Midnight Mass Walkthrough Discussion

Midnight Mass Walkthrough Discussion
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Midnight Mass Walkthrough Discussion and explanation. Because, this thing is all kinds of murky if you don’t really do the church thing much. Midnight Mass was brought to us by Mike Flanagan, who also brought us The Haunting of Hill House (which, I adored.) and the Haunting of Bly Manor (which, I did not). So, yeah, this entire post is going to be one big, massive spoiler, from beginning to end. So, please, before you go any further, make sure you watch Midnight Mass over on Netflix.

Midnight Mass Walkthrough Discussion

Book 1 – Genesis – Riley Flynn in the opener, is seen drunk, on the street, while two people perform CPR on a young girl that has died at his hands. Drunk driving. Four years later, after serving his time in prison, he returns to his home-island of Crockett. A fishing village, where his parents live. He’s lost his faith, and is completely unsure what to do with himself now. The strong Catholic community is not so forgiving, and it’s clear he’s going to have a time of it settling in. But his childhood sweetheart, Erin Greene, has come back after running away for years. She’s pregnant now, married and separated, and working as a school teacher in her mother’s position there on the island. Paul Hill, the temporary replacement for the local church’s Monsignor Pruitt… who truth be told, is missing. Well, maybe not missing. But Father Hill doesn’t really seem to be talking about where the Pruitt might be. Other than the mainland hospital. And there’s been sightings of Pruitt, weird sightings, but I digress.

The town is reeling (not the fish kind) from a recent oil spill that has really set the island back. Crippled the fishing industry. We learn later that some folks spot a ton of feral cats, which we later witness being mauled by an unseen monster. Or something that growls anyway. After the town survives a coming storm, they find a ton of washed up cats on the beach. Hundreds of them.

Book 2 – Psalms – The opening beach shot is an amazing 10 minute, single shot. Reminiscent of the episode 6 infinitely long tracking shot in the Haunting of Hill house. It tracks from the sheriff, the cats, to Riley, and then Erin and on… pretty fantastic shot. But nothing like the episode 6 shot of Hill House. Regardless, the people can’t figure out how all the cats died. No blood – their necks snapped. Father Paul learns how the Mayor’s daughter, Leeza Scarborough, was originally paralyzed. She was accidentally shot by Joe Collie, the town’s “harmless” drunk.

Later, during the annual potluck, Ash Wednesday, party, Joe’s dog dies after eating some food. He believes that it was Bev that killed his dog. Joe hates Bev for pumping the community for money for the church, and for forcing them all to accept a settlement with the oil company after the catastrophic oil spill. Erin, sees a wild creature preying across her property. Riley, instead of going to the mainland, has a one one one AA session with Father Paul. It is then that Riley tells the priest that he despises the idea of a perfect God that could possibly allow evil. Which comes from his guilt after killing the young woman while driving drunk. That Sunday, during Mass, the Priest insists that Leeza, the handicapped girl, rise from her wheelchair in order to receive communion. And… to the crowd’s surprise, she does. She stands and walks.

Book 3 – Proverbs – a religious revival has started, all kicked off by Leeza’s healing. A MIRACLE! Even Joe is overwhelmed the first time he sees Leeza’s startling recovery. And better yet, Leeza even forgives Joe for shooting her. And as a result, Joe turns over a new leaf, and agrees to attend an AA session with Riley and Father Paul. How’s that for a growth spurt? 100% growth in a single session! Soon after Sheriff Hassan, a practicing Muslim, learns that his son is studying the Bible. Worse, he unsuccessfully tries to stop Bev from passing out Bibles at the public school.

Then, Father Paul collapses, dies, right in front of Bev and the mayor’s family. He was coughing up blood. But he immediately springs back to life. Jumping backwards, to the night before he arrived for his first night on the island, we see him in a confession booth. And there in the confession booth, he explains what really happened to Monsignor Pruitt. He was caught in a sandstorm and found an ruin, where the man was attacked by a massive, blood-sucking, winged, blood-sucking thing. Pruitt believed that the creature was an angel. Pruitt woke the next morning, realizing that the having taken the beast’s blood, it had restored his youth. So Paul Hill, is Monsignor Pruitt… they are one in the same.

Book 4 – Lamentations – Erin has a routine checkup, but during the ultrasound, the doctor sees that the baby? Yeah, it vanished. Completely gone. So obviously, the doctor figures that Erin has miscarried the child. Heartbroken, Erin spends the day with Riley, grieving, and talking about their childhoods. They also discuss their perspectives on the afterlife. The next day, Erin goes to the mainland, where a doctor questions whether or not she was really ever even pregnant.

