Just in time for Halloween, FW Presents reviews the new Netflix horror miniseries MIDNIGHT MASS. When strange and unexplainable things happen to the people of dreary Crocket Island, is this the miraculous work of the newly arrived priest of Saint Patrick's, or is there something far more sinister and deadly at work in the night? Ryan Daly, Angela Drew, and Herman Louw discuss the plot, characters, and the terrifying themes, both supernatural and allegorical, of this acclaimed and creepy new show from creator Mike Flanagan.
WARNING: Spoilers ahoy!
DOUBLE WARNING: Lots of talk about religion, Catholicism, death, fanaticism, and resurrection from people who aren't experts in any of this.
Let us know what you think! Leave a comment or send an email to: RDalyPodcast@gmail.com.
Check out Herman's Longbox of Darkness at: https://darklongbox.com
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Additional music: “Death is Not the End" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
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3 responses to “FW Presents: Netflix’s MIDNIGHT MASS”
Great show Ryan and gang! (Bonus points for ending with a Dylan cover)
We both really enjoyed MM, watching all of it in about three days. I was frustrated by some of the weird pacing–I don’t mind long talky scenes, but they seemed to be placed in the narrative to be maximally annoying. I couldn’t help but see a MAGA metaphor here, I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one. All and all, an interesting work and something I can’t imagine existing in an age before streaming channels.
I do feel like the Monsignor got off a little easy at the end, and I wished Bev had suffered longer before she went FWOMF.
I’m so pleased you’ve done this episode, the Flanagan fear shows have become a tradition over the last couple of years in our house.
You know, I’d not noticed that the V-word was never used in Midnight Mass. I guessed vampires in episode one, with the flapping over ‘Cat Island’, and once we started to get the religious talk, it seemed likely we’d be into the old ‘Catholicism = Cannibalism’ nonsense. I see where Angela’s pal wouldn’t have the patience. Can you imagine if a TV drama took this approach to Islam? Nope, they wouldn’t dare, but Catholicism is fair game.
Anyway, I enjoyed the drama overall, it reminded me of the TV version of Stephen King’s The Mist – monsters, isolation, religion.
It’d have been better without the dream visions, though, they never added anything… why would Riley be having visions of his end? Or did it inspire his boat trip with Erin? Having him imagine the ghost of the dead girl every night before bed was enough.
Lord, those long speeches. The exchange about death between Erin and Riley was especially awful – who talks like that? Herman was right first time, so much endless monologuing. They wouldn’t get away with that in my small town! Sorry Herman, I’m not sitting through those speeches again to appreciate them! I see Angela’s point that there’s beauty in there but they go on and on and on… i just found them deeply irritating. Steve nearly smashed the TV set. The stuff about synapses and atoms and stardust reminded me of the end of William Peter Blatty’s second Exorcist novel, Legion, there’s a lovely final page meditation on Man being part of the fallen Lucifer, trying to pull himself back together and go into the stars – it has to be a deliberate homage on Flanagan’s part.
I agree with Angela that Riley burning himself wasn’t just to make a point and convince Erin of the threat – he could’ve done that with just a bit of hand burning… I think it was because his addictive personality is the worst possible trait for a reluctant
Angela being taken out of Mission Impossible by the bad geography of Rome is something that happens any time a UK person watches any US drama set in the UK. One episode of Hart to Hart had a two-minute car chase involving central London, Stonehenge and Stratford-upon-Avon… it’s probably the same for Americans watching UK shows that move to the US for an episode.
While I don’t doubt that Riley was looked on with affection by Paul the priest (I was chuffed to guess early on that he was a younger Pruitt, and the father of Sarah), I think the reason he started an AA chapter on the island – can you just do that? – was to keep Riley there, to avoid him having contact with the outside world.
While there wasn’t mega-gore, truly disturbing was the frenzy of the attacks on the community
A big flaw for me was the Jonestown-alike business. I don’t believe so many people in church would take the rat poison. If they’re such faithful Catholics, they would not go for suicide on a whim. They just wouldn’t.
And who wants a messy, miserable murderous version of immortality? Why not live a decent, fun life, die and hopefully get to heaven? You’re never going to see Heaven if you never actually die.
Bring on next year’s spookiness!
Oh, I so wish I had been part of the discussion on this excellent series. So much to talk about with this show. And, as a Christian, I wasn’t bothered by the criticisms of Catholicism offered in the narrative, mainly because I’m Episcopalian (aka Catholic-light). Haha!
In all seriousness, I didn’t see the criticisms as an attack on the Catholic Church specifically but on the dangers of zealotry and abuse of power in any organized religion. I would guess that Flanagan used Catholic iconography and rituals because 1) he has a background in Catholicism and 2) the majority of the audience would immediately recognize all of it as well.
With that said, my big take-away from the series is that religious practices work best when we employ them for two purposes: 1) showing love and kindness to our fellow human beings and 2) establishing a basis of faith so that we are able to face the inevitability of death with grace and dignity. This is what I saw happening in the final moments of the last episode when the townspeople begin singing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and when Hassan and his son are praying on the beach. Bev is an important counterpoint to what the others are doing because she only ever used religion for cruelty and manipulation, something that is evident in her fear and panic on the beach as the sun is rising.
I don’t think Flanagan was interested in giving a definitive answer on what happens when we die because that ultimately wasn’t the point he was trying to make. This is most telling when the singing of the townspeople abruptly ends, and there is no resolution to the song and, therefore, no resolution on what happens when we die. This is what initially pointed me in the direction of thinking that the story is really about how we face death, especially when we don’t have any definite answers about it.
As for no one ever saying vampire in the series, I wonder if this was a deliberate choice to point out how much Father Paul and the others become blinded by their own desires and religious fervor. They are so caught up in the “miracle” or the promise of a miracle that they fail to recognize (and, subsequently, name) the evil that is afflicting them. It works as almost dramatic irony as the audience is going to be well aware that this is a vampire and therefore recognize the danger these people are in.
That’s all I have for now. Don’t be surprised if I come back later on with more thoughts.