Now that we’ve explored the basics of the Helstrom universe, it’s time for Victoria’s episode! In episode 5, we go inside Mama Helstrom’s head. While we’re there, we meet the real Kthara and learn more about the Helstrom siblings childhood. Out in the real world, Ana and Daimon search for Chris and Keeper, with Taker refereeing the inevitable arguments. Gabriella begins counseling a new patient who’s recovering from possession, while Louise tries to keep Victoria’s physical condition stable.
In a flashback to 20 years ago, Victoria sits at a writing desk in the disheveled Helstrom family home, obsessively writing in her journal.
“Today’s the day. She’s coming back. I can feel it. Everything will be ready. But different from before. Not like last time. Nothing like last time. She’ll be safe now.”
In a giant scrawl, she’s written, “Kill Me” and “Get Out Of My Head”.
The only room in the house that isn’t a mess is Ana’s room. It’s clean and set up for a tea party, as if Ana will walk in the door any moment. Meanwhile, bugs walk across rotting plates of food in the kitchen.
All of the days on Victoria’s calendar are marked off, so she scratches deep, compulsive Xs into the wall next to it. Then she scratches at a gouge over her collarbone that may have been where Papa Helstrom originally marked her for possession. She’s writing in her journal again when young Daimon hesitantly tells her she needs to eat something.
Daimon sits at the table nervously shaking his leg. Victoria notices that he made Ana’s favorite food but didn’t set a place for his sister. He tells his mother that Ana isn’t coming back. Victoria gets angry and says she’ll save her portion for Ana. Daimon says he has something to tell her that she’s not going to like, but he needs her to know.
Someone pounds on the door. Victoria assumes that Ana has returned and jumps up to answer it. Daimon tries to stop her. As she opens the door, he says, “I’m sorry.”
There is a woman at the door who introduces herself as Dr Meyer, with the Behavioral Health Dept. She has two police officers and a couple of other men with her. They need to talk to Victoria. One of them takes Victoria’s hand and leads her outside. As she goes, she turns and says, “My son.” Daimon was trying to tell her that he was the one who turned her in for neglect. Daimon looks pained as one of the men steps inside with him and closes the door.
The scene resets and goes through the flashback again, in an abbreviated version. Then it starts over again. And another time. This time, Victoria’s bedroom ceiling cracks as she paces and we go to the opening credits.
This is both a version of what happened to Daimon and Victoria during Ana’s kidnapping and the nightmare that’s repeating in Victoria’s head. Daimon was physically neglected and emotionally wrung out by his mother’s mental illness/possession. Without Ana, he had to deal with his mother alone, absorbing everything she threw at him with no one to help him sort through her distortions of reality. He’s never recovered from living through this torture.
In the present, Daiman drives by the burned down frat house that Spivey attacked. There’s a memorial set up in front for the dead students. He slows down but doesn’t stop.
He goes to his office at the university and is followed inside by Bryce, the frat brother who was formerly possessed by Magoth. (And who wasn’t dead at the end of episode 4, as I first thought and have now edited out of that recap.) Bryce is still feeling a bit demonish and sneaks up behind Daimon, startling him.
Daimon’s first response is to remind Bryce that they agreed not to speak to each other again. I get the sense that wasn’t Bryce’s idea. Daimon makes sure no one saw Bryce come in and closes the office door.
Bryce tells Daimon that all of his friends/frat brothers are dead and he’s having a hard time coping alone. Officially, the frat house burned down in an electrical fire, but Bryce has flashes of memory- bodies, blood, then waking up at Daimon’s house. He asks if he was the one who killed them.
Daimon stands by the door, ready to make a quick escape, but then sits next to Bryce and manages to tell him he’s not the murderer and none of this is his fault. He even tries to look a little less uncomfortable while he does it. Bryce is thinking about dropping out of school, but Daimon tells him he should think about his future.
Then sharing time is over. Daimon tells Bryce he can a refer him to a counselor. Bryce, understandably, thinks that if he tells the truth to a doctor they’ll assume he’s losing his mind. He figures that’s why Daimon had him lie to the cops about what happened, too. Daimon says it’s one of a few reasons.
Bryce: “Some ethics professor. Look man. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, the stuff that I see… That thing was inside me.”
Daimon: “I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through.”
Bryce: “Obviously not.”
He walks out.
Daimon stands there awkwardly, as usual.
Daimon’s Childhood Turning Point
Daimon hasn’t been possessed, but he has more than enough of his own demons to deal with, and they’ve left him unable to properly connect with others. He’s both emotionally numb and stuck in old emotions the way Kthara is physically numb in Victoria’s body but stuck reliving old sensations. His old emotions are still so overwhelming that he can hardly spare the energy to process new ones.
He’s still the kid who turned his mother in and didn’t manage to tell her the truth before they were torn apart. That’s the point he’s stuck at deep inside, standing at that door as Victoria is taken away. Not at the point when Ana was driven away, as we were led to believe. Until he deals with his guilt over turning his mother in, he won’t be able to move on.
