Midwinter of the Spirit: 1.02

In the second episode of ITV's adaptation of Phil Rickman’s Midwinter of the Spirit, the sleepy village aspects are very much a thing of the past. No more parochial parishioners, that side of Merrily's life has been replaced by desecrations, possessions and cult influences that extend way beyond a dead crow on an altar.

The effect of Denzil Joy's malevolent influence spreads further and further. Anna Maxwell Martin's Reverend Watkins is suffering not just psychically and/or psychologically, but physically. A tiny scratch, suffered at the hands of Denzil Joy at the moment he passed from this mortal realm, has since festered. A stigmata-like oozing wound, worsening by the day; seemingly a path from the other world into not just ours, but into the mind and morality of our Vicar At Large.

Not only does the apparent suicide of Canon Dobbs weigh upon her even heavier than her responsibilities to the Deliverance Ministry. But, crucially the relationship she has with her daughter is deteriorating at an unnatural pace. Unnatural because the separation is being accelerated by the creepy medium (perhaps high up in the Cult of Joy), her friendship to Rowenna (by blood also a member of the Joy Division), and Jane’s insistence on getting a job (unacceptable).

Sally Messham's Jane Watkins was utterly pivotal in this episode and all threads lead to her. She has a boyfriend now, the weedy creepy thing planted in her life by Rowenna, but is also friends with 'The Boy Bishop'. This Boy Bishop has been a teased hint for a while now, a young man who will be bishop for a day. One can't help but wonder if the ramp up in satanic activities has been centred on the crowning of the Mayfly Bishop, like some kind of Checkov's Canon.

But in the end, no matter how important Jane is to either the episode, or the cult’s plans, it all comes down to the creepy, pervasive influence of the corrupted and corrupting Denzil Joy; a man in need of a manicure if ever there was one. Only one more episode to go!

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