Wednesday, September 29, 2021

REVIEW: 'Midnight Mass' - Riley Questions Father Paul's Guidance While Helping Erin Mourn a Loss in 'Book IV: Lamentations'

Netflix's Midnight Mass - Episode 1.04 "Book IV: Lamentations"

Erin turns to Riley after receiving upsetting news. Father Paul starts experiencing disturbing side effects. Bev makes a startling discovery.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Midnight Mass.

"Book IV: Lamentations" was written by 
Mike Flanagan & Dani Parker and directed by Mike Flanagan

How dare someone question the will of God? That's the self-righteous attitude that permeates throughout Crockett Island. People look around their community and see nothing but miracles. Leeza has regained the ability to walk. Mildred's dementia has disappeared and her body has strengthened once more. Ed and Annie feel healthier and more exuberant than ever before. Even Father Paul has been resurrected. He died and was brought back to life. That played out when he wandered into the cavern in Israel and emerged as a younger man. It has happened once more when he collapsed in front of Bev, Wade, Dolly and Sturge. But all this talk of the miraculous is really just a way to rationalize what cannot be explained. Those doubts are sincere. They are mocked and shamed though. Any wavering support is used as a weapon to diminish one's standing in this community. Sheriff Hassan hates to see his son go off to mass. He believes they already have a satisfying and full relationship with God in their religion. He sees how this community behaves regarding their faith. It's one built on animosity and division. And yet, Ali is curious. He wants to see what is sweeping the island. In fact, it's an ill-fated decision on Father Paul's part to spread his angelic blessings with his flock. He sees this creature as his savior. It has brought him closer to God. They came together to deliver this miracle far and wide. Father Paul has essentially been poisoning his parishioners with the blood of a vampire. While it has healed some of their bodies to perfection, it has also delivered some devastating news. Erin has lost her baby. Even more damning, no evidence exists anymore that she was even pregnant. It's just not medically possible for her body to rebound and heal itself as quickly as all of this would suggest. This baby saved her life. It set her free of a pattern that offered her nothing but dissatisfaction and despair. She was filled with hope. It was an inspiration. And now, she will never meet her daughter. She will never have the chance to watch her grow up. People suggest that it's all according to God's plan. He works in mysterious ways that humans can't possibly understand. That's what faith is all about. It's in trusting that higher power. But this loss can be attributed to the failings of man. Erin was harmed by people whose beliefs have been warped into destructive actions. They are all powerless to stop it now as well. Riley wants his family to be careful. He has clear eyes and a level head because he is inherently skeptical of religion. Of course, he appreciates the AA meetings with Father Paul. That has provided him with meaningful perspective. Erin has helped revitalized his sense of purpose too. In fact, grace and dignity is fully welcomed into his world as Ed admits to his own feelings of resentment and hatred. The family is growing closer. But it's all disrupted by Riley knowing Father Paul is a liar. Others in this community know that Father Paul has deceived them. When they confront that reality though, they only wish to see it as miraculous. It's a gift that has been bestowed upon him. As such, it needs to be rationalized why he killed Joe. In that moment, he was driven solely be temptation. He is in the midst of his own transformation into a vampire. Those side effects are becoming more real and damaging. Bev stands loyally by his side. She plots to hide of and dispose the body. She rises to the occasion when this presents as something that should question her faith. She never falters. Riley already had that concern. It doesn't make it any less majestic when he details his thoughts on what happens when we die. It's actually quite beautiful listening to him and Erin discuss that subject. It could all be too sensitive and raw. The show is in your face with the topic though. It has to force this conversation because it's meaningful for the lives these characters seek out. They are brought together as a community through organized religion. That has long brought them value. It's how they process what is and isn't possible in this world. And yet, a vampire has invaded. Father Paul has become indebted to this false idol. That too is a major betrayal of a key commandment. As such, this display of faith is no longer in keeping with the religion. It's all in service to something else. That something has a bloodlust. That sickness has consumed this community without many realizing it. Again, Riley warns his family. He doesn't have some key insight. He just knows that Father Paul lied. He seeks to examine that further. It's presented as a choice. He has two paths to explore at this particular moment. He opts to confront Father Paul. Instead, he sees the truth in all its horror that lurks behind the curtain and becomes the latest victim. That too is sure to incite even more violence in this community while revealing the peace and miraculous need to believe as nothing more than a fallacy that blinded nearly everyone.