[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Evil, "The Demon of the End." Read at your own risk!]
Evil is entering its Rosemary's Baby era. The Paramount+ drama has never been a stranger to pregnancy horror, but all those demonic kids took on an even darker significance in the Season 3 finale, which brought the mystery of Kristen's (Katja Herbers) missing egg to a terrible conclusion. Another woman is carrying Kristen's biological child — and Leland (Michael Emerson) is the father.
"The Demon of the End," written by Rockne S. O'Bannon and directed by John Dahl, is full of haunted families. Kristen's new neighbors have a demon problem, complete with a lot of the same blood-in-the-pipes scares the Bouchards have dealt with. The house gets an exorcism courtesy of David (Mike Colter), Ben (Aasif Mandvi), and Father Ignatius (Wallace Shawn), who's filling in as the boss in the wake of the monsignor's murder, but the demons just go back to Kristen's place. Sister Andrea (Andrea Martin), the only one who can see them, finds the Bouchard home crawling with creatures from past cases.
Those demons are tame compared to what else is haunting the Bouchards this week. Edward (Tim Matheson) lies to Kristen on a video call, claiming that Andy (Patrick Brammall) died in an avalanche. It's all part of Sheryl (Christine Lahti) and Leland's scheme to dispose of Kristen's husband for good, but they're outsmarted by the Bouchard girls, who ping Leland on his computer and hear it through Edward's call. After a painful, anxious night — Herbers is brilliant in these scenes, making Kristen's grief devastatingly raw — Andy shows up at their door, mostly healthy aside from some memory lapses and a strange sudden affection for his mother-in-law.
The season's — and the show's — biggest plotlines converge in a chilling sequence at the end of the episode, set to Laurie Anderson's appropriately titled "Born, Never Asked." Kristen follows the case of her missing egg to a Manhattan office building, which turns out to house the cursed stock company DF, which also happens to be Sheryl's office. And Sheryl happens to be throwing a baby shower for a very pregnant young woman. Leland arrives and looks Kristen dead in the eyes: "We're gonna be parents." Andy, meanwhile, is back home watching a crowd of familiar demons (hello, George!) gather around a manger, which holds the creepy baby Kristen nursed in a nightmare a few episodes back. Kurt (Kurt Fuller) is also there, which can't be good. The only hope comes from David, whose angelic vision returns while he prays.
It's a monster of an ending to sit with until Season 4, but series creators Robert and Michelle King tease that there is light ahead. TV Guide caught up with the Kings to talk about putting Kristen through the wringer, what's going on with Andy, the terror of bringing work home with you, and eldest daughter Lynn's (Brooklyn Shuck) sudden nun aspirations.
Can we trust that the baby is genetically Leland and Kristen's, or should we take anything about that baby shower with a grain of salt?
Robert King: Yeah, you can trust that. The show doesn't play the schmuck bait where it suggests something is bad and then backs down. The thing that is bad is always bad [laughs]. Kristen always did kill the serial killer. The only thing that maybe was a trick was Kristen and David sleeping with each other — but no, this is not good for poor old Kristen.
Definitely not. And this storyline with RSM Fertility has been building for a while. When did you know that this was where the season was headed?
Michelle King: Earlier in the season, this year.
Robert: Yeah, I think once we brought in the Entity, we knew that we had to go to RSM, we had to go to Lexis, and then we always did know that the egg being left out there was going to take us in this direction. We just didn't know when we were going to spring that trap. Sometimes there was a feeling that it should be sprung at the end of Episode 7 — then it was a sense that, well, you can't get any worse than for Kristen to realize that her genetic material is mixing with Leland.
It's a massive violation for Kristen. I've seen shows — I'm thinking of The X Files, which is an obvious precursor to Evil — not always handle this kind of violation well. Was there any caution in the writers' room about doing this to her?
Michelle: Tell me what you mean about not handling it well.
Not taking the level of violation seriously.
Michelle: Right. No, that's an interesting point. We're taking it extremely seriously. And it's a betrayal on so many levels. She knew Leland was a villain, but that her mother would be involved? And then in addition to that, Andy seems to be changed in some fundamental, bad way. And Kurt Boggs, her therapist, is also not on good footing. I mean, we've got a Kristen who's getting it from every direction, and we're taking it really seriously.
Robert: The writers' room is mostly women. I would say there was a real sense of honoring it, and honoring it next season, too, but to somehow play off how difficult [it is]. Which you saw in [Episode 8], when she thought she discovered the mother of the egg — how many emotional strains there are on that.
Let's talk about Andy having this vision of a demon nativity. What should we take from the fact that Kurt is with the demons?
Robert: It is a mind bender, because is Kurt there in Andy's mind? Or is Kurt truly there? We wanted to play it both ways. We want every image of the show to play psychologically if you don't believe in the supernatural, and then play supernaturally. And obviously, as you point out, it's a demon nativity. Is it the Second Coming? Is it the Antichrist? All those things are raised, just like at the end of Rosemary's Baby. So we wanted that kind of manger-like innocence, but flipped on its head. It felt like the two people that were most creeping into that territory that were new [there] were Andy and Kurt Boggs, but it doesn't mean that they're not savable.
Andy tells Kristen, in that very haunting sleepwalking scene, "I'm trapped." We also see him being nice to Sheryl. What's going on with him?
Michelle: He was genuinely traumatized by being on a shelf in Leland's closet. And there's some kind of brainwashing going on. The question is, how can one recover?
