Well that was shocking.
And by shocking, I mean the show's decision to have the parents kill their 9-year-old who showed psychopathic tendencies and tried to drown his infant sister.
That perverse decision was all EVIL Season 1 Episode 4 had going for it, as the series delivered its weakest episode to date.
The obvious two reasons are 1) the lack of Townsend, and by extension, the furthering of the larger mythology at play, and 2) an entire subplot featuring Kristen's daughters.
Creating a straightforward procedural shouldn't be that hard, especially one that hails from the brilliant creators of The Good Wife and its spinoff The Good Fight.
Ben: What about the locks on the cupboards and the fridge?
Mother: He tried to poison us.
Mother: He said he was doing an experiment, and he wanted to see how long it would to feel the liquid bleach in the milk.
However, ever since its debut EVIL has struggled to find its footing.
Following EVIL Season 1 Episode 3, I was hopeful the series was adjusting to growing pains, but now I'm not so sure.
These entire 42 minutes were particularly painful, as viewers had to sit through a subpar "case of the week" and the annoying subplot involving four irritating girls.
Part of what hurt the "case of the week" was that viewers couldn't connect with Eric, a seemingly psychopathic 9-year-old boy.
There was very little about his behavior that seemed to indicate possession.
He wasn't "taken over" by another demon or yelling at an invisible entity; he was just deeply disturbed, and his actions didn't scream "demonic" until his parents revealed he tried to poison them.
And even then, it was hard to hate him because he was still a little boy, even though he did try to kill his baby sister.
He clearly showed psychopathic tendencies, and I don't think anyone on the team -- even Acosta -- believed he was possessed.
The only saving grace to the case was Eric's liking to Acosta. It was a weird dynamic that sort of worked on some levels.
Eric: Do you like me?
Acosta: I don't think I've decided.
Eric: Do you think I have a demon in me?
Acosta: I don't think I've decided.
Eric: If I do have a demon in me, is there anything you can do?
Acosta: I can try.
Eric's fascination with Acosta was most effective when he took Acosta's word to heart, just not the way the priest-in-training intended.
Eric telling Acosta that he had asked God to take away his baby sister was pretty chilling, as he clearly didn't understand what was wrong with that.
The boy's actions solidified that he was essentially a psychopath, and the eventual exorcism was a last attempt to pacify the parents who were looking for any sort of explanation.
Any gray area between science and faith, which has been present in the preceding cases, just wasn't there this time, making it hard to connect with this particular case.
Instead, that unclarity was found in this episode's most agonozing scenes, which overly featured Kristen's four daughters.
Initially introduced to provide Kristen with a reason to join Acosta and Ben -- she needed the money -- and depict the character as "super mom," this episode thought it would be a good idea to give these annoying little girls an extended amount of screen time.
The concept of the fear-inducing game on the augmented reality goggles was a pretty decent idea, and the presence of the mysterious Rose390 was definitely creepy.
However, all those things lost their momentum by the sheer number of screams from the girls and the constant arguing and talking over one another.
Ben: Hey, don’t freak out when you see a strange man in your bathroom. Your mom asked me to look at the pipes, and your grandma let me in.
Lynn: Is the shower broken?
Ben: No, your mother’s just worried you’re going to turn into psychopaths.
In essence, this plot was the equivalent of a jump scare: Scary at the moment but lacking in everything else.
Even the reappearance of Rose390, who looked like Wednesday Addams, after Ben enabled the parental controls was easily explained away.
There were no lingering questions about the presence or existence of demons; just a throwaway one-liner that wrapped everything up neatly.
Given the girls' extended screen time, I kept thinking the scary game would somehow tie into the "case of the week," like the game had someone caused Eric's psychopathic behavior.
It didn't, and I'm still confused why this subplot was included as it did nothing to move the story forward, ask viewers to question the existence of demons or make the hour more enjoyable.
The only real nugget of information that the subplot yielded that Kristen's husband is supposed to return home in a few weeks.
Now that is worthy of a subplot, as viewers have been teased with very little knowledge of Kristen's absentee husband, who's off being a tour guide on Everest.
Acosta: So in the end, they're really not remorseful; they're just faking it.
Kristen: Yes, but what hopefully starts as imitation becomes learned behavior.
Acosta: Fake it until you make it.
Given the show's not-so subtle hints that there's an attraction between Kristen and Acosta, it'd be interesting to see what Kristen's husband thinks of his wife's new collegue.
Heck, it'd be interesting to see what he thinks of her new job. Going from mountain climbing to the exorcism of demons is definitely a change.
Some stray thoughts:
I take it back. No matter how illogical and unrealistic it is for Kristen to keep squaring off against Townsend, I'll take it, as Michael Emerson's character is the highlight of the series.
Did anyone else feel like the series missed an opportunity to have George appear while either the girls or Kristen were wearing the augmented reality goggles? Or has the show just decided to drop that plot thread after the second episode?
Even though there was barely any screen time devoted to Ben, he continues to be a favorite of mine and always has the best lines.
- What should we make of Acosta casually telling Kristen that they should grab a drink sometime? Is that supposed to be layered with subtext, or just a friendly drink between colleagues.
So what did you think EVIL Fanatics?
Are you going to keep watching or did this episode persuade you to drop the series completely?
What was the worst part of the episode? Townsend's absence? The unbearable subplot with Kristen's daughters? Something else?
Will we ever meet Kristen's husband?
Hit the comments below to share your thoughts. And if you happened to miss the episode or want to hate-watch it again, you're in luck. You can watch EVIL online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.