The Exorcist: 2.03 Unclean

I realise declaring this season of The Exorcist far greater than that tremendous first one based on just two episodes is a tad premature, however, any qualms I had about doing so have been well and truly put to bed, so to speak. The Ti West-helmed Unclean is flippin’ fantastic. Beginning with that pre-credit sequence crammed with a whole host (pun intended) of stuff including: smug sanctimony, another demonic integration within a Priest-shaped vessel, almond tarts, projectile bloody fluids, a cat, a mouse and a baptism of fire.

Poor Andy (a truly wonderful performance from John Cho) is still, understandably, feeling weirded out by Shelby’s impromptu front-door blood smearing and buries the birth-defected lamb, he hasn’t given much more thought to Caleb’s lies about Verity, if they are lies? Her name suggests otherwise. What is it with this family? Or is it the island and that darn witch?

Tomas and Marcus arrive in Seattle to another exorcism, which may or not be perpetrated by another of the younger Priest’s visions - this time it’s a child, and (yawn) yet another girl, first thought is that it's Grace standing in the middle of the road with a huge black hole for a face. Mrs Graham (Rochelle Greenwood)  opens the door to the pair, just as well Tomas is back in his clerical collar as that woman would not have let them in otherwise. Harper (Beatrice Kitsos) is displaying some symptoms of manifestation i.e. heavy breathing, racing pulse, welts on her face, projectile green vomit (yup, more fluids), she even has an imaginary friend, not Captain Howdy this time but a toad called Tobias who hides behind her tongue.

In Antwerp Belgium, Bennett finally meets the woman in the Caro’s photograph - Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) although, we have already had the pleasure during those pre-credit scenes. He has attended Mass in the same Church, for days, with the hope of finding her. There’s a delightful moment in which both Brits dare each other to take communion to prove their humanity. Bennett needs to know all about the conspiracy which began in Chicago and Mouse says she will, and she will share her source.

Shelby’s taking his experiences in the woods and with the little lamb very seriously and brandishes his bible to ward off the evil he believes is there and the voices he hears, never realising that his vehement beliefs can also make him susceptible to a demonic force. That’s if there is one, everything points to yes but they are a family still very much in grieving with a lot of other secondary issues. Photographs are still dotted around the house of Nicole whose death is still something of a question mark, it rarely seems far from Grace’s mind, she stays in her room most days and when she does venture around the house she likes to do so with a decorated pillowcase adorning her face - no matter how adorably pink those fabricated cheeks are, there is still a Michael Myers/that kid out of The Orphange-ness to it which is incredibly creepy.

Back at the Graham house, Tomas is itching to get the exorcism started while Marcus is insistent on investigating further. Everything is a little too convenient - Chris MacNeil’s book on the shelf, the countless crucifixes up the staircase. The perpetual fear and exhaustion on the kid’s face is the main reason Tomas wants to push forward but something isn’t quite right, if it looks like a duck […] quacks like a duck… it’s Munchausen Syndrome by proxy by way of religious mania. Just as they’re making headway, Rose Cooper knocks on the door and pretty much confirms Marcus' (and our) greatest fears.

On the island, Shelby is determined to protect his family no matter what, and wades into the lake reciting biblical passages. At that same moment, Andy is trying to coax Grace outside which is when nature and the inexplicable merge suppressing the child’s fears even further. We, at least, now know that the lake has significance in Nicole’s death. All of this builds to a (third and final) climax as Mouse introduces Bennett to her source - Sister Dolores Navarro - soon to learn why that cult of integrated demons (now led by Maria Walters, see S1) want Marcus Keane and Tomas Ortega.

Bouncing back and forth between Washington State and Belgium isn’t as tedious as it sounds, this week’s episode delivers on the unsettling and balances the disconcerting with a liberal smattering of bloody bits and beautiful imagery. Now that Harper is on the way to Andy’s, there’s a good chance that the exorcists are also on the way there too (it’s TV, there’ll be a tenuous reason why). Yes, finally.

The Exorcist airs on Syfy UK Wednesdays at 9pm. Season one is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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