Wallace Shawn blesses season 3 struggling with a weight problem
Ben Shakir is the most academic on this case, and Aasif Mandvi brings real seriousness to the argument. Ben sees the whole experience as a crutch for the church, and the commitment the actor brings to it is palpable. His mindset is diametrically opposed to this concept in the most analytically grounded way. Ben’s disdain for fringe science is well countered by David’s righteous curiosity, something he has in abundance. The priest doesn’t really care about theosophical questions, he really wants to know if science can find a soul. The bad news is that the research team needs a living subject. The good news is that he is played by Wallace Shawn.
Father Frank has the biggest arc of any character invited to appear on Bad, so far. Not only does he go to heaven and back, but he returns as a new man, open to change and to the experiences he had to suppress from his entire earthly existence. During his final confession, it seems the dying priest is still searching for clues of God’s love. There is a search visible in Shawn’s eyes as Father Frank considers David’s words before accepting this as a human failure. The real experience is captured with the cold clinical distance of the researchers, amid deep emotional expressions between Father Frank and Monsignor Matthew Korecki (Boris McGiver). The starkest contradiction comes when the team applauds the death of the priest. Later, Shawn brings joy to the proceedings. “I’m a medical mystery,” he laughs. Shawn’s take is so wonderfully understated yet carries the weight of a new soul.
“Responsibility is a cross that we all have to bear,” Leland said, shortly before he was caught by an accountant. He has been instructed by the Cardinal to look after David, who can barely conceal the disgust he feels at being in the same room. When Kristen slaps the pompous overseer with a restraining order, in one of the show’s most deliciously served entries, the newly ordained priest administers the last few laughs. The scene is remarkably versatile, mixing a lukewarm undercurrent of sexual energy with the wave of cold revenge, swinging forever on subtle slapstick, until Ben knocks it down with a Beethoven fifth.
Kristen’s family life continues to be a drag, especially her husband Andy (Patrick Brammall), but it’s all perhaps part of Kristen’s mother Sheryl’s (Christine Lahti) most insidious plan: to entice the public to push him out of the house as much as possible. she does. He’s good for one thing, and it’s not plumbing. Who flushes a shrunken head down the toilet? It almost sounds like he’s intentionally trying to kick himself out of the show.
The all-too-short intro scene between Kristen and Sister Andrea (Andrea Martin) is illuminating and heartwarming. It highlights a mutual respect, but it seems that it should carry a distrust. Sister Andrea is more than a true believer. She’s a visionary with the foresight to spill hot tea on peripheral troubles. Kristen is a mass of contradictions, who has a bad habit of speaking the language of love in forked tongues. The conclusion, of course, heats up the mystery of the group dynamics. The audience can see it very clearly in David’s seemingly lying eyes: he has no idea what, if anything, is going on with Kristen. It’s still exciting to watch.
The special effects are uniformly well done in the episode, from the surges in the research team’s observation lab to the icky residue that the pickled head of satanic royalty leaves in the toilet. The sterile environment is assaulted by energy until it becomes an open wound. Family bathroom becomes a bloody sewer at the Overlook Hotel the brilliant. Kristen’s forked tongue looks like it was done by a professional.