- Mike Flanagan'
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Limited series: 7 episodes. Running time: c. 1 hour per episode
Director Mike Flanagan’s 7-part horror series is a bloody but fascinating tale of misplaced faith, heroism and sacrifice that provides plenty of food for thought and discussion, even if it fizzles out a bit with the director/writer’s pantheistic view over-riding the Christian faith of the story’s characters. I was intrigued that a Biblical book is used for the name of each episode.
The fictional Crockett Island, off the New England coast, is the site of St. Patrick’s Church, a small Catholic church attended by less than half of the 100 or so inhabitants eking out a living. Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), away in prison for four years for hitting and killing a young woman while drunk, walks off the ferry. He will be haunted in his dreams by the specter of the dead woman. His parents Ed (Henry Thomas) and Annie (Kate Siegel) welcome him back, though it is clear he is a broken man.
Also arriving on the ferry is the young priest Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater) who assures the St. Patrick’s members that their long-time serving priest Monsignor Pruitt will return. He just does not know when. The 80-year-old priest had gone on a two-week pilgrimage to the Holy land but had become seriously ill. The new priest has brought with him a large trunk from which emits a thumping sound. He also exudes a lively faith based on a gospel of love that will rekindle the faith of the islanders—especially when miracles start occurring at the services.
At the dock welcoming Fr. Paul is Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) who as housekeeper/assistant to Fr. Pruitt has been in charge of the building and the flock during Fr. Pruitt’s absence. She is pleased to have a priest so that Mass can be celebrated. The pious woman sees herself as the moral overseer of not just the flock, but the entire island. Not everyone is happy over her harsh oversight, no matter how much Scripture she quotes—and it’s a lot. We will see that her conception of the gospel is far darker than Fr. Hill’s. This will become very apparent when she disc overs the secret Fr. Hill has kept from the people.
Erin Greene (Kate Siegel), pregnant for 21 weeks and thus frequently seeing Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish), once was Riley Flynn’s lover. The two reconnect, each finding solace in the company of the other.
There are numerous other characters, all of them interesting. How some will be drawn together by the positive faith that Fr. Hill preaches, while others will remain skeptical, refusing to join the growing congregation who find their hope renewed in the church. As the episodes unfold, with signs that a malevolent force is at work (one example being the mysterious deaths of the hundreds of feral cats that have live in an isolated part of the island), the supernatural nature of the dark tale emerges.
I should at least mention two other characters because their Muslim faith is depicted in a positive way. The widowed Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) is shown praying regularly, and very concerned for his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) because the teenager wants to attend services at St. Patrick’s Church because of the revival taking place under Fr. Hill’s leadership.
Because of the amount of violence and street language involved, this series will not be to everyone’s liking. I doubt that a church group will want to deal with it, so no set of questions for this one. But the story is so well told and acted, and there is so much in it that stirs contemplation, I highly recommend the series. Approach it as a cautionary tale, in the light of Jesus’ warning above. Not all that appears to be good and wholesome really is. Jesus’ test of a person’s words were “by their fruits you will know them.” That certainly applies to Fr. Hill and St. Patrick’s Church!
For those wanting more than my bare-bones description, see the excellent detailed synopses of the episodes, at the site below:
No questions for this fascinating series.