This Evil review contains spoilers.
Evil Season 3 Episode 8
Evil, season 3 episode 8 “The Demon of Parenthood” is a mother of an episode. It goes so far over the top in its conspiratorial suspense the entire proceedings veer dangerously close to spoof. The opening scene between Father David (Mike Colter) and Victor LeConte (Brian d’Arcy James) would have worked on Get Smart. The circuitous language is as audaciously audible in the private confessional as the Cone of Silence at the Chief’s office at CONTROL. The week’s case comes off as a self-parody even before the monster-of-the-week gives Ben (Aasif Mandvi) the finger.
Say what you want about Evil, it never loses its entertainment value. We may stretch imaginations or roll eyes, but we don’t look away. Some of the gore effects may be tempting, but the payoffs are always worth the effort. It is because it plays so close to comedy the fears work, and because of the impending doom, the laughs occasionally are forced out by relief. But over the course of “The Demon of Parenthood,” David and LeConte dance in comedy duets which would have worked on a gritty New York 70s sitcom like Taxi.
Colter inadvertently channels Judd Hirsh’s Alex Reiger several times during the episode, and LeConte may only be pope-in-the-pizza slice away from Don Novello’s Father Guido Sarducci, but the motion never loses the frightful reality at the center. Kristen (Katja Herbers) is the most intimately acquainted with the Demon of Parenthood of the group, and it opens the door to the most traumatic moment of response yet captured on the series. Just when you have been lulled into what may have been a quirky episode, it yanks the rug to a hard landing.
Kristen and David’s relationship is tested, defined, and left undefined during the episode. He is doing double duty as a semi-reluctant spy, while her problems come home to haunt her whole family. Kristen is absolutely right to doubt David, regardless of any reasonable excuse he has. And yes, the mystic Grace Ling (Li Jun Li), whose name can be spelled out by counting every twelfth letter following any mention of a Honkey Tonk, is perfectly reasonable.
Kristen has an agonizing arc, and by the time the unexpected happens, Herbers gives a tour-de-force through every character in every apartment in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, never letting us forget she may have already lived out the final scenario. The only thing she never says is, “he has his father’s eyes,” as one dream foreshadows monsters in the bassinet. The chase for Kristen’s missing egg ultimately cracks it wide open, and it feels like it does the same for the forensic psychiatrist’s psyche.
Because of the stakes in the RMS malfeasance case, Kristen goes from adversary to empathetic accessory before the facts come out. All the clues play out in front of Kristen during her nightmares. The dance her daughter Lexis (Maddy Crocco) does with the demon, George, is creepy in its robotic pace, and both mothers connect emotionally. The horrific conclusion doubles as a silent scream to mourn the demise of legalized abortion. The artfulness of the mix is the most frightening part of it. The rhythms of the scenes blur the terror through cognitive dissonance, and when it reconnects, it comes back twice as frightening.
Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller) is doubling down on his fears, with the help of Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), always a pleasure to kick around. The addiction to creation is a very relatable offense, and when the devil’s advocate starts whispering Gonzo journalism into the budding author’s ears, it is understandably irresistible. If you want to write about the Hell’s Angels you have to ride with them. If you want to collaborate with demon chrome wheelers, you gotta get ridden. Everyone is rooting for the devil to chop Dr. Boggs into little pieces on the “Frère Jacques” record player by the time the song ends.
The monster of the week is a haunted toy store, and it is deceptively important to the underlying case, but crucial to the fun. It is really left to Ben, on his own, to figure out what makes the toys so creepy, and he pantomimes a horrifically comic monologue to solve it. The jump scares are comically timed, the comedy pops out of nowhere, and Mandvi’s eyes toss off silent one-liners you can hear in the back row. The final gag is the riddle in the middle of the knockoff toys is sad enough to make you gag because it is an all-too real and commonplace event.
It would be tidy if “The Demon of Parenthood” could be summed up by David’s observation that a spy sees everything as a conspiracy because it is his job. But the cleanup left in the ultimate solution to the fertilized egg problem is a psychological wound which reverberates long after the hopeful note at the end. Evil not only toys with genre, but form, which plays with the audience’s mind, if at least for being forced to use it.