Michelle and Robert King created Evil. What an epitaph that will some day make. Future generations will look back at Paramount+’s savior series with accusatory looks. As their occult science procedural creation moves into season 3, it appears the evil Kings won’t even get a day of rest. The show’s newly ordained priest couldn’t make it through his first sanctified day without succumbing to temptation, and his trained skeptics are enablers. This is why bad things happen to good people. It’s the Kings’ fault. They brought Evil into the world.
Evil follows Father David Acosta (Mike Colter), Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), and Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), a team of spiritual investigators who scrutinize paranormal occurrences to determine if they are miraculous, diabolical, or the result of faulty plumbing. They work for the Catholic Church, and answer to a wide range of higher powers.
Evil season 2 ended with a confession and a kiss, leaving David and Kristen in the most vulnerable of positions, and the series at yet another seasonal crossroads. Will-they-or-won’t-they isn’t an easy option when it’s more than a two-way street, and demons and professional cohorts would make for strange bedfellows. Ben would probably feel like a third wheel, if he wasn’t so busy snaking an ungodly toilet clog.
Robert and Michelle King put on the God Helmet to better explain their most Evil plans with Den of Geek. The show often raises more questions than answers, but the husband-and-wife team which also created The Good Wife and The Good Fight, held up under cross-examination.
Den of Geek: Did you learn about doomscrolling while doomscrolling?
Robert King: Obviously we were doomscrolling Ukraine, prior to that, all the moves by Putin. The writers’ room is obsessed with it. They doomscrolled all over the pandemic.
How deep into the occult do you dig to present Evil’s mythology?
Robert King: We have a writer in the writers’ room who is obsessed with both witchcraft and with the occult that leads into witchcraft. She’s the one who keeps us honest. The sigils came from her, the idea of the demonic houses. The thing we probably brought is the comedic, like demons should not have names like Beelzebub. It should be names like George and Mike and John. The Jimmy Stewart stuff probably comes from us. The honesty about the occult came from the rest of the writers’ room.
Michelle King: I will say that the feeling towards the occult is not one of affection. I think if you went into plenty of writers’ rooms, there would be an interest in it and an attraction to it. And that isn’t the case. It is something to be held at arm’s length.
So, is it more fun to create magic or debunk it?
Robert King: I think debunk it. I don’t know if you know Penn and Teller’s Bullshit! It was always one of my favorite shows. There are people who want to scare us. In fact, they’re prone, they’re easy to ridicule, and it’s easy to show the magic trick behind it. We do one episode about TikTok, and the way that people create TikTok filmic events. There are real magic tricks, but they’re pretending it’s possession. Whether eating glass that turned out to be sugar glass, or seeming to float, we see how it’s done. I think showing how magic tricks are done is healthy, and easy in a sense. It convinces people that they shouldn’t take the occult, or at least the possession, seriously.
Is fork-tongued Kristen a different entity, wish fulfillment or guilt on David’s part? Or is she Kristen, when she checks out?
Robert King: Can you give us all the above?
Michelle King: Yeah. It depends which character you’re asking.
Robert King: I would say that David is in true guilt. But, like a lot of people who have a lot of lust and a lot of excitement about another person, they may imagine it and have sex in their mind or in their dreams with it. But at what point does that turn into a succubus is the question of whether you believe in the supernatural, or do you believe in just the empirical. If it’s empirical, it’s a psychological condition that comes from us.
I really enjoy how you’ve been playing with genres, including an almost silent episode. Will you ever put out a purely comedic episode?
Robert King: Oh my gosh, I think we will, although I don’t know if I’d put it down as this season. First of all, Mike and Katya and Aasif, the actors, are so up for it, and obviously Michael Emerson. And then you got Andrea Martin, and Kurt Fuller. Oh, it’s like comic heaven. So yeah, I think we will. I don’t know how we’ll do it yet. Because the sound episode germinated for a lot of years before we used it.
I have loved Andrea Martin since forever, including on Sesame Street. Is Sister Andrea a true visionary, a mystic? What is she?
Michelle King: I would say the primary thing about Sister Andrea is, unlike all the other characters, she has no doubts. She is absolutely steadfast in her beliefs, and that sets her apart from everybody else on the show.
Robert King: So, the question is: is Jesus insane because he says he’s the son of God? Or is he telling the truth? I think you could say the same thing about Sister Andrea. Are these visions that she has? Are they real? Or is it a real insanity of the mind?
Ben’s line about things being left in the air with no conclusions, are you responding to the portion of the audience that wants more closure?
Michelle King: I don’t think we were.
Robert King: I think we might have been.
Michelle King: Split decision on that.
Robert King: I think the show is fun when it answers some questions, but not all the questions. So, I think that does reflect Ben’s state of mind, which is “I want answers to everything now.”
Do you give all the actors the same information about where their characters are going?
Robert King: I think we share it differently. We usually start the year with the things we know, and tell them the things we don’t know, and that are going to be discovered as we go.
Michelle King: It’s not to deliberately unsettle.
Robert King: It’s not to trick them. I think we’re always trying to share as much information as we can. But we say, often, we’re going to be surprised by what some guest cast does. Like we had Wally Shawn this year. You don’t know how Wally Shawn is going to mix with someone. And suddenly that creates its own opening to pursue.
It is the same with the Entity. How is Brian d’Arcy James, who plays Victor LeConte, going to link up with David, with Mike Colter. So, that sends us down another path. We told Mike, “We’re going to involve you with the Entity this year, which is the real Vatican Secret Service, but we didn’t know how far we go, or even necessarily what the cases were. We thought we knew.” But anyway, Mike was probably surprised by how many episodes were about the Entity.
David’s a friend of the Vatican now, is that like being a friend of the cartel?
Michelle King: I don’t think we would term it as something that dangerous and scary, but yes, he has signed on to complete the assignments that the Entity, on behalf of the Vatican, thinks are important for its continued safety.
Robert King: But the deeper you get into it, the more there are all these guys showing up who look like Father Guido Sarducci, have an Italian accent and might be sinister. So, I think there is that question throughout. Is he serving good or is he serving?
Evil season 3 premieres on June 12 on Paramount+.