Evil: Pilot
September 26, 2019 9:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Just watched the first few minutes and came here to see if it had been posted. I am allergic to broadcast-formula mediocrity, and this does have a whiff of that -- but it's also got a cheeky counterpoint vibe that is promising. I'm hopeful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:17 AM on September 27, 2019

I don't know about this one. The 'George the demon' scenes were effectively creepy and unsettling, but there was something anti-climactic about the resolution. I mean, if Bouchard found evidence of Townsend having contacted the killer online, wouldn't that be prosecutable? And wouldn't the original murder investigation's search warrants have combed through all of the suspect's social media activity including anything using his wife's phone/password? All of the courtroom stuff felt kind of grafted on, as I realized at some point that I had no idea what type of proceeding it was.

I'll see how it develops, but, if they're going to undercut every demonic incident with a non-paranormal explanation, I think it's going to get tiresome.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:50 AM on September 27, 2019

I'll see how it develops, but, if they're going to undercut every demonic incident with a non-paranormal explanation, I think it's going to get tiresome.

I'm actually not sure they did that, at least not completely. What Acosta said near the end, about there being people who want to do bad things and encourage others to do bad things, and that he believes that some of them are demons but Bouchard can call them psychopaths, leaves plenty of room for both viewpoints. As he said, their beliefs overlap. They both believe in evil, but they have a differing point of view on the nature of that evil. I think that's a smart philosophy for the show to take, and it might carve out a space for both viewpoints to be presented as valid, so that it doesn't become tiresome, ala Scully in The X-Files. The problem with that show was the opposite problem. They always made it crystal clear that the cause of literally every case they had was paranormal/supernatural/extraterrestrial in origin, so that it constantly undercut Scully's skepticism and made her look idiotic and narrow-minded for continuing in her disbelief.
posted by katyggls at 10:59 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Half the buses in New York City currently have advertisements for this show on their fronts, and the advertisements are just the word "EVIL" in huge capital letters with no context. It's unsettling to say the least.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:45 PM on September 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'd say it's best to keep thinking that those are advertisements for a TV show.
posted by el io at 8:08 PM on September 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

Did anyone catch the name of what I assume is a "trick" of neuroscience that had Kristen writing "can you read this?" on the ceiling above her bed? Or was this just a sort of McGuffin?

The explanation, as I understood it, was that if you can't read it you are dreaming, and the night terrors are a quirk in a ( pre?) frontal lobe? The Kings may have just made this all up, but I wondered if this was based at all in medical science.

I ask because I have borne the brunt of night terrors for at least the last 40 years. Happily no one standing at my bedside has looked like George, or peed in the corner of the room. But if writing on the ceiling will help, I will buy the poster board forthwith!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 10:56 PM on September 27, 2019

Wernicke’s area

I'm not sure her technique will actually work for, well, anyone. Your cognition during stage four sleep is circumscribed in other respects, too, which is why you can't simply reason your way out of a night terror even if it's a nightly experience you otherwise understand. It can be very difficult to awaken someone from a night terror, even if their eyes are open and they are partly responsive. If someone right next to you, talking to you, doesn't work, then I don't see why your inability to read your sign would work.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:12 AM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

The King's didn't make up the 'you can't read in your dreams' theory, I've definitely heard of it before. The term Kristen mentioned was Wernicke's area. From googling it seems like it's not a definitive rule because not everyone's brain processes language the same. (Inverse - Can You Read In Your Dreams? Not Unless You're a Poet, Says Science)
posted by oh yeah! at 4:12 AM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

posted by oh yeah! at 4:13 AM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

About the episode, now that I've watched the whole thing...

My complaints are exactly the same as those above -- they are far too sloppy about the law enforcement stuff to sustain the suspension of disbelief and that's worrisome. And, apparently, the series is built around this villain getting away with this kind of thing, which he wouldn't. There's a lot of broadcast TV spoonfeeding, too.

On the other hand, the casting is great and we can be sure of solid acting from the leads. I really like the vibe with her and her daughters. The night terror scenes are very, very good.

Through my childhood into my very early adulthood I was plagued with both night terrors and just falling into a pit of obsessive fear in bed at night that could last hours. I never talked about it to anyone. There were nights when I lay frozen in bed, staring at a door or window literally for hours at a time. I ended this with an act of willpower and reason one night when I decided that I'd had enough of this and it needed to stop, and I haven't experienced it since. I have a whole cluster of problems relating to sleep, anyway, and this particular problem caused me a great deal of secret and ashamed anguish through my childhood. I'm 55 years old and even now I feel a profound sense of relief that I don't experience that anymore.

