She looks great in it, but this show is determined to destroy this girl. He offers her a different, low-cut dress, which she worries she won’t fit into, despite her killer figure and the dress clearly being her size, but the Salesman tells her that’s the point. She’ll barely fit in it. Scandalous! The dress turns out to cost $3,600, which: fuck OFF. They couldn’t find a better dress to pretend costs nearly four grand?! Salesman doesn’t worry about the cost, yanking off the security tag and telling Casey to shove the dress into her bag. They smile at each other, all evil-like.
I do like how the possession parallels what grooming would look like in real life. It’s an interesting approach to take; surprisingly grounding.
At the Rance Manse, Keane is finally in the house telling Henry he can’t just detect a presence, and Henry is keen to know more about how it works. Keane is Keane, though, so he rudely asks about the girls’ relationship; their interests: Casey is an athletically gifted, sporty tomboy; Kat is a girlish, graceful dancer.
Mrs. Walters, Angela’s intense, religious friend, is hosting a dinner for the Papal party and, for some strange reason, Tomas is there just to argue about the Pope’s itinerary, as it basically ignores all of what Mrs. Walters calls the “depleted” areas. Mrs. Walters is actually keen to alter the itinerary so the Pope visits these locations and her intensity immediately makes me think she knows of the possessions. She’s either trying to place the Pope in danger or hopes his presence might save people. It’s hard to say.
Tomas’ bishop tries to shut him down, but a higher-ranking Vatican … I want to say archbishop, for whom Bennett translates, wants to hear Tomas’ opinions.
Tomas defends the spiritual richness of his parish, but he’s interrupted by screaming from outside, and the security, younger priests, Bennett, and Tomas all race to the window.
Outside, the crazy, possessed homeless guy … no, not that one. No, not that one, either. The guy from this episode. He’s immolated himself while staring dead at their window. The priests watch the smoke rise from his rapidly burning body and cross themselves.
Casey, with permission from Angela and Henry, is meeting with Keane and Tomas and, once again, this show wants to wage psychological war on teenaged girls everywhere.
Keane starts nice, talking up Casey’s athleticism and prowess, but ,when she naturally downplays it, Keane agrees and talks up Kat: the dancer, the artist. He jokes that she can probably be difficult, but then talks about flowers and says that the really beautiful flowers always are the most difficult. They selfishly suck up all the resources around them.
Casey is taking this abuse about as well as you’d expect. Keane talks about the reliable, sturdy succulents in gardens, who don’t need attention to survive, and Casey asks if he’s calling her a “succulent.” Considering what happens at the end of this episode: yeah, this exchange is just weird and felt really gross. It only gets worse.
Keane starts to pick at whether or not Casey loves or likes Kat and asks if she blames Kat’s car accident for destroying the family. He calls her boring and invisible, then takes out her music box and starts unpacking its odd contents: a man’s wristwatch, a broken makeup compact. The Salesman appears behind her while Keane talks about the broken mirror and how weird it is that “a girl like [Casey]” would even have it; someone so plain. The Salesman is telling her not to acknowledge him and to focus on Tomas and Keane, and when Keane calls her plain, the Salesman calls her beautiful, which she repeats.
Keane hisses, “Not beautiful like Kat,” and says someone lied to her to make her feel special.
Okay, what the actual fuck? I get what he and the show are trying to do, but this is just fucked up and feels so very wrong.
Keane asks if the demon has hurt her yet, and she insists “he” won’t hurt her, while the Salesman tells her to leave. The room gets all spooky as the walls shake and pictures start to fall, but Keane keeps at it, mocking Casey by suggesting the demon settled for her because it couldn’t get the more desirable Kat. I guess his plan is to get a rise out of the demon because, as the room gets crazier, he mocks the demon itself, saying maybe Casey called to it and it is her slave.
The demon turns her eyes black and its deep voice denies Keane’s claim. It mocks Keane about the boy Gabriel, and I’m so glad they do that every ten fucking seconds. Keane thinks it’s the same demon that killed Gabriel, the Baptist, but it denies this and claims to be a fan of Keane’s work. Keane barks, “Enough!” and the demon leaves.
At the bishop’s office, he and Bennett are decrying the shoddy footage Tomas and Keane caught of Casey’s behavior, even while Keane yells about the girl speaking Aramaic. The bishop is raging at Tomas for ignoring his orders to send Casey to a shrink and running around with his excommunicated friend Keane, and, rather than defend himself with the fact he did try, Tomas looks like a hurt little puppy.
