Here we have it. Here we have the bloodbath that Midnight Mass has been building up to.
Act Of The Apostles is the bloodiest and most visually disturbing episode of the entire season. The dread that has been slowly building up through five episodes come to a head with Monsignor Pruitt and his delusions persuading his flock of followers to do the unthinkable.
It is Easter mass. A time to celebrate resurrection and revelations. A time to believe in miracles. Monsignor Pruitt, with the aid of Bev and his most dedicated followers, has catered the Crockett Island community (undenounced to them) to bend the knee and have utmost faith for this event that he has been building towards.
However, before we get to the literal Midnight Mass, there are a few scenes that deserve some attention.
Book VI opens up with Erin Green rowing back to the shore after watching Riley commit martyrdom in the name of believe and awareness. Once she returns to the shore, Erin immediately goes to try and find allies who would believe her story. She knocks on the door of Sarah and Millie and tells them what happened the night prior and what Riley dictated to her before passing. While she may seem crazy, her story is not ridiculous to Sarah. She has her scientific tests that show the blood of people on the island is reacting violently to sunlight. As the logical thinker on the island, Sarah attempts to explain the phenomena with Erythropoietic Protoporphyria. She is truly just unsure what is going on, so she stops by to see the Sheriff.
This is the only week part of episode six. Every character in a Mike Flanagan story gets a monologue, that is like standard practice. I am not here to say that Sheriff Hassan doesn’t deserve one, but I am here to say that this certain one was not situated well in the episode and show as a whole. The background story with September 11th, his wife and his move to Crockett Island is moving by itself, but in the context of Sarah trying to explain what she believes is happening on the island…well there is a time and place for that.
The last occurrence before the major event is Mr. Flynn finding the last letters left by his son Riley. Riley wrote letters to his parents and his brother Warren before leaving to go on the boat with Erin. Among the letters is one dressed to a “Pruitt”, to which Mr. Flynn is very confused. The father, fearing something terrible, goes to see the priest and hands him the letters. Monsignor Pruitt opens the letter addressed to him after Riley’s father leaves his hut, and it simply says “Remember we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” A foreshadowing final goodbye from the stories’ sacrificial hero.
Now let’s have mass, shall we? The whole island is at Saint Patrick’s, even those who are skeptical. The Sheriff went when his son kept on badgering him and saying there would be a huge surprise. Millie, Sarah and Erin are there out of curiosity and fear for the townsfolk. The unconvinced and the parishioners all have no idea what to expect.
Monsignor Pruitt gets on his soap box wearing the same gold chasuble he wore in the first episode on his first day on the island. He begins to tell the attendees that he is indeed a younger, blessed Monsignor Pruitt and not Father Paul as many people knew him as. Pruitt says he is ready to share this gift, this miracle of rebirth, with the island. He calls up Sturge and with the utmost faith, the island’s handyman drinks a cup of rat poison and begins to convulse on the ground.
Murmurs, screams and gasps echo from the crowd. Sheriff Hassan has seen enough and he grabs his son to leave the church. But his way is blocked. In the doorway is the angel that has served as Pruitt’s shepherd; the angel that has given he and the island the gift of eternal life. The Sheriff is pinned down and forced to watch as his son, and many others drink the poison offered out by Bev, the mayor, and a few others. With the angel being in the room and the fanaticism of certain individuals, those participating in the poison drinking is not unanimous. Sarah, Erin and Millie are forcefully trying to prevent people from drinking the poison, but it is not resonating with everyone.
Humans are dying and resurrecting throughout Saint Patrick’s. The new vampiric “blessed” individuals are experiencing the heightened senses but the allure is quickly overpowered for most when the hunger for blood rises. The blood of life. The blood of their Christ (or a vampire, you know?). Those who did not drink the poison are soon brutalized and murdered. Everyone who was in the church who died had no choice but to comeback from the dead because they have been fed the blood of the angel while taking communion since Pruitt returned. The army of the dead is rising and Crockett Island is in danger.
While the bloodbath is happening, Erin, Sarah, Millie, the Sheriff, Leeza and Warren are all looking for an escape. They get to the back of the church where they run into Bev. The most vocal and evil member of this mayhem is hiding from the bloodshed because she knew what would happen. She is dispatched by Erin in brutally quick fashion and our heroes escape out the back. Meanwhile in the front, Sturge, under the direction of Bev, opens the doors and unleashes the parish upon the entire island. No longer is this “miracle” confined to the church.
Just looking at Act Of The Apostles, it is hard not to be disturbed by the blind faith that some people have. It is eerily similar to the tragedy that happened in Jonestown in 1978. In November of that year, people in San Francisco drank poison and died at the behest of their cult leader, Reverend Jim Jones. There were hundreds of bodies who dead individuals who put too much faith in a single man and mission. There were over 304 people who were under 17 years of age that died in this mass suicide. It is scary that the minds of the youth are being manipulated in this way. This viewpoint on the youth comes with Leeza’s parents nearly forcing their daughter to drink the poison.
If you want to get some more information on the Jonestown cult and mass suicide, I recommend this Rolling Stone article.
Midnight Mass Episode Six – Act Of The Apostles sets up the final showdown between those who have fully joined the cultish fiend of Pruitt’s preaching and those who know the truth and have thoughts bases in logic and fear. The staging of the violence and the main characters “deaths” are shocking. Once the show gets past its pretense, in particular the Sheriff speech, Act Of The Apostles benefits from Flanagan’s visual story-telling and framing.
We head into the finally of Midnight Mass wondering if the group of heroes will be able to survive. What is going to happen to Pruitt and the Angel, both of whom are directly absent from the close of this episode. How will the other people on the island fare with vampires running around?
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