Evil (2019) s02e03 – F Is for Fire

This episode opens with an added for Paramount+ (presumably) bit of nudity as Katja Herbers has a sexy dream out of a “Red Shoe Diaries” commercial. That superfluous nudity, plus Herbers dropping an f-bomb in what seems again to be ADR, is how “Evil” is upping its game from broadcast to streaming. And while those additions aren’t helping the show—and just make it seems silly (though Herbers’s “I’m so horny I could die” subplot this episode is pretty silly)–“Evil” continues its strongest uptick maybe ever. Could “Evil” actually end up being something good?

It’s only got another ten episodes to figure it out (while I’m very hesitantly positive about the show’s creative potential, its renewal potential seems absurdly low—but no, they just renewed it for Season 3). But what if “Evil” just ends up being a bunch of people acting varying degrees of absurdly evil? Like Herbers. Herbers is showing some decidedly evil traits this episode. Ditto mom Christine Lahti, who uses a lot of manipulation and subterfuge to reinsert herself in Herbers’s life.

Of course, with everyone acting evil—or at least getting excited at the possibility of it (culturally Muslim Aasif Mandvi letting his sex demon, voiced by Ciara Renée, costume-acted by Ashley Edner, convince him his Christian friends are dissing his background while taking out her retainer for business time)—it gives poor Mike Colter even less to do. Last season was all about Herbers getting hot and bothered at the idea of Colter. Now Colter just disappears when not needed—after a good opening where he explains the show premise to new cast member Andrea Martin (playing a nun in his parish who he doesn’t think can know foreign languages because she’s a girl)—because he’s no longer the object of Herbers’s lust. It’s a bummer for Colter… but seems to be a plus for “Evil” overall.

Though the show could’ve gotten more milage out of dueling exorcisms. The case this episode is Matilda Lawler, a nine year-old fire starter. She lives with foster parents Ben Rappaport and Zuleikha Robinson. Rappaport’s Catholic, Robinson’s Muslim, so you know they didn’t get Lawler from Catholic Social Services because mixed marriages but—right after Mandvi and Renée’s tête-à-tête—the foster parents decide to exert their respective faiths and demand both a priest and imam for the exorcism.

You’re just waiting for someone to say the other one’s not real. Of course, since in “Evil,” religions are apparently all real (and Wyze Cams are not, because tech expert Mandvi can’t get a webcam to try to catch Renée, he instead hooks his phone up to something), Colter steps in to suggest the exorcism off.

Those scenes could be better, but thanks to Lahti’s arc, Kurt Fuller’s fun, steady turn as Herbers’s psychiatrist, and great direction from Frederick E.O. Toye—though truly terrible editing from Edward Chin—it all works out.

Maybe “Evil” really is finding its stride.

And also maybe not. But I’m more invested in the show than maybe ever before.

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