Warning: This post contains spoilers from episode 6 of The Exorcist. Read at your own risk!
Turns out The Exorcist has a few more surprises up its sleeve as the latest hour of the Fox horror sequel continued to delve into the fallout of the big reveal at the end of the last episode.
As Angela/Regan struggled to find her missing (and still possessed) daughter Casey — and do some damage control to her marriage — she was forced to also unpack everything that had happened between her and her mother Chris (played here by Sharon Gless) all those years ago. Making matters worse was the fact that the demonic Salesman has now turned some of his attention to her.
Elsewhere in the episode, Father Tomas’ crisis of faith continued, while Marcus went demon hunting, only to find Casey and perform a baptism in the lake, so to speak. Unfortunately for everyone fighting against evil, the forces of darkness (a.k.a. The Friars of Ascension) were participating in a Black Mass, effectively moving the world one step closer to it’s unholy end.
With things taking a turn for both the better and the worse, EW spoke to executive producer Jeremy Slater about some of the episode’s bigger reveals.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is it safe to say the Friars of Ascension worship Lucifer?
JEREMY SLATER: They worship not necessarily Lucifer, but more the biblical idea of angels being the first beings who turned their back on God’s great plan. They present a pretty compelling case that every positive advancement in human history can be traced back to that moment when Eve first decided to take a bite out of the apple. That first moment where humankind struck out on its own. From that act in defiance, our entire civilization sprang up. They credit these angels-slash-demons as the ones who really created humanity. It was important to us that if we were going to have a cult of bad guys [as] villains, we didn’t want traditional Satanists. We didn’t want a bunch of monks in black hooded robes, chanting over a pentagram with a bloody altar. This big climactic scene at the end of the episode is really our attempt to re-contextualize what a Black Mass looks like. It’s not a dark, disturbing ceremony. In a lot of ways, it’s very beautiful and open and loving. It just so happens that the ceremony requires ashes harvested from a human victim. It’s the only little flaw in an otherwise very nice ceremony. We’ve been planting the seeds for the conspiracy since the very first episode. It’s great to finally be able to pay off some of these questions that I know audiences have had, in terms of, “Why did this home invasion happen in Episode 2? Who are these guys collecting organs, and what’s with these Tattersall vans that are driving around Chicago?” You’re going to start to see a lot of those questions get answered.
Is this the reason why the Church was not so eager to get involved with the exorcism, as well?
Possibly. That’s definitely a question that we’re going to continue to explore going forward. In the third episode, when Father Bennett is kicking Marcus out of town, and they’re talking in the back of Bennett’s town car, Marcus asks him, “Has the church been compromised?” And Bennett says he doesn’t know yet, that there’s evidence that suggests that the bad guys may have infiltrated even the highest levels of the Church. If that’s true, we have no idea who we can trust. We don’t know where our enemies are, or where they’re going to strike. As we race towards our finale, we’re going to start to see this sense of paranoia creep into our world of the characters [as they] realize that they’re on their own in a very real way. There’s no one they can necessarily trust to help them.
Regan and Chris get to talk about what happened in The Exorcist. What was your approach for that scene? Was it them finally airing all this stuff out? Or was it more addressing the events of the film?
Yeah. We have a big responsibility, obviously, to live up the events of the original book and film, and to provide a satisfying answer to the question, “What next? What happened in the 40 years since the story ended?” And to really present it from both women’s sides, because the worst thing we can do as storytellers would be to just take Chris’s side, or to just take Angela’s side, and just one of them was right, and the other one was wrong. Life really doesn’t work that way. It’s much more complicated and messy. That’s something we’re trying to capture. The emotional scars and wounds are deep enough that it’s not the sort of thing you’re going to see get healed in the space of a single episode. This is going to be a major storyline playing out in the second half of the season, this question of whether mother and daughter will reunite, whether this family can come back together in the face of this unspeakable tragedy, or whether they’ll just get torn apart all over again, like they did 40 years ago. It’s been a challenge to stay true to the stories that were told by other storytellers and filmmakers while at the same time trying to do something new with these characters [and] create an end to the Regan MacNeil story, that feels really satisfying and earned, as opposed to us just glomming onto someone else’s success.
Regan has now heard the Salesman. Is he going to start targeting her now?
It’s definitely an ongoing question in the back half of the season. What does the Salesman actually want? Where we saw in episode 5 that he’s telling Casey, “Bring her to me.” A big part of that is that these demons live for hundreds and thousands, if not millions of years. Up until this demon had a run-in with Regan MacNeil, he probably had a pretty flawless track record. He was definitely one of the big ones. He had never really been defeated before up until now. His defeat at the hands of Father Damien Karras, the fact that he was very nearly killed in that encounter, and barely escaped with his life, and probably spent the last 40 years regaining his strength and pulling himself back together, it’s left a burning resentment. As you go on, you’ll see that the Salesman desperately wants to hurt this family in general, but this woman in particular, and what better way to get revenge against the last surviving person who hurt you than to take everything she loves? And that means targeting her family, and destroying [them] in front of her.
How about Father Tomas? He’s broken this big vow for him. What does that mean for him going forward?
Yeah. Tomas has found himself in a very tricky place at this point in the series. He has broken his vows. You can quibble on the details, and you can argue, “Well, he broke his vows, but it was also because the demon had its psychic hooks in him and was manipulating him,” but at the end of the day, he’s still responsible for his actions. What’s really interesting about Tomas in this next run of episodes is that for a little while, he gets everything he’s ever wanted. He becomes, in a very real way, the face of the search effort for Casey Rance. He becomes the caring, compassionate, handsome priest that all of Chicago rallies around, and everyone is really invested in this story of “Can this humble priest find this missing girl?” For a little while, all of Tomas’s dreams and ambitions seems like they’re actually coming true for the first time. He’s on news cameras and the church hierarchy is impressed with his performance, and everyone’s talking about him. At the same time, he has this ongoing thing with Jessica. It brings him lot of guilt, but at the same time, it’s the one thing in his life that also brings him happiness. It’s the one thing that feels right in his life. He’s really torn between the man that he knows he’s supposed to be, and the man that he feels himself becoming. As the second half of the season goes on, you’re going to see Tomas stretched more and more to the breaking point.
And how about Marcus? He does have some success with Casey at the end.
Well, Casey’s definitely not saved yet. Basically, the baptism in the lake knocks the demon back for a little bit. Even in those last few moments, the demon is taking control of Casey once again. It’s a very temporary victory. We have been telling a story this entire season of Marcus really getting his mojo back and finding his place in the world. This episode is a big part of it. When everyone else is either losing hope or sitting back, Marcus is the guy who knows what signs to look for. He goes out and tracks her down and finds her. [He] is probably the only man on the planet who could have pulled her back from that brink. When we see Casey, she has obviously reverted to a very feral animalistic state. The demon is very, very close to taking over her body at that point [but] Marcus manages to pull her back from the edge. That’s a story that’s absolutely going to carry into episodes 7-10. It’s the first salvo in this larger exorcism that we teased in episode 5. We’re going to start seeing the battle between Marcus and Casey pick up where it left off, and all of that begins at the end of this episode.
The Exorcist airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.