“Book II: Psalms” continues to flesh out the characters and setting, but lives begin to be lost on Crockett Island just as it experiences a miracle.
This recap of Midnight Mass season 1, episode 2, “Book II: Psalms”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
One gets the sense that Crockett Island isn’t exactly immune to weird events, which Wade Scarborough quickly confirms to Sheriff Hassan — and the audience — in the opening of “Book II: Psalms”, as both comb a beach that is now full of dead cats. For a struggling, small community, though, weirdness can be tolerated. What matters is oil, money, industry — all things in scant supply these days. The cats can be moved, after all. The people are much more fixed in place, in more ways than one.
Midnight Mass season 1, episode 2 recap
This second episode is, like the first, mostly an excuse to flesh out the setting and the characters. Hassan believes that there being no blood either in the cats or on the beach means they were killed in the Uppards, further cementing that place as dangerous and mysterious. Riley attends an AA meeting on the mainland, as part of his parole terms. Leeza, the wheelchair-bound daughter of Wade and Dolly Scarborough, bonds with Father Paul and shares a stare with Joe Collie that implies a painful history between them.
Painful history seems to be everywhere. Bev and Erin share a chat about Windex that doubles as an attack on Erin’s hard-drinking late mother, who “never met a bottle she couldn’t empty,” at least at home. In the midst of all that pain, Father Paul seems like a breath of fresh air. He even goes to visit Sarah at home since he has heard her bedbound mother, Mildred, is very devout and wants to celebrate Mass with her in person. It’s a nice one-step-further gesture of a kind these people probably aren’t used to. There’s no wonder then, thanks to it being the start of Lent, St. Patrick’s is much fuller than usual. Father Paul takes the opportunity to deliver a charismatic sermon that moves everyone present to tears — even Riley, albeit at the urging of his mother, takes the blessing.
But worrying things never seem too far away. Riley’s vision of Pruitt, on the beach during the storm, begins to infiltrate his nightly dream of Tara-Beth. A pretty aerial shot swoops into a building, only implying bad things about its occupants. And at the local Easter Festival, Crock-Pot Luck, the music and food is ruined when Joe Collie’s dog, Pike, violently dies after eating a poisoned hotdog. Bev is the prime suspect since she has been putting rat poison down all over the place, but nobody much cares about Joe. As we learn during the festival, he and his drinking are responsible for Leeza’s paralysis. Like Hassan and Sarah, he’s one of the town’s outsiders. (Sarah is gay, which tends not to go down too well among the pious.)
You can always rely on outsiders, though, to pry open the cracks in a tight-knit community. Hassan later tells Joe that he isn’t wrong about Bev when he insists she killed Pike; the sheriff, at least, sees through the ruse, though he’s not the only one. After Father Paul offers to set up an AA chapter in the rec center to spare Riley the trip to the mainland, the two of them discuss how Bev encouraged the people of Crockett Island to take a settlement from the oil companies following the spill. Using religious rhetoric, she convinced them into tithing much of it, and since Pruitt was so ill at that point, it basically went into her pockets. She used it to build the very center they’re having the meeting in, but how much more did she keep? And even then, how much community standing did her supposedly altruistic efforts earn her?
The conversation between Riley and Father Paul is excellent; a layered, complex debate about how Riley lost his faith. His argument isn’t exactly uncommon — why would a supposedly benevolent God allow so much suffering, knowing that believers, in turn, allow suffering under the mistaken belief it has a divine purpose –but it’s well-argued and acted, if a little wordy. It also lays out both sides of the debate, though I don’t think we’d need Sheriff Hassan to figure out where it’s ultimately going to side.
Elsewhere, Monsignor Pruitt continues to be glimpsed through windows by Erin and Mildred, which only undermines Father Paul’s seemingly kindly manner. It also provides a couple of minor jump scares for a show that has been pretty light on them so far. But the real moment of horror comes when the town’s resident drug dealer, Bowl, is lured into a building by its door sagging enticingly open. This building is the one we saw the camera swoop into earlier, and when Bowl speaks, his voice is parrotted back to him from inside. Once he enters, some kind of monstrosity jumps on him from the corner, and the door closes.
But “Book II: Psalms” ends more positively. It ends, in fact, with a miracle, or at least what seems like one. In church the next day, Father Paul offers Leeza the body of Christ during Communion, but only if she gets up and walks for it. What seems like a cruel torment takes on a much different vibe when she does just that, seemingly cured of her paralysis.