Evil 3×04 “The Demon of The Road,” in a genius sort of move, manages to create a genuine demon out of a hoax. Or maybe it creates a hoax out of the genuine article? But what really makes the episode shine, outside of your typical hunt for the truth, is the number of times it features women standing up for themselves. In standing firm in their truth and simply saying “no.”
And, of course, there’s the reawakening of Kristen Bouchard that comes out of…everything, really. It truly couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
“The Demon of The Road”
In Evil 3×04, our journey begins with a persistent woman. She comes to David’s confessional “under false pretenses” because it’s the only way to get the team of assessors to help her. Doing what might be the wrong thing — lying — is the only way to do the right one. That’s going to be a theme here, in a way.
“Even the corrupt judge eventually gave her justice because she kept coming, and coming, and made herself an irritant. Well, I may not be holy or good, Father. But I am persistent.”
There’s something happening to drivers on a certain stretch of highway, and she’s certain it’s affected her husband. Certain he’s possessed.
So, the team goes on a road trip, with the obligatory truck stop diner, and takes a look for themselves. And it’s the first time, this entire season, where they feel like them again — without all the weird disconnects. Ben puts on his mom’s favorite song, “Happy Together,” sharing fond memories of exactly why it’s her favorite. But, of course, the real gem is all three singing and dancing, happy together, before everything goes to hell.
A screech. 666 AM. A personal message for Ben…a complete loss of the car’s electrical system. Something definitely happens out there on the Ghost Highway, and it’s up to the gang to figure out exactly what. Kristen suggests Third Man Syndrome. David, at one point, takes a trip up there, alone, and sees an actual demon eating roadkill.
But, ultimately, it’s Ben and Karima’s scientific approach — something about short-wave frequencies and a phone hack? — that reveals the whole thing to be just a hoax. And even though Ben’s right, in an epic display from Aasif Mandvi of his character just being done, Ben says what we’re all thinking when we find the loser with the broadcasting equipment who’s behind it all:
“Oh, my God. It’s fucking clout chasing. Really, does nobody have any real motives anymore? No one does anything for sex or money? It’s just clout chasing?!”
It’s actually disappointing, rage-inducing even, to realize so many drivers are taking longer routes to avoid man-made terror. And Mandvi nails the exasperation we’re all feeling at meeting yet another dead end. Or, rather, what we thought was another dead end.
Later, David finds out from Leconte that the truth is a little bit more nuanced. The demon of the road itself may have been just some loser’s attempt at notoriety. But that loser was a descendant of one of the demonic houses. With this, Evil 3×04 reminds us that one answer to our big questions doesn’t always rule out another.
This time, in fact, the demon is simultaneously a real entity and something that science can explain. Actually, Kristen’s theory isn’t so far off either…It’s all taking advantage of, exploiting and triggering, Third Man Syndrome, isn’t it?
From “not sure what’s right” to “perfect“
Forget about the road trip for a minute. Because Katja Herbers takes us on the best ride ever in Evil 3×04. Like. Hello, BAMF Bouchard. Welcome back.
Kristen has four daughters who are watching, who are listening, and who are learning what this world expects of them. So, when they call her out for trying to be boring with the normal version of her job description, it’s an act of rebellion. When they want their mom to kick YouTube Guy’s ass for following them home and demanding an apology, they’re reacting to men’s audacity the way they should.
“Why can boys do whatever they want, but girls can’t?”
Lexis gets it. There’s a lot to be said for how she’s maybe getting some of her strength and defiance from her other side, from her extra time with Sheryl. But honestly, given the state of the world and what little girls have to endure, I really couldn’t give a fuck.
Neither can Sheryl, who reminds Kristen:
“Don’t let a boy define you; you define them.”
It takes Kristen a little bit too long to remember she has power and should wield it accordingly, should stop giving a shit about how society expects her to behave. And it’s a clear choice to make her look so small next to her mom in Evil 3×04. To, later, make her actually defer to her husband for advice at the exact same time as she’s confessing she’s worried about her daughters doing the same.
“There’s this theory about puberty. Girls start off really strong and independent, and then right around 13, 14 years old, they start deferring to boys. And then they lose their…spark.And I just want to fight that. But I also don’t want to lose control like before. So…what do you think?”
Literally, no one cares what Andy thinks, for the record. And as far as “losing control” goes, sometimes, that’s what’s right. Or, rather, in the face of a society that wants to steal women’s control, sometimes responding to violence with violence is taking the control back. It may take Kristen hours of scrolling YouTube videos to figure that out — part of Sheryl and Leland’s job??? — but she gets there.
In Evil 3×04, when she’s had one too many condescending “where’s your husband” questions from her contractor, when she’s finally over playing nice, Kristen sets an important example for her girls: No means no. Smash the patriarchy. Take back what’s yours. Don’t put up with men’s bullshit…and it’s ok to let go.
