Tomas and Marcus provoke a demon, Rose almost dies, and Nicole… well, she sure made one hell of an entrance.
Alright, why does each episode of The Exorcist keep getting better and better as the weeks go by? This week’s episode “Darling Nikki” was bloody amazing (pun intended), and gave us no chance to catch our breath. Seriously, we loved every second of it.
Andy (John Cho), now aware that the demon has taken the form of his deceased wife Nicole, attempts to dismiss his visions of her hoping that somehow, he will get over her. This doesn’t end up happening, as Nicole convinces Andy that everyone, including Rose (Li Jun Lee), Marcus (Ben Daniels), Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) and the kids, are trying to tear them apart. How romantic!
From there on, it was pure chaos. Truck, now taken to a psych ward, thinks that Verity and everyone else hates him – and that is heartbreaking to even think about again. At the island, Tomas’ visions of death continue. After telling Marcus about the visions in a heartfelt conversation, the two head back to the house. There, Tomas and Marcus try to provoke the demon inside Andy to finally reveal itself to them. However, Rose, unaware of the fact that Tomas and Marcus’ claims of possession are right, kick the two out of the house before they can get anywhere. Bad mistake.
Elsewhere, Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) and Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) return. They weren’t heading in Tomas and Marcus’ direction as we thought last week but were traveling to see the infamous Maria (Kristen Fitzgerald). Yep, Season One Maria, the woman who wanted to integrate herself with a demon and almost killed Bennett – that’s her! Maria, cancer-ridden in a hospital bed, is not surprised by her run-in with Mouse and B. Mouse attempts to get information out of her by replacing her IV bag with holy water, but this does nothing but make Maria laugh. It’s revealed here that Mouse and Marcus knew each other (WHAT!?) and that revelation pushes Mouse over the edge so much that she ends up killing Maria by a shot in the head. Bad. ass.
“Darling Nikki” then ends with a crazy reveal of Andy’s possession to the entire family. It’s safe to assume that the demon has integrated with Andy considering that we saw the demon enter his body. Yikes. Alright, let’s talk about the episode!Welcome our roundtable:
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle) – TV Newbie
Anna (@docfission) – TV Casual, Fandom Menace
Jessie (@andherewe_go) – Author, History Nerd, TV Fan, and Proud Member of the #ExorcistCongregation
Michelle (@Contessa_966) – Writer for Three If By Space, Tweeter of TV Shows, Live Music Fan, Hockey Girl & Wiener Dog Mama!
Mary (@mlp60) – Quality Television Viewer. Exorcist Congregation. Love The Exorcist.
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99) – Exorcist Fan
1. Do you think Andy was involved in Nicole’s death? We heard Andy “tell” her “You left me, how could you leave me?” We also heard Tomas tell Marcus that he saw visions of people on the island being killed by someone they loved.
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle): I think the actual line is “You left me, how could you leave me?” I can’t rewatch to make sure, but if I’m right the line is much less telling. That said, I’m beginning to think he might have killed her while influenced by the demon, much like Truck attacked Verity.
There’s not much evidence to support this other than the friendly rock, but the show keeps hinting at there not having been any sign that Nikki was depressed, and if Andy was under demonic influence he could’ve killed her and made it look like she drowned. He could’ve woken up to find the body and be traumatized by the missing time. There probably wouldn’t have been much police involvement because loving couple, never fight, they foster sad kids, there’s just no motive.
Anna (@docfission): OH MAN. I hope not, but I wouldn’t bet against it, either. Andy demonstrably has no self-awareness, both in terms of his mental health and also in terms of how he appears to the outside world when he’s under the influence of hellspawn. So to me, it is marginally more likely now than it was three weeks ago that Andy could’ve killed her without knowing. The dude lives in some deep, cushy denial. But on a meta level it seems like slightly cheaper storytelling (to have had him as that deep in crazy before we met him) and a decent way to drop a dude into a black emotional abyss for the rest of his life, and I’m praying for them kids to be okay, so I’ll stick with no for now.
