The season one finale of Evil—formerly of CBS, now on the newly-dubbed Paramount+ streaming service—aired all the way back in January 2020 (here’s a recap if you’ve since forgotten its finer points). Season two is finally here and “N Is for Night Terrors” picks right back up with our trio of supernatural investigators (and their various friends, foes, and frenemies), and answers one big question that’s been dangling for a year and a half. Well, answers half of it at least.
So, yes. Kristen Bouchard (Westworld’s Katja Herbers)—skeptical former Catholic, forensic psychologist, de facto single mom of four young daughters—can now also add “killer” to that list, something heavily implied that is now confirmed. We don’t actually get a flashback to the event, but we see her removing the blood-splattered murder weapon (an ice ax, since Kristen is also a former mountain climber) from her car trunk and furtively scrubbing it clean. A little later in the episode, we also get a full-on confession, when she tells her shrink (Kurt Fuller) what happened. Premeditated murder is definitely a no-no, especially when one’s line of work involves taking a stand against biblically sinister forces, but nobody’s going to cry for the victim: Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie), a serial killer who slithered out of his sentence in the season one finale and promptly started stalking Kristen and her family. However, the status of Kristen’s soul seems to be in great danger; we saw as much when she burned her hand on a crucifix in the season one finale.
Priest-in-training David Acosta (Luke Cage’s Mike Colter), meanwhile, is still healing from his recent stab wounds, but his greater pain is the fact that God’s been giving him the silent treatment lately. He does, however, have an absolutely bonkers dream that continues his season one finale vision of Kristen being led astray by a devilish figure—this time, though, Evil’s own nerdy boogyman, Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), suddenly pops up and starts dancing to what sounds like “Funkytown.” Elsewhere, the team’s tech wizard, Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), is seen watching news reports of LeRoux’s gory demise—while clearly recalling the fact that he’s just seen Kristen washing blood off her leg in a manner that could not have been more suspicious. When he confronts her, she brushes him off—and even asks him to test the metal on her crucifix, explaining that it gave her a “skin rash.” Eager to help, he lets her know it’s cobalt, which can cause a rash or even a burn if it’s slightly heated. Her therapist offers yet another suggestion: the rash or burn could be psychosomatic, maybe some old “Catholic guilt” coming through. Lots of science available, Kristen! Maybe you’re not on Satan’s naughty list after all?
While everyone’s mulling over their various “oh shit” moments, the trio—who’s employed by the Catholic Church to check out alleged possessions, miracles, and other religiously angled supernatural occurrences—is still pursuing the case they were working a the end of last season: a fertility clinic that may be hiding a hellish secret. “A demonic presence is trying to corrupt a generation by manipulating their eggs,” David explains to their boss, Bishop Marx (Peter Scolari), who’s naturally rather incredulous, even after Kristen explains that one of her daughters (Lexis, played by Maddy Crocco) was conceived with assistance from the clinic, giving her strong motivation to prioritize the investigation. However, team Evil soon hustles along to a brand-new case, deemed highly important by the Bishop, involving a man who claims he’s sold his soul to the devil but now wants to get out of the deal.
Only, it’s not just any random man. It’s Leland! Claiming that he wants an exorcism! Because his wedding (to Sheryl, played by Christine Lahti, who also happens to be Kristen’s estranged mother) is right around the corner! Kristen and David are outraged and don’t want anything to do with this “con job,” but Ben suggests they can use the assignment to their advantage. Even if Leland lies to their faces, which everyone assumes he will, the team will still learn more about him—and any information about the mysterious Leland can only be helpful in the long run. They do get some biographical details (he started dabbling in the dark arts because he was sick of being bullied at school; the soul-selling deed went down “while my parents were watching M*A*S*H* in the next room”), but their fact-checking efforts, including a thorough search of his apartment, suggest his stories are all bullshit. Kristen—whose pre-God Squad job involved testing defendants who were trying to claim insanity—is tasked with interviewing Leland as a way to prove he’s psychotic, rather than possessed. Of course, psychopathy is her diagnosis (with a side of narcissism), but Bishop Marx decides Leland will get his exorcism anyway.
So that’s something to look forward to! But Leland’s exorcism sure feels like a stunt designed to pull focus away from the fertility clinic investigation. It’s also enabling him to get closer to the trio. Though he invades Ben’s dreams with a demon that evokes season one’s creepy George, who haunted Kristen periodically, and continues to rub his engagement to Sheryl in Kristen’s face, Leland tells her David is the true prize. “Help me tempt him away from the priesthood,” he says, “And I’ll leave your daughters alone.” You may recall the last time someone threatened Kristen’s daughters, he ended up dead with an ice ax-induced head wound.
Though David, Kristen, and Ben all say they don’t believe Leland is possessed—they really do not want him to get his way and have that exorcism performed—everyone’s starting to have some serious doubts based on their own experiences and observations, even if they have yet to admit it to each other. The most shocking moment in “N Is for Night Terrors” teases Leland’s supernatural influence big-time, and it involves Kristen’s daughter Lexis. After some uncomfortable dental issues—curiously pointy incisors are coming in over the top of her baby teeth, creating what the little girl calls a “vampire smile”—she goes in for routine surgery that takes a turn when, under anesthesia, her jaws snap down and horribly mangle the dentist’s finger. It’s gruesome and unnatural, which is exactly the vibe Leland lives to cultivate.
It seems likely Evil will shift back to more of a monster-of-the-week format now that the season two premiere is out of the way, but no matter what, we’ve apparently got a wedding (Leland’s) and an exorcism (also Leland’s) to look forward to in the coming weeks. The fertility clinic saga is going to rear back up again, for sure. And we also need to get to the bottom of why Kristen can’t pick up a crucifix without searing her flesh, because that is a troubling development indeed. What did you think of the Evil season premiere?
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