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Evil - Pilot - Review

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1.1 - "Pilot”
Written by Robert and Michelle King
Directed by Robert King
Reviewed by KathM

When I first heard about Evil I thought to myself, "Oh look, they're rebooting the X-Files. Sigh. I hate reboots".

But what you get from "Evil" is an absence of aliens and smoking men; instead, you get three people trying to prove or disprove a backlog of various and sundry reports made to the Catholic Church about potential metaphysical phenomenon such as miracles, angles, possession, etc. Can the instances be explained by science and simple logic, or is there something more celestial at work?

The Church has tasked priest-in-training and former journalist David Acosta along with tech expert and handyman Ben Shakir to find out.

The two of them are joined by recently unemployed forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard, who had been working with the DA’s office as an expert witness.That is, until potential tendrils of darkness wend their way into the courtroom. Kristen has spent hours interviewing and evaluating Oren LeRoux, who has been arrested for killing three couples but claims to remember nothing. She’s sure he’s a psychopath until the defense throws out the possibility that Oren might be possessed by a demon. When disbeliever Kristen goes to confront him in his cell (he never mentioned any demons to her!), Acosta and Shakir are looming in the hallway. Acosta gives her a rosary before she goes in to see Oren, and when she brings up crosses and churches he goes ballistic and attacks her. For a TV plot device she tells the DA she can’t testify that LeRoux is a psychopath when she thinks he could be possessed. She’s immediately fired and in the parking lot she meets Acosta again, who asks her if she’d like to join his merry band (okay, there would be three of them) as an “assessor”, as the Church calls them. She immediately says yes, then hurries home to her four noisy daughters, who sometimes seem scarier than any malevolent spirit. And this show offers malevolence aplenty.

No matter what kind of ick you’re looking for, the show offers something for nearly everyone. Want a psychopath who enjoys murder with a side of necrophilia? Got it. Wait, he could possessed instead. So if you’re looking for a poor, tortured soul who may or may not be housing a demon, possible psychopath can bring that to the table, too. Want to experience a visually nightmarish, vulgar possible incubus before going to bed? They provide one, and his name is George. He and Kristen spend some time together when he visits her as a night terror, and for all that his behavior shows us how far broadcast television has come, and not necessarily in a good way, I still hope we see more of him.

All we’re missing is a human who may manifest evil. Fear not! You need look no further than Leland Townsend, a shady "forensic psychologist" whose hobbies include verbal abuse and stealing peoples therapy notes to help Oren become more demonically convincing. You see, Leland grabbed every single note that Kristen's psychiatrist has placed in her file over the years. It only only helps make Oren a bit more convincing by shouting things that only Kristen might know, but it also gives the opportunity know pretty much all of her secrets. He’s played by Michael Emerson. Michael. Emerson. I find his character wholly distasteful but I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next. I’m also glad that I don’t know Leland personally.

The episode could have been a standard Evil of the Week, but the writers took that to another level and brought us a surprising resolution. It turns out that Oren LeRoux is a psychopath, but was encouraged by Townsend in posts from a chat room that Oren visited frequently. Leland encouraged Oren to pursue his murderous dreams, and he did. Fortunately Kristen found proof that our killer wasn’t possessed and should spend life in prison. The DA's reputation is saved.

While I liked the overall story, some things bothered me. One thing is that a lot of the scenes themselves were a little dark, lighting-wise. Even the walls in Kristen's house were painted dark colors. Yes, yes, it’s a scary show, but it can be a bit visually brighter. The darkness made anyone who stood away from primary characters in a scene seem to vanish into the walls. I liked Kristen, although at times she seemed a little flat and not present. I got that from Acosta, too. She seemed to do better on her own, like when she was reading stories to her daughters or shouting on the phone at the people who want her to pay off her “student loans”, or trying to convince herself that George is only a nightmare. And the (strong) chemistry between Kristen and future priest Acosta is natural and perhaps more than a little inappropriate considering that Kristen is married and seems interested to remaining that way. I think it's too early in the season for that kind of sexual tension, anyway. Oh, Kristen's husband is currently in Nepal, leading mountain-climbing tours. See, I said things were a little less than normal on this show.

I am working my way up to a love for Evil, and if I can suspend my disbelief a bit more I think I can make it happen. So, what did you think?

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