Jessie (@andherewe_go): I’m starting to suspect he might have. He’s leaving out a lot of important details, I think. We don’t yet have the whole story behind what happened, only that she killed herself. The island being what it is, I have reason to doubt that. Maybe she died under mysterious circumstances and Andy covered it up. Maybe he was responsible and blocked the memory out. Andy seems to have loved Nicole a lot, so I don’t know. But this island has a way of manipulating people…
Michelle (@Contessa_966): I don’t believe that Andy was involved in Nicole’s death. I think he feels responsible and guilty, but he didn’t help her do it or make her do it. He feels the weight of responsibility and guilt because he wasn’t there for her in a way that she needed.
Mary (@mlp60): Simply put, no. Nikki committed suicide, possibly under the oppression of the demon. In the opening scene Andy asks her, “You left me. How could you leave me?” Nikki/demon then assures him she’ll never leave him again. As for Tomás, he admitted to Marcus that he felt a presence in the art room. During the vision from the viewpoint of the demon, Tomás tells Marcus he saw “death…the children..so many of them”when he held the rock (more on the rock in question 3). This ancient demon goes after children and makes their parents kill them. Marcus describes the demon’s/demons island as “hunting fields.”
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99): I don’t want to believe Andy was physically involved with Nicole’s death. The guilty feelings he’s been exhibiting throughout the first half of the season are genuine, making him a more vulnerable host for the demon to possess. I am still leaning toward the idea of it being a case of suicide. At the same time, I do believe Marcus’ statement that perhaps Andy ignored the signs of Nicole wanting to harm herself. If Andy was involved, it would have to have been under temporary control by the demon. If the demon’s mission is to make parents murder their children, Nicole might have been with child at the time of her drowning. The only other explanation that comes to mind is perhaps Nikki heard voices in her head, like Truck, to kill herself.
2. Why does Andy refuse to tell anyone about his visions? It’s clear his behavior and even the way he speaks has blatantly changed around Rose and the kids.
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle): It seems like that’s just how possession works; it happened to Casey too, with the demon stopping the victim from revealing they were seeing things. So it stands to reason that victims are somehow compelled into staying quiet. Also to be fair to Andy, he did almost tell Rose about what was going on but then the whole thing with Truck and Verity happened and the demon turned into Nikki and strengthened its hold. I think Andy could fight the demon, the thing is he has to want to and since he still has so much leftover trauma he doesn’t want to let go.
I’m concerned because I was expecting the Kim’s exorcism to take most of the season but everything happened so much I think it might actually wrap up sooner and then we have two or three eps left of terrible things to happen??? Also I think when Tomas told Marcus about the demon in the island he used plural, so is there more than one? Are they gonna help Andy and then one of the other kids will get possessed? I AM VERY WORRIED.
Anna (@docfission): Andy’s priority first and foremost is sustaining the foster home and making sure his babies will be able to stick around as long as they can. So it makes sense for him to lie. He’s recent widower buckling under the legal mandate to run a home with a partner. There’s a social worker crashing in his guest bedroom. And as Marcus says, the system can be cruel; we’ve seen that any sign of discord in the house can further endanger its longevity in the eyes of the system. So to tell your friend who is also a social worker that you hallucinated an entire dang child in an entire dang pastel bedroom for several months … AND THEN THAT CHILD … WAS YOUR WIFE … Not a good look. Rose would be at a desktop filling out that paperwork and literally typing the words AND THEN THE SMALL CHILD HE MADE UP BECAME HIS DEAD WIFE. The house would be up on Zillow in a week.
Jessie (@andherewe_go): Part of it might be denial, but I think most of all that he’s so desperate to hold onto any shred of Nicole’s memory that he can get, that he doesn’t want to share. There’s the logical part of him, the no nonsense psychologist, that wants to deny everything that’s happening. But then there’s Andy the husband and father, who’s drowning in grief. And seeing the shift in Andy’s personality is alarming. This is definitely not the playful, kind father we met in episode one. Really from an outsider’s perspective, it could be taken as Andy’s reaction under stress, since his family is falling apart. Which also happens to be a perfect cover story for a demon to work its way in.
