Midnight Mass Ending Explained- Religious Zealotry, Bev Is A Monster, And What Happens To Leeza?
Holly Holy, Netflix’s lastest Midnight Mass is a searing piece of thoughtful horror. Creator and director Mike Flanagan, who brought us The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, has a very specific brand of horror, and I would buy it any day. His slow-burn examination of the perverted side of humanity highlights the horrific things that hide inside us. Although there is a deadly vampire on the island, it is by no means the most dangerous thing. That designation belongs to Bev Keene. Samantha Sloyan’s Bev is the ultimate schemer and is nothing short of brilliant in Midnight Mass. As the seven-episode arc of the limited series comes to a fiery end, we are left with a few questions. Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Father Paul?
Monsignor Pruitt and Father Paul are the same people. He went to Jerusalem to see the holy land before he died and happened upon a vampire he believed was an angel. The vampire healed him of his dementia and restored his youth. In Father Paul’s bliss, he lost track of the whole blood-sucking part and was swindled into bringing the vampire back to Crock-Pot to save his dying community. He lied to the community about who he really was because he was convinced they would not understand.
Father Paul needed to show them miracles before he could reveal how those things happened. He instinctively knows something is wrong, which is why he hides it. Almost all faiths condemn deception, and Christianity goes so far as to say lying is not just a sin, but it is the tool of the devil. He should have known better but was vulnerable when he first met the vampire.
What happens at the end of Midnight Mass?
At the end of Midnight Mass, Erin cripples the vampire’s wings, and after he kills her, it couldn’t fly away in time to avoid the sunrise. This is why Leeza became paralyzed again when the sun came up. When the creature died, so did the blood that was in Leeza healing her. Leeza and Warren were the only inhabitants of the island to live, and they were 100% human. Dr. Gunning died by gunshot, Erin was killed by the vampire, and everyone else was eaten by one of the newly turned vampires or burned as the sun rose. Everyone in town besides Bev returned to their faith. Sherrif Hassan and his son prayed before the Sherrif died from his injuries and his son burned. Bev was the only one who refused to accept her culpability, and she died lonely and afraid.
Who was Dr. Gunning’s father?
Father Paul/Monsignor Pruitt was Dr. Gunning’s father. She never knew, and that is why Mildred did not want to leave the island. They loved each other when they were young, and that love resulted in Sarah’s birth. No one ever found out about their affair, and the couple chose to separate. Mildred raised Sarah on her own without telling her the truth about her father until the end of Midnight Mass Episode 7, when he admitted who he was to her as she died. Father Paul tries to resurrect her using his blood, but she spits it out because she would rather die than be turned into a vampire. Mildred had already been reborn when she shot Father Paul, and the vampire attacked her for it. She did not willingly choose to be turned and did not kill anyone afterward.
What happens after death in Midnight Mass?
Two deaths are focused on in Midnight Mass. First Riley after being turned into a vampire by the winged creature and Father Paul, and later Erin Greene, who the same vampire killed at the end. However, before any of that happens, the couple discusses one night why Erin has faith after everything that happened to her and what happens after death. For Riley, who feels such intense guilt over killing a young girl in a drunk driving accident, he has lost hope that anything good exists. He doesn’t think a God who would allow an innocent to die while he lives should exist. By extension, religion is a misnomer. He thinks when you die; you cease to exist. There is nothing. For him, this is a weird comfort because he doesn’t believe he deserves anything more.
On the other hand, Erin believes in a Heaven where family and friends reunite and spend eternity together. A higher power ushers the newly departed through the gates to a place of peace and forgiveness. Her ex-husband was abusive, but the child she had carried before the vampire came saved her life. The unborn baby helped her realize she needed to leave her husband before he hurt her baby. The power of possibility and hope enabled her to return to the island and seek solace in her childhood community. Faith for her is a source of strength. It provides hope, order, and fairness. The traditional Judeo-Christian God heavily influences her view of death.
As both experience death, we see two different perspectives that are variations on their earlier conversation. Riley showed Erin what he had become because he knew it would be the only way to convince her of what was happening. He sacrificed his life to ensure her safety. As she saw him burning to death under the sun, he saw the girl he killed, who he had seen throughout laying dead, extending her hand. It is implied he was offered absolution from her. His death more closely mirrors Erin’s vision of the afterlife.
As Erin lies dying at the very end of Midnight Mass, she gives an emotional and poignant soliloquy about what death actually is. Her death scene speaks of reincarnation and rebirth into the universe. It is the life that never dies, just rejoins the whole of existence to be changed into new energy and reborn again. The existential and beautiful statement is one of absolute inclusivity and optimism. For her, life has a purpose because of the greater design, and she finds peace in the togetherness she always wanted.
We do not know why the two have such varying death scenes, but each got exactly what they needed, and that is perhaps the most important takeaway. Religion and faith shouldn’t be one size fits all. It should serve a positive purpose not be used to incite violence or judgement. They each experienced what happens next in their own beautiful way that was life-affirming. As the town that had all turned to vampires awaits their inevitable death by the sun, they find faith once more and sing for forgiveness. Hopefully, they see what Erin and Riley do after death.
Why was most of the town willing to accept and obvious monster in church?
You can make anything fit your narrative if you want it bad enough. There’s even a word for it. Pareidolia is when humans find patterns when there are none. It is why we see faces in the clouds and a man on the moon. We need to feel there are others like us, and so we see others everywhere. Scientists have found humans prefer to believe things are true than false.
