Psst, spoilers below!
Upon starting the three-year-long process of creating Damien‘s first season, Glen Mazzara told interviewers that people, “thought I was crazy to try something this intricate.” Well in this situation, crazy worked. Damien‘s season finale is a game-changer in presenting smart horror television in a thoughtful, but still shocking and scary manner!
Much occurred in the finale that was not horror-based, but there were still many terrifying scenes throughout. From the old lady who has been plaguing us for ten episodes to the young girl in the white dress appearing then suddenly disappearing on the swing – a moment Mazzara confessed, “scared the shit out of him,” to name a few. We also got shocking moments like Damien Thorn (Bradley James) causing several armed guards to all kill each other and then themselves in a tremendous show of power. To add, Shay supposedly running down his son Jacob only to find it was an illusion.
These jarring points reminded me as a viewer what genre of television I was watching while staying completely open for all the other huge themes that have been a part of Damien from the first shot. We’ve been given a show that takes horror seriously and uses it to enhance the experience, not to distract viewers from otherwise shoddy writing you may see elsewhere.
Damien also utilizes the theme of religion in such a seamless and inspired manner that it’s clear plenty of thought was put into incorporating it into the show. This is because of a genuine interest in religion and the effects of religion on others, as well as wanting to back away from the cynical approach religion is often given in Hollywood.
Within Damien, each character serves as an example of some aspect of religion or holiness, including Sister Greta (Robin Wiegert), who acts as a holy knight in trying to save humanity, Amani Golkar (Omid Abtahi) who is seemingly killed and buried alive and Detective James Shay (David Meunier), who suffers from many traumatic events after meeting Damien.
Amani is a martyr, possibly – we’re not sure whose hand is coming out of the grave, but he’s willing to give up his life for his friend. That’s really interesting! Look at the conversion of Detective Shay, look at the look in his eyes. So there are these personal moments that are religious.
The religious/supernatural themes are particularly strong by this final episode, such as highlighting Damien’s ability to will people to do what he wishes and resurrection. We also saw Simone Baptise‘s (Megalyn E.K.) character show strong allusions to Christ in several scenes, such as when she is tending to Damien’s wounds, washing his feet and being revived.
Simone’s presence as a religious player and strong female character by the finale is very impressive, because when we were first introduced to her it seemed as if she was there as a minor character to mourn the loss of her sister. Her part became so much bigger by the end as a symbol of good amongst all the bad. Even when confronted with Damien’s confession of killing Kelly Baptise (Tiffany Hines), she stood by and helped him. I asked about the Christ parallel with Simone and Mazzara offered more insight.
There’s a bit of a Christ figure for her, and very often Christ figures are only men, but the idea that she would be more compassionate — she doesn’t have an evil side, for the most part. We’ve played her as a force of good, and there’s a lot of evil in this particular episode.
We also saw Ann Rutledge‘s (Barbara Hershey) character go through quite a bit of turmoil throughout the final episode. She mourned the loss of her daughter and confronted Sister Greta, whom she blamed for her death. Within this time, we see Ann clearly profess her alliance with Satan and in the same vein attempt to stop John Lyons from making the fatal call to shoot Amani.
There is a struggle during the entire season for Ann as she begins to see her decisions are pushing Damien away instead of bringing him closer to her. We eventually saw a shift in Ann where her choices become more for Damien and less for the antichrist, which is the opposite of John Lyons‘ (Scott Wilson) behavior throughout the whole process. Mazzara spoke more of Ann and Barbara Hershey’s portrayal.
Ann Ruthledge goes through an arc in which she is surprisingly humanized by her experience with Damien. We just think when we meet her, “Oh she’s just gonna be a Machievilli powerbroker,” and look at the intricate work that Barbara did throughout the season in which she has many emotionally compelling, heartbreaking scenes.
Even down to the penultimate episode, The Devil You Know, while viewers could recognize that Damien was in possession of powers he couldn’t explain or fully control, he still was quite human and exhibited tons of emotional discord. These were conscious efforts by both Mazzara and his team in writing and James in his portrayal. In Mazzara’s words, he states, “I wanted that humanity there.”
I think that a lot of people were expecting that he was just gonna be this type of demigod. That he was just gonna be all evil and committed, and I wanted to see that struggle because I think a good horror film always keeps the audience guessing as to what’s really going on and guess as to — you know, what’s real? What’s not real? What’s supernatural? What’s not?
In the final scene of the finale, we see something in Damien break after he is washed in Simone’s blood. There is a transformation in Damien’s entire disposition – from a full emotional breakdown to eventually cursing at the sky in latin and spilling blood from the “666” birthmark on his head. This miraculously revives Simone, causing everyone surrounding him to see his true self and fall to their knees in a powerful show of allegiance to the antichrist.
What we’ve seen by the end of the finale is merely the beginning of the end so to speak. However, it is unclear how the actual apocalypse will go down. As mentioned by Ann when she’s speaking to John Lyons she senses they are on the ‘eve of his ascension,’ but no further details as to what impact that will have on Damien, his followers, or the rest of the world are shared. Mazzara emphasizes said point as well.
She (Ann) can feel that things are progressing to where he will come into his own and she wants that! She wants to be first among his worshippers. If Damien is the antichrist, she’s a Mother Mary figure. Where she cares about him as a son, but she realizes that he belongs to history. He belongs to the world, he belongs to other powers.
It’s clear that Damien has been set up to further the story of Thorn becoming the true antichrist. He’s made this Faustian bargain and it does leave so many questions for viewers! When asked if he had plans for a second season, Mazzara responded.
To be perfectly honest, yes – I knew how this was going to lay out for the most part. I knew the emotional journey, and I actually have some episodes that I’m very interested in writing; some very specific episodes.
Fantastic news for fans who are still looking for answers opened up throughout the course of the series, and especially those opened right at the end of the first season! To add, hearing Mazzara has these ideas already fleshed out is a testament to how much this show is a literal brainchild that’s steadily growing.
Mazzara also stated with plenty of pride that he, “refuses to accept there won’t be a season two,” so here’s hoping that drive and the fans’ call for answers secure us another season of Damien!