‘Evil’ Bosses Break Down the Season 2 Premiere: Kristen Is ‘a Mystery to Herself’
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Evil Season 2 premiere, “N Is for Night Terrors.”]
What’s scarier: the evil Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) requesting an exorcism; the demon, Abby, visiting skeptical tech expert Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi); or the fact that a year and a half passed between seasons of the (now) Paramount+ psychological horror drama?
Maybe it’s how matter-of-fact psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) recounts her murder (yes, she did do it) of serial killer Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie) to her therapist, Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller), in the premiere. Or perhaps it’s that eerie smile Leland leaves us (and Ben, spying on him through his computer) with at the end of the episode. Maybe it’s how Kristen’s daughter, Lexis (Maddy Crocco) — the one conceived with the help of the fertility clinic trying to corrupt children in the womb — almost bites the finger of her dentist clean off.
Also in the premiere: David (Mike Colter) is two months away from ordination, and Leland would love nothing more than to
see Kristen do something about the clear attraction between the two to tempt him away from priesthood. (Kristen turns down his offer to leave her daughters alone in exchange.)
We have confirmation that Kristen did kill Orson, and I have to say my reaction matched Dr. Boggs’ when she was telling him what happened. What can you say about how she’s processing what she did and how we’re seeing that play out, both in that session and moving forward?
Robert King: I don’t think she feels guilty. I think she’s a mystery to herself. It would be a very odd thing to kill someone, even if you think you did it for the right reasons, but then afterwards [say], “I don’t have any lingering doubts. Maybe I’m worried the police will catch me?” She’s struggling with, who am I that that could be my reaction?
Michelle King: Yeah, it doesn’t seem that she’s struggling with the act so much as her lack of response to the act, but we’re going to see that play out over the whole season.
Robert: That’s hard on someone to think, “OK, I did something that is probably the worst thing you can do. But I don’t have a problem with the fact that I did it.” And will you then do it again? I do think those are all wrapped together in trying to figure out, what is her temperature for doing bad?
Ben is wary of her now. What are we going to see from that going forward?
Michelle: It’s a tinge in their relationship.
Robert: It’s nice to have someone who understands what he thinks happened, because he’s right — it did happen. But David doesn’t have an awareness of it at all. The suspense will be, when does David find out or does he find out? But Ben is very much of the opinion that he likes Kristen and he maybe even has a crush in some part of him on Kristen, but he also worries that A, you could get caught by the police and B, who is this woman?
Speaking of the police, because she cleans the ice ax, she hangs it up in the closet, she even makes sure that the wife has an alibi. How much is a potential criminal investigation going to be part of this season for her?
Michelle: You will see tinges of that.
Robert: That is especially a strong part of the first half of the season.
And her friend Mira Byrd [Kristen Connolly] is the one investigating this.
Robert: Yes, and that is a very interesting aspect to this.
David is two months from ordination, so I expect we’ll see him tested quite a bit leading up to that — Leland even asks Kristen to tempt him in exchange for him leaving her daughters alone. And then you have Leland showing, up requesting an exorcism. How much is having to deal with that, when he knows the kind of man Leland is, going to test David when it comes to his faith?
Robert: It only tests his faith because of how easy it is to co-opt the Catholic Church, because David is being asked to commit all his body and his soul to the church — give up sex, everything — and yet it feels like the church is so willingly putting this truly corrupt and evil man, Leland, in some position within the church. Part of it’s that, and part of that is his worry that it’s almost like a perfect heist on the part of Leland, because you’re using the truth to worm your way into this exorcism by saying, “I sold my soul to the devil and now I want to cleanse myself.” And it’s easy to fake because he has in a sense sold his soul to the devil. It’s a troubling one for all involved, because how do you get out of that? It’s a dilemma, kind of, without a solve.
Michelle: And what’s interesting is David is surrounded by characters who both see exactly what’s going on, like Sister Andrea (Andrea Martin), and then the bishops and such, who seem partially blind to it.
Robert: David being a black man is also worried about what it means to be in an institution that has a history of racism and has very few black priests in it. So part of it’s that.
Leland seems to be setting his sights on Ben, which was so much fun to see starting in the premiere. Is Leland’s focus kind of going to be split equally between the three of them more this season?
Robert: I would say less so Kristen because he feels like he’s got Kristen in a way because of how much evil she’s showing. The most effective army squad against him were these assessors, and so what he’s doing is hacking at them one on one. He knows they tend to support each other. So any way he can break them up helps him get David, and so on.
It seems like this season is really going to be testing Ben in terms of what he does and does not believe. There’s that eerie imagery on the Leland Spy Cam of Leland laughing, and now Ben has his own demon, Abby. What did you want to do with Abby in contrast to George?
Robert: Abby to us was like this femme fatale character in that she represents different things to Ben at the same time. More, she represents his inability to commit to a relationship. By the way, we’re talking psychologically. You could imagine it works supernaturally, too, but at least at this point she represents the nagging wife, the girlfriend who only wants sex, and all these kind of chauvinistic tropes about women are bumping around within Abby. I think the core of what she’s going towards is something Ben did in his past that Ben has always felt guilty about, which is why a person so good at what he does is in this lowly position as a personal contractor.
Leland tattooed the number behind his own ear, but could there be any truth to his claim of a countdown to his death?
Robert: There could be truth. Some of the season is exploring that.
Are the vampire teeth — and what occurred at the dentist — because Lexis opened the door to the demon therapist last season?
Robert: Oh, that’s interesting.
Michelle: There is a real question as to whether in fact Lexis is tainted and whether that comes from having been conceived at that particular fertility clinic.
Robert: It was part of the concern that this could be sort of a demon seed in a way, but of a very sweet girl and a very sweet actress, Maddy. And suddenly we’re throwing all these things at her. So the question is, can Lexis control whatever she will become? And that goes to the idea of nature versus nurture with the child.
Michelle: And with evil.
And then you have to look at the kids around her, because all those kids just seem to encourage each other too.
Robert: That’s correct. Those talkers. They are rambunctious.
Evil, Sundays, Paramount+