Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Evil: How to Split an Atom

“I giggle at the thought of you waking up at 3am because the Antichrist needs changing.”

The fourth season of Evil might be its last, which terrifies me more than the prospect of all these demons being real. On the other hand, I’m just so happy the show is back and firing on all cylinders. Or should I say firing on all particle accelerators?

The season three finale brought us a few moments of doom: although Andy came back, he came back wrong somehow. (Well, we know how. Just not why.) David had a vision of Saint Monica warning him of impending Babylon in 38 days. And Kristin found her missing egg in Leland’s office. Specifically, the egg is in somebody’s womb in Leland’s office. The baby is due in 38 days.

I’ve never fully understood Kristin, maybe because I never bothered to try. I just let the pure pleasure of Evil wash over me like a bubbly bloodbath. Now that I’m reviewing this season, though, I’ve realized I should try to figure her out. The most clarity I’ve gotten is to think of her as similar to Alicia (played by Juliana Margulies) on The Good Wife: pragmatic about her emotions, able to change her mind quickly, and above all, much more intense than she first appears.

At the end of last season, Kristin bargained with God for Andy’s return, and she got what she wanted. But now, knowing that her stolen ovum is supposed to be an Antichrist baby, fathered by Leland, of all people, she doesn’t just take back her promise (which was to take the girls to mass regularly), she strips the house of anything religious and decides that God is off the table.

And don’t even get me started on her relationship with her mom! Sheryl, who always thinks she’s doing the right thing even when she is literally working with demons against the best interests of her actual family, is somehow surprised that Kristin (who bans her mom from the house) isn’t comfortable with all this.

Except, weirdly, she is. Well, no. Kristin is freaking out. But her version of extreme shock is a sort of jolly nihilism, which is not unpleasant to watch. Her bitter laugh... well, I have a similar bitter laugh sometimes. Sometimes a bitter laugh is all we have in the end times. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, though.

But it wouldn’t be an episode of Evil if people had time to think about, much less discuss, the dramatic events of their lives with one another. Father Ignatius, played by the inconceivably amazing Wallace Shawn, who doesn’t “believe in all this... demons, exorcisms,” assigns Team Evil to a local particle accelerator that may have opened a Hellmouth.

(They don’t call it that, but it’s a Hellmouth. There’s another one in Cleveland.)

There was a lot of spooky stuff about the particle accelerator, from the utterly depersonalized big circular hallway to the juxtaposition of little scooters with dramatic choral music as our team heads towards what is either Hell or a foundation issue. It can’t be easy to find a new way to be creepy each week, and this episode hit a sweet spot of what makes things scary: we're not just afraid of the unknown, we're also afraid of the impersonal. And nothing is more impersonal than those jumpsuits:

The core event, though, was the one I expected the least: Ben the Magnificent got zapped by a whatever-beam, and now he sees a demon. Ben's had mystical experiences before, always easily explained away by neuroscience, for the most part. Will that be true this season, too? Is it significant that David had a vision of hell at the same time Ben saw... whatever he saw?

And will our characters ever make those connections? In the season three finale, David said something to Kristin that I hope the show itself pays attention to: “I think God keeps revealing himself, and at a certain point you need to acknowledge it.” I don’t need this show to reveal God, but I do really, really want it to allow the characters to take a step back from their weekly cases and start to consider the bigger picture.

As viewers, we’re lucky, in that we know most of what’s happening with Leland, Sheryl, and the other members of Team Demon. We can see patterns that our heroes cannot. But those heroes have gotten really bad at communicating with one another within each episode, and across the long arc of the show. There’s enough weird stuff happening that they should start to glimpse what we’ve already seen.They did a bit of that at the end of this episode, with the "38 days" conversation about David's vision and Kristin's egg, but the episode just ended with, ahem, a bitter laugh.

Or maybe this season, which I think wasn’t meant to be the last, will come down on the side of Ben and the Vatican physicist: it’s all a Schrodinger’s cat, both alive and dead. Not just the particle accelerator’s risk, but the whole shebang: demons, science, faith, belief, suspicion, doubt, visions, and insights. No answers, just possibilities. If that happens, I won't be horrified. I like this show too much to judge it just on the last episode. But I'd like to see more progress!

Well, that is odd:

• I am perhaps inappropriately upset that Andy told his daughters they talk too much. It made me think of something Kristin said in a previous season: that at some point in early adolescence, girls, as part of the process of “self-girling,” lose their confidence and swagger. Do you think that was part of Leland and Sheryl’s programming?

• Michelle and Robert King are good (not great) at highlighting issues of social inequality, and I think that’s part of what they’re doing when the fancy physicists instantly blame “the night crew” for any rumors or weird stuff going on. Matteo, the night-crew cleaner, didn’t say he’d faked any of it. He just threatened to go public.

• I loved how pretentious the Vatican physicist was.

Four out of four mothers of the living Antichrist.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon? Have we met one of those on this show yet?)


  1. I'm caught up -- I finished season three -- but I've been postponing season four, mostly because Evil makes me uncomfortable and like The X-Files, there never seems to be a real explanation for anything and I'm worried that that's the point. Am I wrong to want them to tie things together?

    1. I meant to add another line, which is: Or should I just relax and enjoy the Evil?

    2. I'm enjoying just sitting back and enjoying the Evil, although I share your concern that there's not much forward movement.

      We do seem to be headed somewhere, though, with the first five episodes of this season.

      However, if I'm reading the internet correctly, we're getting maybe 10 or so episodes now, and a few more...later. They'll round out the fourth season rather than constituting a fifth. I hope that gives the Kings time to find a good stopping point.

  2. Okay, I saw it. The Hellmouth was pretty amazing. I loved the jumpsuits and the little scooters and the whole idea of the hellmouth in a particle accelerator. I love Wallace Shawn. And I'm as always confused about what's going on, but I'm trying to just enjoy the Evil washing over me.

  3. The most recent episode was *amazing*.


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.