After 10 emotionally intense and cinematic episodes of genre TV, “The Exorcist” brings its Season 1 story with the Dec. 16 finale.
“Chapter Ten: Three Rooms,” not only found the Friars of Ascension’s plan to kill the Pope thwarted by Father Marcus (Ben Daniels), the Rance family banded together with Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) to, once and for all, exercise the demon from Angela’s (Geena Davis) body — and their lives.
Throughout its run, “The Exorcist” has not only been a show about religious conspiracies and demonic possession — it also explores deep issues of grief, faith and family bonds and compromises in a world consistently afflicted by pain, poverty and hopelessness. But as we saw during Father Tomas’ internal bout with Pazuzu, the power of love, hope and faith can go a long way.
What we saw transpire throughout the episode were two different storylines that rarely connected. And while Tomas finally had a breakthrough — pushing away the shame of his sins and previous indiscretions — to step up and accept his exorcist fate, Father Marcus came face-to-face with the group of integrated demons out to murder the Pope in front of a crowd of his most loyal supporters.
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The summoning spell was once again unleashed, this time on Father Marcus and Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) — surprise, he’s alive! — yet, through some priestly trickery, Marcus turned the demon dust on Maria Walters (Kristen Fitzgerald). While her demonic dream was fulfilled, Marcus and Bennett escaped just in time to save the Pope, and thusly, the world.
So, now what? With the Rance family rescued and the assassination attempt defeated, “The Exorcist” not only presented us with some poetically satisfying closure, it set a trajectory for the story to continue, if FOX decides to give the show another season.
To help us unpack the many plot points presented throughout the season and its finale, we had the pleasure of sitting down with star Ben Daniels to discuss the importance of the horror genre as a vessel to explore deep issues, the complex relationship between Marcus and Tomas and where he’d like the story to go if it gets picked up for another go-round.
Why is now the time for an ‘Exorcist’ TV series?
Ben Daniels: I think horror is a fantastic genre for exploring the fears of society and I think any good horror reflects what is going on in the world around us. At the moment, we live in a world where no matter what — our background, where we live, our faith or religion — there is a fear that our values, and what we hold dear to us, is being taken over by forces outside of our control.
There are lots of conversations about evil being present in our society and how do we eradicate that. All of us are looking for things that will return what we hold dear to a state of normalcy. I think possession and exorcism is a really good and timely metaphor for exploring those subconscious fears and hopes.
If picked up for a Season 2, where would you like to see the relationship between Father Marcus and Father Tomas go?
I would really like to see Marcus and Tomas going into other cultures and different faiths to perform exorcisms and help people in different parts of the world. Marcus has traveled all over the world performing exorcisms, learning about other cultures and speaking different languages — and I would like to see him introduce Tomas to those different worlds. You get the feeling that Marcus can handle himself in any environment, terrain, society — and I think it would be fascinating to watch him deal with someone who isn’t used to that at all.
It’s like Marcus is the Anthony Bourdain of exorcists!
Yes! It’s taken Marcus 41 years to get where he is now, and Tomas is just at the start of that journey. And I think it’s always interesting to watch two people — one of them who knows the ropes and the other who is learning — and the tension it introduces into that relationship.
And of course there’s always the possibility that either of them could get possessed themselves, which would be fun to watch.
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If I had a choice, I’d want to see Father Marcus possessed and have Tomas deal with that challenge.
I’d have to agree with you.
There’s something of the classic teacher/pupil relationship between Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker — Marcus as the Jedi, with Padawan Tomas under his wing. Has Marcus been waiting for a worthy student?
I like your Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker reference! [But] I think it was the last thing that Marcus wanted in the world — to train up a pupil exorcist. He’s always been an intensely private human being, and that’s worked for him for 40-odd years. Now that Tomas is in his life, and he’s linked with Tomas in a very supernatural way, he is learning to accept this is God’s will, and trying to figure out how to work with God’s will. They both are — God has placed them both together, and they have to work out why that is.
There is no laid out plan for their relationship. At the moment, it seems like Marcus has all the knowledge — certainly, as far as the ins and outs of exorcism is concerned — but I think Tomas has a lot to offer in bringing about a humanity in Marcus, and helping Marcus to live and operate in the real world — rather than just barking through it like a rottweiler!
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There’s an ongoing question regarding Father Marcus’s sexuality. How does this detail compare to Tomas’s own indiscretions?
I think in Season 1, the demon didn’t necessarily attack Marcus’s sexuality because there is no shame in it for him. The demon would’ve been wasting its time! Tomas, throughout the season, is dealing with and is affected by the guilt of his affair with Jessica. It compromises who he is as a human being. What fantastic demon fodder!
Marcus’s sexuality, whatever it may turn out to be, has no shame attached to it. It doesn’t bother him. He doesn’t see it as a sin. I think Marcus, as well as having his own version of the Bible, has his own version of Catholicism! I like the idea that, if we progress into a Season 2, his sexuality is something that will be explored further. Because he no longer has his collar, which means he is free from all the priestly vows that he is taken.
I feel that he has always been someone who is attracted to people’s minds and their stories, regardless of gender and sexuality. To suddenly be able to interact with people in a physical way will be a very new and exciting thing for him. He was institutionalized from a very young age and to suddenly be free of all that — I think he might turn into a 52-year-old teenager!
Oh man, I can only begin to imagine the possibilities there…
I think at the moment his sexuality could be very fluid. I know everyone online things he is gay because he flirted with a man in a bar — but hey, this is “The Exorcist”… It could go any which way! It could get fantastically messy!
In Chapter 3, Marcus makes a reference to the fact that he has been “celibate — more or less.” But, we don’t actually know when that was or who it was with. I have a couple of different versions of that event in my head — but that’s my little secret!
“The Exorcist” Season 1 can currently be streamed in its entirety on Hulu and the FOX Now app.