Did ‘Evil’ Just Reveal What’s Been Going on With Kristen in Season 2? (RECAP)

Christine Lahti as Sheryl in Evil - 'I Is for IRS'
Spoiler Alert
Elizabeth Fisher/CBS


I Is for IRS

Season 2 • Episode 11

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Evil Season 2 Episode 11 “I Is for IRS.”]

Evil gets very, very weird this week, and we absolutely love it.

The time has come for Leland Townsend’s (Michael Emerson) exorcism, to take place over three nights, and by the end of it, he’ll either be clean … or dead, Father Thunderland (Reed Birney) tells him. To David’s (Mike Colter) surprise, something seems to happen the first night: Leland speaks in different voices and kicks Father Thunderland clean across the room. That could be hysterical strength, David tells Kristen (Katja Herbers), requesting her help with the rest of the exorcism. “Do you think Leland’s starting to take his exorcism seriously?” she asks. “No, I think God is,” he says.

This coincides with the IRS turning to Kristen, David, and Ben (Aasif Mandvi) to look into a new organization, The New Ministry of Satan, applying for federal recognition as a religion for tax exemption purposes. They believe in Satan, pray to him, etc., the chief of operations, Graham (Gus Halper), claims. (Leland, once he sees the pamphlet, is so offended, it’s funny: “We’re not a timeshare! Look at these pictures: kids, picnics, Satan cares about your future. What are they, insane?”)

But Graham’s examples of proof Satan is real do seem to hit home for Kristen: “When you hate someone for cutting you off in traffic … if you’re married and you flirt with someone.” After all, she did punch someone for cutting in front of her in line at the grocery store and has been flirting with adultery, going to bars, this season.

Before heading to join David at Leland’s exorcism, Kristen takes the new medication Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller) has prescribed her since she’s still hallucinating that jinn (with its head on fire). And it looks like Kristen’s in just as rough shape as Leland is during the exorcism. After he throws up something black that seems to move, she retreats into the bathroom … where something we have no idea how to describe forces its way out of a gaping wound in her stomach. She does what anyone would do in that situation: runs out, then after seeing her stomach back to normal in the car, heads to a bar for a drink.

Katja Herbers as Kristen in Evil

Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Graham finds her there. Was he following her? Something like that, he says. She takes him out to her car in the parking lot and has sex with him in the front seat. Her mother Sheryl (Christine Lahti) figures out what happened when she sees Kristen putting her underwear back on in the front yard and offers advice: take a bath, wash every inch of you, drain the water, take a shower, gargle, put clothes in a trash bag, and tell no one. Kristen denies whatever she thinks happened but follows her instructions before climbing into bed with her husband Andy (Patrick Brammall) then returning to the bathroom to the tub clean. (And to think, this comes after she denied sleeping with Ben or David when Andy asked in a therapy session earlier in the episode.)

The next day, Kristen returns to her therapist and says she has to stop the meds due to the hallucinations. “Who are you working for? Are you sleeping with my mom? Is she having you do this? I don’t believe you, Kurt, not anymore,” she tells Dr. Boggs, who attributes it to paranoia. But she refuses to listen and fires him. “You’re in league with them, you gave my therapy notes to Leland,” she continues. (He reminds her they were stolen). After she storms out of his office, however, Dr. Boggs calls someone and says “we need to talk.” Kristen bursts back in, suspicious,  but he claims he’s on the phone with his wife, even offering to let her talk to her. Kristen leaves. (But was it his wife? Or is Kristen now making us paranoid?)

When Kristen, David, and Ben decide that the organization fails half of the criteria set by the IRS, Graham says that Kristen wants to hurt him after she slept with him. She claims it didn’t happen (“I would rather sleep with Satan himself”).

Katja Herbers as Kristen, Mike Colter as David, Michael Emerson as Leland in Evil

Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

On the last night of Leland’s exorcism, Kristen’s on the floor in the bathroom, writhing in agony, grabbing her stomach … and answering “I do” to everything Father Thunderland asks Leland (such as “Do you renounce the devil and all his works?”). And then just like Leland proclaims himself “a new man” after, she emerges from the bathroom, looking like a new woman. Can an exorcism work if you don’t believe in God, she asks David. He thinks it can.

That’s when she remembers her husband is leaving in 10 minutes and rushes home. “Please don’t leave yet. I’m so sorry. I need to see you,” she says to Andy’s voicemail. “I’ve been off. It’s not you, it’s been me, and I’m so sorry, you and the kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ll see you soon.”

To her surprise, he’s still there when she arrives, having listened to her message. Instead, he has a fire going in the backyard for a Tibetan Buddhism purification ritual: You write down the thing that you want purified (if it involves a person, draw a circle of protection around the name), put the paper in butter, and burn it. “I cheated on Andy,” she writes. Now, he’ll go sell the business, “then when I come home, you and I have a fresh start,” he says. It seems like that’s what she wants, too, her focus entirely on him even when she bumped into David in her hurry to get in her car and get home. (But what did Andy write on his paper?!)

Katja Herbers as Kristen, Patrick Brammall as Andy in Evil

Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

As for the other person who had an exorcism done, the episode ends with Leland seeing the jinn at the foot of his bed. “Hey,” he smiles.

In other juicy weirdness: everything involving Sheryl. In a montage set to “Fake Palindromes” by Andrew Bird, we see her continuing to receive those odd treatments from Leland — there’s a significant bruise at the injection site behind her knee — visiting bars, being noticed by younger men (while Leland watches), and meeting a guy she sees on a dating app, cuffing him to the bed … and taking out a drill and maybe drilling into his head?!

She’s only spending time with Leland, transactional only. He’s a shaking wreck in the days of his exorcism, and she agrees to come help him (and bring root beer) in exchange for Edward. “I’m being hunted,” he says when she finds him sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. “Stop being such a baby,” she says before helping him into a tub filled with blood and pouring another jar of it (labeled Jeremy) over his head.

Evil, Sundays, Paramount+