Evil (2019) s02e04 – E Is for Elevator

This episode has plot holes you can drive a truck through, but it also fully embraces Michael Emerson’s villain as comic relief. He’s no longer dangerous, no longer trying to get the heroes killed or kill little kids; he’s just a troll who inserts himself in the heroes’ lives and pesters them. It’s kind of delightful. Especially since the pestering has real teeth to it. For instance, this episode has him meeting with Mike Colter for spiritual consultation (as part of Emerson’s exorcism, which is just to pester Colter) and bringing up the Catholic Church having a big racism problem.

“Evil” has been unfailingly dismissive of the Catholic Church being an organization for the kidnapping, raping, and murdering of children until this point—though they started deviating with digs Katja Herbers has been making (and her subplot about returning to Catholicism has vanished so far this season)—so I was very surprised to see them do a race episode. Especially since Black man Colter’s priest trainer is Dylan Baker, who it turns out isn’t just a villain because he’s a Catholic priest, he’s also a racist one (I really hope Baker gets at least one sustained against-type—i.e. good guy—role before the end of his career; he’s really good at everything not just this bit). The script credit goes to series creators Robert King and Michelle King, who rarely ever get a script credit. I can’t remember the last time. The pilot?

Anyway.

They don’t end up doing great with it. As in Colter’s new bestie, fellow Black priest in training Hampton Fluker (who’s quite good), talking about how some guy at a party says Black Lives Matter is a poser group or something. It’s a very not serious moment about serious issues. Kind of terrifies me for “Good Fight.” And then it ends up to just be for Colter’s arc into alternate religion. So it gives him stuff to do, but it’s all treading water and leveraging guest stars Baker and Fluker. “Evil” season two continues to give Colter the shaft.

Speaking of shafts, the main story is about the Elevator Game, which is a Japanese Internet sensation about the way to take elevators to Hell. Herbers watches the video with her daughters (Japanese website but English language video because auto-translate or something) and then they tag along for the case. Kind of comic relief but also narrative efficiency. It’s just Herbers and Aasif Mandvi investigating because Colter’s busy dealing with working for, you know, the Catholic Church.

There’s an effective resolution to the case (though it involves a lot of the plot holes). Mandvi gets a big scene and subplot (including ex Nicole Shalhoub, who’s been missed); it’s a lot better than Herbers, who has a horror movie subplot and then Christine Lahti manipulating her. Far less entertaining and far less ambitious than anyone else’s plot; including Colter’s. But good performance from Herbers.

Fine direction from Alethea Jones.

It’s not the best episode of the season—this episode Ciara Renée gets the probably added f-bomb—but this season continues to be far more engaging than the first.

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