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Series / Evil (2019)
aka: Evil

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David Acosta, Kristen Bouchard, and Ben Shakir.

Evil is a 2019 CBS horror/suspense thriller with elements of mystery and supernatural fiction. It was created by Robert and Michelle King, who previously created The Good Wife.

The show begins when Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), a forensic psychologist who works for the District Attorney, meets David Acosta (Mike Colter), an "assessor" and priest-in-training whose job it is to investigate so-called demonic possessions and miracles and evaluate if they are actually the result of the supernatural or if there are more mundane answers. Acosta already employs the skeptical Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) as his technical support and when he needs someone to interview to a serial killer with him, he gets the Catholic Church to hire Kristen as well.

Kristen is a lapsed Catholic and former mountain climber who retired from climbing to have four children (all daughters) with her husband. But her husband is busy in his job guiding other mountain climbers and she has to pay off her student loans, so she takes the job with Acosta. However, she soon finds herself over her head when she starts getting night terrors involving a demon named George...and a rival forensic psychologist named Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) reveals that he's a psychopath that pushes others to commit evil.


Evil is probably a Spiritual Successor to Miracles, (itself one to The X-Files.)

This show provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: "Rose390" has a double dose. The McCrystals have had to deal with their eldest child Eric exhibiting homicidal behavior for two years. This culminates with him trying to drown his infant sister, after which it's implied they choose to kill him in order to save the rest of the family. Meanwhile a predator - possibly Townsend - has hacked into a set of VR goggles that Kristen's mother gave her daughters and is manipulating them through it.
  • Alliterative Family: Kristen's daughters are named Lynn, Lila, Lexis, and Laura.
  • Arc Number: 60. Apparently, "the Sixty" are some group of demons that want to influence the world.
  • Artistic License – Traditional Christianity: In the episode "Rose390," Acosta claims that Prayer is just asking God for something, who is then obligated to give it to you. Most real life Christian clergy find this view of prayer very annoying and actively try to refute it. First, contrary to popular belief, prayer is actually any time you want to talk to God about anything. Second, even when you do ask for something, that episode is a perfect example of why God is not in the slightest obliged to actually give it to you.
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  • Dark and Troubled Past: David Acosta. Townsend taunts him with the knowledge of what happened with "Julia," a friend of Acosta's that presumably died.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kristen’s husband is away leading mountain climbing tours overseas.
  • Doting Grandparent: Sheryl adores Kristen’s daughters and is prone to shower them with gifts and movies.
  • Droste Image: "Rose390" opens with Eric lying on his bed, pointing a webcam at his feet, and at the TV that is hooked up to the webcam. Many Droste Image pictures of sneaker-clad feet are the result.
  • Dutch Angle: Dutch angles are used heavily in every episode; the tense or spooky moments are usually tilted from vertical.
  • Evil Is Petty: George the demon urinating on the floor to prove his existence.
  • The Faceless: "Brenda", the little girl who isn't really named Brenda who joins the Halloween party in "October 31". She keeps her mask on for the entire episode. The story she tells implies that her parents tried to kill her in a fire, but she survived with horrible facial scars, but we never find out. The last shot of her is from behind, after she's discarded her mask, as she says "BOO!" to some trick-or-treaters.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Leland Townsend. By all accounts, he is a nice, kindly person in front of the judge or DA...but in front of David and Kristen, that nice facade drops and he taunts them with just how evil he really is. Specifically, he will taunt Kristen with passages from her therapy sessions that he stole.
  • Fingore: George has taken a knife to both Kristen's fingers and her daughter's during her night terrors.
  • Frame-Up: "Vatican III" Exorcism subject Bridget has knowledge of three child murders, and claims a demon named "Howard" made her do it. But Kristen's husband Dwight is the real murderer, and turns her in to the police.
  • Ghostly Chill: In "3 Stars" this is cited as evidence for Mr. Duke's demonic possession: the temperature of the room drops whenever he enters it and rises whenever he leaves. It turns out to be a disgruntled IT guy hacking the thermostat.
  • Glasses Pull: Dr. Boggs pulls off his exorcism sunglasses at the end of "October 31" when the possession case, which he thought was a case of schizophrenia requiring hospitalization, ends with David successfully expelling the demon.
  • Halloween Episode: "October 31", in which David and Kristen are called in to a difficult exorcism, Ben moonlights as the skeptic on one of those dumb ghost catcher TV shows, Sheryl starts a romance with Satan (that is, Leland), and a creepy child comes to the Halloween party with Kristen's daughters.
  • Haunted Technology: A recurring set piece, from the AR goggles in "Rose390" to the possessed personal assistant in "3 Stars".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Aside from the pilot, each episode has a number in it ("177 Minutes," "3 Stars," "Rose390," etc).
