Evil Season 2: Katja Herbers Talks Jinn and Dark Tonics

Katja Herbers blazes through burning questions and discusses how less-than-divine comedy infuses Evil season 2.

Katja Herbers as Dr Kristen Bouchard in Evil season 2 episode 3
Photo: Paramount+

This interview contains spoilers for Evil season 2.

Evil season 2 turned a new page in The Pop-Up Book of Terrifying Things MMXXI. The first episode, “N Is for Night Terrors,” began with Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) trying to literally bury the hatchet on things which might disturb her sleep. Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) found something, or someone, new to keep him up past bedtime. David Acosta (Mike Colter) doesn’t need to close his eyes in order to dream. He is close to becoming ordained as a priest, but the church keeps throwing too many practical applications on his study sheet.

The second episode, “A Is for Angel,” saw the trinity question the justice of God, as an archangel laid plans to open the second bowl of torments for mankind. The headlines which crawled across Evil’s news coverage of a global plague mirrored the worldwide reaction to the COVID pandemic. Recently exorcized from CBS, Evil now possesses Paramount+. The supernatural suspense drama dips into The X-Files territory. David wants to believe, probably even more than Fox Mulder. Forensic psychiatrist Kristen wants to get to the bottom of belief, much like Dana Scully conducted her own autopsies in search of physical explanations for anomalies. Ben is all three of the Lone Gunmen, plus about half of Skinner. He knows all the tricks tech toys can pull, and a safe distance from belief.

In “F Is for Fire,” the analytic team from St. Joseph’s is forced to look beyond the Catholic church, and Christian teachings, to answer the most burning questions a young Islamic girl may have. The episode is the hottest of the series so far. The very opening is a sexual fantasy strong enough to set Kristen off on the prowl. Bouchard was a trophy-winning mountain climber before she went looking for things that go bump in the night, and this gives her a shot at a little of both.

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Prior to Dr. Kristen Bouchard’s work with the investigative team, she was an on-call expert in forensic psychology for the District Attorney’s office. Prior to Evil, Katja Herbers played Dr. Helen Prins on WGN America’s Manhattan and Emily Grace in HBO’s Westworld, and had recurring roles in The Americans, The Leftovers, and Manhunt: Unabomber. In a conversation with Den of Geek, Herbers stoked the fires of her relations with the jinn, David, and her new bosses.

DEN OF GEEK: I have been enjoying the show since the first night terror. Are you kept awake at night pondering the bigger questions?

KATJA HERBERS: No, I have to say I don’t. I’m more interested in the actual terror of this actual world, like climate change and things like that.

You’ll be exploring some of that on this show. How do you feel about being part of the conversation?

I love that. I think our show is so very timely, unfortunately, for a show called Evil and the things that we explore. I like to think that watching something like this can also be a way of processing the world that we’re in and may hopefully sometimes be a bit therapeutic or cathartic or just offer some relief because you see these characters’ fight. Then maybe you yourself can sit back and just watch some other people take care of business.

In season one, there was a rising sexual tension between you and David, and this season, you’re more on the prowl. Was this detour to avoid the will-they-won’t-they Mulder-Scully arc or are you just taking David’s vows more seriously?

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No, I think it just is because Kristen murdered someone and she’s now looking for some kind of a calmness in herself and needs to find that anywhere, and that might be with any guy in any bar. She’s trying medication, she’s trying it all. I think the will-they-or-won’t-they will continue because I do think they have a very genuine connection, both intellectually and also there’s a physical attraction and I don’t think that’s going to go away.

How are the drug interactions affecting the spiritual ones? You’re taking a different type of drug than David, but altered reality is still altered reality.

Yeah. I ask for them, because I’m seeing things that aren’t there. I’m seeing this jinn with a head on fire, and I’m having hallucinations. I think that I actually ask my psychiatrist specifically to prescribe me a certain medication because I’m also a psychiatrist and I know what I need. I believe in medicine and in science, but I know that those things, it can take a while until you’ve found the right cocktail for your brain chemistry.

