Kristen’s daughter and her friend Grace love to watch horror movies, but when Grace’s dad becomes a shambling, stumbling shadow of his former self, they begin to worry that he might be genuinely becoming a zombie – but how does one prove that?
Elsewhere Leland continues with his ‘exorcism’, but with the priest already compromised by a guilty secret, will the intervention be worth the time and effort? David, Ben and Kristen have their doubts and personal distractions… but Sister Andrea has faith in a solution…
Evil has a solid, consistently interesting way of looking at how we interpret the concept of that title and examining the various types, formats and methods that we may encounter along the way. But there’s the feeling that at least some part of the latest episode, Z is for Zombies, is a little too ‘on-the-nose’ about making topical, social commentary… with a hefty chunk of the outing not so much being about the promised zombies that seemed all too real in last week’s trailer, but rather corporate politics and the way it turns people against each other and often crushes their self-esteem and makes them a shambling shadow of what they once were (see what they did there?). There’s some voodoo-ish elements in the mix as Kristen’s daughter Lila (Skylar Gray) and her friend Alex (Gloria Manning) use some potions to cause some changes in attitude and bring Alex’s dad out of his almost unearthly funk, but it’s all essentially a rather cynical observation that any amount of increased power inevitably corrupts and the wheel just cycles around. It’s all fair game for the series, but seems just a little less subtle than usual and not just because the Amazon substitute is called Congo Run (see what else they did there?)
That being said, the obligatory discussion by Lila and Alex about their preferred types of screen-zombies , is always a dialogue worth having…
It’s an episode with a lot of thematic connective tissue as Kristen, David and Ben each endure different struggles with their faith (religious or scientific) and their own approach to explanations… and moreso how recent traumas have affected them. Ben is clearly quietly struggling with his experience being trapped and feeling he was going to die last week. David is feeling more worried about his future and how much good he can truly do. There’s also an interesting observation on how computers can ‘follow’ your life outside of the keyboard (Kristen notes the number of salacious ads she’s getting, just a day after she was tempted to paint the town red and very nearly succumbed). Guilty conscience or algorithm?
Though Evil is as much about ‘Good’ and about finding faith in something, it’s depiction of those in priestly roles is certainly less than consistently devout, willing to note their human and sometimes hypocritical failings. Brian Stokes Mitchell as Father Joe Mulvehill has an addiction to gambling that could be a natural human weakness, his denial of it being a ‘problem’ simply exploited by Leland or one caused by undue devilish intent – the cause being less important than how the priest ultimately handles himself. That being said, Evil often seems to suggest there’s good and bad in all of us, whatever our daily roles and i’s attitude to the church feels just as pragmatic and wry than overtly cynical.
Yes, Michael Emerson is back as Leland, though more time is spent discussing the effects he may be having on others than on him personally. However in his scenes he is still messing with the minds of David, Kristen and Ben (and Father Joe Mulvehill), despicable and as opportunistic as ever – though one has to love the fact he’s ordered 40lbs weights from Congo-Run, “I don’t need any, I just like to see someone try and deliver them!“). Yet it’s interesting that the wonderful Sister Andrea (superbly played by Andrea Martin) gets the upper hand by using some mind-games of her own against him. For all Leland’s overtly pantomime ‘faking’, holy water – much to everyone’s astonishment, including his own – seems to genuinely burn him, sending him scurrying away from the latest chapter of his ‘exorcism’… and only the audience realising it’s because she substituted in some ammonia – you have to watch out for those nuns, they’re sneaky!
Plenty to like here, but with only one more episode of Evil before a month-long break, one wonders if the mix will reach a boiling point before the sabbatical, or whether its cup runneth over with developments…