The Exorcist: 2.02 Safe as Houses
Bennett (told you he’d turn up) has been summoned to give evidence to the tribunal within the office of exorcism, Vatican City. He details a conspiracy against the Catholic Church and tries to explain the difference between possession and its symptoms, and integration - that’s when the person accepts the demon - Bennett wishes to charge Cardinal Guillot (Torrey Hanson), that lovely smug French dude who tried to suffocate him back in season one. These potentially, slanderous accusations, however true and boy, are they dissolves into Show and Tell as Guillot faffs about with a gold goblet, adding salt to water before blessing and drinking to prove he hasn’t accepted any demon. Ever the showman, he even dabs it behind his ears, and this is all the proof the committee needs to dismiss Bennett’s claims. Which begs the question, why did nobody holier in their convictions bless it? The only conspiracy the Church has is in the very human form of Marcus Keane.
It’s the morning after the savage beating and Marcus and Tomas are tied up, the former battered and bruised, Cindy has been taken to hospital for all the good it will do her. Tomas tries to convince Jordy that his wife is oppressed by a demon and he describes what he sees and hears in his vision. The song, in particular, gives the sheriff pause but he still walks away threatening the Priests’ lives should Cindy lose hers.
Over on Nachburn Island Rose is still trying to get to the bottom of Caleb’s nighttime wander to the well and Andy’s frightened that she will file a report which suggests self-harm, in which case Caleb could be institutionalised. When Papa Bear denies that his son is hurting himself, she tells him that he’s not the authority on recognising the symptoms of depression, self-harm or suicide. Ouch, so we now know happened to the family’s matriarch. Low blow, Rose, low blow. Neighbours Colleen (June B. Wilde) and Russ (Timothy Webber) call in and bring a basket of freshly picked red apples - another witchy motif, however, a potential red herring or in keeping with the biblical as the couple - who aren’t creepy in the least (yet) but remind me of Minnie and Roman from Rosemary’s Baby - then offer Shelby the opportunity to witness a lamb's birth.
The Cindy-demon, all huge black contact lenses, black teeth, open sores and excellent veining, has run amok in the hospital and finally Marcus and Tomas can finish what they started while continuing their war of words and bitching back and forth. Marcus is rightly worried that Tomas’ actions will eventually destroy him while the younger Priest is reluctant to consider that could happen given his God-given gift: “I don’t understand why you’re so afraid of this.” “I don’t understand why you’re not.” Neophyte Father Tomas still has a lot to learn.
Meanwhile back in The Vatican, Cardinal Caro (Phillip Craig) one of the good guys, I think, tells Bennett about the switch-up within the Church; they haven’t sanctioned a single exorcism in six months (in reality, it’s the exact opposite exorcism is at an all-time high). Caro then hands Bennett a photograph of a woman and instructs him to “find her, keep her safe and try not to let her have a gun.” Ooh, a new secondary character and a woman at that, definitely intrigued.
Safe as Houses is all about the allusion of safety and the familial threat, secrets, lies and reveals the lengths they will go to protect their loved ones. This series is really expanding on the mental health/oppression aspect of possession, it’s no accident that Cindy’s rescue occurs in the hospital nursery thus allowing her to acknowledge and, in some small way, accept her grief following the loss of her child.
With the island/Andy’s arc, we’re still unsure if there was (Nicole) or will be a manifestation, or if an infestation will occur of the family home. These kids and this family are the more interesting storyline (a testament to Cho’s lovely patriarch) and thankfully, the cutting back and forth has ceased for now but of course, Tomas and Marcus are not there quite yet as they head onto Seattle.
Even at this early stage, it feels like the ante has most definitely been upped; more action and so many more characters in fit-to-bursting episodes, better make-up effects - the lighting utilised in these first couple of episodes has been particularly beautiful and in relation to the darker aspects of the storyline, well this seems somewhat serendipitous given that next week’s episode is directed by Ti West. The Sacrament director coming onboard to a host of questions including, what is Caleb playing at? Who is the woman in Bennett’s photo? What's in Seattle? If you're not watching it, why the hell not? Who knew that I could enjoy this season even more than the first? Etcetera, etcetera.
Until next week.
The Exorcist airs on Syfy UK Wednesdays at 9pm. Season one is available to stream on Amazon Prime.