First and foremost, Midnight Mass is the latest horror outing from creator Mike Flanagan. It’s a religious-themed drama with so many twists and turns that it should probably carry a safety hazard warning at this point. We’re not getting into all of those here. Rather, we’ll be discussing the finale, “Revelations,” so if you’re not caught up, this is your time to bounce. Do not pass GO. Go back to Netflix and cue up your remaining episodes.
The finale of Midnight Mass, true to Flanagan’s preferred form, amped up the action and drama considerably in its final minutes, bringing the chaos introduced by Father Paul Hill (aka, Monsignor John Michael Pruitt) to a disastrous close. After seven episodes, the ramifications of all those miracles and tainted eucharist came to light in the worst way possible: a good ol’ dose of vampirism. And the biggest loser of the series? The entire town of Crockett Island.
No, seriously. Almost the entire town. By the end of the show’s run, the community (save for just two of its residents) was up in flames. And if the gasoline dumped on the buildings wasn’t enough, the residents made for fine kindling for whatever remained. By the time the town realized that it had been consumed by the plague of vampirism, it was too late to reverse their condition, so yeah. The whole cast really did die in the final episode. And the prevailing lesson is obviously that if a new church leader comes to your town, you really should vet him first, especially if he kicks things off by delivering miracles right away.
The series moves quickly through its seven episodes, so let’s do the briefest of recaps before dissecting the conclusion.
When Father Paul first appears in town and starts doling out miracles to the residents of Crockett Island, everyone is pretty jazzed to have such a worthy, if temporary, replacement for the missing Monsignor Pruitt. But people begin noticing some suspicious behavior: Warren sees Father Paul tampering with the eucharist; Mildred begins de-aging; Leeza can walk after years of being paralyzed. Miracles are great, but they’re not without consequences.
Then we (the audience) get the backstory that Father Paul is the missing Monsignor, who happened to be attacked by a vampire-like creature called The Angel while visiting the Holy Land. You hate to see it. He comes back to the town as Father Paul, and the people of the town seem to overlook the mounting evidence that these miracles come with a cost—namely that Father Paul is doing The Angel’s work, tampering church wine with the blood of The Angel. That’s the reason that Erin loses her baby, Leeza can walk, and Mildred grows young again. Eventually, Sarah begins studying the blood of each person, looking for the science of their cures, and realizes that there’s a sort of vampirism going on. So far, it’s not lethal in the small doses that have been administered during each church service, but it sure as hell can be if you take too much for too long.
The (most) complicated part of these developments is that Father Paul isn’t bad, so much as he’s been “infected” with the Angel’s will. (Ultimately because he’s going to be rewarded with his own prize. More on that in a minute.)
Now, knowing all that information, let’s break down the final episode. Coming into the finale, Father Paul has revealed he’s Monsignor Pruitt, as well as a disciple of The Angel. He explained that the way forward for the community is to drink the blood of The Angel, die, and then be reborn. A good number of the congregation follows his lead before Mildred, Pruitt’s one-time love, shoots him. Mildred is then taken by The Angel and attacked.
In the finale, Mildred has turned, and Pruitt reveals that he only returned so that Mildred could de-age and they could be together. Bev and Sturge still believe this is the real deal though, and a great way forward. The two of them rally the troops, still certain the town should, I suppose, be vampires together. They unleash the church members on the town, which results in a whole hoard of vampires attacking those who have not drank the blood. Pruitt is horrified by the violence, and Bev turns on him as well. They go on a mission to burn every building in town, except for the church, thinking it will protect them.
Hassan, Erin, and Sarah decide the best way forward is to burn the church. (Are you getting the metaphor yet?) Beat them at their own game. If they succeed, there’s no place for the vampire/people to hide, and they’ll be scorched to death upon sunrise. But, in the hope to stop the madness, Bev kills Hasan. And Sturge kills Sarah, and The Angel attacks Erin. In her final moments, Erin takes a knife and shreds The Angel’s wings in hopes that it cannot fly and is caught by the sun. Talk about action.
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The series ends with a chorus singing “Nearer, My God, To Thee” as the sun rises. By this point, the only two people to escape are Leeza and Warren. Warren has did not participate in the drinking of The Angel’s blood, and Leeza, who only drank it in trace amounts, is able to pass it from her system, as Sarah’s earlier research suggested was possible. In a boat, far from the island, the two watch the island on fire. As the song soars in volume, we see Hassan and his son Ali praying toward the sun one last time. Bev, always in judgment of their Muslim faith, looks on from afar. Mildred and Pruitt spend a last moment together, and then slowly, each of them catch on fire.
We don’t see The Angel again, leaving his fate unclear. But in the boat, Leeza delivers the final line of the series, looking at Warren and saying, “I can’t feel my legs,” before letting out a bit of a laugh.
That could suggest that The Angel died, but in an interview with The Wrap, Flanagan gives a bit more (or less?) of an explanation, saying, “We’re not saying he died… Our hope really there was just to say that Leeza’s concentration in her blood had begun to tip back, that she was going to be OK. We didn’t want it to confirm about The Angel, in that way that you can never kill fanaticism, it’ll always kind of come back.”
So is The Angel dead? You might want to think so. But the constant burn of American fanaticism can never be extinguished. All you can do is trust your gut, don’t let someone mix your drinks out of your own watchful eye, and for goodness sakes, stay out of caves in the Holy Land.
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