Thursday, September 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'Evil' - Kristen and Her New Colleagues Experience Just How Easily Terror Can Spread Throughout the World in 'Pilot'

CBS' Evil - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard is hired by the Catholic Church to work with David Acosta, a priest-in-training, and contractor Ben Shakir, to determine whether a serial killer is possessed by a demon or merely a psychopath. Kristen finds that she has a taste for the work and is invited to join the team on a permanent basis.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' Evil.

"Pilot" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Robert King

Evil can spread more easily now than ever before. It's deeply unsettling to know just how powerful and corrosive any connection can be throughout all of humanity. All it takes is the power of suggestion for Kristen to start suffering from night terrors. She doesn't believe in demons and angels. To her, science and technology can inform any miraculous moment. That doesn't take away from the beauty and grace either. It just takes away the power of belief. That can sometimes be comforting to people who simply have no other explanation for something that has happened in their lives. It's easier for the wife of a serial killer to believe he has been possessed by a devil than him being a deranged monster. And yet, he was encouraged online to act out these violent impulses. He may have gotten there on his own. It's likely that he would have. The pushing from Leland Townsend though made it much more succinct and immediate. That is absolutely terrifying. This premiere goes for such an eery and unsettling tone. It executes that vision wonderfully as well. It's clear that something more may be going on in this world. But it's fundamentally a story about beliefs. Kristen and Ben are the skeptics on the core team. They don't believe that possession is the explanation for what is happening in this particular case. Ben can create a reasonable explanation for the noise that has seemingly been haunting the killer's kitchen. Meanwhile, Kristen can follow the evidence to track how the details of her night terror came into possession of the killer she is interviewing alongside David. She simply needs the time and patience to put all the pieces together. She is very smart and capable in that regard. She can't solely be seen as willing to do or say anything that allows her to pay off her student loans as quickly as possible. That is absolutely a critical motivation for her though. It's beneficial when she has a steady job. She may be an independent contractor for the District Attorney's office. She believes her impartiality and honesty allow her to keep getting hired. And yet, it's mostly her just being conveniently accessible while always saying the defendant is mentally fit to stand trial and be blamed for his actions. As soon as she stopped delivering those specific results, then they were willing to look elsewhere. Her exit doesn't stop this legal proceeding from continuing though. It doesn't matter that she speaks up in front of the judge alleging something scandalous about the prosecutor. Instead, the world just keeps on moving without her. She has her principles. That can only take her so far though. She is lucky that this new job opportunity presents itself quickly. She still gets to work on this case. In fact, she presents the prosecutor with all the evidence he needs to secure a conviction. He isn't entirely grateful for that. He is just smug about being right all along. That's not the environment where she wants to work any more. She is more intrigued by David and his convictions than believing in the supernatural with her new job. It is enticing though. She wants to see what the next case is. She believes that everything that has seemingly haunted her at night can be explained by just how personal this case got for her. David may be quick to say that the devil is willing to make any proclamation in order to illicit an extreme reaction. But there are instances in which their ideologies match up. Leland is a psychopath who delights in making others react with violence. David punches him. That's significant. It goes against the beliefs he is fighting to uphold. He is a priest in training. He still has years left in that pursuit. Meanwhile, Leland is doing major drama right now. He is helping evil spread in this world. That's truly unsettling. There is the sense that this case will be wrapped up nicely with him also being dealt with some significant consequences. Kristen is proud of the work she has done and is ready for more. That's very encouraging. Plus, it helps make all of this seem like a good story engine for an ongoing series. That is the most pressing concern of any new show. It has to be sustainable. Right now, Evil is showing that it knows how to delve into this world while provoking some powerful questions about humanity's need to belief in something.