Previews

Damien Preview: “The Beast Rises”

Photo Credit: Art Streiber/A & E

Photo Credit: Art Streiber/A & E

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

If you were a child of the 70s or early 80s (guilty), you already know what’s going on in A&E’s new series, Damien. If you’re not, and I can’t quite tell whether there’s a wink-nudge at play for y’all in that category, then let’s presume that you don’t really know what the poor lead character is up against. I’m going with the folks in the former category for this preview, but I’m not a jerk. Here’s your synopsis if this is wholly new: Damien (Merlin‘s Bradley James) is a war photojournalist dispatched to the Middle East who is rattled by a strange encounter with an old woman, timed with his 30th birthday, and when he returns home, he finds a series of events related to his true identity equally rattling. If you’re of the “I know this already” contingent, read on.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

Damien took quite the circuitous path to TV after a series of horror movies that begin in 1976 with The Omen–about the demon spawn of Satan, or the emerging Antichrist. Take your pick on the semantics. Created by The Walking Dead‘s Glen Mazzara and initially commissioned for Lifetime (which was an odd fit, but maybe less so because Witches of East End was still on the roster), the series was sent over to sister network A&E, where it makes its premiere Monday night after the fourth season premiere of Bates Motel. It’s an in intriguing pairing to follow up a horror show grounded in mental illness with a horror show grounded in the supreme story of good vs. evil.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

If you’re read me a while (thank you!), you might know that I bailed on Supernatural after the fifth season because it veered sharply from MOTW to a catechism class, which wasn’t what I signed up for. With Damien, if you’ve come into this with knowledge of the films, you’re pretty set on what you’re going to get. The twist of the premise here is that Damien doesn’t know who he is. He’s happily (so to speak) ensconced overseas, shooting the latest war as a stringer for a U.S. publication, when his world is turned upside down.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holberg/A & E

On his 30th birthday, during a civilian evacuation, a black-clad old woman grabs him and tells him how much she loves him and suddenly he’s slammed with images of suppressed memories (from the film), which continue to plague him when he’s ejected from the country and returns home. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, fellow journalist Kelly (Tiffany Hines of Stitchers), who got the encounter on tape, he starts to investigate and is horrified as it becomes clearer who he supposedly is. So far, there’s not an element of him trying to change or stop that fate (and I don’t know if there will be), although he does find his way into a church to rail at God, with terrifying results. There is, however, an element of Final Destination as very bad things start to happen to the people he comes in contact with.

Photo Credit: Art Streiber/A & E

Photo Credit: Art Streiber/A & E

And that’s pretty much all you need to know going in. It’s a super moody, creepy hour. I’ll take it week-by-week as to whether it’s something I want to commit to for 10 weeks.

James, who departed iZombie last year because of this role, is effective as a bewildered, overwhelmed, and terrified man coming to grips with an identity he knew nothing about. OUaT‘s Barbara Hershey plays a mysterious woman who doesn’t help things when she tells Damien she’s been keeping tabs on him since he was a boy.

Megalyn E.K. (Echinkowuke) plays Simone, Kelly’s sister, and Omid Abtahi (Better Call Saul) is his journalist buddy, Amani. David Meunier (Aquarius/Justified), Robin Weigert (Jessica Jones), and Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead) round out the cast in upcoming episodes.

Damien airs at 10/9c Mondays on A&E. Here are a few sneak peeks and look behind the scenes. Maybe watch it with the lights on until you figure out whether it’s for you.

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