Evil 3×05 “The Angel of Warning” is, of the first five episodes of the series’ third season, easily the most important. It’s the one we hope viewers never forget. There’s a reason this one stands out from the rest of Evil Season 3.
And it’s not about “Angel” in the title instead of “Demon.” Or about the book in the title sequence flipping over to show it’s also a volume on angels. No.
If we could read minds, we’d say the creatives in charge put those elements there to make viewers realize, from so early on, that Evil 3×05 has a message — messages, really — for us. If that message happens to piss people off or turn them away, it’s because they’re the ones who need to hear it the most, yet refuse to.
So, let’s talk about it. We’ll even throw in some shortbread biscuits and commentary on other elements of “The Angel of Warning” while we’re at it. You can have those as a treat.
Yes, you’re racist.
So, Evil 3×05 has all the elements of your “typical” episode for this series. Our trio is conducting an investigation for the Church. Mom!Kristen happens, Leland is…Leland, and we want to die for Sheryl.
The trio’s latest case is about whether or not survivors of a deadly fire received warnings from some kind of angel. Kristen has her theories, some with fancy names (Impending Doom Syndrome) and some that are quite the reach. The good doctor twisting herself into a pretzel to avoid the unknown, if you will.
“You’re wondering if I saw the word ‘lamb’ and then imagined an angel, carrying a lamb, who saved me?”
And cue hilariously awkward facial expressions from our three stars.
It’s all very typical, until it isn’t. Until the fourth survivor, a Black woman, says the angel she saw was also Black. The Monsignor doesn’t meet this new revelation with anything remotely resembling the open mind ultra-religious white men, like himself, demand of those who either observe other faiths or are not religious at all. No, he just goes full racist. But only after he starts off with “don’t take this the wrong way, but…” (Because that totally always precedes harmless statements, right?)
Whenever anyone, especially David, challenges the Monsignor, what does he do? He…just inserts his foot further into his mouth. As one does. Also, let’s all project “making a political statement” onto others while we’re at it.
“They’re not interested in a Black miracle worker.“
At some point, Kristen jumps in with the most relatable “oh, my God” in the history of television. And, as Racist McRacism tries to claim he’s not saying exactly what he is saying, it’s important that she steps in, steps up, and supports David. Even in the smallest of small ways, kind of like how David supported her when she was smashing shit up in “The Demon of the Road.”
Honestly, as the only other white person in the room, her choice is pretty clear: Either defend white supremacy — through silence or direct support, doesn’t matter — or back David. The choice ought to be painfully simple, but given what goes on out there in the real world…It’s an actual breath of fresh air to see Kristen get involved.
The exchange sets up the chance for David to tell Ben and Kristen, explicitly, about how “Renaissance iconography has been force-fed to us for centuries.” And it makes Evil 3×05 not just another “hey, is this supernatural thing for real or not” type of episode but one with a message that is not at all subtle. It’s a clear stand.
And it’s also a crisis, of sorts, for our leading man. All of David’s doubts force their way back to the surface, especially after his next vision is, for the first time, of an Black angel. Even just digging through old artwork, considering how Biblical figures’ skin should have been, as he puts it, “as black as mine,” quiets the internalized whitewashing.
Will it be permanent? We hope so. Is it likely that a lifetime of being forced to see all the angels and saints as “white only” can be undone over the course of a single revelation, though? Regrettably, no.
“You say that. Because you’re white.”
But Evil 3×05 does make the point that, after some reflection, some minds become reachable. Initially, Sister Andrea stands on the same dismissive, “don’t you turn this into a political issue” hill the Monsignor wants to die on. It sparks a debate that is really pure fire from both actors. While this is Mike Colter’s episode to shine in overall, it’s David’s argument with Sister Andrea that stands out the most.
He’s so angry — but can’t be too angry, of course. Can’t fall into stereotypes — and frustrated, and feeling more than just a little bit betrayed. All of this is happening in the middle of a crisis of faith, and it’s all caused by the very same racism that permeates everything. Angels are white; demons are black. It’s all right there. White good. Black bad.
And here is a man, being forced to confront what it all means for him. When David visits the one person who’s helped him battle demons his before, though, he doesn’t get that support. It’s just more of the same. And it hurts.
David’s close with Sister Andrea. He’s in the process of using his male body, and his privileged status as a priest, as a barrier between the nun and the men who want to silence her. And she’s…not listening to him, downplaying all of his very real, vital concerns about the Church’s damningly terrible relationship with race.
Unlike the Monsignor, though, Sister Andrea is capable of opening her eyes and seeing the painfully obvious. The “because you’re white” line clearly shocks her; maybe that’s what finally gets her to listen. Whether it’s a message from God or just a good, long look in the mirror, though, something gets through to her.
“You confided in me your racial concerns, and I dismissed them.”
Later, she even apologizes, which is so difficult for most of us to do. And she shows us what being an ally is actually all about. Maybe we fuck it up sometimes — often, even — but we listen. We learn. And we admit when we’re wrong.
Now, there’s a lesson from Evil 3×05 that plenty of white women with “#BLM” in their Twitter bios could stand to learn. You know the ones. They get hella triggered when someone points out that white women, as a demographic, vote against our own interests. And their reactions almost always involve immediately saying some racist shit. Do better.
For what it’s worth, Evil could just as easily have taken down internalized racism in other religious spaces. See also: White Jews, my family, we need to do way, way better with how we treat Jews of color. Also, there’s no way Moshe was white AF…We played ourselves with that same whitewashed art, folks.
