(SPOILERS) The ‘Gay’ Exorcist in The Exorcist – Episode Eight: “The Griefbearers”
by Oki Covarrubias
Gay characters are nothing new to popular TV shows, including modern horror shows that have gained popularity these past few years. Almost every season of American Horror Story features a gay character and even The Walking Dead introduced one to the cast in season five. Of all of the current TV shows, I never expected The Exorcist to feature any LBGTQ characters; it’s certainly a topic that quite a few religious people refuse to acknowledge, and if they do it’s usually from a negative standpoint. It was hinted early on that one of the characters from the show, Katherine Rance (Brianne Howey), was in a same-sex relationship before all of the spooky stuff started happening to her family, but another character’s sexual preference was made very clear in the eighth episode so, assuming that the show does get a second season, this could mean that a new gay character will be in the spotlight.
When The Exorcist TV show was first announced, many fans were extremely skeptical. Remakes and reboots have been the hottest trend for quite some time, but very few of those titles have been able to satisfy hardcore fans. With The Exorcist, you’re not just writing a show based on a classic horror film, you’re writing a show based on what some consider “the scariest film ever made”. The show’s creator, Jeremy Slater, definitely must have felt the pressure. The online horror community can be quite vocal about their negative opinions on projects based on already existing work, but after months of constant online complaints, we are now on the 9th episode of the series, and it has been met with mostly positive reviews. It currently has a 77 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Certified fresh!
It’s impossible to honor the original film’s disturbing imagery and vulgar language for a television show that airs on network TV, but there is plenty to enjoy in the show, especially the callbacks to events that occurred in the original. The show does manage to get away with a lot more, not unlike Sam Raimi’s ‘Drag Me To Hell‘, which surprisingly got away with a PG-13 rating. The show has earned the approval of a lot of fans, many of whom claim it to be highly underrated within the horror community, but it some skeptics remain. With this latest episode, the fan base might expand even wider.
Beware, there will be minor spoilers. Towards the end of “Chapter Eight: The Griefbearers,” we were shown a scene in which Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) and Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) are having drinks at a bar to celebrate their supposed victory while Joanna Conner, a Chicago-based blues guitarist, performs one of her songs onstage. Father Tomas exits the scene after a short exchange, leaving Marcus alone in his seat with his beer, but he doesn’t go unnoticed. There is a shot of another gentleman eyeing Marcus from across the bar. It’s more than just your casual glance as he keeps his gaze locked on Marcus until he notices and they exchange a coquettish smile. Shortly after this moment, Marcus is distracted by something on the news that makes him realize that the battle against evil isn’t over yet. He quickly leaves the bar and the scene ends with the other man making his way to the spot that Marcus was sitting at, but arriving too late and looking terribly disappointed.
You may disagree, but I personally think it’s confirmed: Father Marcus is gay. It became apparent to me early on that this series isn’t about ‘an exorcism’ the way that the 1973 film was, it’s more about the character’s personal demons and how they’re coming to terms with them. I find it interesting that Marcus’ sexuality doesn’t seem to be the inner demon he faces, even though he’s a priest. In fact, he seems rather unapologetic when it comes to his personality. And although the church does not acknowledge his practice to the public, he continues to actively carry out his occupation in hopes of helping those who need it.
There is a lot going on in the show that I don’t think will be wrapped up in time for the season finale. There are only two episodes left in the season, and that’s most likely not enough time. However, Jeremy Slater has already begun to talk about season two and has confirmed that it would focus a lot of attention on Marcus and Father Tomas. He says that the characters who make it to season two will have “so much to tell the viewers”. If the series does get renewed for another season, I hope that this aspect of Father Marcus is explored as tastefully as it was hinted at. The LGBTQ community definitely needs a strong and charismatic gay character in pop culture to help break the stereotypes that exist and to inspire those who might connect with the character.
The Exorcist TV show will be taking a bit of a ‘Thanksgiving’ break and won’t return until December 9th with Chapter Nine: 162.
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