It took a few rewatches of “D Is for Doll” for it to click for me. I wasn’t a huge fan until I started to piece together the ways in which it comes back around to some of the things alluded to earlier in the season. It’s not an episode with many “big” moments, but that’s because it is packed with character moments, callbacks to earlier episodes, and setup for some absolute craziness to happen in Evil Season 3.
Leland appears to be making his next move to make life miserable for our heroes: appealing for a spot at the Church, and counseling the possessed, now that he’s has his “exorcism.” This would potentially give him authority over the trio. Recall that, while the exorcism was working on Leland, after he had Sheryl bathe him in blood he was back to his old self, and even has a djinn now. This is a strong scene to start off with: as far as the Church knows, Leland has a cleansed spirit, which he very much does not, and given how Leland reacted when truly vulnerable to the exorcism, he stands to be a volatile infection to spread from within the Church.
David is increasingly doubtful of his path to priesthood, wondering whether a life without a wife and children is something he really wants to commit to—being alone. Sister Andrea makes an apparently attempt to give advice by telling a story about a man who fell in love with her, married someone else, and killed himself in a Wendy’s parking lot when his wife divorced him. “Because he was alone.” Thanks, Sister.
It ends up being a positive, however, because she knows her purpose, and David knows his—”warfare at its highest level”—and that’s why he’s alive. Still, she dunks on real estate careers like two or three times on the way to her advice, and that is so Sister Andrea. All kidding aside, this was a great scene to continue to push David’s doubts about both his chosen line of work and his feelings for Kristen.
The latter comes to an absolute, beautiful head later in the episode, where David directly asks Kristen if, had they met sooner, they would be in love. Kristen nods, then gently touches his chest and tells him to go get ordained. It’s such a fantastic moment between them, not only because of the marked difference between pre- and post-exorcism Kristen, but in how it affirms the mutual affection between them. It also feeds further into David’s doubts about priesthood, and if Andy is indeed out of the picture in the near future, could further murk his path.
David also has a great conversation with a former Black priest who rejects the “hocus-pocus” of organized religion: the robes, insence, chants—how exorcists practice showmanship more than anything else. “Comic book Christianity,” he calls it. He doesn’t believe in the devil with “spiked horns and a tail.” The Devil, to him, comes in the form of burning crosses and corrupt cops. David counters him with the same advice Sister Andrea gave him: God and the Devil both exist, and you can’t ignore one if you believe in the other. This conversation is a great foil to the one David had with Sister Andrea, and they share a through-line of evil occuring in many forms, often in deceiving ways.
Is there any show in recent memory that has such a stellar track record for casting troubled children? This week it’s Sebi, the young boy Lynn is babysitting for the first time. Right off the bat, Sebi is talking about his “friend” who makes the decisions on which games he’s allowed to play. They start with a sure-to-be-exciting game of hide and seek, but Lynn easily finds Sebi sitting on his bed because the “friend” doesn’t want him to play. This friend is a) in a dark corner of Sebi’s bedroom, b) sitting in a rocking chair that is rocking, and c) a doll! I’m starting to think for next season I’m going to have to come up with some Bingo cards.
Lynn returns home from babysitting, and finds that Sebi’s doll has somehow made its way into her backpack. The parents show up the next night, blaming her for taking it. Lynn was as surprised as anyone when she found the doll in her backpack, and is more than happy to retrieve it—but it’s gone again. It turns out that Laura took it from the backpack, and she and Lexis sneak down to Kristen’s office/Sheryl’s living space to play with it, noting that the doll is identical to the one Sheryl has been praying to. It’s testament to Sheryl’s influence on Lexis that the girl begins to bow to it before Laura stops her. A train rattling overhead spooks the girls back into the house, thinking it was the dolls. It is still not explained how the doll made its way into Lynn’s backpack in the first place.
On this week’s Kurt Alert, post-exorcism Kristen has made amends with Dr. Kurt, who asks for Kristen’s services in assessing a widower who, Kurt alleges, has opened a door to a sinister entity through his grief. The man sees things in the mirror behind him, and his son, Elijah, mysteriously broke his arm, citing a feeling of being “pushed.” Elijah also describes an itching, biting feeling of “bugs” beneath his cast. The trio investigates Elijah’s bedroom, and notice some water damage on the ceiling. Venturing to the attic, they locate the source of the damage: a very smelly trunk, oozing a substance that is most definitely not water. It appears to have the same consistency of the Demon Box from “S Is for Silence”…the very same episode with the botflies. Red herring, or is Elijah going to have a very messy surprise when his cast comes off?
