This Stan Against Evil review contains spoilers.
Stan Against Evil Season 3 Episode 8
“Stan was a very good man…and then Stan changed into something different…”
“Stan Against Evie” is no doubt one of the most important episodes that the series has ever done and right from the beginning it wants to prove that this will be an ambitious finale. This is a series that has run into problems regarding its overly formulaic nature and immediately this finale wants to prove that it won’t submit to bad habits here.
The episode starts off with an impossibly interesting cold open that’s set in the future and features an eager historian in conversation with an elderly Evie Barret about her past as Willard’s Mill sheriff. I’d say that Gould and company are trying to do a deliberate riff on Titanic here, but with how amazing television has become I’d like to prefer that it’s a play on The Leftovers’ finale.
This flash-forward effectively teases the fact that Stan’s deal with DuQuette was ill advised and really just the beginning of the end for the character. This much was clear from the conclusion of the previous installment, but the fact that an older Evie refers back on all of this business with such remorseful reverence is quite the development.
Then, to further shatter expectations, Stan in Haurus mode eliminates Eccles—the series’ Big Bad—in a matter of seconds and all still before the credits roll. It’s an incredibly powerful sequence (Eccles flashing into a crow as he burns to death is an especially creative touch), but more than anything else this introduction wants to establish that all bets are off for this finale. It’s clear that the focus isn’t on Stan using these powers to defeat his foe, but it’s in the messy aftermath when corruption runs rampant and there’s no evil left to fight.
Stan adopts an incredibly relaxed, blasé nature after the demise of Eccles and Evie is quite surprised to see that she wants to celebrate more over the good news than Stan does. Stan’s typically not the overly emotional type, but Evie’s almost at a loss for how unresponsive to the news that they’re now free from the death curse of Willard’s Mill and Eccles’ bad magic. Evie obviously has a lot on her mind, but she’s still able to detect that something is off with her ornery friend. The audience quickly learns that Stan has a major monkey on his back in the form of Haurus.
The demon is insistent that Stan carry out his bidding and kill Evie, but Stan refuses to submit, which puts him through a considerable amount of pain. “Stan Against Evie” brilliantly juxtaposes Stan’s internal struggle with Evie’s utter jubilation over how much their lives have improved (it can’t be stressed enough how bonkers Evie’s “joy montage” is). A sunny day and peppy soundtrack punctuate Evie’s good mood while Stan stews in regret and pain over the mess he’s found himself in.
In this regard, “Stan Against Evie” is an incredibly simply finale that gets rid of any extraneous baggage as quickly as possible in order to streamline this idea where Stan and Evie need to take each other out. For once, an absence of Denise and Leon is actually justified.
It’s a smart idea to have this finale focus on Stan and Evie tied up in such a fatalistic relationship because it’s essentially the opposite dynamic of what was present in the season’s premiere. Each installment examines Stan and Evie’s unusual friendship and their trepidation towards needing to off one another, but the stakes are much more serious now. “Stan Against Evie” actually makes it feel like Stan or Evie might die in this episode, which is a feeling that the series has never been able to truly conjure in the past. That’s the weight that’s required of this episode and thankfully it achieves it.
The episode becomes somewhat repetitious as Haurus continues to taunt Stan and attempts to wear down his resolve. He’s pretty much over this agreement and willingly offers up his own life in exchange for Evie’s, but it’s not as if this is just a simple swap of lives. Haurus reiterates that he specifically needs to kill Evie because she’s the one that he cares about. This is about emptying Stan’s soul of love and while it’s rather poetic that this crystalizes itself in Evie, it’s tragic that it comes at the expense of her death.
Stan is desperate for a solution, but the episode repeatedly confronts Stan with the fact that there’s no way out of this arrangement. Unlike in the past, there’s no complicated loophole to get him out of this one. Stan acts resentful over how DuQuette tricked him in this arrangement, but Duquette puts it rather eloquently when he tells Stan, “You made a deal with the devil. What did you expect?” Stan really should have known better here.
“Stan Against Evie” concludes with quite the suspenseful final act when Evie handcuffs Stan at gunpoint and forces answers out of him. This showdown hits some awfully familiar beats and Evie’s frustration over how Stan should have just been honest with her from the start is completely valid. However, Stan attempts to right these wrongs as he not only lets Evie into his big suicide mission to finally end all of this, once and for all, but he makes her a crucial part of the plan. Stan bestows Evie with the honor of executing him (with a bullet made from his wife’s wedding ring, no less) once Haurus fully takes hold. It’s a devastating responsibility that Evie has to accept and she has virtually no time to properly prepare with killing her best friend.
This finale presents a dour and empty take on Stan. He barely gets any quips in throughout the episode. It’s a desperate, more introspective version of the character than how McGinley has played him in the past, but it’s a decision that really works for this finale. It’s actually touching when he tells Kevin (who’s last name is Cougar Mellencamp, FYI) to look after Denise in his absence and mentally prepares for his own demise.
It’s equally moving when Stan legitimately apologizes to Evie for roping her into this curse. For an episode that’s so concerned about the unspoken bond between these two characters, it’s appreciated that this finale allows these moments to breathe. Stan feels like he’s on his last legs and while a sarcastic Stan is always entertaining, it’d be out of place in this dark episode. While the humor in this one is rather limited, the magazine running gag throughout this season has been a persistent highlight, but I may be biased as I subscribe to “Satisfied Visual Gag Spotter Monthly.”
As Stan Against Evil’s third season wraps up, it’s unclear what the future holds for the show and when in time the next season may even be set. I’m genuinely unsure of where the show is headed, but that’s an incredibly encouraging thing with this series. Knowing Stan Against Evil, there will likely be some kind of time travel or macabre solution to bring Stan back into the fold, but for now it’s appreciated to see the show embrace its decisions and not try to weasel out of them. This is certainly the strongest finale that the show has pulled off to date, so let’s hope that the next season can maintain this momentum.
Oh, and get ready because it sounds like season four is about to add a bad-ass miniature golf course to the cemetery.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.