And that also sums up Evil, really, as a show. It doesn’t know what it wants to be fully (or it’s not overtly apparent in the first episode, at least). It’s smartly written and cleverly crafted, but it still only feels like the grain of a premise. The idea going forward is that David, Kristen, and Mandvi’s character, Ben, will visit crimes and just… figure out what’s going on from there. They could be walking into anything. Fortunately, it’s a fun team and that’s all the show needs, probably.
Evil: Season 1 Gallery
So, do demons exist? What’s the takeaway after this premiere episode? Well, they don’t, but also they do. The case that spooks Kristen here, featuring a seemingly-stable husband arrested for being a serial killer, who then lapses into fugue states featuring shrieking and the reciting of ancient languages, winds up being a big bust. But just because the husband wasn’t inhabited by a demon doesn’t mean he’s wasn’t influenced by one (on the “dark web.” Oh, CBS). Or perhaps even convinced to kill by Satan himself?
The final reveal, featuring Michael Emerson’s mysterious and deeply creepy character Leland Townsend, and cryptic talk of “The 60,” feels like a bit of cramming, to shove in a much larger arc, and a “Big Bad,” that will create the spine of the series. As great as Emerson is, it might have been better to save this nugget, and his character, for a few more episodes to let it build up a little better. It might become the best part of the series in the long run, but it’s the weakest part of this first episode. (This is often the fontanelle of pilots – the need to fill them with everything.)Speaking of Emerson though, Evil does feel a touch like Person of Interest here at the start, in a very broad sense. This team has to walk into random, charged situations – the Catholic Church’s backlog of “unsolved bumps in the night” – and immediately ascertain what the state of play is. Some killers might have a ghoul inside them. Some could be lying. Some could be framed by someone else. And then that person could have a demon living in them. Again though, Person of Interest took its (sweet) time building up the world, and characters, getting larger with every season. The Evil pilot tries to go too big in the final 10 minutes. As it stands though, this is still a solid effort and a promising start.