We are hardwired to believe. Skepticism is more challenging for us, and as a result, most believe what we heard early. Leeza’s parents wanted so desperately to have their child’s paralysis reversed they were willing to overlook the homicidal aspects of the benefactor of that miracle. Riley’s parents desperately wanted their child to be healed and, as a result, were easy to fool. They had endured a lot with Riley, and they mistakenly thought everything that was happening on the island was the acts of God.
Bev Keene is more of a monster than the vampire in Midnight Mass.
The real monster in Crock-Pot, the fictional island in Midnight Mass, is Bev Keene. Mike Flanagan is adept at showing us the failings of humanity. The ability to lie to ourselves and others when it suits us is just one of our many faults. The longtime resident, self-appointed moral compass, and religious Queen Bee is monstrous. Considering all we saw the vampire do and the complete ignorance of Monsignor Pruitt/Father Paul, Bev still eclipses them as the worst being in the limited series. The vampire itself, which could be argued was a form of an angel(more on this later), was doing what he instinctively does. I’m sure he thought these rubes were dumb lambs to the slaughter, but he has to eat. To him, they are nothing more than cows or pigs serving up steak and bacon.
Father Paul was an old man with an addled brain when he first met the vampire. He was in the late stages of dementia and was not able to think rationally about what was happening. His motives were pure. He honestly wanted to bring the “angel” back to save his community like he was cured. It wasn’t until the very end that he realized how far from his faith the flock had strayed, but his intentions were good. Unfortunately, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The priest’s biggest sin is hubris or pride. Pride cometh before the fall. He truly wants to help but fails to understand every man is fallible. Father Paul first tells Riley he will start the AA chapter even though there isn’t much need on the island but then says 1 in 12 suffers. His misconceptions blind him. Bev is knowingly blind. Both are wrong, but one is passively to blame, and the other is a monster.
Bev, on the other hand, was never altruistic. Joe Collie knew her as a child and said even then she had dubious intentions. We know from Riley’s share at Father Paul’s AA meeting, Bev essentially stole money from the residents when the oil company offered the islanders a settlement. She encouraged them to take it because she knew she could then extend her hand and snatch some of that money under the guise of godly work. Riley is jaded, but, likely, he isn’t wrong about her embezzling some of the tithings.
In addition to stealing, she also killed Joe’s dog Pike. She chillingly questions Sheriff Hassan when he asks her about the poison in the church closet. Bev admits using it to control a mouse infestation that may or may not be true but feigns remorse that her actions may have inadvertently killed Pike. She aggressively confronts the Sheriff on his proof, and he, of course, has to admit he is not accusing her of anything. He has no evidence she did it, but he admits to Joe that he knows she did.
She is a master manipulator. As much as Father Paul’s angel/vampire is a beast, Bev is a demon. She is the silver-tongued ghoul who preys on others’ insecurities and fears. She rules the community out of a need to be important, not out of a desire to save anyone’s soul. Although she clashes with the Sheriff when she wants to introduce the bible into the public school, she is less concerned with what religious faith is being taught in school than maintaining her power. She is less a bigot than a tyrant. She uses the strict morality of Catholicism to hide her thirst for power. I would posit if the community were predominantly Muslim from the beginning, Bev would be devoutly Muslim to gain power. Bev just needs to be in charge of the winning side.
Lastly, Bev is a coward and a myopic psychic vampire. At the end of Midnight Mass, Bev hides when those in the church were either being “reborn” as vampires or being first meals for them. If she were a true believer, she would have joined in from the beginning. She also is the one who encourages everyone to burn all the houses and send the boats away to ensure the entire town would be converted or die. At no point did she consider that someone with genuine faith could thwart her because she does not have true faith in anything.
Dr. Gunning, Mildred, Warren, Sheriff Hassan, Erin, and Leeza(the most devout of them all), had faith in each other and faith in a higher power to save themselves and as much of town as they could. Ultimately, their sacrifices saved Leeza and Warren, ensuring the vampires would not escape the island. There were even those who turned who chose peace instead of violence. As the flames burned everything and the realization hit that they were all going to die, the town found their faith in God again and asked for forgiveness. Bev never admitted failure or asked to be forgiven.
Is the winged creature a vampire or an angel and what was the master plan in Midnight Mass?
The creature who Father Pruitt first encountered in Jerusalem could be either or both. He does provide resurrection to all who drink from his blood. Just like Lazarus and Jesus, Father Pruitt firmly believed he was saved. In his eyes, the last supper story, which gives Christians their communion, was reimagined. Instead of metaphorically drinking Jesus’ blood and eating his flesh, the vampire’s actions were interpreted as literal actions foretold in the bible.
It is a genius skewing of the cornerstone of the Christain faith. Because Father Pruitt was mentally compromised when the vampire attacked him, he was fooled into thinking he was saving his community. He was devout despite his affair with Mildred, and his faith was used against him. Anything can be warped to fit the narrative you need if you want it badly enough. Father Pruitt desperately wanted to save his island congregation, and as a result, he saw things he wanted to instead of seeing what was really there. He was already primed to do so by all his years being duped by Bev Keene.
The bloodsucker wanted to create an army of vampires that would then escape the island and infect the rest of the world. It was only after Father Paul saw all the death and destruction that he realized what was happening. Unfortunately, he was too late to save his daughter Sarah, but Erin sliced the vampire’s wings as it fed on her, which prevented it from flying away in time.
Ultimately Midnight Mass is about the perversion of faith. It is about the beauty in forgiveness and the failures of those who seek to control others through exploitation. A masterful scene between Joe and Leeza highlights what is so great about Mike Flanagan’s kind of horror. This is enlightened horror that makes you think and feel and scares you when you do. But, unfortunately, there is nothing scary than our imaginations, and there is nothing more horrible than humans.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.