Michelle (@Contessa_966): I think he wanted to tell Rose in the last episode, but then Grace hurt him. He went to tell her that he thought he was losing his mind and then clutched at his chest where Grace had marked him. Especially now that the demon is in the form of Nikki I don’t think he wants to do anything that his vision doesn’t want him to.
Mary (@mlp60): I was initially frustrated with this, as part of Andy remains. Yet when Rose has Marcus and Tomás stay for dinner, Andy’s obviously fighting the thing which is oppressive. It all begins to change when, in the kitchen he stabs the cutting board with a large knife. Nikki comes and puts her hands on his shoulder. He asks why she (Rose) would do that, to which Nikki replies that Rose is trying to separate them. At that point most if not all of Andy is gone. Nikki notes that he needs to protect the family, and that then they could be a family again. When Andy says “yes” I believe he has accepted the demon’s (or Devil’s?) ultimate question. He has accepted the call to the dark side. Immediately his personality changes permanently. The “Dog the bounty hunter” to Tomás’ prayer and “Ramen” shows his complete disrespect for anything relating to God. In one of the best scenes in this episode, you see the verbal volleys being thrown between Tomás and Marcus and Andy. It’s exacerbated by Harper’s innocent reveal to the family that the two are exorcists. Andy pushes back; Marcus persists. “Sooner or later the demon always makes a mistake” Marcus declares, and that is when it is obvious to me, that Andy is nearly fully possessed. He follows Nikki’s lead to restrain himself, even when Marcus brings out the rock! The ultimate give over is when Andy becomes the demon and kills Ms Münchausen Mommy in an awful stab scene and he falls to the floor and appears in homage to the scenes in the The Exorcist film he writhes toward the light, a silhouette of the original demon found in Iraq.
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99): At this point, Andy is prepared to sell his soul if there is even the slightest chance of being reunited with Nicole- through any means necessary. It’s the same reason he didn’t tell anyone about Grace- he won’t risk losing the home or the kids. He’s already admitted to Rose that he thinks he’s losing his mind. Adding the visions to the mix will break up the family, if the demon doesn’t get them all to turn against each other first. With demon Nikki influencing him and Tomas and Marcus at his door, he’ll keep it a secret.
3. What do you think is the significance of the rock?
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle): I keep thinking it’s the equivalent of the music box from season one; the first point of contact between the demon and Andy. Murder weapon is also an option but I don’t knowwww, I wish we knew how long the current kids had been living with the Kims and exactly how long it’s been since Nikki died so we had a better idea of how long Andy’s been possessed.
The rock does come up when Marcus is riling Andy up about his wife, so murder weapon would make sense. It also made an appearance when Andy threw it at the owl painting and Grace became Nikki, so there’s an obvious connection between it and Nikki. It also triggered Tomas’ murder visions though, so maybe the writers will go classic and it’ll be a piece of an ancient cursed statue. (IT WON’T BE BUT GUESSING IS HARD)
Anna (@docfission): The nice answer is that it’s a memento of Nicole in some capacity. Like a neat piece of meteor they found on a hike. The slightly worse answer, hearkening back to the first question, is that Andy used it to club his wife to death unknowingly. Regardless of which is true, as someone who’s seen a lot of horror cinema, I also believe it’s some sort of spiritual anchor for the island’s intergenerational horror. This is why you don’t just pick stuff up, IMO. Anything can be cursed these days.
Jessie (@andherewe_go): This rock is going to drive me crazy until we actually find out what it is. (I mean, I guess that’s the whole point of why they’re teasing us, but still…) Murder weapon? Demon summoning tool? Andy was pretty fixated on it this episode, so something’s up with it. All I know is that it can’t be anything good.
Michelle (@Contessa_966): Much like Pazuzu’s statue, I think that the rock is something the demon is attached to and has been on that island for a very, very long time.
