Possession, farting demons, blood sacrifice, soul-selling -- what didn't Evil Season 3 Episode 7 have going for it?
With each new episode, the assessors, their friends, and loved ones seem to slip closer to the belly of the beast.
The devil isn't messing around anymore, and through Leland, he's got a secure grasp on those characters we hold dear.
True to the title "The Demon of Cults," the assessors were called to help with a possessed man who was kidnapped from a cult. That seems relatively routine with possession and cults.
The family wanted their son returned, but what they got was only a fraction of him, as Owen had been possessed -- by a farting demon with an odd sense of humor.
Some strings were left dangling with the possession, as it acted more as a catalyst to get the gang inside of the Yeshua cult. David toed the line the demon had set through Owen that everyone was told not to cross, but when David entered anyway, nothing happened. Odd.
How he got possessed and why he was held for five weeks before anyone thought to contact someone with a little more experience in exorcisms must have been left on the cutting room floor. Perhaps Owen's story will continue another time.
What the story did best was reunite Manhattan alum, Katja Herbers with her costar Michael Chernus. They were excellent on that series, as they are everywhere else.
The possession also allowed for David to get some practical use of his newly gained power to exorcise, and since that's the kind of priestly service he'd like to do within the church, it never hurts to get in some practice time.
Once they got to the cult, though, the real fun began.
Ben's visit to the science room has a wealth of potential, some of which came in handy with the cult storyline.
A woman named Renee had impressive scientific skills, so when Ben saw her at the cult, he couldn't contain himself. She's not a nut. What the hell was she doing in a place like that? He was going on and on, only to discover that she wasn't just there -- she was Yeshua.
Having connected with her previously, that didn't turn off David. With the number of questions he always has about everything, he was eager to learn more.
And hey, it's probably been a while for Ben since his last girlfriend had that phantom twin. Why let a little cult leadership get in the way of a potentially good thing?
Sexy time with Renee led to something a bit more harrowing for Ben when Renee leaped out of bed and told him not to freak out and prepare to see some blood, doubling over in pain while he sat there dumbfounded.
These scenes were written so well. The anticipation and the sense of unease continued as Ben was manhandled and held against his will while Renee raised a blade in front of him. The bait-and-switch was anticipated with the goat on stage, but it was also easy to imagine Ben allowing doubt to creep in nonetheless.
[people chanting "guilt"] OK. Guys, guys. Everybody. That's not helping. And even if I was guilty, OK, I wouldn't crawl around on the floor like some kind of nut hitting myself, right? It doesn't do anything. [the shouts increase]Ben
He was both incredulous at what was unfolding before him and desperate to reach his friends by toeing his cell phone. It was a macabre scene with the hint of humor Evil does so well.
By the time David and Kristen arrived to help, the ceremony was over.
Covered in blood, Ben's state of mind was similar to how he acted after visiting the science room. Ben loves discovering strange things and understanding how they work. He'd witnessed a cult ritual and sacrifice firsthand and lived to tell about it.
And maybe, just maybe, he'll be freed of guilt about his mother's death. Sure, he balked at the idea that participating would do any good. After all, he doesn't believe in that stuff. But Kristen doesn't believe either, but when she had her experience in Evil Season 2 and was later absolved by David, her world changed.
Like so many of us, even if you don't believe in what others practice, it certainly can't hurt to go along just in case you're wrong. If you have an open mind and await confirmation to believe, you never know if or when that confirmation might arise.
Hopefully, Ben will unpack what he experienced and share his thoughts on his adventure.
Kurt was also on the precipice of the unknown.
I had an experience, and it's thrown my life off course.Kurt
Unfortunately, I do not think his dalliance with the devil will be as comforting as Ben's warm, bloody ending with the cult.
Leland is still lurking around where he's not needed or wanted. At some point, Victor made sense of Leland's intrusion by suggesting they needed to keep an eye on him. And they do, but they aren't doing a very good job.
Leland just so happened to be collecting his belongings from the Church as Kurt thanked Sister Andrea for not outing him to the tribunal.
I could have sworn Monsignor said that Leland's stuff would be sent to him, but he does what he wants. And what he wants now is Kurt's hand in some dirty work.
Leland does some of the work himself. He has been spending time in the computer game to mingle with Kristen's kids, and he's all over the scene with Andy.
He doesn't need Kurt to intervene with Sister Andrea. But he wants to control Kurt, and that damned therapist was all too eager to accept the challenge.
Kurt's "experience," as he calls it, had addled his brain. He thinks he wants to write a book, but it goes well beyond that. Something evil is driving him to do it, and his writer's block offered the perfect opportunity for Leland to make a deal with him.
Kurt had approximately three minutes of writer's block from what we saw. It's hardly time to sell your soul at that point. And with everything Kurt has witnessed, you'd think he'd hesitate to get in bed with Leland.
