Book V: Gospel
Episode 5 of Midnight Mass begins with Riley’s family concerned that their son hasn’t returned home for two nights now. Erin too is concerned, checking her phone and texting him. Of course, all of this is in vain.
Meanwhile, Mildred seems to be de-aging given she’s lighter on her feet and has picked out a new outfit for herself too. Sarah is understandably shocked and tries to explain this. With Mass cancelled, the townsfolk are just as shocked when they notice Millie up and about again.
With Joe missing, Hassan begins to do the rounds, trying to find out what’s happened to him. Erin only compounds his worries further, admitting that Riley has gone missing too. Erin admits that they were talking about death several days prior, something that’s made worse by Erin’s miscarriage.
This is obviously a line of questioning designed to try and see if Riley was suicidal or not. Right now – given Riley appears to be dead – this much seems to ring true.
The congregation goes ahead that night, with Father Paul standing up and discussing God’s army and the meaning of Good Friday. He promises that they’re going to do good things, as Mass ends and Millie walks away. She’s shocked by the words being spoken and demands Sarah not go back. “That’s not my church. That’s not the man I knew.” She says, horrified.
Meanwhile, Riley returns absolutely fine to Erin’s house that evening. He wants to go for a boat ride, encouraging her to join him. As the moon shines down, glistening like diamonds on the water, Riley discusses what happened to him.
We then cut back in time to the moments just after the demon seemed to slaughter him. Paul inexplicably manages to unsnap Riley’s neck, bringing the man back to life. He admits that death doesn’t have to be part of him anymore, encouraging Riley to take a seat. Now, it seems like he’s suffering from the same affliction as Paul.
Paul and Riley sit together, with the former revealing just what’s happening. He unveils that he’s actually Pruitt, only younger, and asks for forgiveness regarding the lie he told about Joe’s sister. Paul continues on, claiming that Joe Collie has “gone home.” Riley realizes he’s been killed but is taken aback when he learns the creature in the room was actually an angel.
Riley was apparently brought back for a reason and Paul urges him to seek courage and embrace why he’s there. Bev has fully embraced this too, working with Paul to do “God’s will”. As Paul continues to spill his words, he tries to convince Riley that what’s happening is a blessing and he should embrace it.
As Riley heads home (catching us up to the moments at Erin’s house) Bev worries that he’s not a reliable vessel.
Now, Riley has taken Erin out into the middle of the water so he has nowhere else to go. Riley wants to go to the mainland and admits he’s loved Erin his whole life. As the sun rises, he sees the girl he killed as she used to be and holds her hand. Only, all of this is a vision as Riley burns and fades from this world.
The Episode Review
Shades of Saint Maud bleed through this episode but unlike that creepy horror, there’s not very much here that’s atmospheric, creepy or particularly scary. Instead, this religious drama continues to weave its ideas of spirituality through Riley and Paul.
Both have been stark contrasts to one another in a way, but beyond the thematic ideas there really hasn’t been a lot of substance to this show. In fact, now that they’ve killed off the main character, it shifts the focus across to Erin instead who isn’t quite as compelling as Riley. That’s a problem too, given the show has not been shy about putting Riley in the spotlight for large swathes of the run-time.
Still, the conclusion hints that we’re going to get a very different flavour of drama (not horror because y’know, it has to be scary to be a horror) from now on, so we’ll have to wait and se how that plays out. For now though ,Midnight Mass has been a pretty tepid affair.