A baptism, or Christening, is the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead, or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration, and admission to a Christian church. It is also defined as a person’s “initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one that is perceived as difficult.” Traditionally recognized as a “rebirth” or a “start of a new journey,” it also means ” the joining of a new family.”
As Mickey enters the church, a magnificent wide-open shot of the interior is bathed in purple light. Purple stands for royalty, nobility, ceremony, spirituality, transformation, enlightenment. Sometimes, it is used as the color of mourning. From this point of view, the audience senses that this is an enormous place, the house of God. An imposing semi-circle of vertical pillars pointing toward the heavens elicit a feeling of grandeur and awe. The purpose is to make everything else feel small in comparison. Mickey appears slight and vulnerable walking in the door. He is crossing the threshold into something grander than him; a new beginning as his son is about to be ceremoniously initiated into the family.
Mickey approaches the altar impatient for the ceremony to begin. As he walks up, he says “This hasn’t even started yet?” Svetlana snaps back “You’re late.” Mickey says, “All right. Well, I’m here now. Let’s get this show on the road.” Svetlana insists they wait for Terry. She says, “No, we must wait until you father gets here.” Mickey says, “He doesn’t give a shit about the ceremony, trust me. He’ll be here for the after-party.” Svetlana says, “No, he gives shit. He tells me.
“Mickey asks surprised, “You talked to him?” Svetlana says, “Almost every day. We’ve become very close.” Mickey, disgusted by the news, responds “God, that is so sick. Are you going to start banging him again too?”
The Priest interrupts urging them to begin. He says, “I’m sorry, but we have to start. I have a funeral in 45 minutes.” (Funeral references death of one while we are here celebrating the rebirth of another).
Again, Svetlana stands firm: “No, we must wait. Whole family needs to be here to witness baptism.” Mickey sarcastically points out, “Or, what? It didn’t really happen?”
A recurring theme this entire episode has been on the emphasis of “family” and how it is defined; whether represented figuratively by the close bond that has developed between Svetlana and Terry, or literally by the fact that Terry is Mickey’s biological father. Svetlana’s insistence that the FAMILY needs to be together to witness the ceremony, as the ceremony is bringing them together as a whole family as much as it’s inducting Yevgeny into it. Recalling back to the scenes earlier that morning between Carl, Ian, and Mickey, the prevalent topic was also about identifying and ranking relationships. Ian dismissing his blood relationship to Frank while yearning to establish a figurative one with Mickey as a “couple.”
As the priest, Mickey, and Svetlana continue to bicker over whether to start the ceremony or wait for Terry, the door to the church opens. Everyone turns around. Svetlana says, “See, it’s good we wait.”
But, it is not Terry who enters. It is Ian who walks in.
Ian has just metaphorically replaced Terry as the missing piece of this family unit.
Svetlana, clearly irritated, asks “What is he doing here?”
Mickey says, “How the hell should I know? Let’s get this on the road, all right? Aren’t we supposed to dunk the kid in the bowl of water or something?” The priest agrees that he is right and they must start.
The ceremony begins. The priest says: “Father, you made a sign in the waters for baptism. To end sin and begin goodness.” (camera pans from Mickey to Ian).
“Through this baptism” (camera pans from Svetlana glaring at Ian to Svetlana glaring at Mickey) “Yevgeny is cleansed from sin to a new birth to innocence by water, and the Holy Spirit.”
The focus of the scene is about family, unification, and rebirth. While we are witnessing it as the literal Christening of Yevgeny into the Milkovich family, metaphorically it is unifying Ian into their circle. It sets the stage for Mickey’s coming out scene, where he will shed his old self, and accept his new one. Mickey’s rebirth to start a new journey with a new family. Svetlana’s persistence that they wait for Terry to begin the ceremony, but having Ian show up instead, foreshadows Ian’s role as an integral part of their future clan. Terry’s absence, and the Priest’s mention of a funeral later that day, signals Terry’s eventual departure from the family. The purple lighting used to bathe the inside of the church has a dual symbolic meaning of the “rebirth” of this new family and the “death” of Terry’s part in it.