‘Evil’ Just Showed a Whole New Side to Leland Townsend
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 12 of Evil, “Justice x 2.”]
Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) is a horrible person who does (and encourages others to do) horrible things, but who is he really?
Thursday’s episode of Evil offers a look at a very different side of the man who has been quite the thorn in Kristen’s (Katja Herbers) side. And as crazy as the final scene is, we love it.
But first, Leland and Kristen once again cross paths at the courthouse, this time as the former assists convicted serial killer Orson Leroux — remember him from the premiere? — in getting his conviction overturned. And Kristen’s testimony for the other side doesn’t exactly go as well as she would have liked. That, of course, leads to Leland once again taunting her about her involvement with David (Mike Colter) and Ben (Aasif Mandvi). He also tells her he’s going to kill her daughters and her husband, but not her, so she has to live with the realization that she’s responsible for their deaths. You know, a typical Leland Townsend-Kristen Bouchard conversation.
But things take a turn when Kristen reveals she’s discovered who Leland really is (thanks to genetic material he left on a glass in her kitchen): insurance adjuster Jake Perry from Des Moines. It was after his second divorce — his first marriage ended when he couldn’t give his wife the children she wanted, and his second wife married him for money — that he reinvented himself. He moved to New York, went to college, and became forensic psychologist and psychopath Leland Townsend.
Though Leland tries to protest “the devil can use anybody,” she highly doubts that “Jake the Flake, shyest boy in the class of 1979 at Roosevelt High School, honorary member of band club [and] third-chair tuba player” would be his choice. She doesn’t even think he believes in the satanism he’s touting and suggests he instead “get a life.”
After that savage teardown, Leland needs someone to talk to and, in the final scene of the episode, we see him in therapy. “She has this way of getting to me,” he admits to an off-camera therapist. “I’ll be feeling all-knowing and all-powerful, and then she’s in my face. I just feel impotent.”
“When you say impotent, do you mean sexually?” the still unseen person asks. He doesn’t, but Leland explains his frustration with the old nickname “Jake the Flake” and even comes to the defense of marching bands. “I should have ripped out her heart,” Leland laments, and when his therapist wonders why he didn’t, the man continues, “It’s not part of the plan, or has that changed?”
That’s when we see who his therapist is: a big, hairy, horned demon. And the demon is taking notes on a legal pad!
After Leland confirms he doesn’t want the plan to change, the demon recommends he “find someone else to take her heart out, and you and I will eat it together.” And what better way to then move the session forward than for the demon to request, “Now, tell me about your dreams”?
So much of Evil calls into question what’s real and what’s not. (And we don’t just mean what Kristen did or didn’t see in the field while under the influence.) Is that demon really there or is it just in Leland’s head? Will we ever know for sure? Does it even matter if we get more entertaining scenes like that last one?
Anyone else want to see, at the very least, webisodes of Leland in therapy now? The demon must always have that legal pad.
Evil, Season 1 Finale, Thursday, January 30, CBS