  • Ill Girl: Kristen’s youngest daughter Laura suffers from a rare heart condition which may rectify itself, or may kill her before she turns 20.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Googling the not-exactly-unique name "David Acosta", Kristen immediately hits on a video interview with David during his AP days. At least he's only the second David Acosta in the search results.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: That's what David Acosta is supposed to assess, whether or not a person is actually possessed by a demon or whether a miracle actually happened or not. Most of the time, it falls on the "mundane" side, although David still believes in the "magic" side.
    • This applies to Kristen's night terrors. First, she assumes that they aren't real, just dreams, but then a serial killer taunts her with knowledge from the dream that only she knows...but then she realizes that someone fed him that information after stealing her therapist's notes. But then her daughter starts seeing the same demon in her dreams...until Kristen realizes it's because they both watched the same scary movie that had the same looking demon. Except then they watch a Behind the Scenes segment with the person who developed the monster makeup...and he reveals that it came to him in his dreams.
    • The second episode has a Broadway producer's smart speaker get hacked by a disgruntled tech support guy to trick him into thinking he was being haunted. However, the tech insists he stopped several days before the team started investigating, and yet the hack has continued, and metastasizes to the Shakirs' own smart speaker when Ben takes it home to investigate it. After it starts ranting at his sister in Arabic that Iblis has her child, he throws it in the back of a garbage truck rather than investigate further.
    • Leland Townsend. By day, he acts as an Evil Counterpart to Kristen, giving false testimony as a forensic psychologist and trying to discredit her work for the D.A., For the Evulz according to him. However, David speaks to him as if he's an actual demon, and he appears in scenes where David is praying or trying to interpret a psilocybin-induced hallucination trying to distract him.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In the first episode, Kristen starts getting night terrors where she opens her eyes in the middle of a dream and becomes paralyzed as a demon named George walks around her room and hurts her with a knife. Despite the fact that she proves these are dreams and not real (via a sign she previously wrote in her room that she couldn't read in the dream), they don't stop and she keeps having them. Even her youngest daughter Laura starts having them, although Kristen realizes it's because they both saw the same scary movie that had the same looking demon in it.
  • Offing the Offspring: Eric's psychosis/demonic possession escalates to the point where he tries to drown his baby sister. When the team returns with an exorcist, the police have been called. Mom says Eric ran away but strongly implies she killed him to protect the baby. Cue credits.
  • Only in It for the Money: Kristen makes it clear that she’s only joining David’s team to earn the extra money she needs to pay off her student loans.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: In "October 31" the TV crew in the haunted strip club starts getting nosebleeds. Subverted when the nosebleeds turn out to be an allergic reaction to a psychic trick.
  • Recovered Addict: In the second episode, David tells Kristen that he used to have visions, but he doesn't anymore. At the end of the episode, it's revealed why: in order to have those visions, he needs to ingest mushrooms that he bought from a drug dealer. He finally gives in and buys some in order to have a vision in the end.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In "Rose 390", Eric attempts to drown his baby sister, but when David pulls her out of the pool, she starts crying instantly, without any CPR. This is most likely to the due to the Infant Diving Reflex, which puts babies in a state where they use less oxygen upon being fully submerged in water.
  • Series Continuity Error: Both "177 minutes" and "3 Stars" involve deepfaking. The concept is introduced in 177 minutes... and yet has to be explained to Kristen in 3 Stars.
  • Shoot the Dog: Kristen attempts to record Townsend admitting to his motives in reversing her work for the D.A. It fails due to him anticipating it and using a jammer. So she has Ben deep-fake what he said and passes it off to the defense as the real thing. It's technically evidence-tampering, but he did say it and mean it, and it means keeping a fifteen-year-old from being tried as an adult.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "3 Stars", Townsends efforts to distract David from his studies with impure thoughts lead him to quote John Donne's "To His Mistress Going to Bed".
    • "October 31" features a Shot-for-Shot Remake of the iconic scene from The Exorcist where one of the priests arrives outside of Reagan's house.
  • Significant Background Event: As Mr. Duke's assistant in "3 Stars" talks on the phone about how much better Duke has been in the foreground, Duke is seen jumping to his death off the balcony in the background.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Kristen. She’s neither widowed or divorced, but her husband is overseas for work and she’s burning the candle at both ends with work, raising four children, and while managing her mental health issues.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: A demon...named George. And the serial killer Orson LaRoux said that he was possessed by a demon named Roy.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: David Acosta, Ben Shakir, and Kristen Bouchard are the assessment team.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never do find out just what is up with "Brenda", the little girl who shows up at the Halloween party in "October 31". Is she horribly burned, as she implies with her story? Is she a demon? What's her real name?

Alternative Title(s): Evil


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