Do better. Everyone. Just…do better.
“He looks like a monster to me.”
In completely unrelated news, Evil 3×05 is also nothing if not an opportunity for Christine Lahti to slay. After getting rid of her former assistant through her delightfully, how you say…evil nutty dessert, Sheryl’s still trying to get Leland’s foot off her neck. Technically, he’s her boss. So, Sheryl has a choice: She can keep suffering through his bullshit in silence, or she can do something.
Obviously, Sheryl opts for doing something. She goes above Leland’s head to his boss — The Manager — and even in that, she has choices to make. Since her name isn’t Karen, she doesn’t throw a tantrum and/or take the “Leland was mean to me” tack. Instead, she opts to talk about her success with Makob and a little big of good, old-fashioned bribery in the form of biscuits. Somewhere in there, she even literally scratches The Manager’s back so he’ll figuratively scratch hers (in the form of a promotion).
But it’s not cause for celebration, as Sheryl learns she can see what The Manager actually looks like — extra eyes, gross slurping when he eats his biscuits, hairiness, and all. There’s a weird message in there, somewhere, about being careful what you wish for. Our girl did want to see The Manager, after all. And, as far as workplace politics go, there’s always going to be someone in a higher managerial position who’s even more vile than their underlings. There’s a reason they’re “higher up,” and it’s usually because they were willing to do something…lower.
These scenes stand out, even in an already-powerful episode like Evil 3×05, though, because Lahti just delivers on Sheryl’s shock and horror. It’s immediate, but she has to shove it aside while she’s still around her demon of a boss. But it’s still there, under the surface, as part of the performance. You can feel how badly Sheryl wants to vomit or, at the very least, cover her nose and ears…but can’t.
It’s a newer, more horrible way for the character to suffer in silence, right up until the point where she’s able to release all that emotion on her own. And make no mistake about it: The moment where Sheryl sits alone in that office is everything. You can actually feel the dread rolling off her in waves, especially when she realizes not everyone can see what she can. It’s such a dark contrast to Leland’s glee at finding out Sheryl has ascended (descended).
And yeah, Michael Emerson’s evil laugh is a lot. Fantastic. But. A lot.
This meeting and its aftermath also mark the first time we’ve really seen Sheryl since that traumatic moment in Season 2, too. Other than Lahti’s gut-wrenching performance at the time, when Sheryl lost control of her own body, we haven’t had a lot in terms of learning how being a part of this darker element has affected her. It seems like she’s an active participant, and she’s certainly happy to use whatever power she has been able to grasp to get Andy out of the way (thank you, Sheryl)…
But now, we know there are still things that she’s yet to learn. And she still has the capacity to be repulsed by it all.
It’s a fascinating extra layer. And, of course, as gross as The Manager is, as turned off as Sheryl may be, she’s not trying to make an exit. There’s something like power to be had here, and it’s all a lot of us have ever wanted. Just..the illusion of choice, control, agency. Besides, it’s not like everything else out there isn’t all garbage. May as well work for the demon you know and can now see, rather than face a possibly-worse unknown, right?
More on Evil 3×05 “The Angel of Warning”
- Even the rabbi was like, “you need a collar,” my dude. I screamed.
- And shoutout to the gang at Evil for not making the rabbi dive so far into stereotype land as to be offensive. They pulled off “making it clear I’m here as a religious figure without being absurd” so well. It’s the little things.
- …but also, how damning is it, considering, that people were quicker to assume David was a cop than clergy?
- “Why is the Church afraid of a Black angel?”
- Kristen’s crossed arms, “will do,” and saucy exit from that racist AF man’s office..Art.
- “OH! You mean that the people in power wanted God to look exactly like them. Well, I’m shocked.” Aasif Mandvi, sarcasm-delivery king.
- “Look, there’s nothing political here, but…” Ok but why is it always old white dudes going for “nothing political” when they’re trying to claim they’re not racist, all while in the midst of showing their incredibly racist asses? Easier to label the way you exclude people as “just politics,” I take it?
- “It was very bright, so I didn’t see all of her features.” We always have the opposite problem with “prestige” TV.
- “Word of advice: Don’t give answers; give comfort.”
- “He’s…worried about his weight. Tell him he looks good.” Even shortbread-loving demons get duped by diet culture. The worst.
- I, too, wake up screaming. The four L kids get me.
- And, of course, even Mom!Kristen was ready to bust shit up.
- This week’s therapy: Kristen Bouchard, screaming until she runs out of breath and then throwing shit at the train.
- Friendly reminder that Katja Herbers can do no wrong, while we’re at it.
- “You are stronger than the world. You are stronger than anything that can threaten you. Do you understand?” I love everything about this. Everything.
- This Jessica girl’s look when she realizes Kristen has her figured out, though.
- “Have you ever noticed people are getting meaner? They yell at each other more. They hit each other on airplanes…There are more violent crimes. You must’ve noticed. It’s all over the news. Do you know what it means? All this anger and hate? It means your team is losing. That…doom you feel: It’s justified.” Evil 3×05 said, “we’re all screwed” but, like, in prettier language.
- “You must force to resign one of only three Black priests ordained by the Catholic Church this year.” No, but the beauty of David simultaneously using the institution’s own racism, and obsession with its “image,” against it…Iconic.
- “You guys ready?” “For the end of the world!” The kids get me…
- …but I do feel a billion years old over them not knowing “Simon Says.”
- Sister Andrea not wanting to hurt Dr. Boggs with what he saw, even if it hurts her not to use her only defense…I couldn’t do it.
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