Flashback City: The Exorcist, ‘Help Me’

Last time! Andy, who has clearly been the possessed one since the opening episode, was finally outted as possessed when his long dead ex wife appeared to him to demand he ‘protect’ the family.

As if she heard this talk and wanted to help Andy realise his full possession potential, Harper’s dangerous mother broke into the home and was in the process of abducting the tiny wee girl before Andy … well … eviscerated her.Luckily for us all, Marcus and Tomas were right there to scream pray him into submission. So, that worked out.

We open on a flashback, and fair warning, the episode is built around flashbacks, Limbo States, real memories and altered ones, so … I will do my best.

In the flashback,  Andy’s waking to find his bed empty, Nikki is absent, and the front door is hanging open. This appears normal, as Andy goes to make them both coffee and start rousing the kids for school. Truck appears to ask what Nikki’s lunch bag note, ‘Don’t forget, I will always love you’ means.

Oh, that’s … heartbreaking. Truck is wondering why Nikki would worry he would ever forget. I am already crying. Andy passes Caleb and Verity as he heads outside to see if Nikki is there. It is an impossibly beautiful day, because of course it is. Andy calls for Nikki, already at the Witches Well, and still not finding her, he’s finally starting to be worried. He gets to the bay and appears to see Nikki walking into the water to drown herself. He plunges in after her, screaming and crying, but it’s too late.

Later, the police are there searching, and Pete comforts a hollow, empty Andy who doesn’t understand, but is thinking of Truck’s note. The body is discovered and Pete nearly tackles Andy to stop him from seeing Nikki in that state, but Andy won’t be stopped. The poor man has to be dragged screaming, away. The shot of Pete embracing Andy in an absolute bear hug while Nikki is lifted onto a stretcher is another utter heart destroyer. As her body is carried away, one of the rocks that she carried in her pocket, perhaps to weigh herself down, falls out. It’s the strange one Andy keeps later on. Andy finally turns and sees … the kids, watching everything.

And then we’re in the now, and Andy is writhing and screaming while Marcus and Tomas ‘Power of CHRIST’ all over him.

Credits. And crying break.

Another flashback, the family adorably taking Christmas photos together, while in the now the boys pray and chant. Andy comes to and demands to be let go, asking after the safety of the children because he is TOO GOOD. Andy is exhausted and mentions Nikki and Marcus fiercely warns it’s the demon, and not her. Andy actually recoils from this idea so Tomas changes tactics and asks about Nikki instead. Tomas wants Andy to remember the first time the demon came to him.

Flashback; Andy brushes his teeth while Nikki anxiously mentions a kid she works with, clearly Verity, and suggests for the first time that they foster. Andy calls it a big step, but even the fact she suggested it makes Andy love Nikki all the more. They embrace and laugh, and I cry and cry.

Flashback; we’re with the poor broken family at a memorial as they scatter Nikki’s ashes over the flower garden. Caleb and Verity hold hands while they sob like the tiny lost children they are, and this is WRECKING ME. Andy can’t scatter the ashes and Shelby who is also TOO GOOD, AND TOO PURE, maturely takes on the task himself. Verity thinks he did it wrong, but Andy says it’s okay. When she breaks down, Andy embraces her as she sobs. Back in the now, Andy surfaces again, and Marcus and Tomas beg him to fight. Marcus is actually on point for once, reminding Andy of how he fights monsters for the kids every day.

Guys, I started writing this whole thing about how I was worried about the exorcism scenes. They have previously been … not great, not terribly scary, and occasionally actively funny. But this is John Cho, and they’ve taken the approach that his battle is internal, so no silly voices, no floating (… yet). Just John Cho, Ben Daniels and Alfonso Herrera absolutely crushing it.

I hope this continues, because it is powerful.

The boys talk Andy through his memories, trying to find the first moment the monster appeared. Flashback; We go back to Andy finding Verity doing laundry, and stepping up like a boss. Verity asks about Nikki and Andy talks about the disease of depression. He thinks it was hidden but Verity disagrees, and thinks they missed something. Later, Andy was weeping in Nikki’s studio when Grace just appeared, and Andy was too traumatised to ask questions. As soon as he takes Grace’s hand, her room is there and she talks about her mask and fear of outside and of course, wonderful Andy is wonderful. The memory shudders then, as Marcus’ voice reminds Andy to fight and Grace runs away.

Andy chases her, and now he’s in the Limbo Space. Nikki appears and swears again they’ll never be apart. Tomas begs Andy to fight, but he’s agreeing with Nikki. Her delighted smile is spectacularly disturbing.

In the real world, Rose consults with the boys about the dead body and the cops. Marcus and Tomas explain Andy, and others could die if they stop, so they have to save him first, and then worry of the consequences. Tomas asks after the children, who are being kept home — which limits their time — as the state will notice their collective absence from school.

On the bed, Andy writhes; Nikki appears and drags him back to Limbo, and a version of their life where he has a sports car, and Nikki is encouraging him to be selfish. This strikes Andy as odd, and he asks about the kids. They’re ‘in the garden’. Then Nikki gets sexy flirty and Andy, being only human, and laying beside Alicia Witt, is tempted.

