The Exorcist: 2.06 Darling Nikki
The camera closes in on Andy's haunted face as he stands staring at his darling Nikki (Alicia Witt), you know, his dead wife. He's baggy-eyed and looks thoroughly worn out, it's like we can almost physically see him reconcile with the idea that he's losing his mind - little Grace has long gone and, well, what other explanation is there? The remaining kids are led out of the woods by neighbour Colleen (of the they're-creepy-and-I-can't-explain-why Colleen & Russ), Harper thinks she's hears something... While morning brings a waiting Marcus. Tomas had to wait on the ferry to get back to Seattle after his impromptu and oft vision-inducing sneak around Nachburn Island, and Nikki's studio in the Kim house. He tells his mentor about the rock he found and what he experienced when he touched it, "I saw death." As he glances in the back of the truck, he sees all of the dead children in his visions, those innocents murdered by someone they loved and trusted.
Poor Truck has been locked up in a facility and medicated after his "attack" on Verity. The boy is petrified he won't be able to return home, or that his sister now hates him and worse, his father. Andy grows increasingly distant by the minute, convinced that the State will take the rest of his children away and close his home. His despair and anger is just what the evil seeks to isolate him further, as it is prone to do in these cases. Rose is starting to notice the changes and before she manages to ponder real concern, Marcus and Tomas turn up on the doorstep and convince her to let them help. They believe Andy's emotional trauma has left him exposed to "it" and it will continue to coerce him and perhaps into killing his children.
In Chicago, Mouse and Bennett knock out a couple of bodyguards and chloroform a private nurse so they can get close to the ailing patient in the bed surrounded by machines and intravenous fluids. The "monster", socialite Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald) is terminally ill and rotting much to the amusement and disdain of the inhabitant in her wilting corpse.
Rose insists that the Priests stay for dinner, so that they can "say their goodbyes" and more importantly observe the family's patriarch, and it certainly makes for uncomfortable dinner-table conversation when Harper lets slip that the two men are exorcists. Following that, we catch a glimpse of the compromised Andy, or is it the thing pulling his strings or just Andy, no wonder even the professionals are struggling: "Seriously? How 14th century [...] I'm a psychologist. I believe the human brain is a wonderful and complicated piece of machinery [...] the rest of us just see the damage brought about by your beliefs." Ouch. He even uses Verity's conversion therapy to further his argument to which Tomas apologises profusely. It makes for an interesting debate, however, rational thought leaves a lot to be desired in the wake of a person's faith.
We head back to Chicago, where things takes an abrupt turn which seems at odds with the slow burn build-up. The Maria-shaped demon, however, does give up a few deets as she lays excreting black viscous fluid - Holy Water IVs are the darndest things. "They" are pleased with the little cub's progress, Tomas it appears is their end-game and obviously he has paved the way by already opening up his soul to the preying evil. Then the low cackle turns into the voice of Marcus and his and Mouse's 20-year history is revealed, well sort of, the plot certainly thickens and Bennett probably should have heeded Cardinal Caro's words spoken a few episodes ago.
This is where this week's episode starts to unravel a little. Yes, you could cut the tension with a knife (or pummel with a strange but significant rock) as Marcus interrogates Andy and begs him to fight the demon which has latched onto him but the scenes which follow are so frenetic and hysterical that you'd be forgiven for stopping and rewinding just to see that everything happened that you thought. Andy and Rose despite only sharing a chaste kiss to date suddenly get hot and heavy, Nikki is working her magic, you see, and the whole thing takes a turn for the Nina Forever. A surprise, unwanted and deeply unhinged visitor appears (or is that reappears) which has the whole house up, all the action and drama punctuated with ripples of thunder, cracks of lightning, shadow-play and, inexplicably, an indoor wind machine. Effective? Oh absolutely, if a little OTT and the actual exorcism hasn't even begun yet.
Episode six is a chapter of two very distinct halves, the first the disturbing calm before the very violent and screaming storm. It ends much like it starts with Andy; sorrow all but gone, in its place a deadpan expression, the odd furtive glance completes a glazed look, darling Nikki has him now.
Until next week.
The Exorcist airs on Syfy UK Wednesdays at 9pm. Season one is available to stream on Amazon Prime.