Though Ana’s kidnapping haunts him, he had no control over what happened to her. But he made the choice to get treatment for his mother and decades later, nothing has improved for her. Instead, he and Ana lost their family home and their sibling relationship. The remainder of their childhoods turned out a toss up, with him finding a loving home, but Ana staying in the system. Turning his mother in worked out okay for him, but it was neutral to worse for Victoria and Ana, leaving Daimon with even more guilt about the decision and unsure whether it was ultimately the right one.
In his mind, if the system couldn’t save Victoria, maybe he was supposed to save her himself, so she would be there for Ana. He’s so focused on his twin nightmares that he’s never been able to come to terms with the fact that it was necessary for him to turn Victoria in to save himself and to save her physical body. Or maybe he knows it was the right decision to save himself, but that also increases his self-loathing.
There should have been an adult in his life, such as a teacher, who recognized what was happening to him and took the burden of reporting Victoria from him. If that had happened, Daimon would still feel he should be the man of the family who’s responsible for saving Ana and Victoria. But the responsibility might feel less crushing if he hadn’t been a child who was solely responsible for the care of himself and a severely mentally ill/possessed parent in addition to the trauma and abuse involved with his serial killer father and Ana’s kidnapping.
Ana pops up out of the ground after having been buried alive. Then she pops awake in bed, having had her recurring nightmare, only to find that the bed is full of dirt. She shrieks and throws herself onto the floor, waking up for real this time.
That explains the time she vomited dirt. Guessing this nightmare is based on a real experience that happened when she was with dear old Dad.
Daimon passes Bryce’s name on to Gabriella for trauma work. She’s feeling a bit cynical this morning, weighing the pros and cons of permanent coma vs exorcism as treatments for possession. She asks him if he ever thinks about how the people he exorcises feel afterwards and if he feels responsible for them. Daimon obviously passes them off to Hastings for counseling under normal circumstances. He thought he’d give the new girl a chance this time.
Daimon: “Do you really think I should be the one holding their hands, lying to them, saying their recovery is gonna be all sunshine and rainbows? I mean, if you’re not feeling up to it, I’m…”
Gabriella: “It’s fine. You’re right.” She takes the card.
Daimon is shocked when she doesn’t argue with his dismissive insults about her and Louise’s work. He stops and looks at her, even smiles a little when she says he’s right. He asks if she’s okay. For the first time, it’s clear that he enjoys arguing just as much as Ana does. He almost, sorta, tacitly admitted it.
He and Ana both have that demon side that feeds on a little chaos and spirited discussion.
When Louise does her morning check on Victoria, she finds her on the floor, semiconscious, scratching a hole in the floor the way she was scratching a hole in her collarbone in the nightmare. Louise calls for medical help.
The nightmare starts again. This time, Victoria notices a strange tear in the wallpaper. When she answers the door, child Ana is there, in her pajamas and smudged with dirt. They hug.
In the real world, Daimon calls Ana to the hospital to help deal with the coma. They both feel unusual energy near their mother. Ana recognizes that it’s coming from the Keeper skull. They realize that Chris must have brought it to Portland.
Meanwhile, back in nightmare world, Victoria makes a meal for Ana and asks how she escaped her father. Ana says she hit him and ran. She’s scared of the lightning from the storm outside. Daimon is skeptical of Ana’s story and pushes her to tell them the truth.
During the next flash of lightning, Ana sees the shadow of a man outside the window and panics. Victoria tries to calm her, but then the electricity goes out. Ana says, “He’s coming.”
In the real world, Taker finishes a perimeter search and says he didn’t find Chris outside. A scan of 48 hours of hospital surveillance footage shows that Chris hasn’t entered the building. Daimon wonders why he’d bring the skull there. Ana explains that it’s powerful and it must be doing something to her friend.
My guess is that the skull’s bites on Chris’ arm act the same way a slash would. They let the Keeper demon’s energy into the human for some form of possession, though probably not as detrimental to the human as evil demon possession is. Taker says the Keeper demon is trying to do its job- to contain evil.
Daimon says that Keeper is supposed to contain their father, not Kthara. Ana wonders if Keeper is mixed up. Taker expands on that.
Taker: “It’s the fruit of the poisoned tree. Think about it. The Keeper’s bound by a blood oath. Your father marked your mother. That’s how she was possessed. So his energy is…”
Louise: “It’s a part of her.”
Daimon: “And us.”
Taker: “Unfortunately, you’re mother’s not as strong as you two are. So the closer that Keeper skull gets, the worse it’s gonna be for her.”
The Keeper doesn’t seem to be purposely hurting Daimon and Ana. It whispered to Ana, maybe asking to be freed from the crypt, but it didn’t seem to hurt her to be near it when she spent the night researching it, even after she put her blood in the keyhole on its forehead. It might be hurting them accidentally now because it’s sending a specific type of energy at Victoria/Kthara and they’re getting caught in the crossfire.
They need to find Chris, but can’t figure out where else to look. Louise remembers the hole Victoria was scratching into the floor of her room and wonders if she was trying to get to something. She shows it to Daimon and Ana.
Surprise! The tunnel Chris has been camping out in is under the hospital in Portland, rather than in San Francisco. On their way in to search the tunnels, Ana asks Taker what will happen to Chris when Keeper is done with him. Taker isn’t optimistic. Damon is more concerned about what sort of evil Keeper demon capabilities Chris might have absorbed that he’ll use against them.
