I walked into Damien mostly blind, and I’m glad I did.
Having been a huge fan of the original The Omen film, I have since been skeptical of additions to the series (including its 2006 film remake) because there is always something that sparked in the original that you’re constantly seeking in its successors.
So I decided to take a different approach and not do extensive research or peek into more than, “this show follows Damien Thorn in his adult years,” because I wanted to view without any more bias than I already was going to have.
We’re introduced to Damien (portrayed by Merlin BBC‘s Bradley James) in a beautiful scene, paired with muted colors to perfectly fit the atmosphere as he struggles to enter a church and question what he has done to ‘incur the wrath’ of the messiah.
It should be noted that throughout the entire episode, the cinematography is top-notch. Every mood is set with appropriate colors, lighting, music, etcetera. This is something I find particularly inspiring in Glen Mazzara‘s work in general, and I was not disappointed.
Soon after, we find ourselves backtracking three days to war-torn Damascus, where Damien is in the thick of his job as a war photographer. It’s also his 30th birthday, which he has the luck to celebrate while dodging Syrian military trying to deport foreign journalists.
Amongst Damien’s colleagues we’re introduced to are Amani Golkar (Omid Abtahi) presumably a close friend of Damien’s and one that gives us insight to some of his characteristics – his recklessness. We see Damien hustle and skip through danger to snap shots during the melee in front of him.
In addition, we also meet Kelly Baptiste (Tiffany Hines), a former love interest of Damien’s, but it is evident early on that it did not end in the best way. He later tells Kelly, “I know we had something,” leading me to believe that Damien ended the relationship himself and perhaps we will find out why.
I also found it particularly interesting how he is willing to jump into the dangers of his work, but pushes others away. This gave me the impression he doesn’t want to form close bonds, and in addition, is not very worried about his own well-being.
If the dark cloud analogy wasn’t unsettling enough, we are also met with a woman named Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) who introduces herself to Damien as, “being in the protection business.” She has an unusual amount of knowledge of Damien’s past and claims to have been watching over him since he was young. Could she be the physical representation of this dark cloud hovering over Damien?
Compelling from start to end, and there are plenty of unexpected moments, twists and turns, and just damn good television to been seen in the first episode.
I particularly applaud the performances of James, whose scene in the church where he curses the giant marble effigy of Christ was absolutely chilling. To add, Hershey’s character introduction was brilliant, leaving you with many questions – the kind that keep you on board a show almost immediately.
The premiere of Damien is a wonderfully paced re-introduction to a character we all know, but now are able to form an attachment with as we see where his fate takes him in his adult age. I am looking forward to seeing Damien’s path as it is opened in front of him!
Damien airs Mondays at 10/9C on A&E and is presented by showrunner Glen Mazzara of The Walking Dead fame.