Episode 2 – Damien

Episode 2

Episode 2 is better but not quite.

By Mumbua Nzula Nzyoka.

Episode 2 tried and as if to make up for its lack of ‘scares’ in episode one, this week’s episode begun with an exorcism ritual in Chile but even that didn’t land the punch. Just when I thought “Damien” was finally getting there. Sigh! Even the hell hounds on this show are not scary. The hell hounds on “Supernatural” are scary, and we can’t even see them! I mean C’mon! Even at his ex-girlfriend’s funeral, I couldn’t conjure up any anxiety or feelings for that matter.

I’m hanging on by my fingernails hoping “Damien” lives up to its name and its source material but so far, it’s not doing a very good job. At this point, I might as well admit that the only reason I am still watching it is because I know how good the 1970’s movie was. I keep watching every week just to see if the show will finally get the hang of it, but it’s doing an abysmal job so far. I’ve been trying to figure out what is wrong with Damien and last week I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. However, after watching episode 2, I may have figured it out.

The problem is that I don’t care about Damien Thorne. Allow me to digress in order to properly explain my point. I recently did a list of the ten saddest deaths on TV and the reason those deaths were so saddening or emotional was because I cared about the characters. Character depth is important in any tale because without it, there isn’t any reason to bother or care about the story. I feel like I know nothing about Damien Thorne. Not the child Damien Thorne, but the 30-year-old Damien I am supposed to care about every week.

I don’t know whether it’s a tactic employed by the series because Damien has no memories but so far, it’s not doing the show any favours. And it’s not just Damien but every other character on this show. Their characters read like CVs, just words. When his friend Amani comes to pick him up to go to the funeral, he tells us how great Damien is, how he cares about people he doesn’t know, but those are just words if I can’t see it for myself. If I can’t feel it, then it doesn’t matter. I still don’t know them. If they were all to be killed off in the next episode, I would feel nothing. When a TV show has eight episodes to deliver a story and leave its audience with an impact, they tend to get to the point really quickly. “Damien” is not doing well. I don’t blame the actors, I blame the writing. (All the actors on this show can act, and all the other shows they have acted in are evidence.)

“Hap and Leonard” which premiered about two weeks ago, is a show that knows it only has six episodes to get to the point, and that’s why 10 minutes into episode one, I liked both Hap and Leonard and understood who and what they were about. I can now confidently say that I am invested in both Leonard and Hap. I would like to do the same with the characters on “Damien”, but that can only happen if the writers allow me to.

In last week’s review, I pointed out the show’s over-reliance on “The Omen” flashbacks, and now I would like to reiterate that point. If these flashbacks are supposed to act as a substitute for character depth, it’s not working. We know the 70’s movie was great, all I want the show to do is try and make this show just as good. And it’s not like this show can’t be great because it can be. We got a glimpse of just how much more we can get when Damien lashed out at a priest after Kelly’s funeral. After the priest tells him to take solace in faith, Damien won’t stand for it. He starts softly “Given how Kelly died, I wouldn’t put my faith in any foundation,” he says, and then his voice starts rising steadily “…He’s a sadistic prick.” he finishes and soon, everyone in the house is looking at him. That was Bradley James giving us a Damien we could understand, the Damien from the 70’s movie that scared us, the Damien, who was cruel. But then just as abruptly as it begun, it stopped. I want that show!

There is no question about Bradley’s acting. All you have to do is watch “Merlin” to know he can act. But he can only do so much with what he’s given.



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