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Evil - F is for Fire and E is for Elevator - Reviews

2.03 - F is for Fire
Written by Dewayne Darian Jones
Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye
Reviewed by KathM

This seemed like a filler episode at first like a filler, but what a filler! Here is what we learned:

Sister Andrea is a little bit more than bilingual. At least, she’s suspiciously aware of more than one or two commonly known languages. David’s been having trouble interpreting some of the hings that Leland added to the sigil, and he shows the pictures to Sister Andrea to see if she can help. Initially she’s horrified that David has the images, and refuses to have anything to do with it, won’t even look at it. The sigils are not something ordinary Catholics should see. But when David tells her the group’s concerns about the fertility clinic and the children being born there, she picks up a notepad and quickly decodes  a name: Mathilda Mowbray.

Mathilda is another IVF kid, and she may be a firestarter! She lives with her foster parents, the Castles, one of whom is Catholic and one is Muslim. The Castles have been waiting for Kristen et. al.  for some time, so they didn’t find it odd when the gang of three show up on their doorstep. Apparently the Castles called the church two months ago asking for someone to come out and talk to Mathilda, who seems to set things on fire. The Castles figure that Kristen, Ben, and David are answering their call and go with it. Or, Brian Castle’s call at least. Wife Jane does not seem to be completely on board, often just looming in the background. Mathilda’s therapist recommended that they call the church, BTW. And loads of other things. In fact, “Mathilda’s therapist” has a lot of ideas, but mainly ones that focus on the church.

Show of hands; who thinks her therapist is Leland?

Kirsten spends some time talking to Mathilda in her room, where she finally admits that there is “a man with no eyes and flames coming out of his head who sets fires when he’s angry” with her. Huh, that’s new. We don’t know what Mathilda does to make “The Man” angry, but I can’t wait to find out. Kristen tells her parents that Matilda is a pyromaniac, at which point Daddy Castle, who I’m disliking more and more, suddenly produces a Nanny Cam. It shows  everyone a video of Mathlda in her bed yelling at something in her open closet, then a fire erupts. Could he not have led with that? Ben finds combustible materials in the closet, and they bring it all downstairs to confront Mathilda.

Abbey has a point: Ben’s succubus is called Abbey; I know this because the subtitles told me so. I still prefer Georgia, but the Kings never listen to me. She and her retainer (shudder) have come to mess with (and possibly mess around with) Ben and some of his various body parts. In between the groping she says something very wise: that Kristen and David don’t take Ben’s religion, or his former religion, seriously. An interesting point to ponder and one we’ll see play out a bit as the episode proceeds.

The ifrit did it: Hearing Mathilda’s description of The Man who haunts her sounds like an Ifrit (or jinn) to Ben. His mother used to tell Ben and his sister (who we see briefly) stories about the jinn that scared him to death. And as his sister reminds him, “Only Allah” can destroy it. But when he puts the idea of the jinn out there Kristen seems interested but David shuts it down immediately. Ben argues that David can’t “accept (the idea of the jinn) because a jinn can be either good or evil, and in David’s religion,“demons can only be evil”. His teachings aren't flexible enough to see grey, only black or white. When the gang show the combustibles found in her room and confront Matilda, she begins speaking in Arabic in a deep, threatening voice. Not Latin, David, Arabic ! Jane Castle translates what Mathilda’s saying as “The fire will burn whoever is close and jump to one of you.” Fire needs to spread, you know.

Have jinn, will travel. After she (or something) explains about the evil fire, Mathilda hugs Kristin tightly, theoretically sending the jinn out into the world via Dr. Bouchard. Lahter, Kristen hugs Sheryl, who has visited Kristen’s therapist impersonating (no surprise) a woman who is having trouble with her adult daughter. She tries to get Dr. Boggs to tell her about his patients, no names of course, in the same situation. Boggs won’t do it of course, because he’s awesome. When Boggs finds out that Sherly isn’t who she says, she drops to her knees, wraps her arms around Boggs, and begs to be allowed to continue seeing him. Does this mean Dr. Boggs could be infected? I hope not! Meanwhile, Kristen finally gives in to her erotic dreams, dressses up in some kind of tinfoil-colored dress and heads out to a bar. She meets a hot guy there, flirts hard, then seems to come out of it and leaves. But she whispers to herself that next time, she’ll stay. The jinn sits comfortably in the back seat, and the next day Kristen asks Dr. Boggs for something to stop her hallucintions.