Keane though is all, “ExcommuniWHAT?” and Bennett hands him the ominous black envelope from the Vatican that strips him of his priestly powers. The words are said out loud, I shit you not: “Relinquish your dog collar,” like, “Turn over yer badge and gun!” Bennett lists Keane’s various sins, like the gun he pulled on Bennett, leaving St. Aquinas, oh, and that boy whose neck fucking broke, Marcus. I’m surprised that he is surprised there is actually major fall out from this, considering the demons remind him of it all the damn time.
Keane points out that the demon/Casey knew about Mexico City, which is a good point, but Bennett points out the brutal interrogation of Casey did not exactly win Keane any points, here. The bishop seems to think he’s an Old West sheriff and demands that Keane leave Chicago, too, but he and Bennett are too busy yelling at each other until Bennett loses his considerable cool and shrieks in Keane’s face, “SHUT UP!”
It’s my favorite moment of the entire show thus far, so.
I want Bennett on Team Demon Slayers and I want it yesterday.
At the Rance Manse, Casey is putting on her very grown-up dress and makeup for the memorial, and she looks amazing. She can hear her parents arguing because Angela wanted to know what was happening in the room with the fathers and isn’t satisfied yet. Then Kat’s voice cuts in, and she and Angela forget Casey and bicker about the fact Angela won’t call Julia by name and hasn’t noticed her habit of calling her “the friend.”
Kat starts complaining about how her damaged knee stops her from dancing, which is somehow Angela’s fault for making her learn to dance in the first place and, ooooh, my actual god, this girl.
Poor ignored, forgotten Casey, who can’t even get attention when a demon is possessing her immortal soul, notices a blistering rash on her neck, and the Salesman appears, watching Casey. She uses her hair straighteners to burn herself on the stomach, agonized at first, but, by the end, she almost seems to enjoy it.
Fantastic fucking scene. Fantastic. Dark and twisted and, without having to take a single shot at Casey’s looks, it managed to speak volumes about how Kat consumes the family’s attention, and Casey is just forgotten and left wanting. This scene alone just did what all the others wanted to without attacking Casey’s appearance once.
Keane is spectacularly drunk at St. Anthony’s, but Tomas can’t say shit because Keane’s a civvy now! He laments his 41 years of chastity and poverty, all for nothing, and calls himself a “Sad Arse” which is so gleefully British. Tomas is furious at the church on Keane’s behalf; Keane is in his doldrums with a power. He laments that he had been a vessel for Gods power; without that, he’s just a man in a room. Tomas says the Church, not God, abandoned Keane, but Keane doesn’t think they can fight demons with semantics.
Okay, can he be bitter and drunk forever?
Tomas would rather Keane climb out from inside his own ass, though, and reminds him of the blighted Rance family, insisting that he’ll do the exorcism if Keane just guides him. Keane compares himself to a surgeon and Tomas to a janitor that he can’t just hand the scalpel to, and, okay, Keane is taking to alcohol like an old fucking pro. Rule Brittania, baby!
But, also, Marcus, do you know what follows all this pride you’re crying about right now? The Fall, dude. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, bb.
Tomas shoulders Keane’s meanness with impressive grace and just asks what they should do. Keane advises him to gather unassailable proof of Casey’s condition and try the bishop when they’re better prepared. Tomas wants to do more, so Keane warns him that, if he tries and fails, he doesn’t just risk his life, but his soul, too.
And … Casey’s, right? Also the soul of the possessed little girl, right, Keane? No? Well, okay. Rude.
Julia’s memorial is at the theater they worked out of, and what seems like a really sweet group of young women warmly greets Kat. Kat leaves a wristband at Julia’s dressing table and they start to toast Julia by taking hard swigs of whiskey from the bottle. I like these girls.
Casey gets demonic and intercepts the bottle, swigging deeply, while Kat and the dancers look on in dismay.
Casey is getting really nasty with the dancers and rounds hard on Kat, outing her relationship with Julia, to Kat’s utter dismay. See, just like that: poor, poor Kat. I wish they had developed some of this earlier on.
Kat’s boss-ass friends just roll with this revelation and Casey is made to leave.
Onstage, the women dedicate their performance not just to Julia, but to Kat, who they vow to be there for whenever she’s ready to come back. They start their dance and Kat weeps while Angela holds and comforts her, and it’s achingly sad and makes me even angrier about how the scene with Julia was shot. Julia deserved better.
Casey sits at the end of the row, ignored by her family. From the darkness behind her, the Salesman’s arm slides over her shoulder and down over her chest. Oh, fucking ew.
