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TV Review: Damien 1.2 “Second Death”
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Damien
Season 1 Episode 2: “Second Death”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Mark L. Kruger
Created by Glen Mazzara
Starring Bradley James, Barbara Hershey, Megalyn EK, Omid Abtahi, Scott Wilson, David Meunier, Tiffany Hines, Sam Anderson
A&E
Air Date: Monday, March 14th, 2016, 10pm

Damien is based on Richard Donner’s 1976 horror classic about a wealthy family whose son is not what he seems. The film featured an Oscar winning score from Jerry Goldsmith and all time great actors including Oscar winner Gregory Peck and David Warner. The series, which debuted last week, introduces us to Damien Thorn age 30, celebrating his birthday in Damascus, Syria photographing the violence ravaging the city. He appears to be a totally normal guy. Looks can be deceiving.

“Damien I love you. It’s all for you!” Those are the words that trigger Damien Thorn’s memories of a childhood long since forgotten. Those words; spoken by a mysterious woman in the middle of a war-torn street, give Damien (Bradley James) visions of his birthday party when his nanny uttered the same phrase before leaping to her death with a noose wrapped around her neck. Desperately trying to figure out how a stranger in Syria knows his name, Damien and ex-girlfriend and current colleague Kelly (Tiffany Hines) find clues leading to a professor whose old teacher met with Damien’s father years back. Before the end of the premiere episode the professor and Kelly met mysterious ends. Damien is tormented by his visions, and seems to be aware of the ramifications and their meaning… that he is the Beast, the Antichrist.

SPOILERS below!

We open in Quillaipe, Chile at a rainy cemetery exorcism. The exorcist is called away to something urgent… Damien is back in New York, studying his photos and finding companion verses in the Book of Revelations. I love the use of photography as it captures the essence of the original film (all the omens were seen through Jennings the photographer’s pictures). As Damien prepares for Kelly’s funeral, the Church, aware of his impending rise, plots to kill him using the last of the Megiddo daggers (again, from the film). When the chosen killer, a war vet, tells the priest that he promised never to kill again, the priest responds,

“If you could have killed Hitler before he unleashed all his horrors on the world, would you?”

It’s the last line he ever says as he mysteriously dies seconds later leaving the possessor of the dagger frightened and on the run.

Kelly’s funeral forces Damien into a church, never his favorite place. As Kelly’s sister Simone (Megalyn E.K.) delivers the eulogy, Damien is sweating profusely and flashbacks to young Damien (Harvey Stephens) epic freakout in the car abound. Damien has an intense staredown with a stained glass rendering of Jesus before a bird flies straight through. Damien leaves sick and is comforted by Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey). She mocks the idea of people using “God’s will” as an answer for all unexplainable things.

Damien – “Not a believer?”

Rutledge – “In God? No, not a fan.”

Things are stranger when he receives a big check from her for all his war photos, but her receptionist claims to not know her until he reveals his name.

Walking off the funeral by taking photos of the homeless, Damien sees crazy creepy one-eyed girl who etches 666 in her window. Just then, Damien is attacked by the dagger wielding vet. They struggle as a cabbie dodges a certain rottweiler in the street and careens into the attempted murderer, killing him in graphic fashion, the dagger dropped into a drain. When police begin questioning him, you’ll never guess who shows up as his council. Back at his loft, Rutledge gives him some background and more exposition for viewers who aren’t fans of 70s satanic horror. She informs him of his adoption and promises more answers if he follows her. “Welcome home Damien.”

There were some things about this episode that I didn’t particularly love. I found Damien’s friend Amani (Omid Abtahi) really annoying, as he was too happy and making too many jokes for a guy at a funeral of a friend, and then it was weird as he hit on the deceased’s sister. Aside from that, though, like the premiere, I found myself getting goosebumps and looking around my living room nervously during the tense moments. The movie absolutely terrifies me and so far the show is right on course. That creepy one-eyed girl in the white dress! As such a devoted fan of the characters and history, I’m nervous how the show is perceived by those who don’t appreciate the film as much, and the reliance of the flashbacks and callbacks are often the scenes I find the most frightening. That said, I’m interested in where they go with the plot and next week Scott “Hershel from TWD” Wilson joins the cast. Coupled with Bates Motel, A&E has a chilling Monday night lineup for the foreseeable future.

Damien returns with a new episode next Monday night at 10:00pm EST on A&E.

Image Gallery

Videos

Damien: Second Death (S1, E2) Preview | Mondays 10/9c | A&E


Watch the official preview for Second Death (S1, E2) and make sure to tune-in Mondays 10/9c

Damien: Inside the Episode: The Seven Daggers of Megiddo (S1, E2) | A&E


Executive producer Glen Mazzara explains the origin of the Seven Daggers of Megiddo and their deadly purpose in the series in this web exclusive from Episode 2, “Second Death.”

Damien: On Holy Ground (S1, E2) | A&E


At Kelly’s funeral, Damien grows sicker and sicker, seemingly struggling with the religious imagery and holy church in this scene from Episode 2, “Second Death.”

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