Maybe the greatest mystery of this show is how it can possibly be both hilarious and insanely creepy at the same time. “3 Stars” is a great example of Evil‘s quirky tone. The Case of the Week has our team investigating a possible Diabolical Obsession (one of six types of possession, and a dangerous one that can cause suicidal ideation or murder in the possessed) afflicting a high-maintenance Broadway producer named Byron Duke (John Glover). His assistant, Patti (Dascha Polanco), has come to the Monsignor (Boris McGiver) because her boss is screaming and throwing things more than usual. It’s hard not to laugh when David (Mike Colter) tries to tactfully explain that maybe Patti just has a terrible boss. We’d all like to think our horrible bosses are possessed by demons, but that’s just not realistic, Patti. Come on! And then it’s impossible not to laugh when Kristen (Katja Herbers) learns that Patti’s boss is the Byron Duke and completely geeks out like the little theater nerd we had no idea she was. She’s downright giddy. It is the truest of delights.
But then things take a deeply creepy turn: Patti has video of Byron sweating blood from the back of the head and tells them that whenever he walks into the office it gets colder, and when he leaves, it’s warmer. It’s been like this for six months — ever since he lost at the Tonys (Byron’s outrage when David refers to it as “an award” is yet another laugh out loud moment). It’s easy to explain some of the strange things with infected hair plugs and a narcissistic disorder, but then they catch Byron strangling a non-existent person named Joe — and Joe is strangling him back. And this is not, as Kristen suspects, just the anger management technique of personifying your anger. We know it’s not because Byron calls on Joe to talk to the group and Joe does, via the Virtual Assistant (think an Amazon Echo) on his desk. I’m writing this recap while sitting next to my own Echo, so I don’t want to say anything too offensive lest she be watching, but that Virtual Assistant is freaky as hell (sorry Alexa, I love you!).
One person not put off by the voice coming from the machine who knows everyone’s names and plays noises that sound like they’re coming to you live straight from the Bad Place: Ben (Aasif Mandvi). Ben’s excited because this isn’t a demon — it’s a hacker. Hey everybody gets their kicks somewhere — even Tech Experts Working For the Catholic Church.
It’s clear someone’s hacked Byron’s system (which would also explain the temperature changes, since it controls the thermostat), but Ben can’t figure out how on his own. He enlists the help of his own Tech Expert, his sister Karima (Sohina Sidhu). She’s brilliant, but even she is having trouble figuring out how they can reverse hack the hacker and figure out who they are. And then something truly strange happens: “Joe’s” voice starts talking to the Shakir siblings through their dad’s Virtual Assistant, sitting in the kitchen. And it knows who they are.
But things get stranger still! David eventually cracks the case: The hacker is an IT specialist from whom Byron withheld pay after doing some work for the company. They bring the guy in and he admits to messing with Byron to teach him a lesson. But he also says that he stopped the hacking days ago — so whoever that was talking from Ben’s Virtual Assistant, it wasn’t him. When Ben goes to his dad’s house to figure out how this could be possible, he finds his sister in distress listening to the Virtual Assistant terrorizing her about where her baby is — and Ben wants to know what baby it’s talking about. Karima runs off. Demon or hacker or whatever, that thing just unearthed a little drama in the Shakir house.
Back at Byron’s office, things seem to be much better now that the case has sort of been solved. Joe the Virtual Assistant isn’t bothering him anymore, and Byron’s never been nicer to his employees. But Joe’s not totally gone. Byron gets a Google chat from a “Joe” telling him that “hell is only half full,” and Byron promptly walks outside and jumps off the side of the building. So actually nothing about that case was really solved. Heartwarming stuff, huh?
And as disturbing as that case was, the most frightening thing on Evil continues to be Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson). Not only is he still appearing as a figment of David’s psyche trying to lead him into temptation, but he’s still very much haunting Kristen in real life. Kristen learns that as promised, he’s turning over one of her assessments and recommending a 15-year-old boy be tried as an adult. With the help of D.A. Cormier (Danny Burstein), who is really grinding my gears, you guys, Leland is also smearing Kristen’s reputation while he’s up on the stand. He’s still using those therapy notes he stole to discredit her, and now she’s become poison to this case. She’s of no help to the young defendant, Adam.
This may only be the third episode of the series, but we already know that Kristen is not one to just take the loss. She has a plan. She records a heated conversation she has with Leland about what he’s doing in which he says some truly heinous things about his reasoning for sending Adam to prison. He also uses some trickery to jam any recording of his voice, but Ben is able to make a deepfake (he really is a tech expert guys, it’s not just a title!) and thanks to Kristen’s perfect memory, they recreate the entire conversation. Uh, it does not play well in court. Leland is dead weight to the prosecution.
That’s great news for Adam and his mom. It is terrible news for Kristen, who has just made a possible actual demon very, very angry. But on the other hand, she did get to yell “technology’s a bitch” in Leland’s face, which is very much a win. So Kristen breaks even, I guess.
Before I go and apologize to my Alexa again, we should talk about what seems to be the central mystery of Evil: Who in the hell (maybe literally!) are “The 60” and what are they up to? This week, David gets some advice from the local Demon Exorcist Priest in regards to his visions, which David is positive have something to do with the mysterious 60. He needs to write them down in order to figure out what they mean, so David draws any of the images he can remember. Thanks to Kristen’s extensive art history knowledge, when she sees one drawing, she immediately recognizes it as da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.
Hi there, can we chat for a quick second? Yes, Kristen is in David’s room for work purposes, but the two have a heart-to-heart (they love talking to each other, aw!) about why David would ever want to be a priest, especially in light of all the scandals that have come out, but also because, well, does he really want to be celibate? You guys, are these two ever going to hook up? Do we want them to? I think yes? But also David seems so sincere about joining the church because he wants to be committed to a community and like, do we want to ruin that for him? I AM TORN!
Anyway, David Googles the painting, which is a portrait of Jesus holding a crystal orb that has three star-like objects within it. After David figures out that some Roman numerals that also figured into his vision are actually longitude and latitude coordinates for New York City, he aligns those three stars from the painting with a map of the United States and learns that they perfectly align with NYC, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. What in the high holy what is going on, and what does it have to do with The 60?
Evil airs Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS.
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