If Evil Season 3 Episode 6 taught us anything, it's that we should be terrified of the intrusive nature of social media and viral video apps.
"The Demon of Algorithms" is a little less personal than recent outings, but it still calls attention to a topic that touches all of us, whether we know it or not.
For those not paying attention, you don't have to be conscious of letting evil into your life because the internet has your number, appealing to your basest desires.
It started with a case nobody believed would be worthy of investigation. Well, except Monsignor.
I hate to say it, but I have been fascinated by possession videos in the past. I'm not a TikToker, but I used to go down the video rabbit hole on YouTube, following the trails to see what came to light.
Now that, as a society, we've become addicted to social media cred, people will do anything to gain acclaim, no matter how fleeting.
In the news last week, some idiot on the edge of Mount Vesuvius dropped his cell phone into the crater while taking, you guessed it, a selfie. But his addiction to the phone was so great that he climbed down to retrieve it, which is when things went south.
Now, that guy survived, but if you don't think the news stories and the online covered likely stoked his ego just enough to try another such stunt again, you might still be blissfully unaware of the power of likes and comments.
Once the door was opened into the world of online possessions, our assessors were intrigued. Ben was also concerned and posted his own video countering the girl's stupidity, hoping he could save others the physical costs they were using to achieve the same effects as the magician who started it.
That's how they found themselves working with a mother begging for help with a supposed entity terrorizing her children.
Is it any surprise that the terrorist was the mother? Her kids were scared to death and physically mutilated. That it came at the hands of their mother will have lingering effects long past any actual possession.
The person they trusted most in the world had turned on them because seeking validation from strangers was more important than them.
The biggest surprise was that the entity knocking on her door after she was discovered as the culprit wasn't the police. I would have turned those tapes over to the authorities. Surely, those kids have other relatives that would care for them better than that sad excuse for a mom.
How messed up in the head do you have to be to want attention so badly that you're willing to livestream yourself attacking someone with scissors? I guess we need only to open TikTok to see the sad realities of it.
Taking these cases opened some doors for Kristen, Ben, and David to examine themselves.
Kristen: Are you getting a lot of vidtap notifications?
Ben: All the time.
Kristen: It's addictive, isn't it? I sat down to watch one video, and I was there for an hour.
Ben: It's the algorithm. The only way they make money is if you stay on it.
David: Isn't it kind of weird how it tries to predict who you are?
Kristen: Yeah, like it thinks I'm a mom who drinks a lot.
Ben: Maybe you are a mom who drinks a lot.
Kristen's rabbit hole led her first to alcoholic mothers and all the way to abusive mothers who wanted to kill their children. David's search took him from lonely priests to much darker places. And I couldn't help but wonder if David was enjoying those likes on his uploads a little too much.
What they discovered was that what they wanted to see was soon overcome with incessant suggestions about content increasingly more alarming.
Well, it's the American way. When in doubt, go with violence and sex.Ben
When the clout-chasing mother tried blaming VidTap for taking over her app, uploading and livestreaming on its own, Ben reached out to a colleague who gave him the details of the algorithm.
You so much as hesitate over a video or an ad, and the algorithm notes your behavior, using that momentary lapse of reason to suggest more of the same, even if you only hesitated out of morbid curiosity.
In fact, as discussed above, that curiosity is what keeps you online and digging for more content. It's exactly what IT engineers want you to do, and their programming detects and exploits that behavior.
It's crazy to think about, but that's where we are right now. IT interference has gone beyond motivating behavior to impressing it upon us. We believe that we're free to do what we choose, but everything is using tech to force our hands to think and behave however it will make them the most money.
The next time an IT exec or a news organization tries to tell you they're looking out for you, reconsider where you were headed and ask yourself why you're interested in what someone is saying. Is it really an interest, or is it an overwhelming urge to fit in and be seen?
Sadly, it seems like David is losing his way, going where evil wants him to go instead of where he desires to go.
Demonic Kristen is back. This time, she was sporting a sexy schoolgirl outfit. David could see right through her antics, but as she pressed, he got sucked into the orbit just as planned. She's no different from the IT algorithms and feeds off David's reactions.
David walks right into the open door every time. I bet if you analyze the times you take the wrong path, you'll recognize David's behavior.
But David's demon isn't metaphorical. David's brain is being sucked dry by a demon. Where is it taking him? How is it using what it gleans right from his cranium against him?
It seems like David is not only falling into its trap but enjoying his stay, too.
Sister Andrea heard a commotion in his room, and part of me thought that when she opened that door, David would be thrashing around in bed, either with an actual demon or acting as if someone was with him.
It turns out that it was actually worse than either of those notions. The demon resembled a human/mosquito hybrid and fed on David's brain, just as you'd expect an ordinary mosquito to feed on your blood.
For my Evil Season 3 Episode 5 review, I worried that Sister Andrea might be cavorting with evil since there is often a demon at her side. Her reaction to David's predicament erased those fears.
However, David's aggressive stance toward Sister Andrea showed that David is far too susceptible to demonic manipulation.
That brings us to Leland. When the archdiocese cleared Leland of any wrongdoing with Lexis at the school, Kristen needed to lay down the law with her girls again. The girls decided to take matters into their own hands.
They can see how unnerved Kristen is about Leland, and she's right to be. But she doesn't have to worry about her girls. They are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.
Using the Bumblebee app, they tried trapping Leland. At first, it didn't work, but they were prepared.
Their next plan of attack was to call out the Church and Leland by name. THAT got Monsignor's attention.
Finally, we don't need to ask ourselves why Leland is a trusted member of the Church any longer. What will be interesting is whether it trickles down to others.
Leland: Your eminence. This is disgusting. Someone is trying to set me up.
Monsignor: Leland, I need to thank you for your months of service.
Leland: Monsignor, this is a lie!
Monsignor: Doesn't matter. You know better than anyone, the Church cannot risk the liability in this matter. We will, as always, give you a positive recommendation to your next ventures, but I need to ask you to leave right now.
Leland: You're gonna be sorry.
Monsignor: It's a rare day when I'm not sorry.
Maybe when Leland enters a room, everyone will know he's not meant to be there instead of just letting him pass through unchallenged. Unfortunately, it's more likely that Leland will double down on his torture techniques regarding Kristen's family.
It was obvious that Sheryl would help Leland and Edward get the better of her son-in-law, but it never crossed my mind Andy never left the city. It was apparent, though, as soon as Kristen called him, and he didn't respond with any meaning.
Sheryl is a menace. She's worse than the men combined because she's hurting her daughter and granddaughters. She's actively working to destroy their family.
It's bonkers, and you know what really hit me? She's only arranging for Edward to give Kristen and the girls an additional $250k at the time of Andy's "death." What the hell, Sheryl? I was thinking more in the ballpark of an additional $2 million. That might help ease their suffering. Proposing $250k for the education of five girls is a joke.
How nuts am I for taking Andy's death for granted while wishing more money for Kristen? I don't know. Is there any hope for Andy in his current situation?
Maybe Leland will be so incensed over his dismissal from the Church that he shows his hand. After her "call with Andy," Kristen has to know something is up. Will she follow through on what's niggling at her?
What do YOU think? I haven't had a single comment on Evil reviews all season, and this is its best yet. It's lonely, and even though I rail against it, getting some affirmation that you're enjoying the coverage and sharing your thoughts would be fantastic.
Hit the comments below and let your voice be heard!
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 X and email her here at TV Fanatic.