It must be the fugue state that people enter when Leland's around. They can't function properly and miss signs they'd otherwise see. They do things they wouldn't ordinarily do. If Kurt was so interested in writing a book, he could have given himself some time for the words to flow.
Instead, Kurt accepted Leland's initial offer without hesitation. Hey, go ahead and play this record, sing, dammit, sing, light this candle, drop your blood all over your computer, and you'll be good to go.
Oh, sure. Let me get on that. And, just like that, Kurt did it. He was hoping he could get away with half a ritual since he didn't want to sing, but the record pulled his head out of the sand and demanded action.
You know you're being manipulated when you look down at your hand, see it's been transformed into something demonic, and continue writing. That's just nuts. Kurt also didn't think anything of the disturbing scene on the record player.
The record was pretty incredible as it went from a cute scene of a young girl chasing a bird merrily to the same girl mutilating the bird into a bloody pulp. I'd love to know where they come up with these ideas. Evil's writers' room must be a blast.
As with everything that the devil offers, though, the sweet taste of success was over too soon. Just as Kurt's aggravation at the loss of his muse was growing, Leland popped in again with another tantalizing offer.
Leland: Your muse fled.
Kurt: How do I get it back?
Leland: Do you really want to know?
Kurt: Yes; that's why I'm asking.
Leland: Hemingway asked. Fitzgerald. Joyce. Mailer. Pound. But, you have to be prepared to do what they did.
Kurt: What did they do?
Leland: [takes out scissors] Use these.
Leland: Sister Andrea. Gut her hair. Cut it all off, and your muse will return.
Kurt: You're joking.
Leland: No, I'm not.
I'd like to think that Kurt's experience and appreciation for Sister Andrea would free him from this lapse of sanity, but where Leland is involved, that's rarely the case. Sister Andrea was right -- Kurt needs to be baptized. Oh well, it's too late. He's on the inside now. Who knows what's next.
Speaking of being on the inside, David's friendship with the Vatican is hitting very close to home.
David: So, what does the entity want from me now? Cyanide pills?
Victor: Oh, David. I never tire of your teasing.
David probably wishes he'd been asked to deliver some cyanide pills instead of infiltrating Kristen's home and planting evidence in the girls' room so that Lexis could be tracked.
Of course, David was concerned about breaking his friend's trust. Victor is pretty aggravating with how he'll make requests without any information. If he knows anything about David, it's that David will do what's right.
The RSM Fertility story has been eating away at David for some time. I think he hasn't pushed harder because he doesn't want to know how Kristen and Lexis are involved. But it's not that simple.
Victor got the job done without David's help, but David spotted the toy at Kristen's and pocketed it. He knows something is up after Lexis's wink, but without the whole story and letting Kristen inside; he won't betray her.
Kristen wanted to know what David was up to with all of his secret meetings and closed doors.
I wonder if she wishes she'd never forced the issue. Probably not. She needed to be on the inside. If nothing else, she knows that Leland is dangerous. She just didn't know how dangerous.
Victor: We want you to work with David and us to stop Leland. He is intent on putting your daughter on a demonic throne above the destroyed world.
Kristen: I'm sorry; what?!
Victor: You must have wondered why Leland was targeting you. Why did he go after you at court from the very beginning? Why Orsen LaRoux? Why Dwight Farrell? Why your delusions? Why your night terrors? Yes, we know everything. None of this is mysterious. It is human. This is not about you; this is about your daughter.
I'm not a mother, but I got a lump in my throat for Kristen as she listened to what Victor had to say. This is another case of not believing but hedging your bets just in case.
No matter where the assessors stand on the issues of faith, they have all seen enough to know that evil is real. It's both tangible and symbolic, but it's real.
You don't have to believe in the devil to know that Leland is a bad man, willing to hurt others to attain his goals. And Kristen is very leery of Leland Townsend. Not so much that she's cut Sheryl out of her life, but enough that she's got the girls on high alert.
Demons are scattered all over, trying their best to snap the assessors and friends. Leland has recruited Kristen's own mother to eliminate Andy and appease Leland's demons. Dark forces constantly besiege Sister Andrea, and now Kristen learns that Lexis is the main target in all of it so that she can sit on an evil throne.
It's enough to scare the hell out of anyone. If they took the time to amass all the pieces of this enormous puzzle, it might be too much to process.
And, frankly, I don't want it all tied nice and neat into a little bow. The ongoing madness makes Evil what it is. The uncertainty opens doors to a neverending vault of storytelling.
Every episode is another treasure trove of excitement with slick writing, humor, and an ensemble cast whose enjoyment of their characters and craft pops in every frame.
Where do you think the RSM Fertility story will end? Do you want it to end? How far off the deep end will Kurt go before coming to his senses? Who is next on Leland's list?
Share your thoughts below. And I apologize that this is so late today. I was without electricity all day yesterday. It was awful!! Thanks for reading!
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 Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.