Ana isn’t used to seeing how callous Daimon and Taker are with human life when they go after possessed humans.
Next, Daimon gets territorial. Taker enjoys calling him on his BS. It truly is a thing of beauty.
Daimon: “I think my sister and I can handle one Yen-sized person, so you wanna sit this one out? Unless you got some other reason to tag along?”
Taker chuckles: “Course I do. That Yen-sized person, I’m willing to bet that she values saving his skin a lot more than yours. Or your mother’s. I think you need all the help you can get. And I’m the one who deals with this sh–, remember?”
He walks right on by Daimon.
This is why Taker’s my favorite, along with Ana and Yen. He doesn’t like Daimon, who’s a bit of a poser, but he’s going to save his butt anyway, because he’s a professional.
Never mind the fact that they’ll be dealing with an unknown demon in addition to Chris, so Chris’ human capabilities are irrelevant to the situation.
Gabriella catches up to Bryce and introduces herself as a novitiate. Bryce isn’t impressed with her counseling qualifications. She convinces him to talk to her by telling him she’s met Magoth, the demon who possessed him, before. He realizes the demon is still a danger to him and others. She asks him to help her fight demons by helping her understand what Magoth did to him and the others it’s possessed.
Back in Victoria’s mind, they’re lighting candles to ward off the dark. Victoria tells Ana that when she was little and the power went out, they’d light candles and stay up all night telling stories. Whenever she got scared of the thunder, her mother would say it was God bowling up in Heaven. Daimon tells his mother that thunder is actually hot air expanding after a lightning strike. He learned the TRUTH in science class, and that’s more important than his family’s comforting old Dutch myth.
Even dream Daimon is a buzzkill.
God bowls a strike and they hear ominous whispers. Daimon decides to check the circuit breakers in the basement, but Victoria drags him back- they don’t go down there! Someone pounds on the door even more ominously, then the windows explode. Daimon disappears.
In the real world, comatose Victoria is agitated.
In the tunnel, Daimon announces that they’re killing Keeper if it’s threatening Victoria’s life, even if the threat is accidental. Ana points out that he wants to kill their only weapon in the fight against their super strong, super evil father in order to save a woman who’s been half dead for decades. Taker agrees with Ana. Daimon decides that Taker is only taking Ana’s side because it benefits him the most. Taker says it benefits everyone to get rid of their father.
Victoria vs Chris and Daimon vs Taker and Daimon vs Ana
I’m not sure how Daimon thinks killing Victoria benefits Taker. Or maybe he thinks Taker is selfish to want to win the fight against their father, rather than letting him continue to kill innocent people? Daimon is willing to kill Chris, who’s innocent, and the demon, who’s on the side of the angels, and who’s already saved lives and will save more, in order to keep his mother in a state that many wouldn’t want to live through.
Taker really isn’t the one who looks bad here. He’s been fighting harder and longer than Daimon. But Daimon often thinks and argues like a mild flavor of demon, using counterpoints that are meant to throw his opponent off balance rather than make sense. It works on many people, but Taker is used to dealing with much worse that Daimon and sees him for what he is.
Although Daimon’s argument is on the selfish side, I think he also senses something unusual about Taker, but isn’t sophisticated enough to recognize what it is. He’s not wrong to be wary of Taker, given Taker’s association with The Blood, but he also doesn’t follow up on his suspicions.
Daimon complains, but stays on the periphery of the war. He exorcises demons when it’s absolutely necessary and does nothing more. Ana has found a method of atonement that allows her to move on with her life. Daimon thinks he’s the one who wronged his mother, so his life is devoted solely to fixing her, to the detriment of his own life and often to the detriment of those around him, since his devotion keeps everyone else stuck as well.
In this episode, he can’t see the issues clearly because his focus begins and ends with keeping his mother physically safe, rather than what might be best for her and everyone else. Devotion to loved ones and to the truth are usually good things, but in the real world and in the nightmare, we see Daimon fail because he favors devotion that isn’t tempered by the use of critical thinking.
In the nightmare, he can’t see that metaphor and myth can be another way to talk about the truth when science fails to convey the deeper meaning of a situation. In the real world he uses deflection on a regular basis to avoid confronting deep feelings and traumatic situations. The only strong emotion he admits to is his devotion to his mother and the need to keep her safe. That obsession creates unnecessary jealousy and aggression when he should be cooperating with the others.
Daimon’s attitude sets him up to battle Ana when she’s trying to protect Chris, who is as much her family as their mother is. He takes on his father’s role of the unfeeling, aggressive male authority figure who wants to break up the family for his own purposes, without regard to how it will affect the rest of the family. His father took Ana away in the past. We’re watching that story be rewritten as a nightmare in Victoria’s mind as Kthara uses the memory of their father to make Victoria think that Keeper threatens to separate the family, while the story is also replayed by a new generation in the real world as Daimon threatens to take Chris away from Ana.
