This Stan Against Evil review contains spoilers.
Stan Against Evil Season 2 Episode 4
“Well, this girls’ night was a bust…”
Making an episode of Stan Against Evil successfully come together uses a lot of the same disciplines and sensibilities involved with pulling off a good magic trick. The way that stories interweave, suspense sets in, and twists surprise the audience are not dissimilar to the beats of a magician’s illusion or the sort of parlor trick that you’d play in a bar to win beer money. When Stan Against Evil works—like in the previous entry of the night—the results do often feel unpredictable like an impressive magic trick. However, when the strings do show—like in this episode—it can look as silly and embarrassing as an illusion that falls apart.
“Girls’ Night” pretty cleanly splits its cast in half while a warlock with an obsession with games of chance wreaks havoc over everyone. The concept of some luck-centric supernatural entity is actually a pretty good idea, unfortunately the episode doubles down on it in a way that just dilutes the topic. Evie and Denise claim Stan’s house for the sacred tradition of girls’ night, which displaces Stan and has him set up shop in a bar for most of this entry.
As much as Stan may crave a peaceful night where he can drink in silence, his solitude only lasts for so long. It’s only a matter of time before this gypsy swindler warlock wraps Stan up in his impossible wagers. This warlock character happens to be all sorts of charming and the actor really sells the performance. Right from the episode’s cold open this character does a great job at getting the audience’s attention as he shows off the wicked games that he specializes in.
This makes for a sort of smarmy, smug evil that the show doesn’t get to trade in very often. Unfortunately, as captivating as this performance is, it just doesn’t amount to much. It spends far too much as it builds to a payoff that’s not nearly satisfying enough. Or maybe that’s the point here. Maybe this is all supposed to be style over substance, just like the crooked wagers that the warlock deals in.
As this demon tries to talk circles around Stan, it’s a nice touch that Stan quickly puts together what’s going on here. At this point Stan knows when he’s dealing with some kind of monster and the episode has fun as Stan deflates the warlock’s ancient grudge. He truly has no interest in any of the demon’s tricks and instead tries to steer conversation towards Gerard Duquette. Stan may not get any answers on the mysterious Duquette or how to properly use time eyeballs, but it makes for a nice reminder of this season’s arc and the stakes that are in play here.
This warlock continues to manipulate Stan’s perception, which happens to lead to a rather telling piece of backstory on why Stan decides to become a cop in the first place. The brief scene plays more for laughs than it does poignancy, but it still makes for a significant moment in Stan’s life. It’s perhaps just another magic trick that this scene is set up to play one way, yet goes in a completely other direction. Don’t expect Stan to wake up in a cold sweat over corpses from his childhood, but it still offers an appreciated deeper look into Stan’s past.
During all of Stan’s troubles, Evie and Denise prepare themselves for a relaxing night with their favorite dating competition program, The Fiancé. All of this material is sadly sort of a mess. I mean, it’s a riot to watch Evie wear sloppy, exaggerated make-up and temporarily lose her mind through obsession. It just feels disconnected to the rest of what’s going on here. Varney absolutely excels at the opportunity to play a more unhinged version of Evie. It’s easily Varney’s best work to date on the show.
This is all a lot of fun to explore, but it still feels like it’s there to pad out time and give this episode something to cut away to once Stan’s story hits a new wrinkle. In spite of this, the chaotic storyline is maybe all worth it just to get Evie’s bloodthirsty threat to Denise: “I didn’t come here to make friends!” On that note, “Girls’ Night” is another episode where the dialogue shines particularly strong. This is certainly one of the messier episodes of Stan Against Evil, but the script at least results in plentiful laughs where the story is lacking.
All of the above does eventually dovetail together, but it still feels overly convoluted, which is something that the warlock himself points out during the finale. For instance, how long has The Fiancé been on the air for? Was it always just a witch trap or was it ever an actual reality program? Why did it all of sudden become evil now? The dots between Stan’s half of the episode and what Evie and Denise deal with clumsily come together, but the finer points of what’s going on, like these above questions, still don’t make sense. The evil warlock realizes that if he simply kills Stan it would be a lot easier than his Rube Goldbergian level of plotting. Granted, that would make for a much shorter episode, but at least it’d be one that makes sense in the end.
The episode’s complicated structure is supposed to act as a takedown on the pointless, inefficient way that women do things, but it’s another gag that never really comes into focus. There’s a hint of a riff on The Shining too, which is never a bad thing, but it also doesn’t really connect to the rest of what’s going on. It helps inject some welcome eeriness into the episode, plus the shot of Evie as she channels her inner Jack Torrance while she bangs on a door is a particular highlight, but it still needs a stronger foundation to fall back on.
“Girls’ Night” is a frustrating entry of Stan Against Evil because it contains a bunch of good ideas, it just puts focus on the wrong themes and attempts too much in the end. The episode also continues this season’s pattern where every episode goes out on a rushed note where an ending just sort of happens. It would be wise for the show to sometimes take its time to provide a more thorough, comprehensive conclusion to what’s going on, otherwise it’s always going to feel like a chaotic race to the credits.
It won’t hurt to stop and smell the rotting, demon roses.