Evil (2019) s02e08 – B Is for Brain

“Evil” has definitely hit the part of the production run when they knew they were streaming only. The F-bombs come in dialogue and not in voiceover or inserts. And Katja Herbers’s journey to wherever gets to be a lot more intense. Well, maybe. I don’t know; would CBS have let them do cross-shaped burns on her belly she likes rubbed to pain during gagged, animal mask sex? When the season was still in its obviously made-for-broadcast television episodes, Herbers was plotting to step out on absentee husband, Patrick Brammall (who’s a much better part of the show when we’re not supposed to like him because he’s a buzzkill). Does standards and practices prefer marital Szechuan strawberry or extramarital vanilla?

Anyway.

This episode is about Herbers, Mike Colter, and Aasif Mandvi investigating Cornell University scientist Michael Esper’s new project. He’s made a “Heaven helmet” by accident, and the Vatican wants to know if they should investigate. Now, Cornell’s a private university, and it’s unclear why Esper is willing to do whatever the Vatican wants but… whatever. The point of the experiment is actually brain-mapping, but it turns out it makes subjects have lucid heaven dreams. Colter thinks the Vatican wants it because it’ll help believers. Herbers and Mandvi think they want it so they can brainwash people with science-y stuff.

All that stuff is first act and finale fluff. The meat is Herbers, Colter, and Mandvi imagining the afterlife or whatever.

Except none of them have that vision. Instead, Mandvi has one about his mom and Islam, which works but gets dropped once the episode gets on to spicer possibilities for Colter and Herbers. See, Herbers is still hung-up on Colter whether she admits it or not–or so therapist Kurt Fuller, making a welcome return, observes–and having Brammall back isn’t making it any better.

Meanwhile, Colter’s trying to figure things out with the help of badass nun Andrea Martin, who also has a great standoff with Michael Emerson.

Plus, there’s some great Christine Lahti facing off against constant disappointment of a son-in-law Brammall.

While “Evil” hasn’t shed all of its network procedural, and maybe it’s moving towards its streaming future, it’s definitely finding its footing in the evolution. The show’s tied a bunch of knots it’s going to have to unravel; it still looks very much like a network procedural—James Whitmore Jr.’s direction is acceptable—but its momentum isn’t slowing.

Terrific acting from Herbers and Mandvi this episode. And Martin, of course.

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