Ana is willing to sacrifice their mother, which would hurt Daimon, but the situation is different- Victoria is close to death and has been living on borrowed time for decades. Ana’s goal is to come out of this with both family members alive. Daimon’s jealousy of Chris’ role in his sister’s life and his overprotectiveness toward his mother lead him to push for a violent solution toward Chris and Keeper.
Watching Daimon unwittingly get slotted into his father’s place in the family dynamic makes me wonder what Papa Helstrom’s motivations and goals are. We’ve only seen him through the eyes of his victims, so we view him as pure evil. But if we were to think of him as another species, energy from somewhere else (as Daimon described demons), who’s just trying to make his life here work, would we see his actions in a different light? Or would he seem even more evil to us?
Ana finds the spot where Chris and Keeper were camped out in episode 4. It looks like Chris turned to eating rats when he ran out of food. Keeper’s influence, no doubt.
While Daimon and Taker are inspecting Chris’ stuff, Ana senses that he’s further down the tunnel and quietly goes after him.
In Nightmare World, Daimon is still missing. Ana leads Victoria to her bedroom and suggests they play a game. Victoria is frantic and tells Ana they have to keep searching for her brother. Ana says Victoria is supposed to protect her instead of worrying about Daimon. She blames Victoria for letting her father take her and never finding her. Victoria realizes that Ana knows things she only wrote in her journal. And that Ana shouldn’t be there at all, since she didn’t come back while Victoria still lived in the house.
Someone pounds on a door. Then the bedroom door slams shut and locks, trapping Victoria inside. Child Ana becomes an adult woman in a nightgown (of doom), with long brown hair covering her face (messy brown female hair always equals a monster). Victoria turns around and recognizes the new apparition, saying, “It’s you!”
In the real world, Bryce and Gabriella stop at a coffee shop, where Bryce is startled by every sound. He tells her he never believed all of the fictional and religious stories about demons. The reality wasn’t like the stories anyway. Gabriella asks if he knew what was happening to him while he was possessed.
He gives her conflicting answers. She also doesn’t give him time to answer her questions fully before she asks the next one. Bryce says he didn’t know what was happening at first. He doesn’t think he saw the demon, but he could always feel it in there with him. They didn’t communicate directly. Most of the time, Bryce was stuck in a nightmare, reliving his worst moment, when he was at his worst, again and again. If he tried to change the outcome, the dream would reset. It was torture.
This is what we’re seeing Victoria go through, but now the presence of the Keeper demon has broken the cycle. The worst moment of her life was when she and Daimon were separated, knowing she’d failed him so badly that he’d been driven to turn her in to social services. There’s just an endless spiral of guilt between those two. (Or maybe she really was upset that she wouldn’t be home for Ana’s return. Probably both.)
This is also what the comatose humans in The Blood’s hotels are condemned to relive for the rest of their lives.
Gabriella: “You think you know what’s real. You live your life believing the world is a certain way, and then suddenly it just isn’t what you thought anymore. Even when you try to help, it only makes it worse. You realize that sometimes there are no good answers. It’s going to be alright, Bryce.”
She promises him that she and Daimon will keep him safe, but he doesn’t believe they can.
Huh. I didn’t believe Daimon when he said she and Hastings made empty promises to their patients, but I guess he was right. Raising false hopes seems like a bad idea. Also, I think Gabriella might be talking about her disillusionment with the Church in addition to the realities of the demon war.
In her nightmare, Victoria realizes that her new visitor has been behind everything all along. The apparition admits that she’s Kthara. Her new appearance is the way she looked the last time she was alive in a body of her own. She was murdered in that life. She thought appearing as Victoria’s daughter might encourage cooperation.
They are both in danger from Victoria’s husband. Kthara says he’s the one outside the door, trying to get in. She’s not Victoria’s enemy. She’s being punished by him, just like Victoria. The walls start crumbling. Kthara has a plan, but she needs Victoria’s help.
We already know Kthara is lying about who’s outside the door. She’s running from Keeper.
Victoria asks why she should help Kthara.
Kthara: “Because getting back to our children is the only thing that matters. We are both prisoners. If we survive this, Victoria, we will be free. I will get to be with my children again and you will get to be with yours.”
The walls crumble further. Kthara says they have to find somewhere else to hide. She takes Victoria’s hand and they run from the room.
Daimon and Taker continue through the tunnel, now searching for Ana and Chris. Daimon complains that Ana took off without them, heedless of the danger. Taker says that she always does her own thing.
Daimon asks if Taker gets tired of Ana’s shenanigans. Taker says you can get used to anything, eventually, and if anyone should be tired, it’s Daimon, since he has to deal with Victoria/Kthara. He wonders how much longer Daimon and Victoria can take dealing with her possession. Daimon tells Taker to say what he really means. Taker makes the same pitch he made to Louise- they should put Victoria under his control, since he has access to methods that would be easier on Victoria and the rest of the family.
We know now that Taker means he’d get her a room at the horror hotel, where Victoria would be used as a human prison for Kthara. She’d continue to be trapped in an endless nightmare for as long as The Blood could keep her body alive, a human sacrifice to the demon war, with no hope of rescue.