Mary (@mlp60): The demon shows up when the rock is around. Last week’s episode answered, for me, the significance of the rock. Fr Tomás slips into the house, and finds the rock on the floor of the art room; he picks it up. When he orders the demon to reveal itself, Grace appears. He sees the demon from the demon’s perspective and Tomás sees the deaths. He falls to the ground and drops the rock, where later a still partly demon affected Andy picks up the rock. Remember when Truck is possessed and tries to kill Verity? Andy pulls Truck away and the voices call out to him such that Grace has to repeatedly scream out his name. Just before he goes back to the house (with Verity asking him questions and Andy seems like he’s in a trance) to pick up the rock Fr Tomás dropped, Andy is under the demon’s sway. So he throws the rock through the picture, and who appears? Nikki. The rock is a form that the demon may take. We see it again when Marcus is goading Andy in the den and holds the rock. It is not just a rock. Who appears? Why it’s Ms Nikki. The demon is ancient and what’s the most ancient form? Rocks.
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99): I juggling between the idea that Nikki drowned herself in the lake by weighing her body down with rocks? Or did Andy place the rock on her? Either of them could have taken it from the well. To touch the rock is to see past deaths, so I think it has been around for centuries and is some kind of tool the demon uses to prey its victims. For Andy to have kept it in the studio for this long, it has to have some kind of significance.
4. Where do you think Tomas’ visions are stemming from?
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle): It’s complicated!! Maria made it sound like Tomas is being groomed to be possessed, and the demons inexplicably seem to know what Tomas and Marcus are up to even though they’ve been trying to be super stealthy. Back in episode 2 or so I thought there was a chance Tomas was being led around by demonic forces, and I still kinda do, or at least I believe the demons have a plan B for Tomas, like “hey fellow fallen ones, try to kill the shit out of these two people but if you can’t please mess with the younger one so he joins us later, XOXO Satan.”
But Also!! I believe wholeheartedly that in this show God Has A Plan and Tomas will be tested and come around the other side stronger. I can only imagine him accepting a demon if it’s a self-sacrificial move or if he is blindly convinced that he can fight the demon once it’s inside him. I mean, he did get mentally killed a bunch of times and his reaction was “WE GOTTA GO BACK AND HELP” without any regard for his own well-being, someone with an ounce of selfishness or sense of self-preservation would’ve at least considered… not doing that.
Anna (@docfission): I’m Team Marcus Keane Is Always Right, so when Marcus says it could be the devil, I believe him. At this point it looks as though Bennett is right in that Tomas can’t be tempted—earlier in the season there was the threat of his pride, which you could perhaps foresee resulting in him letting the visions (and therefore demonic influence) run roughshod over him. Now Tomas is more skeptical, so he’s further from that temptation. However, maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not he believes in the power or its dark nature—maybe it’s enough for the demons to put him in a heightened state of vulnerability, which would allow them to use him for some other purpose.
Jessie (@andherewe_go): I’m torn between them being divine or evil. They’re certainly disturbing, and I can’t imagine how much it torments Tomas to be trapped inside his own head with them. Especially now that they’re becoming more frequent and vivid. They might be neutral, in a way? Like he has this incredible empathic ability but it’s kind of up for grabs and both sides (demons and God) are kind of having a tug of war over them to influence Tomas. That’s my weird theory, anyway.
Michelle (@Contessa_966): The demon that he let inside of his mind. Though I think his intentions remain good, there will be side effects and consequences from that.
Mary (@mlp60): Tomás the cub hasn’t listened to the old gray lion! I believe that based on what we’ve seen, they’re not from a good place.
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99): The demon is giving Tomas visions so that he can slowly be integrated and join the church conspirators. If he continues to be haunted and weighed down by the visions, Tomas will be more vulnerable and open to being possessed, just like Sister Dolores and the other Exorcists brought down by the conspirators. It’s been a plan long time in the making, from his first vision of Marcus and Gabriel in Mexico City, to Cindy and Jordy, the faceless child in Seattle, to now. The question is, why was Tomas the chosen one, and why was he made to find and seek out Marcus in the first place? This damn demon has been antagonizing Marcus since he was 12; probably because he won’t cower and back down.