Our Priest, Paul Hill, starts to exhibit vampire like symptoms… like getting burnt by the sun. Do we have a vampire story on our hands here? Bev begins to suspect the Priest’s real identity. And it is Mildred who recognizes Hill as Monsignor Pruitt, who knew him when he was younger. Joe visits the church later, who sees Paul drinking this beast’s blood, which Hill has bottled up, and has been putting it in the communion wine. Hugging Joe, he causes him to fall and hit his head, and bleed everywhere. Paul drinks Joe’s blood, and as a result, killed him. Bev chooses to cover the murder up, believing that Hill is some sort of second coming, or beatific vision. Paul and Riley meet for AA, but Paul tells Riley that Joe is on a trip to the mainland visiting his sister. Hrmmm. Are we going to see Joe miraculously again? Regardless, Riley knows that Joe isn’t on a trip because Joe told him that his sister had died recently. When Riley goes back to confront Father Paul for his lie, he is attacked by the angel… demon… thing.

Book 5 – Gospels – Concerned, Erin files a missing persons report with the Sheriff. But Hassan thinks that maybe Riley has backslidden… relapsed, or worse, committed suicide. Then, on Good Friday, Father Paul delivers a mass filled with fiery vitriol, and thoughts on war. And later, Riley shows up at Erin’s house, and he asks if she’ll go with him in order to share with her what had happened to him. Riley rows them far away from the island and he tells her about this beast/angel thing, that attacked him. But he quickly recovered from the help of Father Paul and his blood with its revivific abilities.

We also learn that the Priest has been mixing the angels blood in with the communion wine. Now, I don’t know about you but that is problematic beginning to end. Now, personally, not being a Catholic, there is nothing special about the wine. I don’t believe it actually transubstantiates. Heck, I’ve had communion with potato chips and Mountain Dew out on the beach. But mixing angel blood (let’s be clear, I personally think this thing is a demon, it is no angel, but we’ll get to that.) with that Mountain Dew? Yeah – not good. Alright, let’s set this aside for now. We learn that the priest is trying to “heal” the residents of the island. Riley leaves notes for his family, and then goes to get Erin. And then, after declaring his love for Erin, the sun comes up, and Riley explodes in flame, and quickly burns up while Erin screams in terror.

Book 6 – Act of the Apostles – After watching Riley turn into a tiki torch, she heads back to the island and tells Sarah about what she’s just learned. In turn, Sarah shows Erin the younger Mildred, and also how Mildred’s blood burns in the sunlight. And from there Sarah brings in the Sheriff, but he decides he is not going to investigate the church. I mean, think about it, the one Muslim on the island, investigate an angelic blood that is making people younger? Hahaha. Nah, no thanks man, I’ll pass on that excitement.

Attempting to flee the island after telling Annie that Riley is dead – and her not believing, they find that the ferries are all gone. Why? What? Apparently Mayor Scarborough has sent them all back to the mainland. Worse, the fishing boats are getting locked down as well. And this is where things go straight into full tilt mode. The power to the island is cut, the cell tower is sabotaged, and at Mass, Father Paul unveils the angel. He also let’s them know that they all have its blood running through their veins. Bigger yet? He tells them all to drink poison, die, and be reborn. Uh. Can I take the ignite in the rowboat with Riley? Yikes! But Leeza’s parent’s Sturge, Ooker, and Ali, all take the poison. Then Mildred shoots Pruitt, who is then flown out of the church by the angel. And those that committed suicide via poison all resurrect, and attack the other members of the church that didn’t drink the poison. Ed is killed, and turned… but Sarah, Leeza, Erin, Hassan, Warren, and Annie run for it. Along the way, Erin shoots Bev, as they are exiting the town. And a newly resurrected Bev unleashes chaos on the remaining townspeople.

Book 7 – Revelation – Mildred and Pruitt have a history together, apparently they were lovers years ago. I mean, we learn that Sarah is Pruitt’s daughter. So there’s that. And the entire reason that Pruitt brought the angel to the island?? Why did he do it?? Well, he did it to save Mildred, his one love, and so that the two of them could be together again. At the same time that all of this is going on, the unturned individuals start burning boats to keep the contagion from getting to the mainland. And the turned church members continue their killing spree across the island. Then the turned people split into two factions. One, lead by Bev continues killing, and burning, in the hopes of leaving only the community center for shelter during the day. Bev also calls out Pruitt as a false prophet because of his disdain for the violence.

