Midnight Mass: Who is Father Paul Hill?

September 24, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix
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Midnight Mass: Who is Father Paul Hill contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.


Who is Father Paul Hill? It’s a difficult question to answer. Throughout Midnight Mass, he’s many things to many people. For one thing, he’s Hamish Linklater, doing the very best work of his career. But he’s also a devout holy man, a miracle worker, a lover, a father, and a vessel for something terrible. Eventually, we learn that he’s really someone else. But he’s very much the centre of a show teeming with complex themes, ideas, and narratives; he brings about the terrible events that unfold throughout the season, and he’s intimately tied to the fates of several characters. So, let’s explore his identity a bit more thoroughly. As stated above, the following will contain massive plot spoilers for virtually the entirety of Midnight Mass.

What is the connection between Father Paul Hill and Monsignor John Pruitt?

When we first meet Father Paul, he claims to be a humble preacher sent by the diocese to replace Crockett Island’s long-time priest Monsignor John Pruitt, who was last seen departing on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Through a lengthy confession, though, we learn the truth of the relationship between them, which sets in motion a sinister chain of events.

Nobody realized that Monsignor Pruitt was in the grip of dementia, and while on the road outside Damascus, he became confused and separated from his tour group. Lost in a sandstorm, he stumbled upon a cave in the dunes, and inside he discovered a winged creature that he believed to be an angel. The angel feasted on his blood, and when Monsignor Pruitt woke, he had regained his youth. He had become who we know as Father Paul Hill — a younger version of the same man.

Realizing the gift he had been given, and recognising it as a second chance, Father Paul returned to Crockett Island with the angel in the hopes of correcting what he deemed to be his life’s greatest mistake and ended up dooming the entire community.

What is the connection between Father Paul Hill and Mildred Gunning?

Celibacy is an important tenet of Catholicism, so when Monsignor Pruitt was leading the incredibly pious community of Crockett Island, his relationship with Mildred Gunning, who was married to another man, had to be kept a secret. They had a child together, Sarah, who grew up to be the town’s physician, but Monsignor Pruitt was never able to reveal who he was to her. They were never able to live as a family, as he wanted.

After being bled dry by the angel, his youth restored, Monsignor Pruitt returned to Crockett Island as Father Paul Hill in the hopes of saving Mildred, who had become old and begun to lose her faculties. He wanted her to receive the same gift from the angel as he had, and so he began allowing the community to drink from the sacrament during Mass. He even visited Mildred personally so she wouldn’t miss a Mass, and in the process, she became younger, her mind returning to her. She’s one of the few people in town who actually recognises Father Paul for who he really is.

Of course, Father Paul was misguided. Even though he’s able to tell Sarah who he is and that he loves and is proud of her, the damage that the angel’s blood has done to the community proves too catastrophic to undo. Even with a second chance, he still can’t unite his family as he wants.

How does Father Paul Hill die?

Of course, as the elderly Monsignor Pruitt, he dies when the angel first feeds on him. But he’s reborn as a young man and is able to continue almost as normal, though with regular doses of blood, until he finally keels over from lack of sustenance and dies again. However, he is once again revived, though this time with a deadly sensitivity to light and an even worse craving for blood. This is why Mass has to be held at midnight — it’s the only time he’s safe.

Father Paul dies for the third time in St. Patrick’s church when he and Bev Keane compel the townsfolk to commit suicide in order to be reborn, and Mildred herself shoots him in the head during the chaos. Of course, he once again reanimates. His final demise comes alongside Mildred. After he has told Sarah he loves her and Sturge has shot her, he attempts to feed her his blood in order to keep her alive. She refuses, though, and dies, so he and Mildred carry her to what has always been her favourite spot on the island, ever since childhood. There, Father Paul removes his clerical collar. He tells Mildred that he loves her, and the sun rises, turning both of them to ash.

You can stream Midnight Mass exclusively on Netflix.

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