The Catholic church has 15,000 backlogged requests concerning demon possession and miracles, so the church employs David Acosta (Mike Colter, Breakthrough, Luke Cage) and Ben Shroff (Aasif Mandvi) to assess different cases. Seeking clarity between the supernatural and mental illness, Acosta recruits psychology expert Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) to help examine a man accused of serial murder. This review is for the first episode only.
Acosta and Bouchard are two likable do-gooders on opposite sides of the separation between science and the supernatural. Acosta represents the interests of the Catholic Church in finding out whether a serial killer’s issues are the result of madness or demonic possession, while Bouchard believes that there are concrete, scientific reasons for why things happen based in known reality. “Possession looks a lot like insanity, and insanity looks a lot like possession,” Acosta says, “and I need someone to help me distinguish between the two.”
While there’s a certain amount of The X-Files in Evil, it’s a blend of dynamic violence in the here and now with existential crises that makes the characters feel grounded in reality. Bouchard’s four little girls add to significant softening of her character, showing the audience that she has a sensitive, mothering side that conflicts with her sharp focus on objective truth and justice. The relevation that Acosta pulled out of the novitiate program as a priest allows for an understanding about his motivation and his belief in what he cannot see. Audiences looking for something gritty in the crime-solving department will appreciate the whodunnit aspects of this premiere episode while those looking for something supernatural and creepy will find a show that twists the lines between spiritual mysteries and science. Acosta tells Bouchard, “Science is only good for repeatable phenomenon, and the most interesting parts don’t repeat.” Those who don’t want anything too dark will be reasonably miserable here because there are jump scares scattered throughout like a B-level horror film.
The premiere episode gave hints of the serialized nature of the show while also hinting at a deeper conspiracy tied into Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson). Acosta shows Bouchard that the world is getting worse as evil people connect through social media and encourage the evil behavior they have already adopted for themselves. What the show ultimately will reveal in the end is unclear, but the power of faith and science to overcome evil receives balanced attention in the origin episode.
The Dove Take:
Evil is way too terrifying for younger audiences or family viewing, but discerning audiences may be both entertained and provoked spiritually and mentally by the juxtaposition of science and religion. Dove approves the series for 18+.