While EVIL had its charms from the beginning, it took a little while to figure out what exactly it wanted to be. Much like its television predecessors (The X-Files and Fringe, to name a couple), EVIL Season 1 introduces a procedural that slowly unfolds a serialized mystery of demon sigils and a (possibly) demonic fertility clinic. Yet it was over the course of Season 2 that the show found its rhythm in marrying those two aspects (and don’t be surprised when guest actors in one episode take on a new level of importance in later episodes, or even the next season).
As it blended, merged, and erased the lines between genres, EVIL also had to figure out what kind of tone it wanted to strike. Did it want to lean toward playing it straight? Or did it want to be the truly oddball cousin to all of its predecessors? But the moment we saw Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) talking to his own therapist — a demonic (devil?) entity in the form of a large, shaggy-haired goat with massive hooves — the show came into its own. It knew exactly what it wanted to be, and it never looked back. So welcome back, EVIL, our favorite horror-comedy.
While some may have initially viewed EVIL’s push to streaming on Paramount+ as Paramount Global trying to softkill the show, streaming was actually its saving grace. (And, given that it was renewed for season 3, the move seems to have been one with which the powers that be were happy.) EVIL was never a CBS show – at least, not in the way we know CBS now. The push to Paramount+ gave this show permission to be weirder; allowed the overworked and overwhelmed Kristen Bouchard (the fabulous Katja Herbers) to scream obscenities whenever she liked; and, most importantly, let EVIL simply lean even harder into itself, Nielsen viewers be damned. EVIL now has the niche, cult following it was always meant to have. It’s the kind of show that people will discover in ten years’ time and think to themselves, “Why didn’t I watch this when it aired?”
Interestingly, season 3 – premiering June 12 on Paramount+ – is also the show’s first season to be properly developed for streaming consumption. In the first five new episodes, the show doesn’t feel too different from where we left it, yet you can tell the Kings and their creative team are content to be off network TV. Our main trio can drop F-bombs as they please (and believe me, they do). The dialogue veers happily into the suggestive. The visuals remain, well, a mix of the absurd and the (at times) downright horrifying.
EVIL Season 3 picks up immediately where Season 2 left off: in the aftermath of Kristen confessing her murder to the newly ordained David (Mike Colter), where the two succumbed to the tension between them and shared a passionate kiss. We won’t spoil where the kiss leads to after that, but the shared moment does have reverberating consequences for both, as Kristen adjusts to having her husband Andy (Patrick Brammell) back at home and David learns that the duties of a priest might not be as spiritually fulfilling as he had hoped.
In fact, where Season 2 began with our trio grappling with both external and internal horrors, Season 3 sees our ragtag group of demon hunters (as Kristen’s beloved daughters call her) struggling with the dreariness of reality. David goes through the motions of priesthood, from poorly attended morning masses to pranksters in the confessional. As Kristen and Andy start to find their footing again, the realization that the new phase of their relationship might require a literal home renovation adds fun financial woes. Ben, feeling his life subsumed by work with the church and his own inability to explain the cases they move on from, finds solace in a group of like-minded scientists and tech nerds (the scenes Ben shares with this sister Karima [Sonia Sidhu] are always among some of Ben’s best).
Of course, EVIL still remains somewhat cryptic about what exactly is going on with Leland and Sheryl (Christine Lahti). Under his evil tutelage, Sheryl’s receives her new tasks to accomplish, and we see her try to carve out her own identity in a deeply disturbing world where pleasing one’s boss means pleasing literal demons (let’s just say the Ted Lasso biscuit box reference we see in the trailer comes into play here). Andrea Martin‘s Sister Andrea, bumped to series regular this season, still shines as David’s confidante, while getting an expanded arc of her own as the church begins to question her sanity (egged on by Leland, of course). Her storyline with Kristen’s longtime therapist Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller) also grows, as he grapples with the question of whether or not he actually did see a demon at the end of the last season (Sister Andrea naturally believes that he did).
All in all, EVIL returns to us a well-oiled machine: having figured out more or less what kind of show it wants to be – and can be, thanks to the move to streaming – it chugs on confidently, with new credits and theme music to boot. (Though I am thankful that they kept the pop-up book episode introductions from Season 2.) To perhaps the aggravation of some, EVIL refuses to acknowledge if supernatural or religious phenomena are real or not. Yet it is this very tension that made Season 2 so deliciously fun from a character perspective. Was Kristen actually possessed? Or was her overwhelming guilt over killing another human simply manifesting in strange and unpredictable ways? I’ll be curious to see what new crises of faith, guilt trips, and moral reckonings our trio faces in the back half of the season.