I’ve recently begun watching a new show called Damien on A&E. As you can probably guess, it is based on The Omen series of movies that began in the 70s (forget about the toothless recent remake). I’ve only watched the first movie, which has become an occult horror classic. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it centers around a young boy named Damien who may or may not be destined to become the Anti-Christ. He seems innocent enough, playing with his toys and tricycle, but people start dying around him in terrible ways, and forces of light and darkness converge around him, hoping to pull him to their side. All the while, his distraught father wrestles with the horrific possibility that his own son might grow up to be the most heinous villain in human history as tragedies unfold around him. It is a very suspenseful and chilling film (and also features the most most awesomely cheesy decapitation scene ever shown on screen) that is definitely worth watching. I watched it and several similar films when I was doing research for my first book, The Age of Apollyon.
After lying dormant for decades, the studio suits have decided to resurrect the franchise as a TV show. Only three episodes have aired so far, but we know that Damien is now a 30-year-old photographic journalist who is drawn to war-torn areas. He has not materialized into the Anti-Christ; in fact, he has little recollection of his childhood, which was depicted in the first movie. Supernatural strangeness and inexplicable deaths start to occur (and the menacing dogs from the films make frequent appearances too). Even though he is not sure of his supposed destiny, there are many people who do know and either want him dead or in their camp. All the while, Damien is struggling to come to grips with the possibility that he is indeed the Anti-Christ, though he is naturally reluctant to ascend the throne.
As I said, only a few episodes have aired so we have not had a chance to delve too deeply into the characters or storyline, but like the movie, it is a fascinating premise. I am very curious how the writers and producers will take an amnesiac photojournalist and have him subdue the nations and declare war against the people of God. But what is most intriguing to me is the question that is not explored too often: what do you do if you are destined to become a villain?
Of course, this is Hollywood, and sound theology is predictably lacking, but the truth is that someone somewhere will one day grow up to become the Son of Perdition, as he is called in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. As Jesus was once a child, so shall this man be. Will he be evil right out of the womb? Will he be transformed by some traumatic event? Will he be “evil” in the comic book villain sense of the word?
For obvious reasons, a believer in Christ could not end up becoming the Man of Sin but anyone who does not believe could theoretically become this man. As Morpheus said in The Matrix: “Anyone who is still plugged in is potentially an agent.” So also could anyone who is still in the clutches of darkness become The Beast who shall be given authority for forty-two months (Rev. 13:5). Perhaps even someone as innocuous as a freelance photographer.
What I enjoy about this show is how Damien is the hero even though we know (do we?) that he is destined to become the villain. He is a decent and caring person who is shocked by the horrific events that happen around him, though we see glimpses of a sinister shadow that blankets his soul. He is antagonistic towards God and the church, and he is drawn to those who wish to see him fulfill his destiny. Until that happens, however, there is still hope. The darkness is powerful but the light is even more so. In this nihilistic age, entertainment often revels in the dark side but it is refreshing to find a program that also demonstrates the power of light.
Yet something tells me this will not end well…