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Evil: How to Build a Coffin

“Um, sorry, what’s the word?”

I feel terrible for Ben. This is also the episode that convinced me to review this season of Evil. Those two facts are related. Here’s why:

Kristin, in the wake of her egg being stolen, has decided that the world (and a lot of people in it) is crazy. She is oddly comforted by that fact, accepting the madness that surrounds her as a way to stay sane.

David is in a tough spot with the visions and so on, but his faith keeps him inherently sane. That’s one of the benefits of religion: it doesn’t always provide easy answers, but it lets believers know that there is some sort of sense to the whole thing, even if it’s not readily apparent.

Ben, though... He’s a science guy in an irrational, possibly demonic world. He’s seeing a Qareen (like an id-jinn). To Ben, that means one of two things: either he’s crazy, or his rational, scientific perspective is incorrect. In other words, either the problem is with his brain, or with his mind and his entire worldview.

Did Ben call Renee? Did the Qareen? It’s an interesting exploration of demons (or id-jinns, rather) as a metaphor for our worst impulses. Ben got laid, which is really great—he definitely needed a break.

But Ben is dead certain that he didn’t call Renee, which makes it harder for him to dismiss the Qareen as a “stream-of-consciousness internal monologue.” Renee, though, suggests that the “quarks would reassemble themselves into compressive stranglets,” which are (as we all know) theoretical.

I don’t know what any of that means, but then Renee says something that really grabbed my attention: “Do you think you’re experiencing the many-worlds interpretation firsthand?” In other words, Ben is now inhabiting two universes, one that fits his rational worldview, and one in which the Qareen is real.

It’s very possible that I’m making way too much of this, but Renee’s explanation of what’s happening to Ben could explain the entire show. Remember how it took Sheryl a while to see her demon boss? Maybe the DF offices are a portal into a demonic universe. Maybe some people already inhabit two universes, like Sister Agatha, and that’s why she can see demons that other people cannot.

If this explains the past four seasons, I’ll be both happy and sad. Happy, because we’ll get a coherent explanation. Sad, because it’s a bit of a Schrodinger’s explanation. (Let’s not forget that Schrodinger’s cat was given a shout-out in the first episode of this season.) It lets everyone—the rationalists and the mystical—be correct. It’s also possible that the apocalypse, the Babylon that Saint Monica warned David about, is the full merging of the two parallel, overlaid universes.

Or, it was a throw-away line and I’m making too much of it. No matter what, Renee’s suggestion was what got me interested in reviewing this show.

Meanwhile, there was other, non-Ben stuff happening:

The A-plot was a demon who takes away the ability to speak coherently. This feels a bit like an in-joke, a subtle acknowledgement that so much of the tension of this season (and last season) is based on people just not explaining what they’ve been up to, what they’ve experienced, and what they think of things.

The B-plot is Leland’s utter failure as a father. This was hilarious, and gave Michael Emerson so many opportunities for exasperation, which he is amazing at. He’s also hilarious and perfect and I love his clothes. Yes, Leland is evil. But Michael Emerson is so very, very good.


The baby was projectile vomiting and explosively pooping. I was recently reading comments on a mommy blog (I don’t have kids), and apparently explosive pooping is a thing babies do. File this under “Is Timothy an Antichrist or just a naughty boy?” Will Sheryl sort him out? Who knows. Nothing Sheryl gets involved with really ever turns out to be a good idea.

The C-plot was, I thought, the most touching. Wallace Shawn’s Father Ignatius mourns the man he loves, Monsignor Matt, who died last season. A grief demon has eaten a hole in his side, which dulls his pain but is also, literally, tearing him up one piece at a time. The visual was so striking, such a perfect way of describing how we experience loss.

Sister Andrea’s solution was so beautiful. I don’t just mean the plunger and stalking around with pruning shears. I mean the way she realized that a grief demon doesn’t need an exorcism. It just needs the griever to feel some relief, like recalling the person they love.


By the end of the episode, the grief demon is stalking Kristin in the hospital. Thank goodness Andy didn’t kill his daughter, thank goodness his love for his children overrode Leland’s conditioning. But how on earth can Kristin ever solve Andy’s problem if she doesn’t know what Leland, her mother, and all of these very real demons are up to?

We Usually Just Punt:
  • The priest lecturing the nuns on their housekeeping duties was absurd. I went to Catholic high school for a while. Those nuns would not put up with that nonsense. They’d give that priest detention.
  • Sister Andrea is “reverent, but also occasionally unbalanced.” That’s a decent description. As someone who is also a bit unbalanced (although I prefer the term “wacky” and “fun aunt energy”), I like it.
  • I should admit that I don’t remember much about Renee from whenever she was on the show before.
  • Sheryl: “My god, how did men ever convince women that we’re the emotional ones?”
  • Grief Demon: “I’m just a little pet. Meow.”

Four out of four Andreas.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

1 comment:

  1. Josie, interesting theory. We shall see.

    Sister Andrea is amazing. OMG, the pruning shears. I just realized she reminds me of my favorite aunt, both physically and with the sarcasm.

    FWIW, Renee (Gia Crovatin) was in episode 3.7, "The Demon of Cults." I don't remember her either, though.

    I have to add that in the credits in the previous episode after the mention of the skipping ghost, it said, "At 3:13 A.M." And in this episode, instead of the skipping ghost warning, it said, "Jenny Park of Sun Valley, Utah skipped the intro and lost all her hair."

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