What is faith? What is religion? Can you benefit from their rituals if you don’t believe them?
At what point do you question your beliefs when all evidence suggests you’re wrong?
There are so many questions at play during EVIL Season 2 that it’s hard to keep up. But damn, is it fun.
EVIL Season 2 Episode 11 might be called “I Is for IRS,” but using the IRS is merely a shoehorn to get to the bigger issues posited above.
The almighty dollar is greater than any deity in our God-forsaken world, but it’s still bizarre that a financial bureaucracy is a determining factor of what is, in fact, a religion.
You can say that it’s only focused on tax-exempt status, but that status tends to weed out what people consider religions, allowing us to poo-poo the others that don’t meet the stringent (or, four) requirements.
Kristen: This is a scam, isn’t it?
Graham: Oh, yee of little faith. No more than your church.
An IRS ruling equates to official recognition. You don’t even have to think too hard to see the irony in that. Essentially, faith is belief, while religion is government recognition. As if government recognition makes anything legit, let alone authentic.
But those looming themes work well within EVIL’s structure of button-pushing and questioning perceived reality.
By default, Leland believes in God. He doesn’t worship him, but he has to believe because to believe in Satan is to believe in his opposition.
By contrast, Kristen believes in neither. She thinks anything other than life on earth is hooey and refuses to see beyond the boxes she’s painted to the contrary.
Leland has been willingly running with the devil. He also lures others to complete his master’s mission.
While Leland came off as an insignificant loon early in EVIL Season 1, the reality of his commitment to evil and how far he is entrenched in the bizarre satanic underworld has come to light, and there’s nothing insignificant about it.
We haven’t gotten the full picture of Leland’s quest for an exorcism, but for the moment, it seems that he sought one to paint himself as the ditzy guy to throw off The Church so that he can continue his work unencumbered.
Since he believes, he knew going into the exorcism that it could be problematic. That could be why he recruited Sheryl to the darker side. He needed an ally when the going got tough. And it did get tough.
How tough it got surprised everyone, from the exorcist on down the line. David wanted to believe that it was all bunk where Leland was concerned, but when Leland started with the voices, David realized they were in the thick of the real deal.
Of course, by the time it was all said and done, Leland was back to his old tricks, so David still has to ponder what he experienced. But I think that it offered David a reminder of the big picture and why he’s entering the priesthood.
As Ben and Kristen try to sway his commitment, seeing God intervene throws David a line that keeps him moving in the right direction.
God drove Leland hard in his attempt to recapture his stray. There was fear in Leland’s eyes as he tried battling God’s power himself.
The only thing that allowed him to continue with the farcical nature of the exorcism to throw David off about his actual Satanic involvement was bathing in the blood of his victims.
As much as I wish we would get a fuller picture of what Leland and Sheryl are up to with the blood and the brown, pasty liquid (which I still believe is a nod to adrenochrome), keeping the mystery alive is part of the allure.
Leland needed Sheryl to help him score men to keep their rations of bodily fluids high, and she was so enamored with the effects of the treatments that she didn’t hesitate to carry out the lurid details of making those dreams reality.
Until Sheryl pulled a drill from her bag of trips to use on one of her conquests, her involvement was still in question. No more. Without question, the devil got to Sheryl.
Hopefully, the effects of the exorcism on Kristen keep her from following in her mother’s footsteps.
But since Kristen, who is supposed to be level-headed, refuses to acknowledge anything other than a physical reason for her increasing peculiarities, she might not be saved so easily.
Kristen: Do you think Leland is starting to take his exorcism seriously?
David: No. I think God is.
I’ve never heard of an exorcism by proxy, but maybe that’s why God took time out of his busy day to deal with Leland. Trying to cleanse Leland would benefit many, but rerouting Kristen’s trajectory would, as well. And she wasn’t too far down the rabbit hole to save.
Kristen has been inching closer to hell every day. She turned her back on her marriage and her self-worth. Sleeping with guys she picked up in bars was one thing, but sleeping with someone associated with one of The Church’s cases is another.
It was as if she was begging to be freed of her madness. When you’re willingly engaging in behavior that could out your misdeeds, it’s a cry for help.
Kristen: Can I ask you, if you don’t believe in God, can an exorcism work on you?
David: Sure, God exists despite what any one individual thinks.
Kristen: Right, but for a placebo to work, the patient has to believe in the drug.
David: Yes, but an exorcism isn’t a placebo.
Kristen: That’s where you and I disagree.
David believes that God helps those who don’t believe. But this is EVIL we’re talking about — the show and evil itself. The devil could have been playing with Kristen, too.
As Kristen emerged from her exorcism agony, the most serene look came across her face. She immediately realized her follies and raced to get back to Andy before he left again. Why wouldn’t she accept that something, some deity, exists after what she’s experienced?
Watching Kristen and Andy reconnect and wipe away their sins with a Tibetian burning ritual did nothing to wipe away that nagging feeling that Andy won’t make it home again.
And if something happened to Andy after all of this, Kristen wouldn’t stand a chance against the nefarious power of evil.
Please share your thoughts below on the deliciously wicked turn this season has taken.
I cannot wait to hear from you!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.