Netflix's horror hit Midnight Mass never explained what caused Father Paul Hill’s (initial) death, but one theory claims it could have been the show’s villain Bev Keane who killed him. A small-town horror series with a lot to say about faith, organized religion, and community, Midnight Mass is the latest Netflix success from writer/director Mike Flanagan. The show received largely stellar reviews when it debuted on the streaming service.
Compared to Flanagan’s earlier shows The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass is a relatively straightforward series that takes its time to get going and tells a comparatively simple story. Where Flanagan’s earlier shows toyed with both perspective and time-shifting, Midnight Mass focuses on a small island community and zeroes in on a few unfortunate residents. However, Midnight Mass is not without its unsolved mysteries, despite the plot’s relative simplicity.
For one thing, the show never explicitly answers the question of who was behind the fatal poisoning of Joe Collie’s beloved dog. While this may not seem like a major issue, soon after Joe’s dog dies, Father Paul Hill succumbs to a very similar fate, only to be resurrected after his apparent death. After Father Hill’s resurrection, the character is revealed to be the aging, ailing Monsignor Pruitt, with Midnight Mass’ reference to The Shining confirming that the elderly Monsignor was given new life by an encounter with a supernatural creature he came across in the Holy Land. Soon, Midnight Mass becomes a violent vampire horror, meaning the mystery of who poisoned the priest is never addressed. However, there is one suspect in the supporting cast and there’s so much supporting evidence against them that the case can almost be closed outright. As shown by a fan theory, Bev Keane almost certainly killed Father Paul Hill.
Bev Keane Poisoned The Dog Pike
The biggest and most obvious clue to who (temporarily) slew the good father is the circumstances in which Joe Collie’s pet dog died. The dog “accidentally” consumed the dangerous poison that Bev Keane had access to, and both Joe and the local Sheriff are certain she is responsible for the pet’s death after she called the animal a menace earlier in the series. Inspired by Stephen King villains like The Mist’s Ms. Carmody and Carrie’s Margaret White, Keane later proves through acts of extreme violence that she is not averse to taking the lives of anyone who crosses her path and rationalizing her awful actions as part of God’s plan. Therefore, the fact that the priest’s unexpected death involved the same symptoms as that of Joe Collie’s dog heavily implies that Bev opted to off Father Paul Hill before realizing that he was harder to get rid of than expected.
Bev Keane Was Jealous Of Paul Hill
Bev was upset when Pruitt didn't return from his long-awaited trip to the Holy Land and was openly critical of Father Paul Hill when he acted as the Monsignor’s replacement. Viewers could reasonably infer that, due to the Monsignor’s dementia, Bev may have had undue influence over the priest before his trip. By episode 2 of Midnight Mass, Bev is already criticizing Father Hill over his vestments, casting aspersions over his viability as Pruitt’s replacement, and — according to this theory, at least — considering ridding herself of the newcomer by any means necessary. Killing Hill led Bev to discover that the priest was Pruitt, but this development worked in her favor as it allowed gave the villain leverage over the object of her earlier manipulation.
Bev Keane Was Using Father Pruitt (Before & After His Death)
Joe Collie’s story about the town receiving sizable settlements from an oil company and being convinced to donate them to the construction of the Monsignor Pruitt Recreation Centre (and, by proxy, give control of the cash directly to Bev) indicates that she was manipulating people for her own ends before the Monsignor headed to the Holy Land. Like the Stephen King characters referenced in Midnight Mass, Bev is a classic hypocritical zealot who preaches about caring for the community but takes advantage of Pruitt's dementia to do things on "his behalf” and takes the money for herself. What is more subtle, but also important to note, is that Bev can also be seen manipulating Pruitt when he returns to life as a vampire, with her even taking over as the leader of his cult.
Related: Is Midnight Mass Connected To Haunting of Hill House?
After the penultimate episode’s massacre at the church leaves Pruitt despondent, realizing the awful mistake he has made, Bev Keane swoops in and ends up being responsible for more deaths than the ageless vampire roaming around the small island town. Like The Mist’s Ms. Carmody, Bev begins demanding sacrifices and has no qualms about killing innocent people via her followers or with her own hands, as proven by her shooting the Sheriff. Ultimately, Bev is happy to manipulate the Monsignor regardless of his age if this approach works in her favor, but the zeal with which she kills once he abandons her makes it clear that the townswoman would have been more than happy to poison him earlier in case he went against her wishes or cost her any of her influence in the community.
How & Why Bev Killed Pruitt
In episode 3, Father Paul Hill falls violently ill during a meeting with Wade and his wife where Bev is also present. However, carefully rewatching the episode’s earlier scenes explain both the method and motives for Bev Keane’s murder of Father Paul Hill. Like The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass’ second episode ends with a huge twist as the priest performs an apparent miracle and helps Liza Scarborough walk again. Soon the entire town is attending mass seemingly overnight and reaping the benefits of a sacrament they don’t yet know is vampire blood. Everyone is energized and feeling healthier and happier, as seen in a deliberately corny montage set to Neil Diamond.
This does not work in the favor of Bev Keane, who has essentially had free rein to do as she likes in the name of the church for decades before the arrival of this much-loved priest drew new attention to her cozy setup. Bev takes drastic action and poisons the priest throughout the episode, likely by tampering with his food and drink. Early in the episode, when he first falls ill, Bev can be seen bringing Paul a glass of water. Later on, episode 3 of Midnight Mass makes a point of showing a handyman fixing the water supply into the priest’s small house at Bev’s behest — likely because she has been adding rat poison to the tap for days, gradually weakening the priest in the process. Thus, the biggest unsolved of Midnight Mass may have an answer after all, provided that viewers are willing to do a little digging and invest time in a rewatch.
How The Bev Keane Father Pruitt Murder Makes The Show Better
The theory that Bev Keane is responsible for the bizarre "death" of Father Paul Hill/Monsignor Pruitt holds water — and it makes the show better. Director Mike Flanagan is known for hiding plot details and providing Easter eggs in his programs, such as the blink-and-you'll-miss-it ghosts in The Haunting of Hill House or the Midnight Mass book in his movie Hush. In keeping with this stylistic choice, the poisoning of Joe Collie's dog was inferred, but never fully resolved. After a second watch, it's obvious that Bev is behind the dog's death, making it easier to swallow that she probably killed Monsignor Pruitt too. In fact, another watch of Midnight Mass all but confirms the theory, since his death is never explained, but Bev Keane is a constant presence. Ultimately, the theory/possible reality makes the show better in that it adds another layer of intrigue to the program without truly affecting the overall storyline. People already know that the zealous Bev is capable of terrible things, including murder. If she were to have killed Pruitt, it would add a shade of subtlety that forces audiences to focus on the smaller details of each episode.
Related: Why Midnight Mass Never Uses The Word Vampire
It also makes the character of Bev Keane more formidable. She's already a strong presence in Midnight Mass, and her piety-masked depravity makes her all the more sinister. Her arc on the show is somewhat predictable, but at the same time, her evolution into sheer madness as she massacres the town is a horrifying one to watch. It would only add more weight to think that she was already busy committing murders while solidifying that she's capable of the horrible acts she commits in the end. By burying its own lede in inferring that Bev killed Father Pruitt, the vampire horror series Midnight Mass adds an air of mystery to the final product that doesn't directly affect the plot but adds weight to its unfolding.