5. How do you think Marcus and Mouse knew each other, and why did she lie to Bennett about it?
Diana (@xoloitzcuintle): A friend suggested Mouse might be the person Marcus mentioned at the beginning of the season, the one who got too close to a demon and was lost for 6 months, and that seems like a possible callback, though it’s hard to tell. Maria says that whatever happened between Mouse and Marcus was 20 years ago and we don’t know how old Mouse is, she could have been anywhere between 10 and 20 years old, while Marcus would’ve been in his 30’s. I think she could have been possessed when she was younger (anywhere between Harper and Casey’s ages) and Marcus was the one who exorcised her. That or she was present during one of Marcus’ exorcisms and maybe she was tempted to be integrated. I’m sure I’ll love it either way, and I’m hoping Mouse was possessed herself because it’d be interesting to see what the dynamics are like between Marcus and someone he helped previously AND who grew up to be this super badass rogue ninja exorcist.
Also she didn’t really lie to Bennett, Bennett just didn’t ask and she had no reason to disclose it #TeamMouse. But I mean, obviously even 20 years later whatever happened to her is still enough of a trigger that she will shoot someone just to avoid it, so it makes perfect sense she wouldn’t wanna bring it up.
Anna (@docfission): I’m super intrigued by Maria’s demon using the words “little church mouse” in Marcus’ voice. I’m chuffed that this is probably an affectation that Marcus bestowed on her that she’s taken to heart. Maria mentioned the abbey, so my thought is that Mouse was once en route to becoming a nun and then was deeply influenced by Marcus somehow. I think she was either a previous victim or has witnessed him at work before, and it inspired her to become an exorcist in his way, though we’ve seen that his way was actually pretty sordid and so maybe it wasn’t a great idea. If we take for granted the idea that Mouse in some way aspired to be like Marcus, then the reason she would’ve lied to Bennett thus becomes pretty clear: it’s none of his business, and Marcus and Marcus types don’t tell Bennett anything unless they have to, and they leave his text messages on read for three weeks until he personally flies to Mexico City, etc.
Jessie (@andherewe_go): I had a feeling they might’ve known each other! This was such an interesting reveal, and the show did it in such a terrifying way that I don’t really want to hear a demon using Marcus’ voice ever again. Mouse may have lied because whatever it was that happened to cause (possibly) a falling out between herself and Marcus was something she didn’t want to drag out of the past. She looked very much like she wanted to forget all about it. I think maybe Mouse went through an exorcism when she was young, and then wanted to become an exorcist. I feel like we’re just barely scratching the surface of her backstory and I’m so intrigued by her, though I’m not sure if I trust her completely. I loved the nun exorcists from season one, so it’s awesome that we’re getting another female exorcist in a field dominated by men.
Michelle (@Contessa_966): This I have absolutely no idea, we don’t have much backstory for either of them, but I cannot wait to find out what that connection is!
Mary (@mlp60): Marcus and Mouse were at an Abbey 20 years ago. She was a novitiate which is pre-nun vows. An Abbey, if I’m not mistaken, is run by nuns so why would Fr. Marcus be there? Maria Demon said they met there. I’m not sure!
Sydney B. (@TrinityAnders99): Its possible Mouse shares the same abusive childhood history as Marcus and became his young apprentice at the Abby. She may have gone rogue because they butted heads over methods of exorcism. I hope she is not after Marcus to seek some kind of revenge. Apparently she had a good relationship with Dolores. If she had told Bennett, he might have relayed the message to Marcus who would have warned him to stay away from her. I still want to trust Mouse, but she seems to have her own agenda in taking down the church.
Lastly, I think we are all in agreement on how genius this episode was, in terms of the build-up, the double interrogation scenes and the cliff hanger. Much props to Rochelle Greenwood to showing how “crazy” can be done and to the chemistry between her and little Harper.
Best quote of the season, “In the house of the shoemaker there are no shoes.” I think this applies to more than one character, in so many different ways. Can’t wait to see what other hole the rabbit leads us down to.
Final Verdict: The scare factor was achieved in one of the scariest episodes of the series yet.
This week’s episode of The Exorcist was incredible. Seriously, we have to give a special shout-out to the director of “Darling Nikki,” Jason Ensler, and writers Franklin jin Rho and Adam Stein – you guys crafted such a wonderful episode. Of course, the cast of the show killed it again in the acting department, and we were drawn in for every second. We can only imagine what trouble will ensue next week. Until then.