Vatican Miracle Examiner
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Vatican Miracle Examiner ?
After capping off its first arc with an episode that could be one of the all-time great examples of So-Bad-It's-Good-ness, I was extremely curious to see how Vatican Miracle Examiners would follow it up this week. I still don't know how the show could have possibly followed “split-personality Hitler clone being set on fire with acid”, to be perfectly honest. Time will only tell if VME can possibly pull off such a herculean task, but this week's seemingly standalone episode does offer up its own particular brand of entertaining madness.
There are two stories going on this week, and both of them are incredibly stupid. The framing story features Josef being assigned as the religious counsel to a “demonically evil” super genius, a very pretty man named Lauren. The exact nature of Lauren's imprisonment is vague, but it seems like the Vatican is involved somehow or another, which makes our leads' status as Catholic Super Detectives feel even sillier by the minute. Things get especially ridiculous when Josef contests Lauren's atheism, challenging him in a ridiculously multi-dimensional game of Go, with the condition being that Lauren must convert to Christianity should Josef win. Now, I would never pretend to be some kind of expert on religious matters, but I'm pretty sure that this isn't how the process of conversion usually goes. This story also sets up what feels like a love triangle between Josef, Lauren, and Roberto, since Lauren only seems to regard his copy of the Bible when he hears the star-struck manner in which Josef describes Roberto's absolute perfection as a human being.
All of this is just a framing device though, so whether or not any of the homoerotic subtext the show has been laying out for its leads actually goes anywhere remains to be seen. The real meat of this week's story involves the story that Josef tells Lauren about a man he knew named John Brickett. This is the part of the episode that gets especially odd, as a fable about how John's father was actually the demon Azazel, who gave his son a thousand wishes as some sort of spiritual test. Of course, the first wish poor John ends up making involves sending a serial killer dressed as Santa away from his home, only to have his neighbors slaughtered instead. John's story eventually involves him zombifying his own mother after killing her with his wish powers, then eventually doing something similar to a dolphin trainer he falls in love with, who turns out to just be a golem created by his own innermost desires.
What I find most fascinating about this deeply silly story is not only how seriously the show takes it, but also how it seems to negate a lot of Vatican Miracle Examiner's initial premise. The first episodes of the show had Josef and Roberto going through a lot of effort to use scientific methodology to test the supposed miracles they were encountering. None of the writing surrounding this stuff was any good, but there was still some semblance of consistency to the way VME approached the supernatural. A lot of that went right out the window last week, and things feel further disconnected this week when Josef presents such an unbelievable tale as patent truth. This could very well be a ploy on Josef's part, but the writing and tone of the episode is so inconsistent and over the top that I find it hard to tell what the show is going for.
I think this will be the defining question of Vatican Miracle Examiner's post-Two-Headed-Hitler-Clone-Baby era: What is this show even trying to be? Is it a serious procedural that's trying to tell compelling mysteries, or is it campy schlock horror that simply tries to be as outrageous as possible? Only a series that possessed supreme confidence, nuance, and storytelling could even hope to succeed at being both of those things at the same time. Based on everything we've seen so far, I'm fairly confident that Vatican Miracle examiner is not that show.
Vatican Miracle Examiner is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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