Robert: Leland was planning to dispose of Andy, but when he was caught. He changed plans. And now they're using a little bit of brainwashing to hopefully raise Sheryl's stock in the house. Because Andy is someone who hated Sheryl with the fury of 12 suns and now suddenly seems to be [going], "Oh, isn't she lovely?" and they're hugging. Poor Kristen's like, "What the f--- is going on?"
I am so curious about Sheryl. I know she doesn't like Andy because he's been absent, but he is the father of her granddaughters. How does she justify what she was willing to do to the girls?
Michelle: In other words, how does Sheryl justify hurting the father of her grandchildren?
Michelle: I think she is so myopic that she thinks he's worthless, and good riddance to him, and that if she did stop to think about it, she thinks she's doing them all a favor.
Robert: Sheryl's main driving force in the show is kind of an extreme feminism that is looking for a way to make these granddaughters stronger, self-sufficient. She thinks Andy, and she's not 100 percent wrong, is a bit of a freeloader. We always played him in our minds as a bit of a stupid jock who's been off climbing and leaving his wife abandoned at home, which is the way Sheryl sees it. We understand that Sheryl is a real villain this year, because she stuck her daughter's husband on a shelf in a closet for the rest of his life [laughs]. But I do think Sheryl makes a lot of sense within her world, which is: This guy was only freeloading off my daughter. He's not bringing in enough money. He'll bring in more money with the life insurance and everything for these daughters. I think she's doing everything for her granddaughters, in her mind.
I want to talk about the Bouchard home and the image of the family living in a demonically infested house this season. What was it about that idea that interested you?
Robert: The show seems to work best when it takes things that we think of as innocent and adds evil to them, which is a very American concept. You're not going to a gothic castle to be haunted. You're doing it in a very suburban house. And then there's nothing harder, I think, on a marriage and a family than adding an addition on a house and dealing with the plumbing. The things that are prosaically difficult about housekeeping start to betray this family. I very much like the scene where she goes to this neighbor next door, this sweet neighbor, and the house is spotless.
Michelle: It's just perfect.
Robert: And then we cut to the daughters' bedroom. And it's not a TV daughter's bedroom. It's like, Oh my god, they don't put anything away… It's always fun in Barton Fink the way the wallpaper curdled down off the wall. It's that kind of [thing] where the physical starts betraying you.
You brought back so many demons from not just this season, but very early on in the show. Clearly these aren't just random demons that were camping out in their pipes. Has Kristen been, literally or metaphorically, bringing work home with her?
Robert: Yes, very much so. I think it's emotional baggage. You're exactly right to try to do it as metaphor and supernatural. Is Sister Andrea seeing something real, at least to her? Is it the bad juju that comes from your work environment? Everybody comes home and brings some whiff of evil from their workplace. Poor Kristen, unfortunately, works in the world of demons, so she's bringing that home with her.
Speaking of Sister Andrea, I loved Kristen's reaction to Lynn thinking about becoming a nun. It reminded me of Paige Jennings going to church in The Americans. Is this a story that you're going to keep telling with Lynn next season?
Michelle: That's our thinking. We're just enjoying that storyline, too.
Robert: It's funny, the permissive mother that will accept anything — nose rings, tattoos, anywhere you want, you can have 100 tattoos on you. You're f---ing not becoming a nun. It's like, "That patriarchal bullsh--?" And it's difficult because she just prayed and swore, "If you bring my husband home, I'm gonna take them to church." So yes, we partly do this because it's funny. Of course that would be [Kristen's] reaction — it'd be the reaction of almost anybody in New York or West Hollywood. And you kind of understand what Lynn's about. She seems to have been betrayed by her boyfriend, who had sex with her and then abandoned her. She's looking for something. The more we can acknowledge that these four daughters have individual personalities that are growing into themselves now, not just as a unit that gabs over each other, but as their own person, the more interesting the show is.
I was thrilled that it was the girls who figured out that Leland had Andy. How did you land on the idea of giving that victory to them?
Michelle: It was so delicious it didn't seem like it could possibly be with anybody else.
Robert: The people who might be able to beat [Leland] are people who know technology, and young people are much more aware of what to do with technology. From the very beginning when we set up Bumblebee Valley, we thought we were aiming toward something like this, that Leland would not be aware that he left himself vulnerable, because he underestimates kids. It's kind of like Prey — a lot of men have discussed with Prey that it's a young woman who's beating this monster, when in fact that's exactly the one the monster would overlook. I think it's the same thing with these four daughters.
The Bye Bye Birdie singalong as Leland and Edward are dragging Andy's body through the house is priceless. How did that come about?
Michelle: [Laughs.] It just made us laugh.
Robert: Leland, in an earlier episode, tips over a desk and shatters it once he realizes these daughters are beating him… How can you top that? The only way to top that is resignation. That's one of my favorite scenes that Michael Emerson plays, because he laughs. He realizes he's been beaten. There's something very traditional and prosaic about Michael Emerson's version of a demon, which is that he seems [to have something] almost Eisenhower '50s/'60s about him. So of course he'd go back to an old musical.
Is there any chance we're getting more Wallace Shawn next season?
Michelle: That would be nice!
Robert: We're trying to. We're doing everything we can, because we need him back.
The episode ends on The Pop-Up Book of Contemporary Angels. What does that tell us about Season 4?
Robert: Hope. The show would get a little old hat if it were just about the villainous, and as much as we're in a world now where it's hard to see light because there is so much darkness to it, I think it would be lovely if TV can treat hope and the angelic or the transcendent honestly, and not lose the scares. Because as the Bible says about seeing angels, they're terrifying. Can you still do a scary show that also treats the angelic as an equal weight to the demonic?