Taker: “Destroying the skull is not gonna save her, Daimon. It is only gonna put other people at risk and make your father that much harder to stop. And if by some miracle you manage to pull that demon out of her, it’ll only be like winning the battle while sacrificing the war. One we’re close to losing.”
Daimon: “And all I have to do is turn her over to you? You and the people you work for will take her off my hands and provide the best possible care for the family you’ve been trying to kill for decades.”
Taker: “The family I’ve been protecting for decades! Me and Louise.”
Daimon: “If you’d been protecting us, we wouldn’t be down here looking for a one-eyed skull.”
I’m not sure why Taker is so adamant that he take custody of Victoria. That seems suspicious. Maybe he thinks The Blood can keep her body alive and possessed longer than Daimon and Louise will. Maybe he wants to use her as a consolation prize with Esther, so she’ll leave Daimon and Ana alone for a while more. But Daimon, as usual, doesn’t understand the nuances of the situation and isn’t willing to listen to the person who’s trying to set him straight. One thing’s for sure- Taker isn’t trying to kill Daimon and Ana.
Kthara and Victoria run through the house as the storm destroys it. Wallpaper tears off to reveal the circular consumption sign on the wall underneath. The front door flies open. A robed figure stands in the doorway- Keeper demon has arrived.
Ana finds Chris sitting in a corner, with the skull biting his arm. He and his expensive shoes are in bad shape. He tells her to stay away- she doesn’t know who he is anymore. She promises that they can stop whatever the demon is doing to him. He says she just wants him to go back to being her errand boy.
Daimon and Taker come around the corner. Ana tells them to let her handle it. Chris stands, clutching the skull in his arms. She apologizes for lying to him, then explains that her dad is back and the only thing that can stop him is the skull. She needs him to give it to her and then they can go out for a special night on the town, just like the good old days.
Chris: “You don’t understand. I can’t. I have a job now. He needs me. You don’t.”
Ana says that she does need him, but she also needs the skull. Chris refuses to give it up. Daimon gets impatient and says it’s his turn, moving toward Chris. Ana throws him against a wall. He throws her against a wall. They argue with each other over who’s more important, Chris or Victoria. Ana asks why he can’t just let Victoria go. He says it was his fault she was committed.
Pretty sure it was the demon’s fault she needed to be committed. He just made a necessary phone call.
Their powers combine to rattle pipes loose in the ceiling until one falls. Taker pulls Daimon out of the way, saving his life. Chris has disappeared during the argument.
Victoria and Kthara run to the basement to hide from Keeper. Young Daimon is lying on the floor, writhing in pain, hands covered in bright red blood- that’s right, he has blood on his hands. Or she caught him in the basement red-handed.
Victoria cries at the sight of him. He reaches out to her. Kthara tells her that he isn’t really there. The visions are moments from the past that she needs to ignore.
There’s an interesting symmetry going on between Daimon’s thoughts and Victoria’s nightmares, as if they’re caught in this loop together.
Victoria hears Ana scream and sees her husband carrying her daughter up the basement stairs. She yells that she won’t let him take Ana again. Kthara stops her, telling her that she can’t change the outcome of the nightmare. Ana is gone. Victoria sobs that she should have done something to stop her husband from taking Ana. She turns and Daimon has disappeared from the floor.
This is the full extent of her nightmare. She focused so much on the loss of Ana that she lost Daimon, too. Or was she with Daimon in the basement when her husband put Ana in the car and left, so they both blame him a little for taking the attention from Ana at a crucial moment. But then Ana took the attention from him when she wasn’t even in the house.
I suspect it loops like this in Victoria’s brain, with her blaming herself for the loss of both children, when her husband took one and Kthara made her unable to care for the other. Part of Kthara’s job in her brain is to keep her focused on this loop so that she doesn’t become herself again and help her children. Part of Daimon’s brain might be attached to this loop, too, blaming himself for not stopping his father or saving his mother.
Maybe Daimon had enough psychic ability to feel Victoria’s pain when she realized her mistakes as she was taken away. But her insanity/obsession/overwhelming possession was probably inevitable, since her husband chose a demon who is obsessed with the loss of her own children.
Kthara says they have to hide, before the door breaks. Victoria continues to cry for her children.
Kthara: “Victoria, you have to help me. We must be strong, for our children. In this moment.”
Victoria figures out that Kthara shouldn’t need her help. She’s the one who’s usually in control. But now, the nightmare scenario is crumbling because Kthara is weakening. Kthara tries to get through to her again, but Victoria has stopped listening. She’s realized that it’s not her husband at the door. It’s something Kthara is afraid of and can’t control. Victoria throws Kthara across the room with her mind, then vows to take action, since she didn’t in the past. If she dies, Kthara dies, and she’s willing to make that sacrifice.
She runs to open the basement door. The robed figure enters, removing his hood and showing his one-eyed face. In the real world and in the nightmare, Victoria’s heart goes into tachycardia (extremely rapid heart beat). She’s alone in the nightmare.
Medics work on her in the real world. They take her bed into the hall and bring the crash cart to her. Chris found a way into the hospital with the skull. He stands at the other end of the hall from Victoria’s bed.