Hassan, Erin, and Sarah try to burn the church down and the rec center. But Sturge shoots Sarah, and Bev mortally wounds Hassan. Simultaneously, Erin, who is attacked by the angel, slashes at the angel as she dies in order to keep it from getting to the mainland. Bev’s followers begin bailing on her as they have started to question the violence they have been committing. Ali burns down the rec center. And Pruitt and Mildred burn the church down… and just like that, there is no shelter left on the island. The coming sunrise ends up immolating everyone that has turned leaving only Leeza and Warren to survive the island chaos. And we watch as the island gives way to fire and ash.

But What Does Midnight Mass Mean??

Well, my summary above leaves a lot to be desired in regards to the themes and undercurrent meanings of the show. But maybe we could walk through a couple of the characters, and spin them like prisms, and see what we can see.

Erin: matter exists, forms/reshapes, consciousness comes from some unknown happy accident.

Riley: chose the only unselfish move possible… and for an alcoholic individual who killed a young woman, it’s a surprisingly altruistic move. And it explains why Tara Beth joins him there in the boat at the end, a symbol that she has clearly forgiven him.

Bev: turns out she’s just as much a racist vampire as she was when she was a non-vampiric church attendee. She refuses to feed on the Sheriff. Why? because he isn’t white?!? Gah. Talk about evil.

Pruitt: realizes he’s wrong at the end, that it is about God, doing right by his community… which he didn’t do. He acknowledges his sin (his daughter, you know, #PriestRules) and has attempted to make amends for his wrong.

Warren: survives through his virtuousness… abstained from drink, was open and inquisitive about religion, not dogmatic. Etc. Etc.

Leeza: survives through her virtuousness… forgave Joe for shooting her, but ultimately returns to being handicapped again, as the blood drains out of her. And she has disavowed the false prophets of the church that have done horrible things throughout the centuries. (Which, I could talk about for literal decades without slowing down.)

The show itself seemed to take on the idea of faith, militaristic faith, and show the flaws inherent throughout. (Can I get an amen from any of you that have read the book Jesus and John Wayne?) I mean, after all, Christ walked away from literally any and every attempt to turn him into the Christ to be, or Conquering King. I mean, during his betrayal, Peter, assuming that his Christ would be a conquering hero, tried to flip that switch for Jesus, and attack the mob sent by the Pharisees… cuts this guy’s ear off. But what does Jesus do in return? He heals the guy’s ear, literally puts it back on. And during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called out the Old Testament logic and put it on blast… “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye’ etc. But I say to you, do not resist an evil person, but whoever slaps your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (I could talk about this for hours, and the laws and customs of the day, and a backhand vs. a slap, and the illegalness of the slap… but let’s not derail the entirety of this conversation for the discussion of a pile o’ angels dancing on the head of a pin.) Christ called us to a life of love! That is the point. Not to a life of power, and militaristic conversion. And it seems to me that this show is a parable about the Church and its abuse of power.


And you Evangelicals who are busy clucking at these wayward Catholics, it wouldn’t take me but a full sentence to indict you similarly here as well. But I’ll leave that particular sentence to your imagination. I’d succeed at pissing off a large swath of my readers if I said the quiet thing out loud. But do you see it now? The story is about genuine faith, true faith, un-perverted by the Church itself. Sounds really controversial, but it isn’t if you understand Christ and His teachings clearly. He didn’t come to setup a Church. That wasn’t His end goal. Some of my very best friends, Christians all, will disagree with me on this point… but yeah, if you read the Gospels and Acts, Christ’s end goal wasn’t a Church. Maybe a church. But not a Church. If you get the distinction. And I think that that is ultimately what this story is all about. The Church’s drive for power, and the poison that has resulted inside the church… that it is its own sense of evil. And I think that is all I probably should say on this point. If you enjoy studying theology, and are curious to talk about this more, I’d be happy to chat with you about the deeper details of what I have hinted at. But for now? This is as good a summation as we need.

What does it mean to be virtuous? Leeza doesn’t bend, and is a true, honest believer. She is someone that really does hope for spiritual enlightenment, and she stays the course, in spite of her family, and the Church, trying to convince her otherwise. She truly does believe, and doesn’t chase the things that others chase. Warren too, desires truth wherever he might find it. This is seen as the true virtuosity. Seeking for faith like a child would and not being convinced otherwise by those in power.

Want to join me in a deeper dive of this movie? Head on over to Patreon to watch my video tear down of the show right here.

Edited by: CY