Picking up right where we left off last week, little Joshua is still carrying the marks of his exorcism. Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) is rabble-rousing his congregation. Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is putting his life back together: cleaning the house, getting the water turned back on, wrapping a present for his daughter's seventh birthday.
But the trauma of the past is ever-present and insidious. The scars on the walls only mirror the scars of the mind. A tooth under the stove can trigger all sorts of unpleasant memories.
(Jiminy Christmas, that was a terrible little beat. How Kyle can live in a house permeated by such fear and pain, where the physical marks of his experience abound, where a bloody human tooth can still be lying under the stove, is hard to stomach. I probably would have put a torch to the place years ago; but I digress.)
What's worse—having your mother attack you in a violent fit of rage? Or, remembering how loving and kind she was before that dark day?
Despite what happened, Kyle still feels obligated to his mother. Now in a catatonic state at a rest home, Sarah Barnes (Julia Crockett) has never recovered from that fateful day. When Kyle visits her and is displeased with the condition of her care, he bends the law again by taking her out of the facility without warning.
(It's not hard to imagine the thoughts running through neighbor Norville’s (Willie C. Carpenter) head when he sees Kyle carrying a limp woman into his house. Given his past brushes with the law and brother-in-law Mark’s (David Denman) antipathy towards him, our hero's lucky the cops weren't immediately on the scene.)
But, it shows just how loving Kyle really is: he's willing to bring his mother back into their home, after she very nearly killed him, and is fully prepared to spoon-feed her if necessary. Plenty would worry about a repeat of past events, but Kyle carries so much guilt over what happened that he's willing to risk it.
When Reverend Anderson—who seems rather grateful for the interruption, a little discomforted by the attentions of one of his congregation—arrives to council his new comrade, Kyle insists there has to be something more they can do.
If Joshua can be a normal boy again following his possession, why is his mother still comatose? Perhaps something is still lurking within her; perhaps the exorcism wasn't finished properly.
Meanwhile, Police Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) and Mark are visited by an irate farmer. Someone's been butchering raccoons and stringing them up around his property, nailing them to trees and posing them in an obscene parody of the Crucifixion.
That's always a good sign.
When the two investigate, they find a suspicious, seemingly abandoned trailer that could be ripped straight from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Chief is quick to dismiss the blood and claw marks inside as the work of animals, but Mark isn't so sure.
He may be unfairly prejudiced against his brother-in-law, but Mark's observant, I'll give him that. The question now is: whose trailer is it? Who the hell was being locked up inside it?
It seems obvious that there's some connection between the empty trailer in the middle of the woods and the crucified animals, and I'm sure this subplot won't end with a good old-fashioned campfire sing-a-long of “Kumbayah” with s'mores.
Back at Kyle's, his attempts to snap his mother from her state are to no avail, and the good Reverend calmly talks him down, convincing him to return her to the rest home where she can have round-the-clock care.
This episode seems to have been a quiet one—especially compared to the bloody, inhuman violence of the premiere. But in the closing minutes, we're given a double-whammy.
First: Brent Spiner (best known as lovable android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) re-appears. In the opening scene, he was sitting in the back pew of Anderson's congregation, looking like your typical Southern fire-and-brimstone type, dressed all in black.
But now, he sits by Sarah's side in a way that more devilish than devout. He knows her of old. He knows how hard she fought to protect her son. But, he says with a smile, it was all for naught: “they have him anyway.”
Ooookay, Creepy Preacher Man. Who is this “they” you speak for? Is this where a nefarious cult steps onto the stage? Is Kyle a part of some evil prophecy, a key to unleashing darkness?
Then, we see the true ending of Kyle and Sarah's fight all those years ago: Sarah spewing out black sludge just as Joshua did last week, before the sludge strangles the near-unconscious Kyle.
That's a detail our hero doesn't remember.
And, it's a question we've yet to get an answer to: what the hell? Was Kyle killed that day, then brought back to life somehow? He remembers waking up and staring at his comatose mother when Reverend Anderson burst in, when the ambulance carted her away, but is that memory true?
How does this piece fit into the puzzle that is Kyle's life?
This episode may have been a quiet breather compared to last week's—a lull in the onslaught of madness—but it was still plenty unsettling. Now that a few more layers of background have been laid down, we'll have to see where the plot takes us next Friday.
Images via Cinemax
Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.