In the trunk is, sure enough, a doll. The doll, according to Elijah’s father, has very similar rules to Sebi’s doll: do what it wants, or you’ll get hurt. Ben tests the doll and identifies a chemical called ABS. Using an Ultraviolet light to locate the chemical in Elijah’s room, Ben notices monstrous shapes on the wall. It is very creepy. The Church calls on Gregory, a ridiculous caricature of a spirit-cleansing alternative to a priest. Gregory is great: he’s overconfident, he probably watched The Conjuring too many times, and when his matter-of-fact declarations of how spirits work are countered by David saying they aren’t in the Catechism, Gregory himself counters with “It’s in the Catechism of Gregory Beale!” A visibly irritated David tells Ben, “Every time I try and defend the Church, I meet someone like that!”
Dr. Kurt also has a sudden interest in following the trio around in order to write a book. This episode (deliberately and, with an intent to misguide, I’m sure) paints Kurt in a different and humorous light. Twice he gets to innocently jumpscare one of our heroes, and his sudden and childlike earnest interest in documenting their studies is inherently funny. He also tries to record the cleansing on his phone, something that Kristen discourages. The cleansing itself is as theatrical as David’s former priest friend had qualms about, and it is absolutely wild. The dude is almost definitely full of sh*t, and I’d have an easier time buying a performance from Criss Angel (Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work and the dad is still seeing the spirit).
Also, just as a side note—is there any significance of the design of Kurt’s chair in his office looking like wings? It’s a stretch, but there is such a precision to how this show is put together, I’m not willing discount it yet.
Post cleansing, in the house, Kurt is reviewing his recording and sees George (or at least a similar-looking demon) at the end of a hallway at the house. This is most likely the evil spirit of the doll that was here, but why is Kurt seeing it? It’s definitely a tense scene: George moves forward out of the shadows; he reaches out slowly with one clawed finger outstretched; he advances on Kurt! And then….he boops Kurt’s nose! Punctuating a scary sequence with a moment like that (and even having George say “boop”) is completely on-brand for Evil. Kurt turns around, and he’s still got a streak of soot on his nose.
Edward shows up in Sheryl’s life again, with an offering of a game: she does two things for him, and he gives one very important thing to her. Something I’m still not sure about here comes from something last week: Leland, begging Sheryl to come and help him, is told that her visit must be transactional, and Leland offers Edward. I suppose it remains to be seen how that’s going to work out, but Sheryl and Edward spend nearly all of their time this episode together. Edward’s two tasks for Sheryl seem to revolve around humiliating people: slapping a man in a boardroom pending a code word, and giving another man in a restaurant her clean STD test in front of his wife.
Edward’s reward to Sheryl for these shenanigans is his great-grandfather’s shrunken head in a jar of liquid. I don’t think that usually comes into play until after the sixth or seventh date, but you do you, man. More importantly, Edward punctuates this gift with the declaration that Sheryl is his “successor.” The head is her sigil, he says. Sure enough, when Sheryl later pulls out her sigil map, the head in the jar is further on the map than the former stuck pig sigil. The episode ends with Sheryl taking both dolls, placing them at opposite ends of chalk lines with the jar in the middle, and, in prayer, deems them the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “Use me,” she begs. A similarly praying statue of the Virgin Mary looms on the shelf above her. This blending of Catholic imagery and Sheryl’s continued path of corruption is very interesting indeed. I really hope this is one of the things we get at least some closure to next week. Is she misinterpreting this as a sign from God? From Satan? This is clearly a profound spiritual experience for her. And with Sheryl, nothing is predictable.
I really, really came around on this episode on repeat viewings. It’s why I regrettably took a little longer this week to get this write-up out: there’s surprisingly a lot going on here, and the episode hardly wastes a single moment in how its preparing for the finale and tying up other threads. Assuredly, the finale will not answer all of the questions, and will open up even more for after the excruciating wait for the next season. And honestly, shame on me for initially thinking that this was an uneventful episode (although in my defense, the last two episodes were so insane I could be forgiven for expecting more of the same). “D Is for Doll” is once again testament to how textured, weird and interesting Evil is. See y’all this weekend.