TV Series, Damien: First Impressions

I remember the day I turned 20. A close friend of my family called to wish me a happy one but to also sprinkle a bit of optimism on what embarking on the decade would inspire. I can't say that any of her best wishes were a big part of that trek towards yet another milestone which was 30 in 2012. However, I'm glad I can look back and really see the growth (cringe-worthy and otherwise) that is hopeful for when I turn 40, and be able to make an even better assessment.

Growing older is painful. Especially when you choose the difficult task of evolving from the residual negative and, dare I say, unsavory recesses of your personhood. This is unquestionably why I have always enjoyed The Omen trilogy. More specifically, that brief moment in Damien: Omen II (1978) were our title character is physically and emotionally struck with the weight of his identity. It makes sense that he had such a dramatic reaction in direct correlation with his prosperous adolescence. In film fashion, he accepts his son of Satan position pretty quickly as if it were a light switch.

What I find promising about the new series Damien, which takes a turn by being a direct sequel to the 1976 film is seeing what happens when we're able to see Damien Thorn (Bradley James) really process the (un)holy crap fact that he is the Antichrist. As this character, he's typically easy on the eyes and just turning 30, has his career as a photojournalist and exceptional taste in women (shout out to Tiffany Hines as his ex-girlfriend, Kelly Baptiste) ahead of him. He knows all the right people and seems to have an unfathomable amount of luck when danger surrounds him in the most extreme ways. Damien is not at all depicted as a baller, so his slight brooding and focus does balance his privilege if only on the surface.

After Damien's encounter with a strange woman during a raid in a small village in Syria while on assignment, he begins to have flashes of his childhood that leads him down his pre-ordained path to discovering his purpose on Earth and beyond.

This is what feels like will be the crux of this series; re-discovering the past in order to understand what lies ahead in the future, and the struggle with what is inevitable and how much control there lies (if any) to orchestrate that future. Damien may strike a chord with those currently in my age range who are grappling with their own crisis of purpose. Those baby thirties feel even more fragile because time morphs into a clock with a deafening tick.

Further, Damien speaks the universal language of self discovery while allowing this speculative work to remain smartly in a very ambiguous realm where Mr. Thorn lies somewhere in between on the spectrum of good and evil. The series debuted with a delightfully familiar tone while taking a fresh approach to organically expanding The Omen story. And Damien speaks intrigue and seduction because of this. The first episode feels like a teaser for much richer tale to come. I am looking forward to the already strong performances and seeing exactly how the beast rises, while keeping my own beastly adulthood on a sane, steady path.

Listen to a great conversation with Damien creator/showrunner Glenn Mazzara on Hilliard Guess' Screenwriters Rant Room here.

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