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Evil - N is for Night Terrors and A is for Angels - Review

2.1  -  "N is for Night Terrors"
Written by Rockne S. O’Bannon

Directed by Nelson McCormick

Reviewed by KathM

It’s back, it’s back, it’s finally back!

After nearly 18 months away, Evil returns to our screens in a new home, the online streaming service Paramount+. The delightfully unsettling drama hits the ground running, with possible murderer Kristen concerned that she might be possessed, a bloody encounter at the dentist's office, and a surprising request for an exorcism.

Orson LeRoux is dead and Kristen apparently did it. She’s got blood on some of her clothes and a scary-looking piece of climbing equipment has been scrubbed clean of physical evidence before being buried in the yard. While she is frantically hiding things she takes a moment to check whether she’s cleaned herself up, but when she picks up a cross and it burns her hand. For a lapsed Catholic, this isn’t a good sign. She puts on some aloe and wraps the hand tight, then gets on with the business of hiding evidence while trying to focus on their most recent case.

I am still not completely sure Kristen did kill Orson no matter what the showrunners say. As with anything on this show, you never can be sure what you’ll find around the corner. I’m not sure because Kristen is so sure. Yes, it looks good, but I still don’t buy it. One thing I will say is that regardless of whether or not she killed Orson, she sure is fine with it. As she calmly explains to her therapist (once she confirms that there is no legal way he can tell anyone else), she explains that yes, she did kill someone, and she feels okay about it because she was protecting her family. Then she schedules another appointment. I love her! 

Aside: Though it’s probably a distraction, I am a firm believer that Lexis is evil. Maybe the other girls, too, but Lexis is the number one candidate. Might she have killed LeRoux and Kristen is covering for her? Yep. I would also not be surprised to find out that Kristen and Andy’s little IVF Bundle of Joy might somehow be influencing her sisters. The cacophony of sounds the four of them make when talking to almost anyone makes me wonder whether it's the sound you hear when you go insane. I And the girls were unsupervised when Lexis let George (aka Evil) into their home. Who knows what all they got up to when Mommy was theoretically committing homicide?

The fertility clinic is the focus when the trio meet with Bishop Marx. From their research the clinic is where a woman believes that her male twin destroyed his sister in utero. This is an actual thing that can happen, but it is very rare and virtually unheard of for the fetus to scream for help. Further research uncovered more medical abnormalities, and the gang decided that some kind of evil force was doing something to the eggs brought in for IVF, creating children which are evil in some way, or have the potential for evil. But the Bishop isn’t as interested in bad kids as he is in a new parishioner who has donated a lot to the church and wants an exorcism. The exorcisee in question? Leland Townsend.

Well, this is a good way to insert himself further into the trio’s lives. They try to convince the Bishop that Leland is a crazy narcissist, but Marx still wants them to proceed. Leland tells them that he wants to change because he’s in love (with Sheryl). When asked to explain why he sold his soul Leland tells them about when he was in high school and was bullied by the guy who drove the bus Leland rode every day. One evening the Devil stopped by while his parents were watching M*A*S*H in the den and asked Leland if there was anything he’d be interested in trading his soul for, and Leland asked for the bus driver to have an awful death. Which he did.

The gang decides to visit Leland’s present as well as his past but visiting his apartment. In addition to the items he planted (like a tattoo kit), they also find, hidden deep in a hidey-hole under his dresser, the copy of the map that map Leland asked Sheryl to photograph last season. The maps is being guarded by a "watch toy" that plays "Feliz Navidad"! Leland is completely on my last nerve, but that was fabulous. Ben also installs a camera on Leland’s computer so that he can see what Leland is typing and watching.

Meanwhile, Lexis is having dental problems: it looks like she’s growing fangs! One even nicks Kristen’s finger, causing it to bleed copiously. A trip to the oral surgeon confirms that she has some strange teeth thing going on, which isn’t that unusual in kids her age. So she and Kristen make plans to have the fangs pulled later in the week. However, Lexis’s teeth don’t want to be pulled, and when the surgeon tries to pull one of a heavily anesthetized Lexis bites her so hard that she may have bitten a finger or two off of the surgeon's hand! And so the fangs remain.

The way Kristen has to keep reassuring Lexis that there is nothing wrong with her, I get the feeling that she has some pretty serious doubts. Meanwhile, Lexis’s carefully neutral question leaves me wondering whether or not she really cares.

The next time they meet with Leland they explain that he’s a liar and they know it (like anyone needs to be told). They tell him they found items that tried to convince them he was possessed, and that his ex-wife told them that Leland never took the bus. Therefore, no motive for Satan, not that I imagine he needed one. Unfortunately, shortly after her revelation Leland’s ex was in a car accident and is now in a coma, poor dear. But no need to tell him: Leland already knows all about it. He tries to convince the trio that he did all of those things because he was possessed, and at this point I wish that David would just toss some Holy Water on Leland, stick a cross on his forehead and call it a day. But for some reason Bishop Marx sees nothing wrong with Leland (or his money), and puts Leland on the Exorcism track.

One thing I must say that I am disappointed to see Ben drawn onto the Leland Madness Express, but needs must. He’s the only one of the three who’d never had to deal with Leland extensively, and therefore seemed to fit in his role as skeptic perfectly. But now Leland has eyes on our sceptic. He tells Ben that he’s going to have a dream he’s never had before. He even has his own nighttime demon, a succubus I'll call Georgia. I wonder how long Ben’s had trouble sleeping, and what’s been causing it? Could his work be impacting his laissez faire attitude after all? <p> 

2.2  -  "A is for Angels"
Written by Robert King, Michelle King, Davita Scarlett

Directed by John Dahl

Reviewed by KathM

David seems to be having trouble balancing the classes required for Ordination, and is not doing well “confession” class because he wants to take a different tack when practicing with another trainee priest. He’s not sure about absolution and how it should be applied. Should the guy who says he beats his wife just be forgiven and “assigned” some prayers? Shouldn’t the church do more? Recommend counseling, a more “real” penance? I found the discussion fascinating, but unfortunately Bishop Marx wants to talk to him about something else. It seems that in his opinion David isn’t balancing the preparation for his vows with the work he does with Kristen and Ben, which the church asked him to do. He assures them he can.