Daimon finds Chris and throws him against the wall, forcing him to drop the skull. Then Daimon uses his powers on the skull. It’s not clear if he’s trying to break the skull or exorcise the demon. It doesn’t work, anyway. Keeper is older and stronger than him.
Victoria is flatlining in the real world. In her mind, she tears away the wallpaper where the consumption sign is and reveals the peep hole in her cell door. She watches what’s happening in the real world.
She must escape the cell, because suddenly, real world Victoria sits up and yells, “Stop!!” at Daimon just as the skull develops a crack. Daimon can tell it’s his mother instead of the demon speaking and stops.
Later, Victoria sits outside in a wheelchair with the skull on her lap. Daimon hovers next to her. Ana stands nearby. Victoria tells them that the demon called herself Kthara. Daimon tells her they don’t have to talk about it right now.
Of course they don’t.
Victoria ignores him and continues. She tells them that the skull weakened Kthara, but she doesn’t know how or how long it will hold Kthara off. Daimon says all that matters is that she’s with them now. Then she tells Ana that Kthara used the memory of her as a weapon. She notices that they’ve both grown up so tall. When Victoria says she thought she’d never see them again, Ana walks away in a huff.
They both do have long legs.
Chris is now locked in a cell and pacing. He’s complains that he and the skull need each other as he rubs at his bandages. Taker says it will take a while for the effects of the skull to wear off. Ana is angry that they traded Chris’ sanity for her mother’s.
Daimon visits Gabriella in her office at the hospital to ask how it went with Bryce. She tells Daimon that the formerly possessed are more troubled than they realized and need to talk about their experiences. Daimon says he understands that better than he did before, because his mom is lucid again. Her demon has been “placed under house arrest”.
Gabriella is happy for him, but his story pushes her to tell him about her concerns. (She’s still haunted by what she saw at the horror hotel.) He asks if she can wait, since, unless it’s a matter of life and death, he has hovering over his mother to catch up on. She tells him it is a matter of life and death. He can’t refuse her sense of drama.
When they get to the horror hotel, they find the staff have been slaughtered. Gabriella says she should have told him about the imprisoned demons sooner. Now they’re too late.
Apparently it never occured to The Blood that it was dangerous to keep a veritable demon army waiting at the ready for someone to wake them up.
I want more of the continuing adventures of Chris, Keeper, Ana, their expensive shoes, gourmet food and antique weapons. Taker and Louise can stand in the background and alternately frown in disapproval at their hijinks and pass out pearls of wisdom to help them out of a jam.
Seriously- as a TV show that writes its own rules, why are we hanging out in the drab asylum instead of the fun antique artifacts warehouse where anything can happen and the perfect weapon is bound to be within arm’s reach??? Ana can build a padded cell in one corner for Victoria’s bad days. It’ll be fine.
Did you notice the final screencap of Ana above? Taker and Louise are standing behind Ana and to either side of her, as if they are her lieutenants. In the one below it, Chris looks like he’s becoming Keeper demon. While Gabriella and Daimon struggle with their emotional and identity issues, an effective team is forming right there.
The Helstrom family home contains Victoria’s mind. There is a tree of life symbol on the Helstrom front door. Or perhaps it’s a family tree. Keeper uses the door as the gateway between Victoria’s mind and real life.
But the basement door was another barrier, one Victoria had to open herself. She had to let Kthara in, then was able to protect her there if she wanted to. She chose to let Keeper in. Daimon was there, with bright red, bloody hands, his true psychological state, which he reveals to almost no one. She blocked him out when Kthara told her to. Ana was taken from this psychic space by her father.
Are Daimon and Victoria psychically linked in a way they don’t realize? Is that why Daimon can’t move on, but Ana was able to? Why does Victoria have this psychic barrier and ability to resist being killed by possession that other humans don’t seem to have? Is Daimon unknowingly providing that barrier and resistance?
They showed the tree on the door and used the thunderstorm so many times that the symbolism has to be important, but it’s hard to interpret any symbolism in this show because there’s so much lying. Who was telling the truth, when? All of the main characters lie and distort the truth at times and the demons do the same.
Was the lightning symbolic of Keeper or Papa Helstrom? So far, both are shrouded in mystery. We have no idea who they really are or what their real powers are. The same goes for Kthara and Victoria.
This episode was part of a larger game. The events at the hospital were meant to distract Daimon, Ana, Taker and Louise from what the demons were doing at the hotel. It’s impossible to tell whether Kthara was really threatened or that was an act that’s part of a larger plan. Perhaps she’s the demon counterpart to Victoria- Papa Helstrom’s demon wife sent to live in his human wife. The tree could symbolize both of them, the way Daimon and Ana are his children as both humans and demons.
That would help explain why Taker wants Victoria/Kthara so badly. Maybe she’s a valuable hostage.
I was struck by the way Kthara laid Victoria’s body out on the bed and praised her stamina and strength in a previous episode. In this episode, Kthara chooses to appear as Victoria’s daughter. Even when she appeared as herself, she appeared young enough to be Victoria’s adult child and wore a nightgown, making herself appear vulnerable. She tried to appeal to Victoria’s maternal instincts throughout the episode.
