This Stan Against Evil review contains spoilers.
Stan Against Evil Season 2 Episode 7
Stan Against Evil has been somewhat hit or miss this season but it’s a show that always brings a strong, unusual premise forward in inventive ways. The nature of the series allows for more episodic Monster of the Week stories to become its focus, while the heavier mythology takes a backseat. It’s a strategy that proves to work for many shows, but when a Monster of the Week installment misfires, viewers can sometimes feel more cheated than usual. “Mirror Mirror” works particularly well as a Stan Against Evil entry, however, because it’s one of the few episodes that uses the larger mythology to complement an episodic threat.
It’s encouraging that the series has learned these lessons by now, which helps the season end on a confident, accomplished note. These are the sorts of entries that make it feel like this shows deserve a third season of supernatural slaughters. The final episodes of Stan Against Evil’ssecond season definitely go out with a brash bang and not some wussy whimper.
A lot of this season sees Stan in a position of inactivity. Stan’s been in possession of magic wraith eyes since the season’s premiere but he’s clueless on how to use them to go back in time to find Gerard Duquette and save his wife. Besides, Stan is always one to shirk responsibilities and avoid work, so if these eyes don’t do the legwork for him, he’s in no hurry to become proactive on the matter. After a season of waiting for an answer to come to him, Stan finally gets his wish and he’s ready to get his time travel on.
Before Stan embarks on this suicide mission, there are plenty of comparisons brought up between Stan’s trajectory and the endless accomplishments of stuntman Evel Knievel. Stan finds an unusual solace in Knievel’s risk-taking ways and he’s always wanted to emulate his everlasting showmanship and his ability to top himself while getting the job done—even though that very same attitude is exactly what leads to Knievel’s eventual death. Stan’s got nothing to worry about here. Besides, he’s not the type to ever get caught in a jumpsuit either. Stan will succeed where Evil Knievel and so many previous Sheriffs of Willard’s Mill have failed before him.
Both Stan and the audience have been waiting for the appearance of Gerard Duquette for weeks, and thankfully this episode delivers a satisfying introduction to the character. Duquette is a warped take on a skeleton that wears human skin as a mask. It’s something that’s both creative as well as sufficiently creepy. Stan might gear up for a battle, but Duquette makes it clear that he’s here to act as a spirit guide of sorts to help Stan get back in time.
Naturally, Duquette’s conditions for Stan require him to solve a riddle while a giant, taunting hourglass counts down his futility. This is exactly the sort of bullshit that drives Stan insane, and it’s too much fun to see him come to terms with all of this. Of course Stan’s challenge isn’t some endurance round of monster slaughter. It needs to be infuriating brain teasers. This episode also marks the first time throughout this show that Stan has ever looked genuinely frightened.
Duquette takes on Stan’s form and runs wild with his evil doppelganger privileges. Stan sees (and kills) a whole lot of horrible demons, but coming face-to-face with an evil version of himself appears to really mess him up. After all of the grand machismo Stan exudes while saving the day each week, this decision to humble him and have Stan be out of his element becomes even more effective. For once Stan feels overpowered and he doesn’t know where to turn.
On that note, the episode’s introduction is also fairly disturbing and helps set the tone and weight for what’s to come. Later on in the episode, the grotesque bleeding corpse of a mailman continues to do his rounds as he’s oblivious to the fact that he’s deceased. It’s an equally upsetting image that helps solidify “Mirror Mirror” as the most adult installment of the season. There are still plenty of laughs (including talking cartoon brownies, Evie’s Divorced Female Sheriffmagazine, and the return of “Hachi Machi”), but it certainly leans into the show’s darker inclinations more than other entries from the series.
Some residual Twin Peaks vibes here also help give “Mirror Mirror” a little extra impact, whether the comparisons are intentional or not. The evil version of Stan gives a very Pennywise-like performance here, and this episode is strong proof that McGinley could probably kill in the role if ever given the opportunity. Or at least let the guy run loose as the Joker in some bizarro project. The rock, paper, scissors scene is wonderful madness that highlights both the fantastic job that McGinley does here, as well as the episode’s unhinged nature. This is easily John C. McGinley’s best performance of the season, but the same can also be said for Nate Mooney. Mooney also gets to have fun with an evil version of Leon, and it leads to such a standout performance that maybe the show would be better if Leon was evil all of the time. Leon switching over to the dark side would at least give the guy more to do on a regular basis.
“Mirror Mirror” is one of the better examples where Stan Against Evil effectively balances out its darker and more comedic sensibilities. Its story also moves in a fairly unconventional pattern with an ending that feels earned, rather than one that sneaks up on the audience. “Mirror Mirror” also ends on an appropriate cliffhanger after Stan completes his riddle and “defeats” Duquette. The episode teases the audience and leaves them anxious for answers while it also effectively sets up the season’s finale, which will revolve around Stan’s attempts to “Flashpoint” his reality back to a good place.
And it’s not like attempts to re-write a timeline have ever gone poorly before, right?