Midnight Mass season 1, episode 3 recap – “Book III: Proverbs”

September 24, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Recaps
4

Summary

“Book III: Proverbs” shakes things up with a big twist as secrets are revealed and something otherwordly makes its presence felt.

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4

Summary

“Book III: Proverbs” shakes things up with a big twist as secrets are revealed and something otherwordly makes its presence felt.

This recap of Midnight Mass season 1, episode 3, “Book III: Proverbs”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.


The implications that Father Paul has something to hide haven’t exactly been subtle throughout the first two episodes of Midnight Mass, but in “Book III: Proverbs”, he admits it outright. He does so in confession, mind, which isn’t always the same thing as unburdening oneself, depending on who’s listening in. Father Paul appears to be speaking to nobody but himself when he confesses to being about to sin; about to lie to the people of Crockett Island about Pruitt. Apparently, he was much sicker when he departed for his Holy Land pilgrimage than anyone realized. Dementia was gripping him tightly. “I’m going to tell them this lie for their benefit,” says Father Paul, “so that when it starts they’ll be ready for what’s to come.”

Midnight Mass season 1, episode 3 recap

One assumes that Father Paul’s seemingly miraculous healing of Leeza is the beginning of something. It’s certainly the beginning of a downturn in Father Paul’s health; he’s immediately wracked by pain after performing the miracle and coughs blood in the bathroom sink. But Leeza really does seem healed. Shortly after, a line of people shows up outside St. Patrick’s hoping for their own ailments to be magically dispelled, but Bev has to tell them it doesn’t quite work like that.

Besides, minor miracles seem to be happening everywhere. After Sarah provides Leeza with a cane and advises her to seek an assessment on the mainland that her quietly broke parents quickly reject, she finds Mildred upstairs in her old room, apparently feeling a bit more spritely than usual. Ed and Annie Flynn share a dance; the former’s back doesn’t seem to be troubling him, and the latter can see without her glasses. In his AA meeting with Father Paul, Riley insists there must be a rational explanation for what happened, but how can there be?

Between Ed and Annie, Warren and Leeza, and Riley and Erin, it seems like love is in the air. For once, things seem to be picking up. Father Paul gives another charismatic sermon about God’s plentiful mysteries, but he looks visibly unwell and eventually collapses, returning us to his confession. This time, he explains how Pruitt wandered from his tour group for the last time on the road outside Damascus, where Saul was blinded. A storm enveloped him, and through the swirling sands, Pruitt saw a darkness in the dunes, perhaps the mouth of a cave. He entered. Suddenly, a bright light interrupts the tale — Sarah is shining one in Father Paul’s eyes.

According to Sarah, Father Paul’s body is acting like it’s fighting a virus. Like everything on Crockett Island, the danger seems to be insidious and unseen. Bev is teaching the bible in the schoolrooms, which Hassan, and to a slightly lesser extent Erin, see as harmful indoctrination of the community’s children, the stripping away of their freedom of choice. But Bev is in the majority. When she says that the community is in the midst of a full-blown religious revival, and that context for it should be taught in schools, she gets a round of applause. And in a sense, she’s right, since Mildred seems to be steadily regaining her faculties, and Leeza remains well enough to walk to Joe Collie’s trailer and, in a powerful scene, forgive him for what he did to her. After telling him that she hates him, she also says that the only thing standing between him and a better life is him, and he breaks down in tears as she leaves.

Inspired by the experience, Joe attends the next AA meeting with Riley and Father Paul. And it helps him, even if only a little. As he and Riley leave Father Paul to spew blood, they discuss Joe’s sister, the only person who ever cared about him, who died recently and was buried on the mainland. She didn’t want to return to Crockett Island even in death, but Joe always stayed, denying himself the option to simply leave behind what he had done. Now, finally, he feels he knows what he might say to his sister after all this time, but the crushing realization is it’s too late. He and Riley shake hands — “Here’s to becoming different people.”

Hassan also gets a good scene in “Book III: Proverbs”, when Ali expresses an interest in attending St. Patrick’s. Ali is a Muslim, of course, but that decision, like all the major ones in his life thus far, was made for him. Ali is obviously compelled by the idea of miracles, but Hassan can’t allow himself to be. His wife died painfully of pancreatic cancer. If God was willing to dispense miracles, he would have to pick and choose who received them. Why Leeza, and not his wife? To him, God cannot work that way, because he if did, that would rattle his own faith. It’s a powerful monologue. When he turns off the lights, there’s a face in the window.

The episode ends with two things — Father Paul’s apparent death, and the end of his confession. After a violent convulsion and more blood foaming from his mouth, his eyes turn red and remain chillingly open. And just like that, we rejoin Pruitt lost in the ruins among the sand dunes, lighting a match for illumination, and seeing eyes blinking in the darkness. The match flickers out. When he relights it — oooh, tense! — there’s nothing there. It goes out again. He relights it. And this time, there’s a winged monster right in front of him. It tackles him and drinks his blood from the neck like a vampire. But Father Paul, whose confession is becoming a first-person one now, calls it an angel. It opens its wrist and Pruitt greedily drinks the blood from it. When he finally wakes up, he’s young again. He’s Father Paul. With his youth renewed, he returned to Crockett Island, believing the people there to need the angel the most. In the present day, Paul suddenly wakes, alive. Another miracle. As the episode closes, the camera lingers on a framed newspaper article that has been on the wall all along. It depicts a young John Pruitt, stood outside St. Patrick’s after recent renovations. It is, unmistakably, the man who called himself Father Paul. Nobody has noticed the resemblance yet. But it only seems like a matter of time.

You can stream Midnight Mass season 1, episode 3 exclusively on Netflix.

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