Fox's show The Exorcist is much like its film predecessor in taking delight in how outrageously shocking it can go. Unfortunately, the exploits in an R-rated movie are apparently now suitable for a primetime television series. In this case, they spread out the story of a possessed girl over a full season with more conflicts from the priests and more gruesome demonic possession.
However, the show can’t get away from its desire just to shock us. Whether it’s the girl being thrown around the room, the family crumbling under stress, or the priests disagreeing with each other, nothing is sacred. This week’s episode “Chapter Five: Through My Most Grievous Fault” crosses its biggest sacred boundary yet by having the priest Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) sleep with a married woman, Jessica (Mouzam Makkar).
Though unsurprising considering the show’s development of the characters, it’s nevertheless shocking (or perhaps not) that the show pushes the boundary so far as to display adultery with what is supposed to be a moral character. Not only is the action shown, it’s intensely portrayed as a raw, uncontrolled moment even when they both know it’s wrong. The affair is shown juxtaposed with a scene of the other priest, Marcus, performing an exorcism. "I order you into the light, unclean spirit. Leave this servant of God!" Marcus yells at the demon but it is clear Tomas is possessed at the moment, too.
Jessica: Jim's in Houston on business. I was out.
Mum: You know I was never one for sentiment or feeling, son. But I need you to know this. Your father and I... ...It were a hard life. It was a good one... All things considered... ...Up until you come along. You was a mistake... Son. You was never supposed to happen.
Marcus: Don't say that.
Mum: Cost your father his pension. Bet you didn't know that, huh? Probably why he brained me with that hammer of his.
Mum: You took our lives away. Marcus. Should have flushed you when I had the chance.
Dad: Go on, lad. What are you waiting for? Kill the little bitch like I done your useless mum.
Marcus: Is that all you've got?
Demon: That which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with the cares of this world. For there is nothing secret Damned are the meek-
Marcus: -that shall not be made manifest, for they are as lambs nor hid that shall not led to slaughter.Be known and come to light!
Demon: Give over, Marcus. Come to us.
Marcus: I cast you and I order you into the light, unclean spirit. Leave this servant of God! (Unnatural shrieking)
But that’s the purpose of the show here. No one is truly right when one of the heroes is an ex-communicated priest, and the other makes a clearly irrational, sinful choice like this. And these are the people we are supposed to be rooting for to save the possessed girl? Plots must be sacrificed when making a transition from film to television, but apparently a character’s dignity must be sacrificed as well.
For the life of me, I can’t even understand why the show needs to go further into corrupting the priest when the original shocked many more people without sacrificing the dignity of the priesthood. I suppose it’s what the show qualifies as “edgy” these days even though every other liberal program has done it. Maybe one day, they’ll be just as tired of it as I am.