This is fascinating, because in her nightmares, Victoria doubts her own ability as a mother. Maybe Kthara thought she’d be extra motivated to help for that reason. The two females also have loss of their children in common, so it makes sense for Kthara to land there.
But I think Papa Helstrom picked Victoria for his wife, the woman who would be the mother of his half demon children, for a reason. She’s unbelievably strong and devoted, with an unbreakable will. Daimon and Ana get these traits from her.
This is the first time we’ve seen Victoria, separate from Kthara, for any amount of time, and she was glorious, once she figured out what was going on. She saw through a demon’s lies and sacrificed herself to save her children. Most of the time, we see a Victoria who’s been driven mad by a supervillain. Sane Victoria is a warrior. No wonder Papa Helstrom disabled her so completely. But that makes me wonder why he didn’t kill her. Maybe so he can use her as leverage over his children?
First rule of Helstrom: Daimon’s first instinct about everything is wrong. In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite of what should be done. 2nd Rule: Daimon gets distracted by the wrong things.
Why is Daimon wrong so often? My guess would be it’s because he’s denying so much of the truth inside himself that he can’t recognize it anywhere anymore.
Will Victoria’s new lease on life help Daimon? Maybe. He’s spent decades listening to the wrong instincts inside himself so that he could survive the cognitive dissonance his family created. The guilt, shame and self-loathing won’t magically disappear and he won’t magically know how to recognize the truth or a healthy reaction simply because he’s more open to it now.
He has to work on changing the patterns he used to protect himself for decades, or he’ll keep using them. Louise (and maybe Taker) helped create those patterns, so he also has to recognize that she doesn’t always want what’s best for him. Sometimes she sees herself as repressing his demon tendencies using psychology instead of drugs.
I wonder if Daimon is psychic like Ana, but he had to shut it down to survive living alone with his mother and the nightmare that was her mind. Now he either doesn’t remember having that power or he’s terrified of what will happen if he uses it. He’s incredibly clueless about people for someone who’s so invested in being sensitive that it would make sense for him to have turned his over-perceptiveness off in order to survive. Some part of him might believe that everyone’s mind is as scary as his parents’. (Maybe they are!)
He also absorbed his mother’s obsession with Ana. Or maybe he thinks Ana is the only one who’ll understand him, if she’ll just come home and stay in the room he prepared for her. Which is certainly not at all like the room Mother prepared for her. He’s still acting out his mother’s obsession, as if he thought maybe a nicer house would make better bait. Very Norman Bates.
Daimon has a demon side to his personality that the show is inconsistent with. Is he impatient with others because he’s half demon? Then why is he so judgy about Ana’s behavior? Why did he appear to be such a mild-mannered kid? A couple of references have been made to his demon side affecting his personality, but I don’t feel like I understand what they’re doing with his character well enough to sort out what’s trauma and what’s demonic yet, whereas Ana is written clearly and consistently. Plus, she’s explained her motives clearly.
They might be going for a fall from grace/eventual savior arc with Daimon over a few seasons, if they get more seasons- confused, tortured morality S1; fall from grace, Prince of Darkness S2; redemption, becomes the superhero/savior he was always meant to be in S3. But he’ll still have a star-crossed, tortured relationship to deal with, obviously.
Taker definitely pushed Daimon out of the way of those pipes, so we know for sure he doesn’t want Daimon dead. But who set the pipes loose? It’s the sort of accident Ana and Daimon’s powers set off with the mug when they argued in Louise’s office, so it was most likely them. But we don’t know the full extent of Taker or Keeper’s powers, either.
Taker makes or lets a lot happen, without seeming to make it happen. He’s absolutely the most knowledgeable person in the cast. My current guess is that he’s more of a neutral wizard type figure than he lets on, who’s sort of a member of every group, but mostly a wandering representative of the Sorcerer Supreme who’s keeping tabs on these black magic types to make sure things don’t get too far out of hand.
Helstrom Demonology Rules
1-Rules of Possession
1A- A demon possesses a person by entering the body through a deep slash in the skin made a by an ancient, powerful demon. This is called “marking”. Powerful old demons create bands of minions by marking humans. Once a human has been marked, they can continue to be possessed, even if the first demon who possesses them has been exorcised. There is also some evidence that marking can be accomplished by a deep bite instead of a slash- Magoth bites Father Okamoto. I believe that Chris is undergoing the process of becoming possessed by the Keeper demon and the bite are the point of entry for the demon. It appears that Chris and the demon will peacefully coexist in his body, rather than the demon dominating him the way it would in a typical possession. My guess is that Taker has a similar situation going on, but that’s pure speculation.
The definition of powerful, old demon is unclear, since both Kthara and Magoth have been described as powerful and old, but they aren’t able to mark people.
1B- A person can’t stop themselves from becoming possessed, but they can fight the demon for primary control of their body and sometimes win for brief periods. Anything that increases the human’s connection to loved ones and possibly their will to live will help strengthen their resolve to fight, especially reminders of or contact with family and friends.
