The gloves come off in “Book VII: Revelation” for an explosive finale, but it’s the character work done in the early episodes that makes for such a poignant conclusion.
This recap of Midnight Mass season 1, episode 7, “Book VII: Revelation”, contains spoilers, including a discussion of the Midnight Mass ending. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
Most of Mike Flanagan’s long-form horror series could be described as slow-burns, and Midnight Mass fits that description perhaps most of all. But in the finale, “Book VII: Revelation”, the concept of burning is taken rather literally, as hungry flames engulf Crockett Island. It certainly feels like an ending — there’s more action, death, and destruction in this closing hour than there has been in the rest of the season combined. But it’s the early, patient character work done by the first few episodes that really pays off here, building to a poignant and mostly definitive conclusion that was worth the slightly overlong road to get here.
Midnight Mass season 1, episode 7 recap
Things begin with a moment of quiet, though. Mildred wakes up outside St. Patrick’s, younger-looking than ever but now revived and fundamentally altered by her encounter with the so-called angel, and heads back inside to find Father Paul, the bullet hole still in his head, sitting mournfully among the bloodstained walls and pews. She sits with him and when he asks if the angel hurt her, she confirms it did.
But there is plenty more hurt to come. The villagers, led by Bev Keane, are running riot through town, dragging people out of their houses and feasting on them. This is their interpretation of “spreading the gospel”. Erin postulates, correctly, that they’re planning on tearing through everyone on the island before hopping on boats to the mainland, to spread the contagion there. That’s why they had Sturge render the boats temporarily unusable, but didn’t completely sabotage them. They need them to leave. The survivors arm themselves — a revolver for Hassan, knives for everyone else — and outline a plan to get the kids to safety, but as they’re talking a Molotov cocktail flies suddenly through the window of Erin’s house, and the first fire of the finale begins.
Annie, is who skeptical of what can be achieved with the knives, offers to go outside as a distraction, since she’d “like a word with Bev Keane”. It’s a great moment with a tragic note since we know that Annie is unlikely to get through the encounter unscathed. But, as Erin and the kids escape through the back window, Annie finally tells Bev what she needs to hear — that she’s not a good person, not a hero, and that God doesn’t love her any more than He loves anyone else. It’s about time someone told Bev what was what. Having said her piece, Annie cuts her own throat, denying anyone the satisfaction of taking her out, and Bev lowers herself (literally) to the animalistic side she has always pretended to be above, sinking to her knees and drinking Annie’s blood.
Back at the church, a mournful Father Paul explains to Mildred that the reason he brought the angel back to Crockett Island was to stop her from dying — a selfish act born of love. Sarah is his daughter. Their relationship, though, had always been a secret. Mildred was married to another man, Sarah was born out of wedlock, and the Monsignor’s supposed celibacy was integral to his faith. They could never live as the family he always wanted them to. Father Paul believed that this second chance could have been their opportunity to do that; his opportunity to finally get to know his daughter. But this carnage isn’t what he wanted. He didn’t anticipate Bev Keane deciding to open the church doors and let the followers loose; to burn the entire island down, making St. Patrick’s the new ark, the only salvation in a great sea of fire. The “good citizens”, she declares, the faithful, will know where to go. She cannot separate piety from worth.
Leeza and Warren, meanwhile, stop off at Joe’s trailer, where the former, in a nice callback, takes the rifle mounted on his wall. Annie, newly reanimated, reunites with Ed, who was savaged and turned in the church during the initial scuffle, to buy the others time to escape. Both are covered in blood, but both assure the other that the blood is their own. They haven’t feasted on anyone. Ed explains he feels the hunger, the same as anyone, but hasn’t given into it. “Whatever this is, it doesn’t change who you are.”
To put out an oil fire, you start a bigger one next to it to suck out all the oxygen. “Book VII: Revelation” doesn’t follow quite the same logic, but it’s close. The kids set fire to the boats so that the angels’ followers cannot leave the island; a fire to save the mainland, just as the fire continues to destroy their homes. Shortly afterward, when they inadvertently take shelter in the angel’s lair, where it has been secretly feeding on people and animals, they start another fire. When the angel is feeding, it enters a trance-like state, unaware of almost everything. Leeza shoots it with Joe’s rifle and it barely reacts, so she douses it and the house in gasoline and sets the whole thing ablaze. The creature bursts from the house in flames and flies away.
All that remains untouched by the fire is St. Patrick’s and the rec center. Bev has kitted the latter out with beds, though not enough for everyone, and rings the bell to summon the islanders. As Paul laments what they’ve done, insisting they got it wrong and that it has to stop, Bev turns against him. Even the Monsignor isn’t devout enough for her. As her new flock begins to arrive, their yellow eyes winking in the darkness, many are horrified by what they’ve done. A father, Howie, wails that he killed his wife and kids, and Bev tells him that it was his own fault for not attending church enough. If he had, he’d have had the tools to save them. She turns him away in his darkest, weakest moment, but Father Paul overrules her. He says all are welcome in St. Patrick’s — if they weren’t, it wouldn’t be a house of God. When he enters the church, though, he finds Sarah preparing to burn it down, pouring fuel everywhere. In that moment, he sees his daughter and is able able to speak to her as such for the first time, just for a brief moment. He tells her he’s proud of her. That he loves her. And then Sturge shoots her.
Father Paul tackles Sturge, but Mildred stops him from strangling the man to death. Both reenter the church together, mother and father, and tend to their daughter together. Paul attempts to feed Sarah from his wrist, but she spits out the blood, knowing what accepting it would mean. On her own terms, she dies. Father Paul and Mildred carry her to her favorite spot on the island, but on the way out of the church, Mildred overturns a candle, setting it ablaze.
At the same time, Bev catches Hassan trying to burn down the rec center. She shoots him and, as she has throughout the entire series, torments him about being a terrorist. When Erin tries to finish the job, the angel swoops down and seizes her, beginning to feed. But all hope isn’t lost. Ali throws a lighter into the rec center, and the whole place, like the church and the rest of the island, catches fire. And while the angel feeds on Erin, she takes the knife she’s carrying and, while it’s distracted, clips its wings. That act of abuse she was forced to suffer in her childhood becomes an act of salvation. As she allows herself to be drained, she smiles knowing she has saved many more lives than just her own.
With its torn wings, the angel can’t fly to safety before the sunrise. As Erin dies, she returns to the conversation she had with Riley about what comes after death — in her monologue, she describes herself as energy, not self, as a part of everything, a drop of water returning to the ocean. She dies with a smile on her face. As Crockett Island burns, Ed and Annie begin to sing, and eventually, the entire down joins them. Hassan and Ali pray to the East, Father Paul removes his clerical collar and holds Mildred tightly, Bev tries to frantically dig a shelter in the ground, a coward even at the end, and Warren and Leeza row away, hopefully to safety. As the sun rises, Hassan dies of his injuries and all those who’re infected burn to ashes in the sunrise.
As Leeza and Warren hold hands in the little rowboat as the ash tumbles around them, she says she can’t feel her legs.