She feels so good after busting up that construction site, she’s back in the driver’s seat (literally, when she demands the keys) at work. And she gets to let loose on yet another shitty man when the trio finds the source of their demon. There is not one second of any of it — from the increasing condescension in her voice when she addresses Pete the contractor, to her smirks, to the way she fakes Pete out with the sledgehammer, to the way she gleefully road rages, and declares how perfect she feels, and just outright destroys that broadcasting equipment — that Herbers doesn’t bring to her own kind of perfection.
And in this moment, she is all of us. More of this energy forever, please.
And as a bonus? David supports her, the way Andy never would. (Recall how he reacted when Kristen hit YouTube Guy, for example.) When the generic losers in charge of the Ghost Highway hoax tell Kristen to stop smashing their equipment, David delivers a “no” of his own. He stands behind her, rather than stifling her. It’s backup, not a man running to save her — not from those men and, most certainly, not from herself.
Which brings us to…
In Evil 3×04, David also makes himself a wall between Sister Andrea and men who won’t listen when she says no. But for most of the episode, Sister Andrea stands alone. The episode’s first shot, of her in that cavernous hall, is utterly stunning. And, though it’s more subtle when the nun visits Dr. Boggs’ office, that first shot of her, small and alone, in that office while she waits for him is equally telling.
Because of Leland, powerful men within the Church want to force her out. They underestimate her, trying to trick her into thinking it’s just a “request.” But she is sharp when they expect her to be in alleged mental decline; she is strong when they expect her to be weak.
Andrea Martin plays this character as so calm in situations where so many others would be on edge. The often over-used phrase, “ice water in her veins” seems fitting here. She tells the men “no,” more than once, when they say they require her signature. And she demands, based on the rights she knows she has, a full investigation before any forced retirement.
Sister Andrea challenges Leland in her own way. “You know where,” when he sarcastically asks where the demon is. And she’s firm in her beliefs — in her knowledge — when she meets with Dr. Boggs, as well. He’s clearly not expecting a scientific answer to his question of whether or not she understands what he means when he says he’s evaluating her for dementia. And even knowing it could cost her, Sister Andrea pushes back against the doctor’s attempt at denying his own demon encounter.
Most of the men around Sister Andrea want to gaslight her and are unwittingly playing into Leland’s plot to get her out of the way. But she will not be swayed. It’s a completely different sense of empowerment than what Kristen displays. But make no mistake: Sister Andrea is, in fact, powerful in her own way. She is in control, as much as anyone can be in her position.
Otherwise, men like Leland and the Council wouldn’t be so threatened by her and so desperate to shut her up. And otherwise, she wouldn’t have inspired Dr. Boggs to play the heavenly chords in an attempt to find his own answers. But we’ll let our interview with Kurt Fuller speak for us on that point and what it all means for Kurt Boggs.
Here’s what our demons are telling us about Evil 3×04
- “I believe in reality, and reality is sometimes coincidental.” We continue to stan Karima.
- Shoutout to the folks at Evil for correctly having the characters say “I-95” instead of “the 95.” Folks at The X-Files, who consistently referred to east coast highways the way they — in California — talk about their roads found dead.
- …but the “Happy Together” bit felt like The X-Files in all the best ways. If you know, you know.
- “But normal is boring.” Evil 3×04’s version of “hi. That’s the show.” More importantly, those are words to live by.
- “You broke a lot of hearts but never had your heart broken.” A proud mama, proud of one of the best things…except, well. Kristen is a bit heartbroken these days, no?
- Did I mention that girl power? GIRL POWER.
- “Everywhere we look now, we see sigils, sigils, sigils — because that’s what we want to see. I think it’s just a circuitry diagram!” Ok. Maybe Ben’s not as healed as we thought. But he’s getting there. And there is something to be said for seeing what we want to see.
- “All you do is shove coffee down their throats…” I see nothing wrong with this.
- The way Kristen says “awwwwwww” about it being Ben’s mom’s favorite song? Bottle it and sell it.
- The dancing in the backseat, too.
- “Ben, that’s literally the start of a hundred horror movies.” Kristen is right.
- “I’ll be right back.” Scream fans, in unison: You won’t be.
- Those tiny details from Fuller to show how much he’s in awe of Sister Andrea, though. Brilliant.
- “It didn’t feel good. It felt…terrifying.” Oof. The times we make progress on something and still have this feeling…
- “The past few weeks…I’ve had temptations of the flesh.” Is that what we’re calling “has lots of hot sex with demon manifesting itself as the woman we not-so-secretly want” now? Cool story, David.
- “Mama’s gonna hunt a demon on the Ghost Highway.” We will continue to stan.
- “You’re dressed…tough.” “I am tough!” And the grin.
- No, but I can’t wait for the fanvids that are just “Kristen Bouchard breaking shit.”
- David screaming into his pillow: The second biggest mood of Evil 3×04.
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Evil Season 3 is now streaming on Paramount+. New episodes release Sundays at midnight PT.