After the effective rebooting of The Omen series in the opening episode, Glen Mazzara and the writers needed to show the new direction that would justify this latest version of Damien Thorn’s saga lasting longer than the two hours of a movie reboot – and this episode introduces a number of threads and new characters, giving us some more insight into those around Damien, as well as charting the photojournalist’s own journey of discovery. There’s some necessary recapitulation of the movie – scenes from Guildford Cathedral and in the gardens of Pyrford Court, as well as the appearance of Billie Whitelaw’s nanny – but we also learn more about Damien’s “protected” life up to now.
The cinematography and Bear McCreary’s music add to the mounting tension throughout the episode, and while the promos say that Damien’s secret is out, it’s only to an extent that’s true. It’s not in the way that The Final Conflict had it, with Damien in a position of power. It’s more that he’s recognised by people living on the street, those who are dispossessed and in physical torment… as well as by those working for the Church, who use the only dagger of Meggido that they possess (or at least that’s my reading of the line) to try to kill him. And he’s got his own mega-groupie in the form of Ann Rutledge, with Barbara Hershey walking the fine line between allowing the intrinsic melodrama of the role to come through and going over the top. I think we’re meant to infer that she’s the latest in the line of Mrs Blaylocks – but I’m almost hoping that there’s more to her than that, and it’s a long game that the Church has been playing.
We also get an unusual pre-credit sequence which might make you think you’ve accidentally switched over to Fox’s new Exorcist pilot – it plays off similar tropes and suggests a potential way of dealing with Damien that I don’t recall happening before… And if you’re going to exorcise a devil out of someone, you might as well go for the biggest of the lot!
Verdict: An effective continuation. 8/10