In the real world he screams and writhes, but the boys talk him back down, and remind him none it is real, none of it is Nikki. She pulls him back to Limbo, where she’s remodeled one of the rooms into a beautiful and very expensive office in what used to be Truck and Caleb’s room. Andy again asks of the children, and again Nikki says they are in the garden. Her next surprise is Verity and Harper’s room, which is now Nikki’s art studio. She calls it ‘everything they’ve ever wanted’ as Andy finally starts to worry. He goes looking for the kids, and Nikki coldly repeats ‘in the garden’ and oh no. Andy runs into the garden and finds five new, little graves. Andy screams and digs at the soil, as Nikki spooks up behind him, asking him to understand and blaming the kids for her death. She leans on the guilt, claims the children took Andy from her.

This is finally enough, and Andy sees through it and backs up. She blames the children again and again, while Andy explains depression. He grabs the Nikki Thing by the throat, and demands it get out of his head. The Nikki Thing claims he doesn’t remember how bad it was. She throws him into an altered memory; Truck and Caleb bust in on the adults in bed, thanks to some petty argument. Despite easily dealing with it, Nikki slumps in an exhausted depression, and thinks they made a mistake.

In Limbo, Andy shoves her away as he knows that’s not what happened, but the Nikki Thing is working hard. It throws another memory, maybe an altered one, of a horribly ugly fight between Verity and Nikki. Verity is every angry teen and says the worst, worst things to poor Nikki. But Andy can hear Marcus guiding voice and he knows the memory is fake. He asserts ‘that’s not how it ended’. In his real memory he went and found Nikki and Verity, Nikki just folded around the poor girl as they both weep. Andy turns away, and The Nikki Thing appears to throw him into an altered flashback of her suicide. This time he tries to leave the house earlier, but the kids do their best to stall him. He gets out anyway, and this time he’s able to reach Nikki in the water, but it’s still too late. Then the kids are on the shore with creepy, creepy eyes, telling Andy they’re glad she’s dead. Andy knows it’s a faked memory, as the Nikki Thing in his arms starts coughing up brackish water.

In the real world, Andy is coughing up the water and the boys untie him to roll him over so he doesn’t choke. He begs for their help, and they promise him they’re there. And, wisely, they immediately restrain him back to the bed, because I was convinced the demon was about to break Marcus’ face.

They keep praying, keep guiding him through, praying over him.

Later, Rose has come to see Andy, and they encourage her to talk to him. Andy asks about the kids again and Rose is so sweet about how she let them skip homework and eat crap, and they’re doing pretty well. She reminds them they love him, but the demon has slipped into Andy’s head a little, and he turns nasty and shrieks at her, demanding his kids be brought to him.

There’s a great shot of the room from Andy’s point of view, and then to his eyes, Tomas and Marcus are possessed and oh DANG, that rustled my jimmies. The lights get crazy, the music goes full The Omen soundtrack, as Andy writhes and screams in terror. The Demonic Duo advance and to Andy’s mind are monstrous and horrific, as they pray and chant, beating and burning him. He flashes back to Nikki’s memorial, through all the memories good and bad. Tomas’ gets a head-spin as lights flash, and a sourceless wind blows through. Andy begs for help. But, he’s not begging the boys … Everything stops. Marcus and Tomas are frozen in time, and the camera pans around to show the whole room. Nikki appears cooing ‘I thought you’d never ask’. Andy is apologetic that he wasn’t there for her, and she says it’s her time to save him. She climbs on top of him, and time restarts. To his mind, Nikki is being burned and killed by the monstrous priests, while she begs him to chose, her or them.

Andy wakes in the Limbo version of the suicide flashback. In their bedrooms, the children, including Harper, so you know this is no longer the real memory,  are bound and tied on the ground, begging Andy to explain or help. He runs past them all to follow Nikki to the water, chasing her in again. This time, he saves her. They kiss and embrace and in the real world, Andy sits up and shrieks demonically, tossing the boys into the wall.

In Limbo, Nikki sinisterly asks ‘Now what are we gonna do about those kids’.

In the real world, Andy’s eyes are black and he’s gone. The demon is in control now.

Well, I never. I mean it, I never expected this show to pull off something so genuinely affecting. Letting the possession take the form of a trawl through Andy’s grief and trauma addled memories was powerful, and left me teary-eyed more than once. The flashbacks to Nikki’s happier days were heart rending, and skillfully underlined how insidious depression can be, how quickly it can take hold, or how well it can be masked by someone who knows how to hide it.

I also found it a very endearing move that Andy can tell what’s fake when Nikki moves against the kids, so much so that Nikki was starting to change tactics before she came upon the Demon Priest idea. I think that even now, it seems like he submitted, it will still be his love for the kids which saves him.

On a lesser note, Mouse and Bennett didn’t even get a look in this week. While I have enjoyed their scenes, it’s increasingly clear the show does not need the entirely superfluous Evil Cabal of Evils Global Possession Initiative storyline at all. I’m glad the writers are addressing it in some form; I just wish that had meant wrapping it up about three episodes in, and then dispatching Bennett off to Nachburn. I don’t even care about Mouse and Marcus’ previous history together, at all.

We have three episodes left, and the show is yet to be renewed for a third season. I’d actually like to see one, but with the Papal Conspiracy crap abandoned completely.

The beginning of the end … of season two of The Exorcist, is back in two weeks, Fridays on Fox, with recaps on Oohlo soon after.

 

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life.
Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident.

Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor.

She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90’s fashion die.

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