Does anyone think that the members of the clergy don’t want David to become a priest? I get a bad feeling about Bishop Marx (always have), and Father Kelly is just as bad. I also still wonder why David wants to be a priest in the first place, no answer has ever satisfied me.

Bishop Marx wants the gang to talk with parishioner Raymond. His wife, Ashley, thinks her newly church-going husband might be possessed: not by the devil, but by an angel. The Archangel Michael, to be specific, who David has been trying to communicate with. Ashley understood and was supportive initially, because she felt that if a being they discussed in church encouraged her husband to do good deeds like working in the soup kitchen, giving away some possessions and old clothes. But it’s more than that now; he’s becoming obsessed, wanting to sell their house and live in their car. Ashley, seven months pregnant, is worried as he becomes more and more committed to following “Michael’s” wishes.

When we meet Raymond, painting a large image of Michael on the home’s vaulted ceiling, he is occasionally looks around as if listening to a voice no-one else can hear. I totally bought him as both possessed and insane. He speaks only of Michael and what Michael wants and how he should live, not how selling their home and other worldly possessions would impact his family. Besides, the idea of Michael, who is one of the Bible’s champions, telling a believer that God wants him to do all of these things makes no sense.

While researching Raymond, Ben noticed a little discolored patch of skin behind one of his ears and determines that part of Raymond’s issue might be a reaction to scopolamine. These patches can be worn to help people with problems with motion or heights. When Ashley confirms that Raymond does use them, Ben starts looking to see what they can do to help Raymond by checking with a doctor or psychiatrist.

In the meantime Raymond and Ashley are driving along and spot a car on fire. Raymond saves the family by, in part, picking up the burning car. He does leave one guy in the car for a bit longer, and explains to the trio Michael told him that the man in question had molested his niece and needed a bit more fear before he was saved. Ashley approaches Kristen later and says that Raymond wants their family to live by the tenets of the Bible. She is particularly worried as that choice impacts her and how she will have to live her life more than it would Raymond. When Kristen gives her a card with details of a shelter for new mothers Ashley worries that leaving might push Raymond over the edge, but she has to do what's best for her and her child.

Later, when the trio and Bishop visit the now empty house and ask Raymond where Ashley has gone, he points to a large pile of salt in the corner of the room. Ashley turned away from the Lord, Raymond tonelessly explains. Just like Lot’s wife.

Meanwhile, Leland learns that his exorcism has been moved back a week due to a scheduling problem. Furious, he takes his anger out on Sheryl, breaking up with her in the middle of the cake tasting. While Leland verbally abuses her to her face, telling her that the whole purpose of their “relationship” was to hurt Kristen, and now she’s hurting. It doesn’t matter how, only that she is. Therefore Sheryl is no longer of any use for him, so she and her shriveled ovaries should go back under the rock she crawled out from. Then he walks out of the wedding planner’s office, leaving Sheryl with a pile of scrummy cake samples that she should take home to her perpetually sugared granddaughters. Or sit in front of the tv and eat them herself.

But don’t count Sheryl out yet. When Leland asks her out for drinks and grabs her, threatening her and her family, Sheryl just grabs his arm and hisses that she’s dated demons before, and she knows enough about him and where the bodies, so to speak, buried to ensure her safety. She then proceeds to write something vulgar in blood on his office and pours out half a bottle of liquor on him when he stops by her apartment. The dynamic they’re creating has loads of possibilities: does he want to destroy her now, ensuring that his secrets are safe, or will they fight for some kind of dominance over the other? I completely believe that Sheryl has dated demons before, but what remains to be seen is how those relationships worked out.

We meet a new character this week and revisit a new one. Andrea Martin is Sister Andrea, a woman who tells David to stop trying to run to God and beg him to talk to him, and let God/Michael/Whoever come to him. And he should stop trying to hurt himself, too! Sister Andrea gives him a metronome app and tells him to play it while trying to meditate and see where it takes him. This does seem to help him, and he finds a new ally in her again when he returns from hearing Leland’s confession. She says she’ll help him, but we're not sure about what that means. Considering the sheer volume of David’s issues, I have no idea where she can even begin.

We also encounter Anya, one of the police detectives who are not only investigating the LeRoux homicide but also the current incident which involved Raymond picking up a burning car, saving a family and leaving nary a scar on himself. Kristen is a complete mess while dealing with her, not wanting to be terribly helpful, especially when she killed LeRoux herself. She’s not ashamed of it, remember, but that doesn’t mean she wants to go to prison.

And yes, I Leland wants to make a confession. Bishop Marx thinks that David should have a “practical” confession test instead of taking the normal “Confession” exam, and Leland is his assignment. How much money is Leland giving the church to be allowed to harass these poor people?

David gets through the confession, though, with nary a tear or outburst. Leland’s tale is a story that mirrors the death of David’s girlfriend, except that Leland inserts himself and in the end supports Julia’s decision to kill herself. David holds tight to his cross and gives Leland a pretty standard penance, which leaves the little demon flabbergasted. Why isn’t David devastated, why hasn’t Leland destroyed him? Sorry, Leland. Better luck next time! 

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