Hello and welcome, fellow Evil watchers. Have you come here hoping to virtually hold hands with other people also freaked out by that demon haunting our protagonist, Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), in her dreams? His name is George, and he is creepy as hell. Or are you here because the central idea laid out in this premiere episode — that the world is becoming a more hateful, dangerous place by the day because now people who want to do bad things are connected and communicating over the internet and thus feel emboldened to actually do those bad things — hits so close to home that you are terrified to leave your apartment? Either way, I'd like to say, I'm glad you're here, but also I can be of no help to you. Listen, if there is anyone who believes in the power of a television recap, it's me, your recapper, but I can offer you zero comfort. This show gives me the creeps, the world is a scary place, and we'll all just have to deal with acknowledging these facts every Thursday night for the foreseeable future.
There are a few things that might make it all easier to accept. You know, like how Evil is really, really good. Bless creators Michelle and Robert King (of The Good Wife and The Good Fight fame) for taking another tried-and-true procedural framework and making it smarter and quirkier and just so much better than you could imagine. The science-versus-religion debate to explain the unexplainable isn't a new one, but voiced through our resident skeptic, forensic psychologist Kristen, and our devout believer, (hot) priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter), the arguments on both sides feel fresh and compelling. Or maybe it's all that chemistry that has me hooked. What can I say? I'm a sucker for simmering sexual tension. And honestly, if ever there were a time for a woman to be attracted to a hot priest (in training), that time is now!
So how do a woman of science and a man of faith come to team up to investigate possible demonic possessions and miracles for the Catholic Church (apparently there are hundreds of thousands backlogged requests for this)? I'm so glad you let me pretend like you asked. As a forensic psychologist, Kristen's been working as an expert witness — mostly to strike down any insanity pleas — for the district attorney's office in order to make some cash money and pay back her student loans. She's in a lot of debt and has four giggly young daughters at home, which, in case you are wondering, is A LOT, and she's raising them alone while her husband is off being a sherpa or something in Nepal (Kristen also used to be extremely into climbing, attempting the seven summits). This is extremely rude and I know Kristen's mother, Sheryl (Christine Lahti), would agree with me. We don't get much of Sheryl in this episode, but she does walk around looking fabulous in leather pants, so obviously I'm looking forward to running into her again.
In Kristen's most current case, she's been tasked with determining if Orson LaRue is insane or not. Orson horrifically murdered seven people and claims that he blacked out during the murders and doesn't remember anything. After some tense interviews and a fun little game of true or false, Kristen gets on the stand and says that Orson is a liar, trying to save his ass with an insanity plea. But then the defense gets up and is like, uh, we have our own expert witness who says Orson is possessed by a demon named Roy. Obviously, Kristen has to go investigate that claim. She meets with Orson again and things get — I believe the technical term for it is "freaky-deaky." At the sight of a cross and the sound of the Our Father, "Roy" jumps up on the table, strangles Kristen, and starts speaking in Latin. When Kristen tells the D.A. she needs more time to make a determination, he's not happy. Apparently, they have different ideas as to what the job of an expert witness is: He thinks it's helping him out, she thinks it's telling the truth. They part ways. It is extremely not amicable.
Kristen isn't the only one investigating Orson's possible possession. Orson's wife has hired David Acosta and his partner, Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), to look into it — she's sure her husband must be possessed. When David hears that Kristen is available, he wants her to join his team. He enjoys being surrounded by people who can poke holes in supernatural theories (Ben, a contractor, is a skeptic just trying to make some money, too). Of course she agrees! Do you not remember the four daughters and the student loans?
Meanwhile, as they get deeper into this investigation, Kristen's suffering from sleep paralysis and being visited by that disturbing demon named George (Marti Matulis) I mentioned. This dude is the worst! He knows a lot about Kristen, including her little crush on David. He does things like make remarks about her cesarean scar and cut off her fingers. Of course, it seems like these are just awful nightmares...until Kristen and David meet with Orson, who turns into Roy, and he knows all about George. They are both part of "the 60," and they know everything about Kristen. Personally, I'd be chugging wine while in the fetal position if this were me, but Kristen is more of a margarita-in-a-can girl and she is going to get to the bottom of this.
The only person she told about George was her therapist, Dr. Boggs (Kurt Fuller), and it so happens that her file in his office has been stolen. By some true badass investigating, Kristen discovers that a Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) came to visit Orson. The same Leland Townsend who is the expert witness for the defense and claims Orson is possessed. The same Leland Townsend who showed up at Dr. Boggs's office and left shortly after on the same day Kristen's file went missing. It doesn't take long for Kristen and David to figure out that Orson and Leland actually met online, where Leland encouraged Orson to give in to his desires to murder, and then was coaching him on how to fake a "possession" and feeding him information about Kristen. Orson was very much aware of what he was doing, and now he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison. As he's dragged away, Orson calls Kristen a bitch. "Oh boy, do you have that right," she responds because she is an American hero.
The Orson problem is fixed, but Leland Townsend is a different story. This guy is bad news. He plays meek and mild convincingly, but underneath he's a straight-up evil dick (like all the best Michael Emerson characters are). He taunts Kristen with information he has on her from her therapist's notes (that thing about Kristen wishing her daughters were gone so she could be free is especially rough). He mentions "the 60" again — whoever they are, they now know who Kristen is. But the most alarming thing comes when David sees Leland — he knows this guy. Evil incarnate. He drove someone close to David named Julia to some sort of breakdown. David punches him, and although I don't condone violence, it is objectively awesome.
So it seems that Leland, and other "connectors" like him — psychopaths who seek out and encourage evil acts — will play a big part in this show. For now though, let's not stress too much about that. Instead, let's crack open a can of margarita and rejoice, because once Kristen hears that David and Ben have been handed a new case, this time a miracle, she's all in.
Evil airs Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS.
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