I love a good cult plotline, and Evil S3E7 “The Demon of Cults” delivers a pretty weird one, and plenty of other weirdness on top of that starting to bring some of the broader plotlines of the run so far together. This week features Owen, a man who has apparently become possessed as the result of an effort to deprogram him from a Yeshua cult out in the woods, and his family and a deprogramming doctor have strapped him to a bed in a seedy hotel off the highway. And so, the trio sets off to see what this cult is all about.
The Yeshua cult, like many of them, is filled with smiling, loving people who meditate and grow crops and hug and kiss each other. There’s lots of weird stuff going on here: according to Owen’s girlfriend Lily, Owen was dragged into a van by men in ski masks. When Lily eventually leaves the compound to go find Owen, she is restrained and gagged in the hotel bathroom while a priest attempts an exorcism on Owen—but all it takes, once Kristen arrives and unties Lily, is for Lily to go to Owen and remind him that she loves him, which returns him to normal. Now I’m wondering what was going on with Owen before the abduction, because Lily seems more confused than anything.
As far as the cult itself, it is by turns unsettling and disarming: Ben runs into Renee, a girl from the Secret Science Club, and they immediately hit it off. The problem: Renee claims to be “Jesus,” or at least channeling Jesus. The climactic scene in the Midsommar-looking cabin finds many of the cult members wailing their transgressions and smacking themselves with large sticks. Did the attempted deprogramming on Owen cause a psychological crisis?
Victor LeConte hasn’t really ever been the guy you’d let borrow your car, but “The Demon of Cults” finally finds him giving David a task that he refuses to go along with. The little blue bespectacled wind-up bird is weird enough as a “surveillance” tool, but it’s what LeConte wants David to do with it that infuriates David: plant it in the bedroom of the Bouchard girls. The reason: Lexis Bouchard is a product of RSM Fertility being groomed to lead one of the sigils of the Codex, and must be stopped.
Wow. So, that’s…a big deal. We’ve already learned in past seasons that children connected to RSM Fertility have exhibited problematic behavior and the occasional demonic Latin, but it’s very hard to imagine Lexis being evil. LeConte wanted David to plant the item during a dinner to which David will be invited later. And sure enough, Kristen invites David and Ben to an apparently impromptu dinner later in the week. Spooky coincidence? I’m not sure what else it could be, but that seems too easy.
At the party, there’s a really fun scene with Kristen, Sheryl, Ben, David and the girls where they play a game where they sit in a circle, and one person who has drawn a specific card must “kill” the others with a discreet wink without being found out. When only David and Lexis are left, they simply stare at each other for a few moments, and the scene thus far has suggested that David is the killer. The slow push of the camera into Lexis’ eyes as David tries to read her is just great. The worst figures in human history were all children at some point, LeConte reminds David. After discovering that the Vatican has managed to get the object into the girls’ room, David removes it, which is a directly adversarial move against what the Vatican has been trying to do.
LeConte isn’t pleased, and David’s affirmation that Lexis can’t be destined for evil because she has a good mother, to which LeConte counters that Kristen has done “evil acts,” which means they almost one hundred percent know what happened to LeRoux. That said, LeConte’s decision to enlist Kristen’s help, as well as specifically say Lexis is “A child of God,” could either be genuine, or just a way to get closer to Lexis.
Brian D’Arcy James gives one of the most interesting performances in Evil, making LeConte my favorite recurring character just in how enigmatic he is. For the core cast, the lines are pretty clearly drawn for now. But LeConte is a wild card. He is absolutely not sharing everything he knows, and—interestingly—agrees with Kristen in a disbelief in the supernatural. He is, however, very convincing when he states that Lexis is being groomed by Leland to lead one of the main sigils.
A sense of doom quickly sets in as LeConte outlines Leland’s orchestration of most of the bad things that have happened to Kristen so far, as well as her delusions (the Teke Teke Girl) and night terrors (George). He knows everything, and warns Kristen that he needs her to stop Leland from installing Lexis “on a demonic throne above a destroyed world.” Woah, that’s metal!
It’s Kurt Alert time! We’re on full Kurt Alert, everybody! Kurt has considered his demon visitation and now wants to write a book about it. Didn’t he try the book route already? In any case, after all Sister Andrea offers him in the way of advice is pamphlets, Dr. Kurt goes to Leland, who gives him a candle, a knife and a vinyl. He instructs Kurt to light the candle, cut his hand with the knife and bleed onto the laptop screen, and sing along to the music on the vinyl.
Kurt does all of this, and when “Alouette” begins playing on the turntable, things get demonic. The image reflected on the spinning vinyl changes from girls chasing birds, to girls chasing said birds with cleavers and butchering them. “Sing louder!” growls the candle, and Kurt’s hand is a demon hand suddenly! Kurt proceeds to bang out several pages of his book before the muse fades. Kurt is left moaning on the floor, and there doesn’t appear to be anything on his computer screen, not even blood–and his hand is back to normal. Leland tells him that for the muse to return, he needs to cut off all of Sister Andrea’s hair.
While I really hope that Kurt doesn’t end up trying to do that, I’m not very optimistic…As far as the demon hand and the voice and the girls killing the birds? All I can surmise from that, given that the animated girls are back to normal after Kurt gets up, is that the knife was laced with something that got into Kurt’s bloodstream after he cut himself. The hand that turned into a demon hand was the hand that he cut, so maybe he was having a hallucination? That being said, Leland’s investment into the demonic suggests that this all actually happened. Evil, you tempt me with you secrets!
Reluctant as I am to address the number of times I’ve made a prediction on where Evil is going and been dead-ass wrong, that’s honestly a pretty exciting trend. It means that whatever I think is going to happen, it’s probably going to be something different. And that’s a rhythm that Evil has gotten better at season over season, subverting some storytelling tropes to explore a different direction for the plot. For now, I’m not even going to try to figure out where this is going. Each of our main characters are facing major crises of faith, Leland’s sinister influence continues to spread, and Lexis might grow up to rule over the apocalypse or something. And they still haven’t fixed the damn toilet! The worse things get on Evil, the better Evil gets.
Evil streams Sundays on Paramount+.