Sunday, July 24, 2022

REVIEW: 'Evil' - Small Actions Quickly Escalate to Demonic Temptation and a Sense of Powerlessness in 'The Demon of Cults'

Paramount+'s Evil - Episode 3.07 "The Demon of Cults"

The team investigates a young man who is being held against his will to determine if he is possessed or is influenced by a cult. 

"The Demon of Cults" was written by Louisa Hill and directed by Fong Yee Yap

Kristen doesn't believe in the supernatural. Neither does Victor LeConte. To him, the battle between good and evil is very real. It plays out in the physical world. As such, he is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the forces that wish to corrupt this reality. He needs David and Kristen to cooperate with his mission. He remains very calm and sensible. This is a regular part of his life. He engages in espionage in order to fight back. David refuses to betray a friend. Victor opens his appeal to Kristen. He points out how her daughter is being groomed. He can make his argument in a very rational way using all the evidence the accessors have gathered across the series. Plus, he happens to know every single detail about Kristen's life. That's startling. It reveals how little control Kristen actually has. She wants to believe she is a good mother. She is raising her four daughters properly. She protects them from any threat that means them harm. And yet, she can't see everything happening in their lives. She saw the harm being perpetrated by Leland. That influence was obvious. The Church wanted to keep him close. Even firing him doesn't eliminate that threat for good. Instead, he simply tries to get his hooks into Kristen's life another way. But again, it's obvious that he is the evil and corrosive force who can't be trusted no matter what. Sheryl remains an ongoing presence in the lives of her daughter and granddaughters. She has kept secrets. She may even rationalize her behavior. Her agency was taken away. And now, she's simply trying to find the beauty in a fate beyond her control. So many can connect with that plight. They are taken aback by how they've arrived in this situation. All it took was one minor decision that allowed temptation to sneak in. It's tedious to simply read the church brochures available to everyone. That offers no insight in one's spiritual journey. It's just the first step Sister Andrea points out. She can't engage in a conversation about the transformational nature of Kurt's experience if he doesn't know the basics of the church. She is very blunt with what she demands from him. Baptism is the only way to cleanse his soul. Instead, he takes the wrong lesson from seeing a demon. That's his brain trying to make sense of the impossible. He has never been challenged in this way before. He sees the church as offering nothing new to the conversation. It's the same dialogue that has always been present throughout the world. Leland offers the dark truth about spirituality. It's insane to listen to Leland. That's precisely what Kurt does. It will compromise his dynamic with Sister Andrea as a result. That's how quickly things can escalate.

The forces of evil have the ability to be patient. Anyone can be targeted at any moment. Victor and his allies don't have the luxury of ignoring the fate of children. In his mind, they are destined to grow up to be adults who will further embrace this darkness. These pivotal decisions are being made now. As such, he has to invade Kristen's life. He could do so with David's knowledge. He could do so without anyone being aware. He ultimately presents the truth to Kristen. She's devastated because it dawns on her too late that something may be off with Lexis. That's startling. It breaks her world. She will do anything to keep her safe. The influences are already scattered around the room. One additional toy wasn't suddenly going to tip the balance. It would only allow monitoring of the situation. People are still susceptible to the voices of those who say they have all the answers. The accessors are brought in on a case where a cult deprogrammer believes he's doing what's right for his patient. He has a medical degree and legal consent to carry out this imprisonment. He has made a difference in hundreds of lives. He's at a loss in Owen's case. All of the trauma and torture seemingly goes away simply by hearing the voice of his girlfriend. That's what brings Owen out of this demonic fog. It carries no explanation whatsoever. People still inflicted a lot of harm in the name of religion. That's how the world seemingly works. No one can be upfront with the horrors they truly believe in to hold everything accountable. The cult upstate doesn't start with the ceremony where people flog themselves as punishment for their guilty actions. Ben holds himself responsible for causing his mother pain before she died. He has to carry that burden in his life. It weighs him down. His sister sees that. However, so many infer more responsibility onto that action than Ben is willing to admit. They want to force their beliefs onto him. It's not cathartic. Instead, it's incredibly performative. Ben enjoys his experience at the compound when his friend Renee talks about the ways in which religion and science must exist in balance. The sex later is enjoyable as well. She still leads with the understanding that he's going to freak out over what comes next. They sacrifice an animal in the name of appeasing their god. Ben notes how insane all of this is over and over again. He can't reason with them. This hour starts with one man praising himself for helping people lost to cults. That conversation is muddled throughout the rest of the story. It's all about Ben carrying out the same action while David and Kristen are too frantically running around from place to place. It's chaos. It keeps them busy and distracted so they don't realize how much control they are losing elsewhere. That's the way the demonic forces work. That storytelling pattern is clear even if it doesn't culminate in the most engaging episode where everything comes together in a rich and rewarding way. It's simply thrilling for Kristen as she is let in on the truth of David's secret activities.