In the fifth episode of Midnight Mass, “Book V: Gospel,” Riley discovers the secret that Father Paul has been hiding. Privy to his grim new reality, Riley seeks out Erin to tell her the truth.
Let’s break down the major takeaways from this episode.
Mildred returns to church
When Mildred comes downstairs to see Sarah in the morning, she’s looking even younger than the night before. She’s happy to finally be able to go to church again, and the town is in awe to see her appearance when she arrives. However, unbeknownst to everyone but a select few, mass is to be held in the evening moving forward due to Father Paul’s whole “will burn up in the sun and die” issue.
Mildred and Sarah both arrive for church in the evening, where Father Paul gives an impassioned and slightly disturbing sermon about Good Friday, Easter, and the Resurrection. He begins to a refer to them all as God’s army, alluding to the dark things that are soon to come. Mildred looks positively disturbed and startled throughout this, and when they leave, she’s very upset as she tells her daughter that she doesn’t want her going back to St. Patrick’s ever again. That’s not her church, and that’s not the man she knew.
The resurrection of Riley Flynn
Riley survived the vampire’s feast on him in the rec center, and he wakes up on the floor the next day to find Father Paul sitting across the room reading. The wound on his neck is healed, though he’s still covered in blood. Father Paul begins to reflect back on a moment shared between he and Riley when the other man was much younger, which confuses Riley, because he isn’t yet aware that this is actually Monsignor Pruitt sitting across from him.
They spend the day talking as Father Paul explains everything to Riley, promising to be honest with him. However, he still thinks that everything that has happened has been an act of God. He killed Joe because he was beyond repair; he was called home. When Riley asks what the creature was that fed on him, he tells him that it was an angel.
Beverly and Sturge come to check on them, and they make Riley drink Sturge’s blood from a cup. They explain that the fact that Riley has been turned into a vampire (though they have yet to actually refer to this transformation as such) is merely a sign that he has been chosen by God. Essentially, these people have been driven to believe that the vampire waltzing around in the shadows is actually an angel marking the imminent return of Jesus, and Crockett Island is to be ground zero for this so-called resurrection. Mhmm.
Although Beverly and the others believe that Riley should be kept in the rec center, Father Paul is insistent that they let him go and do as he pleases. Before Riley leaves, Father Paul tells him that the “hunger” will return “when God wills it,” at which point he will give communion to this chosen person. If that’s what you want to call it, Father …
A fiery goodbye
After taking in the strange new way that he can see the world with his vampire senses, Riley stops in at his parents’ house and looks at them as they sleep. He can hear their heartbeats and see their blood pumping through their bodies. He leaves, heading over to Erin’s house, and she’s immediately furious with him because nobody knew where he had been.
He convinces her to take a rowboat out, reminding her of a time that they had done the exact thing one night when they were younger. It’s there, floating in the middle of the water, that he tells her everything that happened with Father Paul. She’s skeptical, and she asks him if he brought her out there to scare her. Or did he do it to isolate her? Riley corrects her, explaining that he did it so that he would have nowhere to go.
He tells her that he wants her to row to the mainland and never look back. But, knowing that she’ll go back to Crockett Island and do everything she can to save them, he needs her to believe. Riley tells Erin that he’s loved her his entire life as the sun begins to rise.
In Riley’s final moments, he sees the face of the girl that he killed in his drunk driving accident. She smiles at him and takes his hand. In reality, his body is engulfed in flames as Erin sits across from him in the boat and begins to scream and sob.
Other notable moments
- When Father Paul arrives at mass, he pours the decanter full of the vampire’s blood into the one for communion
- Riley’s parents have also begun to look younger
- Bowl’s (whose real name is Bill) mom takes her concerns about her missing son to Sheriff Hassan