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Review: Damien (A&E) - As much a victim of his true nature as the rest of the world

By on March 8, 2016



There once was a boy whose mother was a jackal and whose father was the devil. His adoptive parents figured it out eventually, but by then it was too late (meaning: they died). Now, the little boy has grown up into a thirty-year old photographer called Damien (Bradley James, Merlin) who is actually a pretty nice guy. Surprising, given that he’s the Antichrist.

Damien doesn’t know who he really is, but he is about to find out. Following an incident in Syria involving the military and a group of Christian citizens, which Damien captured on film, he is no longer allowed into Syria. While trying to call in some favors to regain access to the country, he meets Ann (Barbara Hershey, Once Upon A Time), a woman from his childhood whom he doesn’t remember. She tells him ‘the seal has been broken, the trumpet blown’, and then tells him a whole bunch of things about his life that she couldn’t really know about unless she was a crazy stalker. Which is probably what Damien is thinking as well. However, he will soon find out she isn’t a stalker but rather the person who will introduce him to who he really is.

Although it seems his life was quite normal up until now, following his thirtieth birthday strange things start to happen in Damien’s life. People start to tell him they love him and that ‘it’ is all for him. And then they die. Plus, he starts to remember weird things from his past he seems to have repressed, like his fifth birthday party. His governess screamed out she loved him while standing on the roof of their house, after which she jumped to her death. Happy birthday little Damien! Also, dogs with telepathic powers and a tendency to kill people start to follow him around, which is both creepy and, I would imagine, rather useful in certain situations.

Damien’s photographer friends help him find out about his past. Together they also investigate the incident of an old woman in Syria letting herself get killed for him (a very literal blood baptism, anyone?). However, Damien’s true nature threatens not only the lives of innocent bystanders, but his friends as well. Things take a turn when someone very close to Damien dies in front of his eyes. He is now more determined than ever to find out what he is, even though the possibility of the truth scares him. After all, nobody really wants to be the Antichrist, right?

The series incorporates flashbacks to the movie The Omen, which served as inspiration/a prequel for the series. I like how they found a way to refer to the movie in a way that makes sense to the storyline. Making a series as a sequel to a movie is risky. The things that made the movie successful can’t always be incorporated in a series so trying to force the movie format into a series is usually a disaster. However, this series doesn’t make that mistake. Instead of focusing on the devil child, the series focuses on Damien’s quest for his true nature, which has a totally different vibe to it. All in all, the series is a worthy continuation of the story first posed in the 1976 movie The Omen and after that in the 2006 remake.

Sometimes the series takes shortcuts, for instance when Damien immediately realizes things that probably should have taken a lot more soul searching. For instance: he is very quick to see that there is a darkness growing inside him and that people are dying because of him. It might be a way to keep the premiere a bit more interesting, but for the sake of realism I hope the rest of the series won’t take the same shortcuts. Ha, look at me talking about realism in a series about the Antichrist! That’s not real! Right…?

Damien airs on Mondays at 10/9c on A&E.