I do think that she’s suffering from unfortunate side effects there or at least that’s how she sees it or does it not have to do with the medicine? Is it actually all supernatural? And is this jinn following her? I guess that’s the whole question of what’s going on with Kristen.

Are the characters becoming more steeped in their supernatural reality or are they just becoming more suggestible to the force of expectation? Ben also has an imaginary friend.

Yeah. The job that we have, does mean that a lot of things I cannot explain purely scientifically. I do think that my character is more open to a supernatural explanation of things than she was at the very start of the first season. I think probably, I’m sort of in the middle of David and Ben. I think all three of us are dealing with things that we cannot explain, and I think that’s very interesting. What is a human being, if we don’t show the doubt that they have? Anybody who is completely certain of things, they can get a bit boring maybe.

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Do you miss George?

Yeah. I do miss George. I find him very funny and endearing and weird. Luckily enough, most of the demons are played by the same actor, who’s wonderful, Marti Matulis. So, I do get to hang out with the actor, just in a different costume.

When Ben caught the telltale blood stain at the end of last season, was Kristen willing him not to remember it?

Yes. Exactly. I thought that was very funny.

(Creators and showrunners) Robert and Michelle King bring a great sense of humor to this. Will there be any strictly humorous shows like The X-Files did “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space?”

I hope so. That would be very fun. I think nothing’s too crazy for the Kings. I’ll put in the request.

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How intensive is the investigation into Orson LeRoux’s death going to be? And how much peril is Kristen facing?

Well, I think it’s going to be quite intensive, if not for the police looking for whoever killed him, but also just internally in Kristen’s mind, because she did that, and now what? She’s not lying awake, pondering if she did the right thing, because I do think that she did the right thing – it was him or her children, that was very clear to her. So, what mother wouldn’t want to protect their children? But she is now a murderer, and I think it has changed her and she’s become somebody who is way more willing to go to the edge of things.

She also has district attorney training. Do you think she would have done the same thing if it was someone else’s family?

I don’t think so. No. I think she would have gone to the police.Think this was a very emotional act, and that kind of emotionality only comes if you’re protecting your own.

Do you know why she is being singled out? Has that been revealed to you?

For some reason, this Leland guy seems to have it out for her. Maybe because she seems like a good person and the good needs to be destroyed. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because they want to get to David, unclear.

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I read that the COVID forced a change in the season arc, second season. Were there any lost opportunities that you might have to revisit in future seasons?

At the start of filming this season, it had more to do with locations and things. We couldn’t be in a room with more than X amount of people. So, I think there was going to be something on a subway platform that didn’t end up happening because we couldn’t have those kinds of extras there. But I don’t think it held us back creatively. If anything, the protocols just really slowed us down. People have had to wait for the season a very long time because of COVID unfortunately, otherwise it would have been out long ago.

Do you have any more freedoms at Paramount+ than you did at CBS?

I think so. We only found out about the move when we were way far into filming, I think we were at episode 11 or something. The freedoms will also be found in the editing room, where we used to have to be exactly 43 minutes. And now maybe sometimes, you can have a little bit more air around a scene. It could maybe be 45 minutes, and those two extra minutes can mean, does a joke land or does it not land? I’m very excited about the move and the extra creativity that comes with that.

Are you at all superstitious? Would you do Macbeth?

Yeah, sure I’d do Macbeth, but can I play Macbeth? I’m not very superstitious. However, I sometimes will have a stupid thought in my head like, you better go to the other side of the street and then I’ll be like, “oh, okay, well, there you go, might as well do it.” I used to work with somebody in the theater who had to get in and out of their costume eight times before they could go on stage because otherwise it wouldn’t go well. My OCD stops at, once a week I’ll walk to the other side of the street, but it doesn’t go further than that.

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A lot of people click with this show because they recognize the supernatural in their everyday lives. Do people come up to you on the street and ask for answers?

No, because nobody ever recognizes me, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I have literally never, ever been asked about Evil on the street.

Do you yourself go looking for answers?

Well, on a scientific level, sure, but not in a supernatural way.

Evil airs Sundays on Paramount+.