The one certainty about Paramount+’s Evil is that it thrives on being utterly weird and oddly sexy. Robert and Michelle King’s series pulls no punches when it comes to bizarre visuals and storylines, from seductive demons to oddball exorcisms to a bloodied Michael Emerson gleefully sitting in a bathtub. It’s equal parts entertaining and scary, all while pondering big ideas about the morality of life. It is, in other words, unlike any other horror drama on TV right now. The good news about season three is that the show builds on all of those reasons that make Evil a must-watch. The not-so-good news? On some level, it treads the same waters.
Don’t get us wrong: Evil remains exceptionally fun, thanks to the outlandish cases that psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), priest David Acosta (Mike Colter), and contractor Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) find themselves handling for the Church. Their job is to determine if clients are facing potential miracles, hauntings, or worse. But the final deductions about the occult are often up in the air, uniquely examined through both faith and science. For instance, this season’s premiere has the team looking into whether a machine can determine what the soul weighs and what might happen to it after death. Underneath a ludicrous execution, which boasts a splendid Wallace Shawn cameo, Evil throws in weighty questions about how humanity views the very concept of having a soul.
What’s more, the stakes between Kristen and David’s sexually charged bond are heightened (a round of applause for Herbers and Colter’s undeniable onscreen chemistry, please). After sharing a heated kiss, right when he officially became a priest no less, the simmering aftereffects impact their friendship. It doesn’t help that her husband, Andy (Patrick Brammall), is back from Nepal permanently. Obviously, Evil throws in a demonic narrative here for good measure as David starts getting more visions in his head. It’s already established that he loves his frequent nightmares that lead to conversations with supposed entities. And this time around, David doesn’t even need to get high to experience them.
Much like Ben’s nighttime succubus visits in season two, it’s hard to know if it’s David’s guilt manifesting here, or if any of his dreams are real. But with Evil, as infuriating as it may be, guessing is half the fun, right? Speaking of Ben, he struggles to figure out his shifting stance on the science vs. spirituality debate. And who can blame him, given that his daily work includes sizing up the existence of ghosts and whatnot? It’s a believable turn for him. Unable to move on from these pressures, and suspicious of what’s going on between his co-workers, Ben finds himself in an understandably lonely place. Heck, even Kristen’s four chatty daughters tell him he isn’t “Magnificent Ben” anymore. Mandvi’s performance is a highlight, we should note: The actor captures Ben’s somberness but brings some much-needed levity to scenes simply with a perfected eye roll or sarcastic comment.
The other dose of humor comes from Leland (Emerson). Lost already established that the actor can channel lunacy and villainy like no one else. Evil just thankfully lets him dial it up to 100. Leland’s obsession with taking down Kristen includes taking her mother, Sheryl (Christine Lahti), under his wing for dubious shit, even if no one understands what they’re planning. (The new episodes refrain from revealing what the they’re actually up to.)
Leland is riveting as a foe but his unclear motives lower our enthusiasm. Evil has tiptoed around his confusing agenda in the past, which includes trying to trick Kristen’s 11-year-old daughter, Lexis (Maddy Crocco). Is he just a vengeful man with mental health issues, or is there something more sinister going on? This question has plagued Evil ever since that season-one scene of him in therapy with a horned creature. Without any solid followups, it’s just beating around the same tiring bush. Regardless, Leland and Sheryl never disappoint when it comes to ridiculous distractions. He now puts her in charge of creating chaos through—wait for it—doomscrolling and cryptocurrency (a nice nod to some actual horrors, huh?).
The Kings’ repertoire, including The Good Fight and The Good Wife, focuses on real-world issues in distinct ways. And Evil is no different. There’s more timely commentary here, like David dealing with racism in the Church and more cases revolving around social-media pranks. This approach wisely grounds a TV show as delirious as this one. And delirious it is. Where else could we find a blue-colored demon gawking lustfully over Andrea Martin, who in turn couldn’t give a damn? She’s a comedy legend, and the writers lucked out with her unexpected casting as the badass Sister Andrea.
Evil is still a singular beast in how it scrutinizes the nature of, well, evil—whether supernatural or manmade—with thoughtful introspection. Despite a lack of answers (at least in the first trio of installments), several unfinished storylines return in promising form. The cast is top-notch, and there’s never a dull moment thanks to smorgasbord of horny demons. And let’s be honest: What’s more entertaining than that?