Tomas has been called to Mrs. Walters’ house and they bond over the story of his first visit to the Sky Deck in the former Sears Tower. Mrs. Walters’ family made that glass in the deck; that glass made Mrs. Walters’ family. Mrs. Walters is so intense; she’s taken a shine to Tomas for speaking out at the dinner. She takes back her phrase “depleted” and means “forsaken, forgotten,” and gives Tomas a cheque for St. Anthony’s for a hundred thousand dollars. She shrugs off the charity as something she does all the time, but warns Tomas he’s caught her at an emotional time, while Mr. Walters dies an undignified death.
She encourages him to use the money well and hints that maybe she’ll send more. I think Mrs. Walters is savvy to the demonic entities plaguing the city and this is her way of helping. Or she’s evil and Tomas just got tied into something he’ll regret.
At the dance, a sweaty, hyperventilating Casey flees the room. Angela wants to chase her but Henry very astutely tells her she needs to be here for Kat in this moment and chases their youngest daughter.
I love Henry. I hope he’s not evil.
At the Rance Manse, Keane, who has burned his excommunication order, is about to drunkenly bust in when Bennett pulls up in a sleek town car and tells him to get in.
Oh, shit, YES! Bennett is totally onside with Keane, even while Keane bitches Bennett must have loved the afternoon’s events. Keane talks about the murders and how they both know the taken body parts can be used to raise demons and that taking nine bodies’ worth of parts means you’re raising more than one demon.
Bennett quietly talks about the immolated homeless man, whom investigators found had no accelerant on his body; there is no known cause for his bursting into flames in the middle of the street. Bennett is troubled a “good Christian man” died in such a way and Keane finally figures out Bennett is giving him the inside line.
Bennett’s concern is that the Pope is a target and, without him, the Church will collapse. Keane asks if the Church is compromised, and Bennett vows he’s trying to find out. He hands Keane an envelope of bus tickets, and Keane turns them over to find a list of book stores, libraries, and people he needs to track down.
Bennett is Team Demon Slayer. Fuuuuck yeah.
Since this episode just wants to be the worst, we go back to Henry and Casey riding the train home. Henry fails to reach an edgy Casey and, while he tries to explain it’s a big night for Kat, he’s stricken by some sort of fit or seizure and passes out. A gang of drunken sports fans board and one crawls over to Casey and just dives right into groping and harassing the terrified teenaged girl. A shitload of other non-jock passengers just watch this near-rape go down and do nothing, but I guess that’s so the demon can save her instead.
The jock is literally telling Casey how roughly he’ll rape her when the Salesman appears and walks towards her.
The Salesman and Casey share a long, deeply sexual kiss, which sure does come at a weird time considering what’s happening to the girl right the fuck now, but it brings out the demon and she grabs her would-be rapist by his actual dick and hurls him down the train carriage. The lights and everyone’s phones start to power off and on while Casey dispatches another gross-out rapist and advances on her first attacker, spitting his threats back at him and tearing off his shirt. Just as Henry comes around and tries to reach her, Casey uses her nails to slash and tear the guy’s chest to absolute shreds.
I am okay with this carnage; he was a prick. She shreds and shreds and then grabs his jaw and, with her bare goddamn fucking hands, she snaps his jaw almost off. Oh, my GOD.
The folks on the train fucking lose it while Henry watches a blood-soaked Casey stand and turn to stare at him and piss all over herself and the floor of the train in a curiously placed callback to the original movie.
She does not tell an astronaut he’ll die up there.
This episode made me uncomfortable often, and I don’t know if it was in the way it was supposed to make me uncomfortable.
I have a lot of thoughts on “Let ‘Em In.” I am deeply troubled by how Julia is portrayed as, first, a series of eroticized body parts, seducing Kat to the point of distraction; then being visually equated with the film’s original demon. I am troubled that two characters’ coming-out scenes ended so brutally while being narratively linked to the onset of demonic possession.
Then, there’s the constant portrayal of the homeless as mentally ill and/or demonically possessed.
And there was everything that happened with Casey. From the attacks on her self-esteem, however they fit narratively, to her being pushed into, then punished for owning her sexuality. And how about that long, sexual kiss with the much older, predatory demon while she is actively being sexually assaulted in public, and no one intervenes?
I must admit, with the weekend’s news about certain statements made by certain persons, watching the would-be rapist garbage jock dude get his face torn the fuck in half was pretty damned satisfying. But, because of those same statements by the same person, a lot of this episode left me on edge and uncomfortable in a way I can’t shake.