‘Evil’ Bosses on That ‘I Want You’ to David & Making the Silent Episode

Mike Colter as David Acosta, Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard, and Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir in Evil - 'S Is for Silence'
Spoiler Alert
Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Evil Season 2, Episode 7 “S Is for Silence.”]

With psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter), and skeptic Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) heading to a silent monastery to investigate if a priest should be considered for sainthood, co-creator executive producer Robert King gets to do (and direct) the type of episode he’s wanted to for some time in Evil Season 2: a silent one.

Because words cannot be spoken within the monastery’s walls, each person is given a magic slate to write on, and to David’s surprise, he finds someone has written “I want you” on his … right after Kristen leaves his room. (As he leaves, Father Winston, played by Kenneth Tigar, completes the sentiment: “to stay here.” But David knows “God needs me out there” and turns down the offer.)

Here, co-creators and executive producers Michelle and Robert King discuss making the episode, that message to David, and more.

I want to start with the writing of it because the words that are used — written or whispered outside the walls of the monastery — are so important. Talk about your approach to that?

Robert King: The starting point was not to do any words at all, but there were two reasons to do words. [It was] partly because it was boring without it. You’re always looking at it almost like a musical piece — what is it in a song when you do something different in a song instead of the verses over and over again? It just felt like it needed a new note. The second thing is we didn’t want to lose the audience on plot. And the problem is when you wrote too much on the magic slates, they were almost like titles in silent movies: “Oh God, another title. I don’t want to read another title.” So that was it.

Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard in Evil

Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Michelle King: And just to give you a little bit of the history of it, Robert has wanted to do a silent episode of any show we’ve done for many years now and it keeps getting pushed back until finally on this one, [writer] Davita Scarlett suggested a way to do it, which was, what if they went to a silent monastery? Suddenly it didn’t seem like a gimmick, it seemed integral to the plotting, and we were off.

Robert, you must’ve had fun directing then.

Robert: Well, you’re right. Directing actually was fun. What wasn’t fun was post-production. The editing room is when things got a little ugly, but in directing, I would say there were a lot of things that made it fun. One is you didn’t have to wear headphones. You could go without and you could direct while planes were going overhead. There’s always this obsession with sounds. If somebody starts up a truck on the next street, damn, that take is done. Now start a new take.

The other thing is Katja had a lot of comedy in it, which she’s good with, and when we cast her, we’d seen a lot of her Dutch movies, in which she did comedy and some of them were not subtitled. So you were just watching it, watching for facial expression because I don’t know Dutch. And so it was a little bit of a return to that, how much you communicate with facial expressions, especially in comedy. And having just the three core characters was fun because they get along so well and we get along so well with them that it was cool to see that — even though I wish I got to direct the kids, I wish I directed Michael Emerson, there’s a lot of other fun people. I seemed happy when I was doing it, didn’t I?

Mike Colter as David Acosta, Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard and Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir in Evil

Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Michelle: Exceedingly.

You had fun with the “I want you” on David’s board and playing his and Kristen’s attraction to one another. What did you want to do with that to set up where you’re taking them the rest of the season?

Robert: Well, one of the things was post-production was ugly, partly because there was a subplot there that he thought this “I want you” may not be from Kristen, but might be from one of the other monks. We were playing up is there another monk that is kind of liking him and attracted to him and playing that idea of sexual boundaries being broken in a monastery, but it all was just too complicated and also too long. And it also seemed to take you off the main track of the main character.

One of the things we’re doing is we love the chemistry that Katja and Mike have in person. I wouldn’t say sexual attraction, but they have a chemistry that it just reads. So sometimes we play into it because we know that that is a great asset for the show, the same way Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies’ relationship was for The Good Wife. It’s just something you lean into because you know you got it. And sometimes, when you know someone can handle Shakespeare, you throw words at him that you wouldn’t throw at somebody else. Here, the chemistry was so evident we throw that at them because we know it just burns.

Kristen, David, and Ben sort of escaped everything Leland (Michael Emerson) with this investigation. So what’s waiting for them when it comes to him when they return home? 

Michelle: He remains as determined of ruining them as ever. The closer David gets to his ordination, the more motivated Leland is to try to destroy him and Kristen and Ben.

Robert: Leland has a lot to do with [Episode 8]. The Leland plot is very much about him using the idea of exorcism to get at this group and possibly break them up, possibly corrupt the church and how it handles exorcisms.

Evil, Sundays, Paramount+