Featuring Bradley James, Barbara Hershey, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Omid Abtahi, and Scott Wilson.
Created by Glen Mazzara
A&E, Monday nights, 10 p.m. EST
Last night I watched the premier of “Damien,” the new A&E television series via on-demand and here’s my review along with some thoughts:
Damien Thorn (James) is a photojournalist on assignment in war-torn Damascus, Syria on the eve of his thirtieth birthday. In the midst of some street violence, he crosses paths with an elderly women who unexplainably recognizes him. The encounter triggers flashbacks to ominous events in Thorn’s childhood, memories he has suppressed until now. Deported back to New York City, he seeks to understand his past. A mysterious woman, Ann Rutledge (Hershey), approaches Thorn and seems to suggest she has been observing and protecting him throughout his life. With the help of his girlfriend, Kelly (Tiffany Hines), Thorn seeks information from Professor Renais (Sam Anderson), a former doctoral student of the renowned Bible scholar, archaeologist, and exorcist; Carl Bugenhagen. Renais immediately recognizes Thorn as the antichrist. Shortly after the meeting, Renais meets a diabolical death. Back in his apartment, Thorn senses where all this is headed and breaks off his friendship with Kelly in order to protect her, but she’s unable escape the forces of evil. While Kelly’s sister, Simone (Echikunwoke), mourns her sister’s death with Throne, who is unable to provide much comfort in his confused state, some Catholic clergymen hear whispers that the antichrist has been revealed and begin to prepare for a confrontation. Angry and distraught, Throne enters a Catholic church and rails against a statue of Jesus on the cross, throwing the rosary beads Renais had given him. Leaving the church, Thorn once again encounters the strange woman from Damascus. In a violent struggle, she pulls a clump of hair from his head. Back in his apartment, Thorn has additional flashbacks, revealing more and more of his past, and notices the old woman’s image in many of his photos, including those from his childhood. Overcome with the possibility that he is the antichrist, Thorn rushes to a mirror to inspect the raw, bald patch on his head and sees he has the number, 666, branded on his scalp, confirming his fears.
The series has many tie-ins to the original film, The Omen, but jumps entirely over the story developments of the three sequels, which is probably just as well. There’s many references to the original storyline and numerous film clips are interjected. Jerry Goldsmith’s diabolical score also makes a comeback. The screenplay, acting, and production quality aren’t bad for television but like all sequels, most fans of the original will be be at least slightly disappointed. Mazzara’s choice to have Thorn completely oblivious to his history and circumstance is a bit disconcerting. It’s clear that the 5-year-old Damien character in the original film was somewhat aware of his identity even then.
Like the film, the series stumbles by equating Catholicism with Christianity. Renais tells Thorn to “drink (Jesus’) blood, eat (Jesus’) flesh” to escape his destiny and gives him a rosary as a parting gift. An elderly cardinal and his priest assistant scramble to create plans to battle the antichrist. But I’m very used to Hollywood getting it wrong and using formula clichés and stereotypes. It’s actually the religious legalists and their “gospel” of sacramental grace and “just be good” that are the most dangerous obstacle to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Bible says Satan appears as an “angel of light,” appealing to our carnal desires and earthly wisdom, not as a red fiend with horns, tail, hooves, and a pitchfork.
As I mentioned in a previous post, The Omen made quite an impression on my wife and I when we saw it back in 1976. We rushed home from the theater and fumbled through a Bible to find the passage about 666, the mark of the beast. It was an eye-opener for us. That movie was just one of many things and people the Lord used to lead us to finally accepting Him in 1983.
The Bible makes several references to the coming antichrist but the information is somewhat shrouded. There’s been a lot of speculation and many books have been written but the world is still awaiting the appearance of the “man of sin.” Make no mistake, there is a spiritual battle going on around us. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today.