This Evil review contains spoilers.
Evil Season 3 Episode 4
Evil season 3 episode 4 “The Demon of the Road,” floors it in the wildest trip of season 3, and this isn’t just highway hypnosis talking. A random monster-of-the-week cuts the team off, and they swerve into the bony shoulder of every piece of the series’ most overriding arcs. Church conspiracies feed paranoia, a satanic family loses its head, Kristen (Katja Herbers) carjacks a demon, and an urban myth hitches a ride.
The parable is put in gear when the wife of a trucker corners Father David (Mike Colter) in the confessional. It leads to an interstate road trip where otherworldly forces take over the radio, possibly the navigation, and occasionally the time. The trucker, who has been sleeping in his rig, tells the team he lost eight hours driving to a stretch of road he had no business being on. The suspense gets gas at a truck-stop diner, where the team learns about a rash of accidents, and a trucker confirms the myth of the “ghost highway” between exits 13A and 33A on the I-95. It already feels like a completely satisfying mystery.
The sequence where the team first penetrates the stretch is truly unsettling, mainly because of the audio. It begins with the cheeriest of songs, Ben’s (Aasif Mandvi) mother’s favorite: The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” Then it tunes to the soundtrack to CreepyPasta’s lost Mickey Mouse movie. It’s the only thing playing on 666 AM. They’ve got all the hits, and a funny way of taking listener requests. “It’s a short slide to hell, Ben,” we hear, but not as loud as Ben.
“That’s like the start of literally 100 horror movies,” Kristen says, and captures exactly why this episode is so much fun. It keeps the genre paces, draws out the suspense, and delivers the scares and the humor with precision timing, often simultaneously. The second time we are on the road, alone with David, this is further supplemented by a spiritual element. The demon chase and possible divine intervention, while open to interpretation, is white-knuckled excitement from the moment David scratches at the grass in the dark to find his keys.
The effects are creepy, more realistic in the dark, and much more frightening seen through David’s eyes, which sell the saintly signs in a way the visual presentation only tries. When Ben points out how the team may only be seeing what they are increasingly expecting to see, it is indicative of the supernatural teamwork, but also how Evil presents itself. The sigils the team appears to find in every dark crevice could very well be a circuitry diagram, tunnel vision is one of the reasons Ben recently breached his own last nerve. So, when he trades Kristen’s “third man syndrome” theories for a cloud chasing reality, it fills a need, but still twists into more unanswered questions.
Russ Owlman, a sly play on a perennial dark house conspiracy, is a member of a demonic family, but he only plays with drones for dark web kicks. The genius of the installment is how even when one mystery seems solved, it only feels like a small layer has been uncovered. The atmosphere is further obscured by the Entity, whose job is to keep things covered. The encroaching suspense which comes with the Vatican’s Ultra-Secret Service is doled out like wafers at mass, and stick to the roof of the mouth. The audience is just getting used to the Entity, but we can already sense this is going to grow into one of the more addictive aspects of the show. It is not, however, the hardest habit to break.
Sister Andrea is one badass nun. The opening sequence is framed like a slightly askew Stanley Kubrick set. It is spacious and desolate, even dusty, all designed to make the character, not a tall woman, look small by comparison. It fails. Andrea Martin takes up space, and her character will continue to take up space in a church which is trying to squeeze her out into a silent retreat. Sister Andrea is not meant to be silent. Her one-word answers speak volumes, and the call for arbitration from the National Coalition of Nuns has the power of a Teamsters’ strike. Like the room Sister Andrea is questioned in, she will not be crowded.
With very subtle hints, Evil implies the power of Sister Andrea’s faith is so strong it can be weaponized. She’s already shown she can singe Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) to the very soul with ammonia or afternoon tea. One of the high points of the episode comes after Sister Andrea’s session with Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller), who is examining her for signs of dementia, and goes off to chase his own inner demons. The expectation and fear we see in Boggs’ face, as he plays the heavenly chords on his grand piano, are exquisitely mixed to equal volume, and deafeningly funny.
In the midst of all the noise, Kristen seems to get in touch with her inner Sasha Fierce. This mini-arc plays out like a running gag. The guy she smacked across the face with frozen French fries hasn’t cooled down, and, even away, her husband Andy (Patrick Brammall) continues to be useless. Why does he bother setting up a video call when he’s snowbound and outbound? It really appears like the audience should feel Kristen’s mom Sheryl (Christine Lahti) is right.
Evil’s “The Demon of the Road,” is the most thrilling episode of the season so far. Honestly, it’s got everything a fan of the series could want, and would not be a bad place for a new viewer to stumble upon. It’s got a monster of the week which is truly disturbing, conspiracies galore, a singalong, and even answers one of the mysterious questions of the case the David, Kristen and Ben are investigating. They do a victory dance on the evidence. It doesn’t mean anything is solved, and more problems don’t come of it, but it is still a cause for celebration.
Evil airs Sundays on Paramount+.