Peter Scolari

Evil (2019) s01e10 – 7 Swans a Singin’

This episode of “Evil” has a particular creative pedigree. Nineties neo-noir wunderkind (albeit flash in the pan) director John Dahl. Eighties and nineties sci-fi guy Rockne S. O'Bannon scripts. Seeing either of their names in the credits for “Evil” just tells of careers gone wrong; seeing both of them in the same episode, well… it feels like “Evil” is a pasture to be put out to. Though O’Bannon feels like he gets how to do an “Evil,” he knows just what contemporary middle class fears to exploit. Kids, obviously. The episode’s about a Catholic girls school where everyone spontaneously starts humming the same song from an inappropriately crude Christmas cartoon on YouTube.

But the actual fear is of YouTube influencers, particularly the make-up ones. Taylor Louderman plays the influencer, who ties into the Michael Emerson plot, natch, and she’s terrible. Also the show using Emerson as the occasional bad guy in his office sending out evil into the world isn’t working. It’s not like Emerson ever wasn’t silly, but he’s even more silly in his crappy little office engineering the downfall of western civilization. Or talking dirty with girlfriend Christine Lahti on the phone.

Lahti’s going to be all “Evil” at some point, as she starts manipulating her granddaughters this episode. While wearing red!

While Mike Colter, Katja Herbers, and Aasif Mandvi investigate the school and the humming, Colter has also got to deal with someone sending him pictures of his transgression with dead fiancée’s sister Renée Elise Goldsberry (who went from being featured guest star to third tier subplot) and Herbers has her home nonsense going on with the daughters and husband Patrick Brammall. Though Brammall’s growing on me. His performance isn’t getting worse. New Church boss Peter Scolari is just getting worse. And Lahti’s not fun anymore because she’s now just around to act as a constant threat to her granddaughters, who are obnoxious but still kids and the grandmother betrayal thing is really harsh.

Wait, forgot—the Christmas cartoon also tells kids to get stoned, because you should fear YouTube and counter it by… well, it’s unclear. “Evil” tries to terrify its audience with fear of tech but, other than calling the Catholic Church to investigate, has no opinion on alternatives.

There’s an okay cliffhanger? Or at least a surprise one. The episode woefully underuses Mandvi.

Evil (2019) s01e09 – Exorcism Part 2

This episode actually surprised me, which I didn’t realize “Evil” could do, but I was wrong. I really didn’t expect the show to head-on confront the Catholic Church enabling, supporting, and facilitating child rape with it being a-okay and turning their number one “defending child rapists” lawyer Renée Elise Goldsberry (from the show creators’ previous success, “The Good Wife,” playing a character named Renée, and giving a terrible performance) as a super-sexy woman from Mike Colter’s past who’s going to coerce him into physical relations or die trying.

When Goldsberry showed up in the first few minutes, after the show established it’s a follow-up on the episode where Colter and Katja Herbers argued over an exorcism but also Michael Emerson’s incel shooter training camp (are all psychologists bad for incels, or just the white men?), I was happy to see her. Any good guest stars would help, especially since incel shooter-in-training Noah Robbins is so bad it’d make more sense if his character were an undercover cop trying to bust Emerson and also Herbers’s decidedly not sexy husband Patrick Brammall is back and, after briefly seeming like he and Herbers might be good together, decidedly is not good with Herbers or anyone else. So, Goldsberry, who’s been not bad in the past but I’m now wondering, was a welcome sight.

Then she started acting.

I mean, the deposition thing is really bad—who wrote all “Good Wife”’s realistic-y lawyer stuff because they ain’t working on “Evil”—where Goldsberry tries to out-lawyer Jennifer Ferrin (who probably ought to find a better agent, like, real talk) while trying to obscure Herbers and Aasif Mandvi being atheists who don’t think Colter should’ve tortured the plaintiff in her exorcism. The best part is how the case resolves because it’s so obviously how poorly thought-out the plotting.

Also Peter Scolari is Colter’s new boss at the Church and he’s terrible.

The big surprise, besides the Catholic Church propaganda (guess who the incel wants to shoot? Good Catholics who don’t abandon the Church because of child rape, isn’t it progressive) and Goldsberry being bad, is Emerson’s ostensible demon. He’s less an evil mastermind and more an incompetent jackass. He has a silly “break stuff in my room” scene like he thinks he’s Kylo Ren, he’s just in his late sixties or whatever. It’s buffoonish. Though I suppose at least it’s not as gross as if “Evil” really is about being Catholic Church propaganda.

Also, also. A correction from an earlier post. Black Catholics are a thing in urban areas and “Evil” supposedly takes place in New York, just a really poorly shot one. They still aren’t in that survey I mentioned and they still seem overrepresented on the show.

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