1C– Demons/energy can’t be killed. They can only be transferred or contained. Exorcism releases the demon from the body but doesn’t kill or even harm it. The demon is sent to some other place. After a period of time, it’s able to return and possess humans again. Whether or not the possessed human survives the exorcism depends on their physical condition. If they’re reasonably healthy, they’ll survive, but if they’re close to death and being kept alive by the demon’s energy, they’ll die, even if they’re acting fine while possessed. How much people remember from the time they were possessed also seems to vary, but trauma counseling with a qualified therapist who knows the truth is probably essential.
2- How to Fight Demons
2A- Christian symbols and Bible verses don’t work on demons. At best, they might help reach a particularly religious possessed human.
“Latin, holy water, prayer, they used to be the “secret weapons” of the trade. But now, thanks to movies, TV, the internet, they’re just tropes… Secrets lose their power once they’re exposed.” – Daimon in S1Ep1
I don’t know if Daimon lied to that kid or if demons actually are subject to the power of suggestion, but this statement doesn’t make sense. Either the Christian tropes always worked and still do or they never did. Daimon insisted to Gabriella in episode 2 that prayer and religion are merely a form of the power of suggestion, which he then says doesn’t work on demons. She prays and shows Magoth/Alex a photo of his family. Alex regains brief control of the body. It seems more likely that this is due to the photo than the prayer, since family memories work for Victoria/Kthara.
2B- Anything Daimon tells us about how demonology works needs to be confirmed by an outside source, because it could be that Louise has twisted the truth to keep him from reaching his full powers. Or he’s lying for his own purposes.
2C– While the Catholic Church and Christianity have no inherent power over demons, they have millenia of experience in demon hunting, so they tend to field some expert, formally-trained, albeit fanatical, demon hunters. They like to include religious rituals, whether those rituals works or not, probably for their own comfort, and they have a hard time seeing situations objectively. They act as descendents of the Spanish Inquisition might- anything that’s non-human is automatically evil and a threat to the sanctity of the human race, therefore it must be destroyed. The Blood is a largish demon hunting group within the Church, but they aren’t the only ones with these beliefs. Louise and Taker, on the other hand, both appear to still be nominally Catholic and have more moderate views. While still at war with demons, they try to understand their enemies and are willing to work with “good” demons, such as the Keeper demon and Daimon.
2D- Keeper demons are demons who turned away from evil and now help fight other demons. A talisman (coin-sized disk showing a coiled snake) made from the remains of a Keeper demon will subdue a possessed person for a short time. A Keeper demon can contain even the most powerful old demon indefinitely, in the right situation. The untouched, unbroken sarcophagus appeared to be an essential part of the spell for containing Papa Helstrom. Keeper’s skull is enough to contain Kthara.
2E- A demon becomes trapped in a possessed person who is kept indefinitely in a drug-induced coma. This is only a temporary solution. When the drugs are stopped, the possession continues as before.
2F- The Blood are pathologically worried about Daimon and Ana becoming more powerful if they are together. My sense is that this is true, though we’ve only been given a few small hints, such as the rattling mug and pipes when they argued. The danger could simply be that they’ll learn more about their powers from watching each other and trying new things rather than a mystical “power of two” component. The Blood are fanatics who see the world in black and white, so it’s hard to separate their reasonable fear of demons from their prejudice against all demons. We should probably look for outside corroboration on anything they say.
3- Properties of Demons
3A- According to Daimon, demons can be described as entities from another world or just energy that doesn’t belong here. But some demons also used to be human. They feed off the negative energy they get from humans- physical and emotional pain, suffering, violence, death. At the moment when the human they’re possessing dies, they absorb the energy from the human soul, which makes them stronger, so possession is almost always fatal. The demon’s eventual goal in possession is to kill the body and steal the soul, though it may have other goals to achieve first.
3B- Demons are the worst. They exhibit every type of evil, twisted, mean-spirited behavior. But most importantly, they seem to have access to inside information about their targets. It’s not clear if they’re psychic or being fed useful information by a supernatural source. But they don’t just lie. They twist the truth in very subtle, precise ways that create insidious doubt and blame in their target’s mind.
3C- Daimon and Ana are watered down demons. Ana accepts this about herself and channels her demon tendencies into useful and fun activities. Daimon uses it as an excuse when he’s caught acting badly and otherwise tries to repress and deny it, which causes his demon tendencies to passive aggressively spill out all over. And not in a fun way.
3D- Henry says that Papa Helstrom is a special case, because he’s so evil that his soul is dead and has been replaced by pure evil. It’s unclear whether he was being/hyperbolic/metaphorical or if Mr Helstrom’s energy takes a different form from demon energy or human energy, making him a super demon. This could be a mythology in which intense evil emanating from within the human heart and/or soul during their mortal life turns them into a demon when they die. Then continued growth in intense evil energy, strengthened by absorbing souls and suffering, eventually turns an average demon into a super demon whose soul has become pure evil energy when they become old and/or evil enough. This would basically be descendance, the opposite of a soul transcending into light and goodness.
3E- Demons have their own society that includes alliances, enemies, vendettas and families. They have distinct personalities, memories and longings of their own which motivate their actions, in addition to their “job” of being an evil demon who creates more evil, sometimes in service of an even more evil master.
Images courtesy of Hulu.