WARNING: The Exorcist Spoilers
If you didn’t watch the first season of FOX’s The Exorcist thenâ€¦.you need to. We’ll wait. It’s that good.
But if bingeing Season 1 isn’t an option right now, you’re in luck. The second season of the horror drama â€” starting Friday night â€” features a brand new story, with a few holdover characters from the first season, namely the priests. After all, where there’s an exorcism, men of God must be a part of the action…at least in this universe.
Speaking of action, the season premiere kicks off with a lot of it. “One of the things we wanted to do this year was hit the ground running,” explains Exorcist creator/executive producer Jeremy Slater during a Q&A with reporters. “Anytime you tell a possession story over the course of ten hours, you always have that getting to know the family, getting to know the possessed case story, it’s a slow burn.”
Slater says they learned a lesson after structuring the beginning of season one. “Last year, we definitely struggled in those first four episodes of finding compelling, exciting stuff for Marcus (Ben Daniels) and Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) to be doing while we were slow burning the Casey Rance storyline. And that’s why we had a lot of ‘Oh, let’s go investigate the homeless people of Chicago’ and let’s go have these sort of little weird detours that didn’t necessarily pay off in the larger picture the way we wanted to.”
So while the audience gets to know the foster family that’s at the core of the season-long case, Marcus and Tomas basically go on the road all Sam-and-Dean Winchester from Supernatural-style to take on something that needs their immediate attention.
“Let’s tell a very aggressive, do a James Bond thing where you come in at the end of one mission before the next mission starts,” Slater previews. “So for the first two episodes of the season you’re gonna see a big, propulsive, exciting storyline for Marcus and Tomas while we’re getting to know this family and then it’s gonna settle down into the rhythms of the show that fans are more familiar with for the back eight as we slowly start to bring the two worlds together.”
And that’s the impetus for the season premiere, “Janus”. The drama alternates between Marcus and Tomas in one scenario and a family of foster kids and the man who takes care of them in the other.
Official FOX Synopsis for “Janus”
Six months after leaving Chicago, Father Tomas continues his training to become an exorcist under the watchful eye of his partner Marcus Keane. Their travels lead them to a troubled young woman in rural Montana, where their investigation puts them in the crosshairs of her extended family. But as Tomasâ€™ skills continue to grow, Marcus begins to worry that his apprentice is taking unnecessary risks.
The action then switches to a secluded private island off the coast of Seattle, where Andy Kim runs a group home for at-risk foster children, whose lives are disrupted when the state sends a social worker to determine whether the foster home should be closed. Little do they know the true danger is yet to come: a malevolent presence that has set its sights upon one of the children in Andyâ€™s care.
John Cho (Andy Kim)
New to this world is John Cho, who as we all know, plays Sulu in the Star Trek films, but on TV he’s been on everything from the supernatural series Sleepy Hollow to a trio of comedies, Go On, Selfie and Difficult People. He says he feels great about joining The Exorcist franchise.
John Cho: It’s been a really gratifying acting experience and an intellectual one as well. On the acting front, the character’s very deep and I thank those two over here (Slater and EP/Showrunner Sean Crouch) for giving me the opportunity to play him. Having a foster family feels even more precious sometimes than a biological family since it is more fragile. So that’s been very gratifying. And on an intellectual level, I’ve sort of been learning the language of this genre. I’m new to it and it’s been very exciting. And, of course, there’s just sort of the honor of joining THE franchise. So it’s been a tremendous amount of fun.
Brianna Hildebrand (Verity)
Each of the foster kids Cho’s Andy Kim is taking care of have their own issues, including Verity. This character is a bit of a tough cookie. She has some major walls that are difficult to get past and she’s clearly going to be the skeptic of the group.
Brianna Hildebrand: She’s definitely an atheist and she butts heads with (fellow foster kid) Shelby a lot. Shelby’s a born-again Christian. It’s been fun to participate as a skeptic. I also think it’s interesting that her name’s Verity, which means truth. And in a way, she’s one of the only characters in the house that’s not blinded by anything. In a way â€” Caleb’s literally blind â€” Shelby’s a little blinded by his religion. And so I think that’s interesting and that should be fun to see that play out.
Slater: And right now the world she lives in is our world. There is no, for her right now, there is no other sign…yet. But to hold on to the truth of her character, as she said, rightfully so, she will have to keep being that voice of skepticism.
The Marcus and Tomas Factor
The core dynamic of the show to look out for is the Marcus/Tomas partnership. Alfonso Herrera attributes his being able to tap into a myriad of emotions in any given scene to working with his costar Ben Daniels. “Working with Ben makes the job easy because you connect with him. It’s such a delight to work with him.”
“They will rehearse these scenes endlessly,” Slater adds. “They show up to set and they know the scripts better than we do. They really bust their asses on the show. They make it look easy, but, we have the hardest working cast on TV.”
Herrera and Daniels will have a lot play with in season two. The relationship between Tomas and Marcus will be tested.
Slater: One of the things that was important to us was to elevate Tomas to the point where he’s no longer sort of the bumbling apprentice. We didn’t want to do another season where Marcus was always right and Tomas was always wrong. We wanted to get them on the same footing and make Tomas sort of a full-fledged exorcist in his own right.
A source of conflict is Tomas’ ability to “take the fight to the demon directly.” It’s something that developed last season and will become a force that causes trouble this season.
Slater: It flies in the face of all the established Catholic dogma in terms of how an exorcism is supposed to work. And Marcus is someone who is all about the ritual and repetition and we do things by the book. And Tomas says, hey man, I’m a Lamborghini, I’ve gotta run, I’ve gotta go fast. We have this gift, why not use this? It’s really gonna drive a wedge between them. This season, one of the big important emotional themes is sort of the brotherhood between these two guys. And I think you’re going to see this issue specifically creating a real wedge between them as the series progresses.
The Exorcist returns with season two tomorrow night at 9/8c on FOX.
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