I say this because there's a couple of moments when she's staring at her bedroom door that evoked exactly that vibe and, while watching it, I had a momentary panicked thought that somehow the show would re-enable me to experience that stuff. I just don't really get scared at anything, anymore, other than relationship/family/life stuff and arguably that's more anxiety. I don't really experience terror anymore, even fleetingly, and although I emphatically prefer this, if a narrative manages to evoke any sense of that which was once familiar to me, I am impressed and find it enjoyable for the same reasons anybody likes scary stuff. As long as it's very circumscribed, totally under my control.

I was hospitalized once during a severe depression and I met a young man (about 19) in the first year or so of suffering from schizophrenia. He was well aware that he was experiencing a medical condition that had been worsening, he knew the voices he heard in noises weren't real, but they were becoming louder and more persistent and he expressed a kind of creeping horror/panic that this was happening to him, it was worsening, he had no control over it, and one day he might not be able to tell the difference between what was real and what was not. Talking to him made a profound impression on me, and I felt an enormous empathy for him, and I think in some sense it evoked a very, very deep fear in me, akin to that childhood terror.

This show's ambition, with its very rational, empirical, scientifically educated lead character, aims to walk precisely along that fine line that separates me and people like me (which is, to greater and lesser degrees, everyone), the adult and not-terrified person I am now, from that oft-terrified child I once was. Arguably, in some sense, at root of all of this is the fear of death and, well, we all will die. We think we're on this safe side of the line, in a world without monsters behind the door -- but, of course, eventually the monster is real and it comes for us.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:01 AM on September 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Is this Michael Emerson as... The Devil?

posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:57 AM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I liked it and will give it a while to see if it doesn't turn into a tiresome procedural. But given the creators track record I am at least somewhat optimistic. Plus the cast is great and it's good to see Katja Herbers get a lead role over here.

Perhaps an aside but Dutch accents seem significantly closer to standard American accents than most European accents do. Way closer than, say, Brits. Which I find kind of weird and don't understand. But often when I see Dutch actors speaking in their native accents it surprises me how slight they are to an American ear.
posted by Justinian at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2019

Thanks Ivan_Fyodorovich and oh_yeah! for the quick response, links and explanations. So I guess I will put away the ladder, but it was fun to contemplate!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:23 AM on September 28, 2019

I'll see how it develops, but, if they're going to undercut every demonic incident with a non-paranormal explanation, I think it's going to get tiresome.

That almost sounds like a Project UFO approach, rather than an X-Files one. Which I like- we've had way too many "Gosh those scientists are fools not to believe in the supernatural" series come down the pike.
posted by happyroach at 10:49 PM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed it, but man I'm not sure how they'll manage to keep bringing Michael Emerson back week after week.

And I dunno, I liked Katja's Dutch accent in Manhattan, and her accent wasn't particularly notable in Westworld, but it's sort of bugging me here. It feels like she's stamped down on it so much that it just sort of turned into this weird lisp.

My big concern is that it could easily slip into pastiche like The Following which I couldn't stand for more than a handful of episodes. Same sort of "but really we have a psychopath making people do crimes on his behalf" setup which is so easy to miss the target and go full-on cackling evil bad guy with beard stroking and possibly a white cat.
posted by Kyol at 10:13 PM on October 2, 2019

Also: 4 daughters? Lynn, Lila, Lexis, Laura? That feels weirdly excessive for casting and story purposes.
posted by Kyol at 10:18 PM on October 2, 2019

I find it endearing. But then, my step-nephew and his wife have five girls all also around that age. They are adorable and also a handful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:50 AM on October 3, 2019

Oh, but that all said, I get sort of a whiff of Constantine-adjacent potential here, so I'm sort of hoping the mild jankiness in the pilot shakes out and it settles into a groove, because it could be a fun ride.
posted by Kyol at 7:36 AM on October 4, 2019

From co-creators Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife, The Good Fight, BrainDead), the new CBS drama series EVIL follows Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), a skeptical psychologist who is asked by priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter) to help investigate the Church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries and determine whether they involve miracles, demonic possessions, hauntings, or just the mundane and everyday. While they look at whether something could be explained in a logical way or if something truly supernatural is at work, they learn that something more sinister could be at play.

....So basically this is like The X-Files episodes where they flip the script and play around with Scully's Catholicism?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2019

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