FOX debuted its creepy entry into its fall lineup on September 23. The Exorcist has come to the small screen, over 40 years after the film became a classic on the big screen. Is it worth watching?
In the pilot, And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee, we meet the Rance Family. Matriarch Angela (Oscar winner Geena Davis) has her hands full. It appears she is the sole breadwinner in her household. Her husband Henry (Alan Ruck, Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) seems to be suffering from a debilitating illness affecting his brain. The poor man clearly has trouble functioning, and is very forgetful. Why he’s having difficulty is a mystery.
Not only does Angela work to provide for the family and see to Henry’s welfare, but she also has two teenage daughters to raise, Katherine (Brianne Howley from Scream Queens) and Casey (Hannah Kasulka).
Katherine is the brooding older daughter. She’s not easy to pry from the confines of her bedroom, and it may be better for everyone if she stays secluded. When she is with the rest of her family, she’s miserable and has a particular attitude toward her father. Kat has returned from college. A friend of hers was killed in a car accident. Is this the justification for her bratty behavior, or is there something more diabolical going on?
Casey is the younger sister of Kat. She tries to persuade her to spend more time with the family, or at least time with friends. She chastises her older sister for being so mean to their mother.
The family attends the church officiated by Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera). He is a young, modern priest. He could breathe new life into the church. His sister Olivia disapproves of his continued correspondence with a married woman. Tomas insists there is nothing between them, but Olivia wonders if he is really as committed to being a priest as he claims. His dilemma is not unlike Father Karras in the original film The Exorcist.
Meanwhile, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) is in Mexico City dealing with a possessed child. His superior, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan), has traveled from Rome to find him. He scolds the priest for his disappearing act, as no one has seen him in almost a month. He threatens Marcus with an early retirement if he doesn’t conform to the church’s standards of priestly behavior. Seeing Marcus’s charge in desperate shape, Father Bennett, orders him to take the child to a hospital, but Marcus refuses. To emphasize his point, he pulls a gun on Bennett when he tries to intervene. He’s adamant about being in control of the situation, clearly not concerned with the church’s opinion on his practices.
Angela approaches Tomas with concerns about her household. She tells him she hears voices in the walls, and she believes a demon has taken up residence in her house. Katherine hasn’t been herself since she returned from school; everything about her is different. Her mother insists it isn’t depression, but something more sinister. She begs Tomas to come to her home and speak with Kat.
Kat meets with Tomas, who insists there is nothing wrong with her. Tomas tells her about her mom’s demon theory, and she laughs. Kat knows Angela has had a tough time dealing with Henry, and blames her misery on Kat.
At dinner, Tomas witnesses their interactions, the family dynamic uncomfortable, particularly involving Kat and her parents. Kat is rude and disrespectful to her father, but the way Tomas shuts her down and corrects her is brilliant. Before taking his leave, Tomas speaks with Henry. He is lucid at first, then out of nowhere tells the young priest where Father Marcus can be found. How can Henry possibly know that Tomas is dreaming of Marcus and the possessed child in Mexico City?
In this modern take on an old tale, the priest turns to the Internet to research exorcism. (Pay attention to the results on the screen, there’s a nod to the original film there, further solidifying the fact that this is not a remake).
Following Henry’s directions, Tomas decides to find Marcus at the St. Aquinas Retreat Center and consult with him on the Rance case. The more experienced priest tells his young counterpart that he should be afraid of demonic possession. He dismisses him, believing the young priest is in over his head, dealing with a subject he doesn’t fully understand. These priests are opposites, and I can’t wait to see them have more interactions.
Meanwhile, Tomas visits the Rance home and admits to himself and to Angela that he never heard God call him to become a priest, but he tells Angela that he did hear God’s call to help her family. It’s at that moment that the young man realizes his true calling.
Tomas is at the Rance home when he has a terrifying experience in the attic with a very different Casey, not Katherine as you would expect. As things return to normal, the priest leaves, but pauses to see the girl giving him a knowing smile from the window. The Exorcist’s Tubular Bells theme appropriately closes the episode.
I’m interested to see how these characters develop. What happened to Henry to make him so impaired? Kat alludes to the fact that his injury may be recent, as he and Angela were taking ballroom dancing classes last Christmas. I wonder if he had a confrontation with a possessed Casey, causing some sort of accident. Could Katherine’s attitude just be guilt as a result of surviving a car accident when her friend did not? This is speculation on my part, because Casey tells Tomas that her sister just got her cast off.
The second episode looks promising. Father Marcus arrives on the scene and it seems that whatever force is in the Rance home, may be making its presence felt in other places as well. So far The Exorcist is a hell of a good time.