You never quite know what FX will come up with next. While the network’s programming is inconsistent overall, it is capable of producing quality works that bring out the best in actors and filmmakers. American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson was one of those shows, popping up early last year with some of the best performances from its actors we’ve seen in years. With Taboo, FX has pushed the boundaries of quality television even further. Produced in part by Ridley Scott, the series features HBO alumni such as Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones), Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones) and Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire), and the quality of the content would not feel out of place in any of their previous work for the premium network.
“Three Rooms,” the final episode of Season One of Fox’s The Exorcist, provides a conservative, yet satisfying ending to the season. Having played most of its tricks in the previous two thrilling episodes, “Three Rooms” dials back on the bloodshed and leads its viewers towards a safe conclusion to the season, and potentially the series. After spending a season proving its excellence to fans and critics alike, The Exorcist leaves its viewers hungry for more.
The events of this chapter probably could have played out over more than the length of one episode. While all of the plot points were nicely wrapped up, there wasn’t as much time for the characters to breathe as the denouement began to unfold. Robert Emmet Lunney’s Captain Howdy was so well developed over the course of the early episodes, his exit seemed a bit rushed. With that said, the moment provided a bonding experience for the Rance family that they’ll never forget! It was nice to see the characters all work together to bring about a positive change. At the start of the season, each member of family seemed like he or she was struggling to find out where each one fit into the family structure. By the final scene, they appear closer than ever. read more
“162,” the penultimate episode of the first season of Fox’s The Exorcist, continues the series’ tradition of captivating and meaningful storytelling, all while ramping up suspense levels to unprecedented heights as it barrels towards next week’s finale.
Episode Eight featured the surprising deaths of Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) and Chris MacNeil (Sharon Gless). Episode Nine increases the body count by killing off fan favorites Lester and Cherry Rego (Ken Marks and Keira Naughton), Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan), and the entire Convent of Our Lady of Mercy. While this is an incredible loss of characters who have all contributed towards the unique atmosphere of the show, it’s clear that the showmakers are serious about increasing the odds as the story progresses. Captain Howdy (Robert Emmet Lunney) has achieved integration with Angela Rance (Geena Davis), and there had to be serious consequences for it to mean anything. The expression on Father Marcus’ face as he takes in all of this death says it all: there’s no going back at this point. Anything less would have caused the viewers to seriously question one of the following scenes where Marcus pistol whips and nearly drowns Brother Simon (Francis Guinan). The show seems very aware that it can’t raise the stakes without raising the consequences. Suddenly, none of the cast feel safe anymore. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Fox has not yet committed to renewing the series for Season Two. Maybe Jeremy Slater, the show’s creator, doesn’t want to hold back on telling his story in case the first season is all he gets to tell it. read more
Chapter Eight of Fox’s The Exorcist, entitled “The Griefbearers” continues to prove the series’ reputation as a quality program that takes creative risks to achieve an expert level of horror storytelling. This episode raises the stakes with the ultimate exorcism of Casey Rance (Hannah Kasulka) and the deaths of two important characters… events which will certainly build towards the high stakes climax of this season.
Geena Davis gives her strongest performance of the season in Episode Eight. Three episodes after a major twist revealed that Angela Rance is actually Regan MacNeil of the original 1973 film, the show now provides Davis with more scenes and more material than ever before. Angela now feels much more like a main character, and her internal struggle over how she is in some way responsible for her daughter’s suffering plays out in numerous interesting ways. One particularly effective scene featured Angela seeing her childhood self in the dusty basement of the classic film, speaking to the Captain Howdy who captivated her as a child. An earlier Horror News Network review commented on how a scene depicting Captain Howdy slowly chipping away at Regan as she lets her guard down wouldn’t have felt out of place in the original film. Through a series of surprise events in the series, the viewers actually get to see that scene!Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. Robert Emmet Lunney is creepier than ever before with his bright red and white satin clothing, shoulder bird, and grey nail polish. His interactions with adult Angela and child Regan are perverse and manipulative. It is interesting that his technique seems to be tailored to each individual person he meets. His early encounters with Casey were grossly charming. His early interactions with Regan were creepily childlike. With Angela, he is confrontational and direct. It is clear that the fact that Captain Howdy has been waiting for Angela for over 40 years makes him just as eager to get to her as she is to free her child of this pain. read more
Episode Seven of Fox’s The Exorcist series, entitled “Father of Lies,” continues to bring the series into an interesting direction as several main characters are drawn into intense new physical and psychological conflicts. Based on the events of this episode, it’s clear that the season is headed for an explosive climax.
