The Horror Honeys: DAMIEN: Season 1, Episode 1 ~ “The Beast Rises”

DAMIEN: Season 1, Episode 1 ~ “The Beast Rises”

A Horror TV Honey Series Premiere Recap with Jennica

Recently, on Honey Radio when asked about my favorite portrayal of The Devil in cinema, I proclaimed my love of Sam Neill as Damien Thorn in The Final Conflict aka The Omen III. Without question, The Omen trilogy has remained high on my list of top satanic panic films, giving a unique take on the progression of the Antichrist from an infant not of human born to a powerful politician with a hidden agenda (sound familiar, ‘Murica?). In the end of The Final Conflict, good beats evil and peace is essentially restored to the earth, leaving little to no room for any sort of follow-up or spin-off. The Antichrist is defeated and God conquers all. Hooray, I guess. So, when the news first hit that there would be a Damien-centered television series, I was reluctant to tune in, given my knowledge of the trilogy and my lack of faith that the A&E TV network could do the little hellion justice. 

The series premiere of Damien aired on A&E on March 7th and currently, my initial feels about this show have hit the nail right on the cross. In a shaky way of forcing room for a full hour of Damien Thorn each week, the television series not only displays our favorite fallen angel as anything but powerful but we are expected to pretend that Damien: The Omen II and The Final Conflict have been wiped from our memories. Sorry, but no can do. 

Instead of being a hellraising politician in Washington D.C., the new millennial generation Damien Thorn, played by up and coming actor Bradley James (iZombie), is a photojournalist from New York City. The episode opens with Damien kneeling inside a church in front of a statue of Jesus Christ on the cross. He shouts at the statue “What did I ever do to you!?” 

Ever see Passion of the Christ? Yeahhhh... 
Flashing forward to the present, while in Damascus, Syria which is known as the “Christian Capital of the Old City,” Damien reunites with former ex-girlfriend and fellow photojournalist Kelly (Tiffany Hines) when a troop of armed forces surround the village where they are taking photographs to force an evacuation of all locals and deport all journalists back to the United States. Damien rushes to help stumbling villagers to their feet until one of them, an old woman, grabs him and says “Damien, I love you. It’s all for you.” 

Gripping him tightly as her eyes change in color and she utters these words, Damien’s mind is flooded with flashbacks from his demented childhood, of his birthday party and his governess exclaiming the same words as she jumps to her death. Before Damien has the chance to question the old woman and find out how a complete stranger could possibly know so much about his past that not even he could recall, she is gunned down by the military troop. Damien’s lady friend Kelly finds him in the crowd to tell him that she has paid a driver to take them to the refuge where the villagers are being held but Damien is captured by soldiers immediately after. As Kelly makes a getaway just in time, Damien is banned from Syria and transported back to New York.

"I'll swallow your soul!"
Back in New York and still fixated on his encounter with the old woman and her final words to him as if she had known him for years, Damien calls Kelly to ask her to find out anything she possibly can about the old woman and where she could have received such personal information. Meanwhile, Damien seeks the assistance of an old friend of friend of his and has a run-in with someone from his blurry childhood who he does not remember… but who remembers him quite fondly. Played by horror icon Barbara Hershey (The Entity, Insidious), Ann Rutledge claims that she has been watching Damien for many years and that her duty is to keep an eye on subjects of interest. Judging from her mannerisms and in-depth knowledge of Damien’s life, it seems to be implied that Ann Rutledge is Mrs. Baylock incarnate. 

Returning to New York with a potential lead on gaining information on Damien’s childhood, Kelly meets with Damien to tell him of the series of deaths in England and Israel that followed his birth. Kelly has tracked down a colleague of the Israeli priest who attempted to help Damien’s father murder him. Damien and Kelly go to question the man about Damien’s childhood and shortly after they part ways, the man is conveniently and brutally attacked and left for dead by a pack of demon dogs. Feeling responsible for the elderly man’s death, Damien orders Kelly to keep her distance out of fear that she could be next. Kelly flees from Damien but she only gets so far until her car begins to lose control and she slides into a giant muddy puddle of doom to her death. 

With two deaths pointing to Damien, the opening scene is now repeated with Damien on his knees begging for answers from a statue of Christ. Angered by the mute statue and his own confusing identity, the statue crumbles to the ground right before his eyes. Rushing out of the church, Damien finds what he has spent the last forty minutes of the episode looking for: the old woman from Syria. He grasps her arms as she did his in Syria and begs for answers but all she does is grab a handful of his hair. The next time Damien looks in the mirror, he discovers an unfamiliar mark upon his head in the area from which the old woman pulled out his hair. It is the mark of the beast, 666.

Well, that explains why I don't feel so good... 
Will Damien learn to embrace his devilish side? Will we accept the gospel of Damien into our eyeholes each week?