Book 1: Genesis
Episode 1 of Midnight Mass begins with police and paramedics arriving at the scene of an accident. The driver responsible for this is Riley, who fell asleep at the wheel and finds himself put behind bars. Serving 4 years and forced to pay over $104,000 to the victim’s family, Riley ends up seeing horrific visions of this girl while in prison.
Four years pass and we jump over to Crockett Island where our tale properly begins. Riley’s family includes mum Annie and Riley’s younger brother, Warren. Out on his bike, Warren heads down to the docks with Ali and Ooker, his two friends.
They meet a guy called Bowl (yes, that is apparently his actual name) to score some drugs. Sporting a canoe that’s been patched up, they row across to an island just off the mainland.
This place is packed full of stray cats, with eerie yellow eyes dancing in the bushes. Only, these eyes don’t seem to belong to a cat, especially when Warren shines the flashlight in that general direction and sees the outline of… something. It’s a brief glimmer but enough to unnerve the kids.
Speaking of unnerving, Riley finally arrives back home, where Annie shows to give him a warm welcome. As they walk through town back home, it’s clear that everyone else is more than a little cautious around him.
One of those includes sheriff Hassan, who watches him suspiciously as he passes. Now, Hassan has a regular lock-up in Joe, the resident drunk. It’s certainly not his first rodeo and it’s clear Hassan is expecting Joe back sooner rather than later.
Riley has missed a lot and one of the more pressing concerns falls to Erin Greene, the daughter of his old school-teacher in town. Riley has a soft spot for her but his heart sinks when he learns that she’s pregnant.
Back home, Riley decides not to attend church anymore. He’s lost his faith in God and has decided to go his own path. His father loses patience though and lashes out, demanding that he show up at church no matter what, as a “condition of his parole.”
Well, another condition of his parole – and a constant haunting – is that dead girl showing up at the foot of his bed. It’s a regular Flanagan motif, seen in both Bly Manor and Hill House. It’s still just as unnerving here too.
The townsfolk gather together the next day as a new pastor arrives for the service, Paul Hill. He’s filling in for the usual monsignor, Pruitt, who’s fallen ill while off on his trip to the mainland. Random residents step up to say hi to him after, with Paul immediately sensing that Riley isn’t a complete believer. “We can work with that,” He says.
However, Erin shows up and the pair talk in private. Erin has been in New York but also traveling all over America. As the pair walk together, the laugh and admit that they never return but yet here they are, back on Crockett Island. Or, the “Crock Pot” as some residents have called it.
Riley though admits he feels purposeless, stuck in the perpetual flow of time without knowing what to do next with his life. Erin suggests he ride out the storm that’ due to hit the community and wait for what arrives tomorrow. As she apologizes to him for what’s transpired, Erin heads home.
The storm batters the community and as Riley checks out the window, he notices a figure running up the beach. He believes it’s Monsignor Pruitt and chases the figure up the beach. As lightning crackles overhead, the figure seems to vanish. Was it all just one big vision?
When the clouds pass and the sun comes out, Riley and his family head down to the beach where they find seagulls swarming. All those stray cats from the island have washed up on shore with broken necks.
The Episode Review
Midnight Mass gets things off to a suitably eerie start, and for cat lovers everywhere this is going to be a difficult opener to watch. With all those strays killed and washed up ashore, it’s fair to say there’s something very sinister and deadly lurking out there. What could it be?
This slow burn opener does a pretty good job setting the tone and mood though, with echoes of Stephen King woven through this in the way the horrors of this small town are being kept at arm’s length. The stand-out moment though is definitely the segment from the island, with the boys being watched by something in the distance. That’s a great moment and let’s hope the rest of the season can follow suit.
Chilling and unsettling, this is exactly how horror should be but we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the show stacks up to see if the atmosphere maintains. With each episode boasting a run-time of over an hour, this story has only just begun.