The age of the 24 hour media cycle is explored early on in the episode, as the Rance household is surrounded and harassed by fans, protesters and reporters. While Sharon Gless’ Chris MacNeil can take it because she’s seen it all before, these conditions are particularly stressful for Geena Davis’ Angela. Some of the particularly fascinating scenes of this episode portray an interesting dichotomy between Chris’ and Angela’s respective strengths and weaknesses. Angela’s newfound insight into what Chris must have felt during Angela’s own brush with the demon is the perfect example of the character-centric kind of show The Exorcist has become. Once the grieving mother, Chris now has to play a different role in what is happening to the Rance family, and her strength seems to keep the other family members just barely moving forward. read more
Black Mirror Season Three, the first season to be produced exclusively for Netflix, exhibits a variety of achievements and missteps; and while there are some interesting concepts, its lukewarm delivery (despite one good episode and one particularly excellent episode) demonstrates that is has a ways to go to match the quality of other recent Netflix and horror/sci-fi television offerings.
Described by many as “The Twilight Zone for the tech generation,” Black Mirror dazzled British audiences in its first and second seasons, and then later picked up steam in the United States on Netflix. While loosely connected and existing in the same universe (with most episodes featuring a broken mirror or establishing shots focused on black mirror-like surfaces), each episode addresses an entirely different concept. This results in a wide spectrum of tones and atmospheres. The original episodes feature talented English actors and actresses known to American audiences, such as Hayley Atwell, Oona Chaplin, Domhnall Gleeson, and Jon Hamm, and Netflix chose to continue the tradition by hiring Alice Eve, Jerome Flynn, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Kelly Macdonald to fill important roles in the present season. Interestingly, despite featuring top talent, Black Mirror’s biggest issue so far seems to be a lack of characterization and character development. This stems from too much of a focus on the technology over the characters. read more
Two weeks since its series-altering surprise reveal, Fox’s The Exorcist returned to television this Friday with “Star of the Morning,” an episode which solidly builds upon this new surprising development. Last episode’s review avoided spoiling the major twist to give readers time to catch up with the series, but now it’s time to dive in!
In Episode Five, it is revealed that Geena Davis’ Angela Rance is really Regan MacNeil of the original The Exorcist film. While this twist explains some things, like why Angela’s mind jumped right to “possession” as soon as things started going wrong in her house; this change to the series mid-season could end up taking away from what has been built so far if the showrunners are not careful. Based on this week’s developments, it seems like the show is looking to build directly off of the first movie… potentially ignoring the mediocre Exorcist II: The Heretic and the slightly better The Exorcist III. We learn that Regan changed her name in an attempt to start fresh after her mother, Chris MacNeil, exploited her possession story for financial gain. No one, not even her husband Henry (Alan Ruck), knew of her secret, and this naturally allows for a lot of resentment and conflict between the various characters once it is known that Angela could have potentially been a better help in curing Casey (Hannah Kasulka) had she been completely honest about all of the variables. read more
The fifth episode of Fox’s The Exorcist series, entitled “Through My Most Grievous Fault,” certainly threw a curveball at viewers. While the twist is likely something many will be discussing this week, the quality and craftsmanship of the rest of the episode is just as worthy of conversation. “Through My Most Grievous Fault” offers up numerous chilling scenes in the midst of dramatic storytelling and character development.
For the sake of those who may not have caught the episode yet, I’m going to hold off on analyzing the major plot surprise that arrives at the very end. I will say that while it is one that has been talked about and hoped for by fans of the show over the past few weeks, at this point I feel neutral about this development. I don’t think the series needed it to be successful, but if it pulls more viewers into this excellent show, I’m all for it. read more
“The Moveable Feast,” the fourth episode of Fox’s The Exorcist series, continues to take the high road of horror film production due to a variety of intelligent developments and filmmaking choices. The pacing of the series seems to improve with each episode, taking on the approach of premium television storytelling in the format of a Friday night network show.
The Salesman’s (played by Robert Emmet Lunney) grip on Casey (Hannah Kasulka) tightens with each new scene of this episode. As his intentions become more and more clear, his physical appearance, voice, and actions start to resemble his true form. This once charming and subtle salesman reveals his brown teeth and tattered clothing, looking more and more like a salesman who never left Circuit City in the seven years since its closing! His transformation is entertaining to watch, and viewers can’t help but empathize with Casey as she realizes how little control she has over the situation. read more
Episode Three of Fox’s The Exorcist, titled “Let ‘em In,” marks the moment that the series has begun to truly prove itself as a new show that deserves to be watched and taken seriously by horror fans and horror scholars alike. While the first two episodes contained a mix of things that worked and things that needed improvement, “Let ‘em In” contains strong performances from the filmmakers and the actors which demonstrate a knowledge of the source material and a willingness to forge new paths in storytelling. read more