Tag team exorcism looks a bit like bad vaudeviille: like the speaking in tongues thing is getting  Mathilda a speedy exorcism. Actually, she’s getting two: Father Mulvehill has arrived for Team Catholic, while Jane has invited Sheikh Majed, an imam from her Mosque. I have a feeling that the Castes will soon have some rather heated discussions about; “Mathilda choosing her own religion.” There’s a little friction as the clerical types disagree before David says that surely they can work together? Oh David, what hast thou ingested? The imam starts first, but as soon as Mathilda shows signs of actively struggling against something potentially evil Father Mulevill practically hurls the cleric out of the room and goes after the “demon”, cross at the ready. David joins him and within two minutes Mathilda has stopped whining and throwing herself around and they pronounce her cured. Which, what? The whole thing was really rather dull, except for the part where Mathilda brings on the scary voice and tells Kristen: “I’m coming for you, the father below will embrace you in his warm hellfire.” Not. Expected. If we thought the jinn was gone, you’re incorrect. I think it’s still got a bit of influence here and there. Kristen is getting gussied up to hit the bar again, but as she looks outside the jinn is hanging out on her lawn. She chooses to forgo an outing for the night and instead curls up on the bed and takes one of the pills Dr. Boggs prescribed that should help keep the monsters away. And poor Mathilda? She’s sitting on her lawn, setting fire to things inside the trash bins in her front yard. I wonder when we’ll see her again, and in what context.

2.04 - E is for Elevator
Written By: Robert King and Ming
Directed By: Alethea Jones

Great episode.

We begin with Leland throwing money around to ensure he gets his exorcism since he sold his soul to Satan. No matter how much anyone complains about Leland (okay, primarily David), his words fall on deaf ears. Apparently he needs more prep work, and I in no way disagree. Father Mulvehill is sure that Leland will get there eventually, it will take time. (This from a man who “exorcised” Mathilda Mowbray last week in three minutes). Mulvehill thinks Leland needs a sort of spiritual advisor, someone to be there for him, and help keep him on the straight and narrow. Of course, Leland asks for David, “since they know one another so well”. Poor David. It never seems to get any better for him.

Meanwhile, Ben and Kristen have an appointment with the Sawyers, whose issue has nothing to do with the church, except for the fact that their missing son drew a pentagram under the rug in his bedroom. But perhaps they’re weathly congregants, I’m not sure. But their son has disappeared, and the police no longer take them seriously, but they know he’s alive because the day after he vanished they got a phone call that sounded like Wyatt screaming. Ben goes looking for Wyatt’s computer password and finds the words “El Game ''and the numners 8-4-2-13-1. They each take the information home to see if they can figure out what it means.

Take your Children to an Urban Legend Day: Of course, the Bouchard girls know what the mysterious numbers and letters mean right away: it’s the Elevator Game! The object is to send the players to hell using the numbers on Wyatt’s notes in the elevator of a creepy-looking hotel.

Kristen would like to avoid hell; however, she proceeds to call Ben and arranges to meet him at the hotel. With the girls. I’m sorry, what? Why in the world..you know what? I give up. The girls can easily manipulare their mom and if nothing else can overpower her by their sheer volume. Of course she’ll take them, and then they’ll go for ice cream. Because sure. Although a scene with Kristen, Ben and the girls reviewing what they’ve learned over sundaes coud be entertaining.

Note: Lexis did not attend the outing because she had math tutoring. I did not see the math tutor, and I am not okay with that. Does anyone else think that everyone who interacts with Lexis should be thoroughly vetted?

Oh, did we mention that if don’t finish the game you’ll be haunted by the ghosts of the hotel? This includes the “tekka-tekka” girl, star of the elevator legend. She’s a young woman who was cut in half by the elevator doors when her dog got out and she reached down to grab him. She got stuck in the doors and...ick. Residents still hear half of her in the halls, her nails dragging her along with a tekka-tekka sound. Despite being burdened by the weird supernatural phenomena that surrounds her, Kristen vows to investigate. At least she leaves the girls with Sheryl, a theoretical adult.

