Wednesday, September 29, 2021

REVIEW: 'Midnight Mass' - The Horrific Transformation of One Propels a Sacrifice of Love and Terror in 'Book V: Gospel'

Netflix's Midnight Mass - Episode 1.05 "Book V: Gospel"

Sheriff Hassan fields multiple missing persons reports as the town prepares to gather for Good Friday. To protect Erin, Riley brings the truth to light.

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 V: Gospel" was written by 
Mike Flanagan & James Flanagan and directed by Mike Flanagan

Father Paul is a servant of God. He has been called to spread his teachings throughout the world. That's the framework through which he sees every single detail of life. It's all God's beautiful and wondrous creatures. It all has a purpose. Monsignor Pruitt was lost and God led him to salvation. He endured a great pain and was rewarded for his devotion to the faith. He was chosen for a higher purpose. He has been tasked with this mission. All the references are in the Bible to further promote this reading as well. Bev can quote each specific passage that outlines how this moment has been God's will all along. Meanwhile, Riley is absolutely terrified. He was afraid the moment the creature attacked. He is angry that Father Paul proclaims to having no guilt after killing Joe. He is also jealous. Riley has long been pained by killing someone. Every night before he goes to sleep he sees his victim in the final moments of her life. It's a tragic, distraught image. One that evokes horror within his personal psyche. Riley has been committed to his path of sobriety. Jail did change his life. However, he returned home to Crockett Island. This place was never that special or significant to him. But now, it has become completely consequential. Some may only see the randomness of him walking in on Father Paul's monstrous secret. The angel struck because it was hungry. Father Paul feasted on the blood as well. And yet, more meaning is inscribed to this action. It's a symbol that Riley has been chosen. Bev is in fear because she can't control how Riley will react. She wants to keep him locked away in the recreational center. Father Paul advocates for free will. He believes Riley walks a similar path to him now. They both exist as the same creatures. They have each been chosen. It would be blasphemous for Riley to walk away from God's grace. Riley hasn't showcased that same devotion to faith though. He understands the religion. He can listen to the arguments and see how they all line up to explain what has happened to him. However, Father Paul's complete honesty is eye-opening in many ways. It reveals that this man has spread this grace throughout this community without their knowledge. And again, it's with the fundamental belief that he is doing good. The pain and suffering can only be seen as good upon knowing the beauty and grace that comes next. That's what drives a person's faith. They may not have all the answers. The mysteries of the world may continually persist. And yet, they surrender to a higher power knowing that it all means something in the end. Riley doubts that. He has his own version of peace and serenity upon death. And now, he is gifted with eternal life. He has been transformed. It's a sudden and jarring turn for him. It was painful for Father Paul as well. He has emerged on the other side stronger and more enlightened. The passion through which he delivers his sermons is more fiery than ever before. That scares Mildred though. She recognizes him as Monsignor Pruitt. She too is enlightened by the apparent miracle. She is eager to return to church and worship alongside her community. What she finds awaiting her resembles nothing of the faith that she has devoted her life to. She wants her daughter far away from that place. Sarah may not read too much into that. It may be her mother returning to the various episodes where she is confused by the world around her. But that reaction is still key. Riley experiences part of that. He sees the world through a new lens. He does drink blood in order to fulfill himself. He also actively avoids that temptation. In the end, he chooses not to share in this chaos. He opts not to spread it. He warns the person he loves. He traumatizes Erin as well. He bursts into flames right in front of her. In that final moment, it's him living out the dream that has continually haunted him. He gets to share that moment with someone. He doesn't seek to harm her. He expresses himself as best he can. Erin was previously afraid for his well-being. She feared that his normal presentation only made it more likely that he was determined to die from suicide. That's the context many in this town are willing to understand and cope with right now. The supernatural can't be denied though. It takes a large portion of the episode for Riley to understand it all. It's still traumatic and terrifying. Religion can't serve as a vessel for this destruction to spread. It doesn't matter that peace and salvation have come to town either. Riley has clarity despite this being the end of his journey. It saddens him because it cuts short all of the potential the future held. He was once aimless. He had to take life one day at a time. Each day he needed purpose. Erin and his family provided him with that. It was joyous. He didn't need some magical cure to fix his woes. He was chosen and leaves with the ultimate consequences. It's up to others to carry his legacy forward. He needs Erin to run. He needs to protect her. He kept his family in their peaceful slumber. They have all changed though. The ranks in support of this monstrosity are only growing in their devotion too. It's all lyrical and provocative while still being romantic and yearning for greater understanding. Loss unites. Belief does too. Riley sacrifices his life while Father Paul's army grows more emboldened.