REVIEW: The Exorcist, S2 Ep5 – There But for the Grace of God, Go I

The Exorcist Andy and Grace

Following a one-week hiatus, this week’s jam-packed episode of The Exorcist found everyone scattered across the island, pulled deeper into the darkness lurking around it. As the island’s history was brought to light, multiple characters confronted their own troubled pasts and grappled with both literal and figurative demons. This was an intense, edge-of-your-seat addition to the series with top-notch storytelling and compelling performances throughout.

The Exorcist Camping Trip

While most of the episode’s action was contained to the island, we had a brief check-in with Father Bennett and Mouse in Belgium that’s worth mentioning. It’s clear that our intrepid vigilante demon hunters are still finding their footing in their new partnership. Father Bennett is desperate to perform an exorcism on Sister Dolores despite the demon having fully integrated. Ultimately, he chooses to end her suffering, knowing that her sacrifice will help them to save more lives. It’s a tough loss for both Mouse and Father Bennett, who each held a connection to Sister Dolores. And it’s an awful consequence to face in a war that’s escalating, where not even the best exorcists are safe from the evil they’ve fought to defeat. One gets the feeling that Mouse has been down this road many times before, but every new loss is never easy.

Now, to the island. There was a lot happening here this episode, but the action felt perfectly balanced between all of the different plot threads. As we cut back and forth between everyone, their parallel storylines helped to raise the tension and keep anxious viewers in suspense. Splitting everyone up across the island also showed just how prevalent the evil is there.

In his search for answers, Marcus tracks down Peter, whom we met last episode investigating the local wildlife. Peter details the island’s deadly past, leading Marcus to the lone survivor of a mass homicide decades ago. But while she recounts that terrifying night, it seems to carry all of the hallmarks of possession, not cold-blooded murder. It’s an alarming revelation that whatever is targeting the Kim family may not be something that decided to move in recently. Unless, of course, there are multiple demonic entities, a fact that would complicate things quite a bit. Is the island itself cursed? Just how long have people been influenced by its evil? It feels like the epicenter of something horrific, which Tomas experiences firsthand—but more on that later.

The Exorcist Marcus and Peter

Marcus’ day is relatively tame in the paranormal sense. We get a lot of gorgeous, tranquil nighttime scenery from Peter’s boat in comparison to the absolute chaos that’s happening elsewhere. Marcus and Peter share one of the most heart wrenching scenes in The Exorcist thus far, wherein Peter opens up about his PTSD after serving in the military. He carries around a lot of pain that he’s internalized and it haunts him; he recognizes the same in Marcus. For maybe the first time in his life, Marcus pours out his feelings and bares his soul to Peter who willingly listens. He recounts years of abuse and self-harm, witnessing unspeakable horrors that he’s carried around with him, too. It’s such an honest, heartbreaking scene—a moving performance from Ben Daniels, who expertly channels Marcus’ tormented psyche. He lets out the heavy weight on his chest and seems to finally find something akin to peace. And after everything Marcus has been through, he deserves it. Marcus spends so much of his time trying to help others, he needed this moment for someone to listen to him, especially someone who understood his pain.

And all of that flirty conversation from last episode carries over when Peter finds Marcus enjoying his newfound peace and they share a kiss. Their kiss is a wonderful culmination of everything they’ve just worked through and a step in the right direction for Marcus, who finally gets to explore his sexuality following his excommunication. It’s also refreshing to see LGBT representation—positive and affirming—that isn’t of the young adult variety on network television. The Exorcist has done well in handling Marcus’ sexuality; it’s one part of him that deserves to (and should) be explored on this show, but he isn’t defined by it.

Elsewhere on this island of horrors, Tomas has been attempting to find evidence of demonic possession in the Kim household. A brief chat with Rose sees his efforts thwarted in order to protect the family from a stressful ordeal, but once Marcus tells him about the history of the island, Tomas heads toward danger. Yet again, Tomas has a problem following Marcus’ orders and puts himself at risk. He returns to the Kim house to find it empty—except for the demonic Grace that stalks him around in the dark. Tomas ventures around the house, encouraging the demon to show itself, and we’re treated to some creepy, atmospheric shots of rooms only lit by flashlight and the decrepit, maggot-infested attic where the memory of Nicole Kim still echoes.

When the demon finally does come out to play, Tomas’ fledgling empathic abilities send him reeling, complete with some pretty nasty side effects. It also showcases The Exorcist’s mastery of horror, giving us a window into the island’s sordid history by putting Tomas through the ringer. He’s shot, drowned, and beaten up by the ghosts (or demons) of the past, experiencing it all firsthand in one of the show’s most intense and terrifying sequences. It’s the kind of TV that leaves you forgetting to breathe. Marcus’ suspicions are confirmed: the demon has been around for decades, and it’s now set its sights on the Kim family.

The Exorcist Tomas Handprints

On the heels of last episode’s shocking reveal that Grace isn’t so much an adorable little girl as she is a manipulative demon, Verity confronts Andy about her discovery. She’s genuinely concerned for his well-being, and she should be, because Andy’s careening toward a downward spiral. Naturally, he decides to take the kids on a camping trip in the middle of their cursed island, because that’s how you react rationally to stress and losing your grip on reality. Grace tries to lure Andy back in, but she goes from doting daughter to petulant child real fast. Amélie Eve gives a delightfully frightening performance, delivering her lines with an unsettling lilt. She has a pretty mean stare down, too.

While Andy starts to come unraveled, we get some sweet moments around the campfire with the Kim kids. There’s some typical sibling bickering; Caleb telling Harper ghost stories, and there’s lots of s’mores being consumed. Another thing The Exorcist does well is creating realistic characters that we care about and developing their backstories over the course of the season. This week we learned more about Verity and Shelby in a poignant conversation that saw them sharing their tragic backgrounds. We finally got the story behind Verity’s distrust of priests, which in turn facilitated a necessary discussion of the conflict between sexuality and organized religion. Shelby has been a compassionate force from the beginning; it was nice to see him give Verity some guidance and reassurance.

The Exorcist Andy Attic

But, Grace isn’t pleased about being ignored in the slightest. She has a lot of demonic power to wield, and she takes it out on Andy’s family, prompting Truck to attack Verity. (Which…doesn’t look so great when you’ve got social worker Rose tagging along). There’s a very clever, chilling use of a doll to draw the actions of the Kim family parallel to Grace’s manipulations in Tomas’ presence. Desperate for some way to save his family, Andy resists the demon’s influence, in a harrowing performance by John Cho. Still, he’s waist deep in grief and hasn’t been right for a while now. Demons being what they are (sneaky, manipulative, omniscient beings), he’s the perfect target. And clearly it’s time to bring out the big guns. In a reveal that had many a viewer screaming at their TV, the demon transforms from sweet little Grace to Nicole, Andy’s deceased wife. It’s done with such horrifying precision that we’ll be dwelling on how ingenious the scene was in its execution for weeks. A slow, methodical reveal that truly is the best of the horror genre—where The Exorcist consistently works its terrifying magic.


The Exorcist airs Fridays on FOX at 9/8c.