This is one of the scariest scenes on the show ever. Kristen, determined to finish the game (it’s just a story, right?), pushes a bunch of floors, trying to reach the elusive 13th floor. She doesn’t find it, but the 12th floor opens up halfway to a dark, empty halfway for her. Lovely. While Kristen bends down and calls out to see if she can get help she hears tekka-tekka in the distance, coming closer. And as Kristen begins trying to get the elevator moving as the top half of the tekka-tekka girl pulls herself into view. And man, was she creepy! These people do amazing monsters, human and otherwise. Kristen finally gets the elevator to move just as tekka-tekka begins crawling up the wall towards her. Brilliantly horrifying.

Meanwhile, back at the chuch, David is still having trouble bringing himself to his sermons. His first sermon is about God’s love, and as soon as Father Kay hears the word “racism” at the beginning he immediately becomes uncomfortable and tries to get David to change his topic. When David explains that the sermon does focus on God’s love, Father Kay still doesn’t care, doesn’t even want to hear it. What he does instead is send David out to speak to a congregation of about 20 people, while the other seminarians spoke to full houses. This included Kristen, there for moral support and Leland, who brought along a bucket of poporn he apparently needed a place to finish. We never got to hear David’s sermon, which I think would ve added a lot to understand him, or the man he wants to be as a priest.

Then David talks to Kevin, a Black fourth-year seminary student who says that David is being groomed as a figurehead, “the great Black hope of the Catholic church.” He’ll be the one to make sound bites to the press about racially appropriate comments on behalf of the church, maybe stand in the background for church publications peering out behind the shiny, white bishops. Kevin invites David to an upcoming gathering of “renegade” religious folk and David attends. He stays just long enough to chat briefly, hits a guy who refers to him as “Father Tom” (upgraded from an “Uncle Tom”), then gets an invitation from a man who says his belief in god is as strong as David’s and invites him to his chuch in Queens, where “what the Catholic Church doesn’t do, we do.” I feel a potential exorcism coming on!

What I want to understand, and still don’t, is why David is pursuing a life in the Catholic church. There are loads of churches that I think would welcome him. While I realize that sounds simplistic, David’s faith seems strong and I am baffled by his devotion to this particular life. David missed an opportunity to talk with another black seminarian about their feelings about the church and their reasons for joining and staying, but the opportunity was lost and I’m really disappointed by that. But at least everyone muted their phones, which is why neither David or Kristen were aware of the number of times Ben called them. Why was Ben calling? Because Ben went to Hell, and now he can’t get out.

Logical Ben has worked out how to make the number 13 in the elevator work, and has descended (alone) to Floor 000. Someone really needs to talk to these people about the Buddy System. When he exits (isn’t he supposed to be the rational one?) and uses his iPhone light to look around, the elevator door slams shut and he’s alone in the dark with his Apple product for company.

Aasif Mandvi is brilliant in this episode; he took Ben places I’d only seen hints. He comes across as stoic and sarcastic, but there’s more to him than he’d like us to see. The dawning horror as he sees that the body of a young woman he finds is just a skeleton holding a male skeleton, both long dead and covered in flesh-eating bugs. Naked fear when he finds that he can’t get the elevator to open and he only has 10% of power left on his phone after calling Kristen and David to no avail.

We find Ben alone on a pile of gravel, talking to himself about what will happen to him since he isn’t able to get out. “Here I am, without anyone to hold, and the swarm of bugs will get me, too,” he says, teary. I’m not sure which scares him more. Surprisingly Abbey joins him, reminding him to leave last messages for fhis and friends while gently mocking Ben for frantically praying. The messages he leaves make me cry; not to his sister, we don’t see that, but the ones he leaves for Kristen and David. He’s “enjoyed” working with them, they’re like form letters. Business form letter. I see Ben more than ever as a lonely man who doesn’t understand his worth at times. A friend of mine says Ben’s on the Spectrum, his awkwardness explained by some mental health component. All I know is that when he runs screaming into the elevator, telling David and Kristen not to close the door until he’s safely inside, then throwing himself into the elevator, collapsing inside of it and sobbing hysterically, he seemed pretty rational to me.

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