Sunday, July 10, 2022

REVIEW: 'Evil' - David Questions the Racial Politics of the Catholic Church and Its Images of Saints in 'The Angel of Warning'

Paramount+'s Evil - Episode 3.05 "The Angel of Warning"

Sister Andrea's career and sanity are on trial as she battles Leland. Meanwhile, the team investigates an alleged angel sighting.

"The Angel of Warning" was written by Rockne S. O'Bannon & Erica Larson and directed by Matthew Kregor

David and Sister Andrea have operated with the certainty of their visions being real. Over the seasons, David has had doubts. Andrea asserts that those have helped make his faith stronger. He's still plagued though. The viewer also probably has doubts about his visions. In the first season, he was using drugs in order to receive visions he projected all of this power onto. He has been gifted with clarity. He no longer requires those substances to induce these visions. It could all still be a projection from his subconscious. They aren't as real and visceral as what Sister Andrea endures on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Leland and Sheryl are interacting with actual demons. That's striking too. It's not informed by some kind of devout faith. It's simply about proving themselves worthy of admiration from those seeking to corrupt the world. It's confirmation of their heinous deeds having an impact. David wants to believe he is following the right instincts. He needs to know these visions are coming from God. He is protected now that he is a priest. Andrea can't offer that certainty. She trusts in the power God wields. So much of what happens on Earth though can easily be corrupted. The Monseigneur jumps at the possibility a beloved nun from half a century ago could be declared a saint. He sees the potential. In the midst of an unimaginable tragedy, something miraculous occurred. Four individuals were led to safety by an angelic figure. Everything seems to line up perfectly in the beginning. The stories ultimately vary. One survivor is certain she was saved by a Black woman carrying a lamb. That's enough to put into doubt the importance of this investigation. Everyone was operating under the assumption the woman seen behind a blinding light was white. That's the bias so many carry because of the way images have long been depicted of the church. It doesn't take someone being religious to know how angels have been portrayed. History has been whitewashed to uplift a narrative of greatness for one particular race. It's all informed by those in power. The Catholic Church isn't beyond scandal and temptation. Its leaders want to assume they should be above it all. That's ripe for so much corruption. It makes it perfectly reasonable to believe Sister Andrea saw the Cardinal interacting with a demon. That's blasphemous to those who believe the sanctity of the Cardinal is beyond reproach. He was elevated to that position simply because of the political interests of the church. He is positioned as the most pure amongst the religious. He too can easily succumb to temptation. That's what the lessons of this religion teach. Everyone is tempted. That should apply to everyone within the leadership. That's still scandalous when people call it out. David can't ignore it. The other accessors see the blatant self-interests. It's what they have to accept and endure while doing this job.

Of course, David has never questioned the racial depictions of his visions. It only now dawns on him that every angel has been white and every demon has been Black. He sees that clear dichotomy. He has to voice his outrage to Sister Andrea. The audience can't operate with that same certainty. The demons Leland and Sheryl deal with don't follow the same color scheme. Sure, Sheryl is nauseated by the reality of what's in front of her. She sees that fully. She can't deny any of it. It's freeing when she has a kindred spirit like Leland who affirms what's real. She thought she was going crazy. Instead, she is given certainty. That's lacking elsewhere. That's all purposeful. People fear something bad is coming. That's a consequence of doom-scrolling online. All of the Bouchard daughters wake up terrified something has happened to Andy. They may be right considering he's climbing mountains with Eddie. That hasn't happened yet. The dread is still creeping up. Even Kristen can fear it. Screaming at the train may not be either to silence these fears either. It's simply an action done to ease the mind. It's a way to fight back. The accessors are armed with so many tools to figure out what's true in the cases they work. They work well together as a team. They discover Jess' decent. She infiltrated the investigation to corrupt it for Leland. That shouldn't taint the entire endeavor. And yet, the church would rather deny a Black woman potentially taking the first step to sainthood for the sheer inconvenience of one person's lies. That's all it takes to topple what should be seen as very important. The church could have gained a new messenger. One who could serve as a new symbol. She saved lives. Ben's not quick to support that underlying conclusion. Even he sees the value in continuing to dig deeper. Instead, it doesn't fit the narrative the church wishes to always exude. The archdiocese has big plans for David. They want him visible because he's a Black man. His ordination is a big deal. He can use that diversity status to coerce the tribunal into keeping Sister Andrea. She acknowledges the sin he committed. She still appreciates having David as an ally. Demons still loom. In fact, they may be creeping even closer. That's a scary prospect. The accessors may not even see it coming because they are forced to take up the next case right away. Any potential danger is far away in the future. Nothing has to be decided right now. That still affords people the ability to plant seeds of deception. All it takes is a small thought to disrupt the world. Once implanted, life seems to only offer proof that confirms it. It takes brave individuals to question and battle the lies. It may still be too overwhelming for a small team to handle. It may all be a losing battle. It's still worth fighting even when the support system doesn't offer much guarantees of anything beyond what they inherently want.