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Episode 4: The Forgiveness of Sins
Foxtel  ·  50 minutes  ·  Original Broadcast: September 23, 2014

Directed by: Tony Krawitz  |  Written by: Tommy Murphy

Official synopsis: Tom takes his concerns about the ongoing case to Bishop McNallly but later finds that his house has been broken into. Meanwhile, another boy goes missing.

Please note that recaps feature spoilers on the individual episode.
This recap was written by Nikole Gunn for TV Blackbox, September 23, 2014

If you turn over enough rocks, you’ll find the creepy-crawlies. It’s taken four episodes of Devil’s Playground and we’re starting to discover the worms. It’s only now that we’re starting to get a true sense of what is going on. This is not just about the death of a child, but the lengths that some will go to keep the truth hidden and the depths of depravity in others. It opens with Elliot and his classmates writing down their sins and ceremoniously throwing them into the fire under the watchful eye of Brother Warren. Elliot doesn’t confess to wagging or smoking, he writes one simple sentence “I want to kill him’. The ‘him’ in question is not directly addressed but is perhaps a reference to the previous episode, where Father Andrassi (Andrew McFarlane) took him shooting by the lake and told him that he was special. The good father has issues that Tom Allen is only beginning to uncover. After being confronted by Brendan’s revelations of abuse, that trail takes him first to Bishop McNally and then to Colleton, where Andrassi was parish priest.

If Tom was hoping to find proof of Brendan’s abuse, he’s sadly mistaken. Colleton is a closed shop, where Andrassi is revered as a ‘good man’, while Brendan is reviled as a trouble-making liar. Not even his own mother believed his allegations against ‘father’. But she reveals some ‘truths’. Andrassi pressed charges, while Bishop McNally sorted things out and prevented things from going any further, sparing Brendan a jail sentence. Another potential victim sheds more light on the situation, revealing the Church brought in a high-powered lawyer in to ‘threaten’ the boys – all with McNally’s knowledge. The local constabulary eventually runs Tom out of town – the influence of the church reaches far.

In the meantime, Andrassi has been spending more time with Elliot and his family, suggesting he become an altar boy and go on retreat as a way to bring him out of himself. As a viewer, we can see he’s ‘grooming’ Elliot and building the family’s trust. His mother thinks he’s holding something back, but has no reason to believe the priest may be the problem. Why would she? He’s a trusted member of their Catholic community. Andrassi is then confronted by the Bishop, who demands answers about his dealings with Brendan whilst at Colleton. Did he touch him? Did he lie in the court hearing? Did he manipulate his ‘holy trust’? It prompts the priest’s breakdown and he confesses his sins in graphic detail, but insists it’s all behind him. While deploring his acts and calling him a disgrace to his church, Bishop McNally offers him absolution.

Unfortunately, Andrassi is unable to control his urges and makes a move on Elliot, as he gets dressed to become an altar boy. It’s at this point, Brother Warren walks in on them and sends Elliot on his way. Clearly shocked and angry by what he’s witnessed in the Sacristy, he reports the priest to the school principal, who advises him to say nothing to anyone. Of course it has nothing to do with sparing the church a scandal, but to spare the boy any schoolyard gossip. Something IS done about the pedophile priest who can’t control his appetite. He’s to be quietly removed as school chaplain and allowed to continue his work at the cancer hospice. The hypocrisy of the church can’t be ignored.

Bishop McNally is prepared to forgive a pedophile priest, yet turns on the psychiatrist that he’d hired to help reform the church. Tom Allen is now a target because he knows too much. Episode 4 of Devil’s Playground is confronting and unflinching. Some may find it difficult to watch as a child is groomed for a perverse purpose. But if you’ve ever asked ‘how could things like institutionalised abuse happen in this day and age’? This episode in particular may provide clues.

There are just two episodes left to air in this Foxtel drama. May they answer questions on screen … and in real life.

Guest Cast: Lochie Nazer Hennings (Dan Rivers), Jarin Towney (Elliott Darcy), Leon Ford (Brother Warner), Rory Potter (Cavanagh), Lewis Defina (Greg Harrison), John Noble (Bishop McNally), Simon Burke (Tom Allen), Danny Adcock (Father Drake), Sarah Woods (Veronica Mahony), Jack Thompson (Cardinal Neville), Andrew McFarlane (Father Andrassi), Jessica Donoghue (Catherine Darcy), Jason Klarwein (Matthew Darcy), Matt Levett (Brendon Mahony), Morgana Davies (Bridie Allen), Dylan Young (Blake), Odhan Connolly (Blake’s Baby), Alice Harvey (Blake’s Wife), Don Hany (Bishop Quaid), Uli Latukefu (Father Matteo), James Fraser (David Allen), Daniel Krige (Cop), Pip Miller (Brother Cosgrove), Anna Lise Phillips (Alice Kelly), Ben Hall (Finton Kelly), Max Cullen (Father Joyce), Avani Farriss (Rachel Darcy), Coco Jack Gillies (Megan Darcy), Darren Gilshenan (Father Lenken), Will Kostopoulos (Lawyer)