If, like us — and Katja Herbers when we interviewed her, actually — you find something “a little bit heartbreaking” about Kristen and David, Evil 3×08 might just be the episode of this series that leaves you dead inside. Weirdly, we mean that in a good way. And that absolute death by angst aside, “The Demon of Parenthood” has plenty of other stellar moments and ways to advance the overall plot. Suffering for everyone, if you will. But again, we totally mean that in a good way. Mostly.
This episode really has everything: Weird, seemingly meaningless missions from Leconte. The “scariest demon [Herbers] ever worked with.” Dr. Boggs finding his muse, thus making us feel even more seen. Lexis meeting the Manager. George. Toys! And…did we mention pain? Because pain. Lots of pain.
We’re obviously going to start with the pain.
“Your pursuit of me.”
We always knew Kristen and David’s whole…whatever it is…was more than just a little heartbreaking. And with David making the choice to work for Leconte earlier this season, we also always knew the lying and sneaking around would catch up to him, hurting everyone in the process. Throw in the attempt to spy on Lexis — which, to his credit, was David’s line — and…
…here we are.
It’s not at all surprising that Kristen’s night terrors are back in Evil 3×08. Initially, it might be a little bit of a surprise to see that, before even checking on Lexis after seeing her doing the floss with George, Kristen immediately calls David and wants to talk. But after thinking about it? Between that whole mother’s intuition thing everyone always talks about and Kristen being too smart for her own good, it actually makes a great deal of sense.
Yes, she’s worried about Lexis, and Leland’s designs on her. But Lexis is safe, asleep in her own bed. Of course, Kristen checks on the status of that missing egg — and goes through yet another layer of personal hell in the process. More on that in a bit.
But what’s really bothering her is wondering just how much of her life has been manipulated by everyone around her lately. What was real? Who can she trust? And how is she supposed to handle David’s name suddenly no longer at the top of that list?
“You can’t even talk to me now because everything you say will be a lie.”
Trust is incredibly important in any relationship — especially the ones that matter. Sure, David always backs Kristen’s play (even, maybe especially, when she’s smashing shit up!). And yes, he refused to spy on Lexis…But there’s still a betrayal here. And what you get, as Kristen confronts David about it, it just the most raw, real, and broken sort of conversation.
It’s mostly a lot of Kristen accusing David, without actually accusing him directly, of somehow having manufactured everything between them. Their entire relationship. Which, of course, isn’t true. Even if something is manipulating the situation here, if someone is manipulating Kristen’s relationships (hi, Sheryl), it’s not David. Never was. (I’d better not be proven a clown later.)
There are moments when Kristen’s asking these questions, and talking about the lying, when you can tell David is completely thrown off guard by it all. He comes into it, so calm. But his emotions, what little bit of them he lets slip, do start to take more and more control over the course of the conversation. And then, Kristen drops the bomb:
“David, I don’t believe in God or the Church, but I always liked that you did. Because it gave me something to aspire to. Something to admire….But you’re just like everyone else.”
It’s after this line in Evil 3×08 where Mike Colter just gives the most subtle, pained and regretful reaction…And then, you’ve got Herbers turning away when David asks Kristen to forgive him…But it gets worse with the frosty reception she gives him before the angsty looks of Angstopia (I made a universe of angst, just for Evil) take over in the Monsignor’s office.
“I wish I understood.”
And that’s to say nothing of the way Herbers and Colter up the emotional level toward the end of “The Demon of Parenthood.”
If you look up “underrated” and “chemistry that will crush your soul so hard, you wish Leland would teach you how to fill it with a demon,” and this particular pair of actors doesn’t accompany the definitions, get yourself a new dictionary.
There aren’t enough words, either in strength or in number, to talk about how hard it is to watch a desperate David try to explain his feelings to Kristen…all while also basically saying, “hey, this other thing comes first.” Or how Valerie’s tragic ending might have hurt less than having to watch Kristen, standing there trying to hold back tears and endure it. (And let’s not think about her already having her heart ripped up like that, then having to witness what Logan did to the woman who was pregnant because of her “missing” egg…)
So, for lack of a better way to put it, Let’s just say Herbers and Colter are very, very good. And we, apparently, love suffering here. Because God knows, there’s nothing about this relationship that points to a happy ending, no matter how much we’re pining for it.
“The Demon of Parenthood”
Evil 3×08 makes some interesting and, well, horrifying commentary on what it is to be a parent. Kristen’s encounter with the baby demon is, in fact, worthy of the warning that this was Herbers’ scariest encounter. But, even for as grotesque as that baby is, Kristen still can’t help herself from caring for it. From picking it up and comforting it, even as she is so very disgusted and unsure of what the hell to do.
It’s a nightmare. And, in a lot of ways, so is the whole idea of becoming a parent, especially the pregnancy and birth part, to some of us on the outside of it. This thing grows inside your body until it forces its way out over hours of excruciating pain. And then, you have to take care of it. Regardless of what you might be feeling, or what might have gone wrong, you care for it. Even if you’re completely overwhelmed, as Kristen so heartbreakingly is when she holds the tiny demon, that thing needs you. You’re all it has. You simply have to care for it.
“She’s a good kid. You’re a good mother. You just keep doing what you’re doing.“
If you’re living in Kristen’s fucked up world, you might even find out that the daughter you love is now being groomed to take over a demon sigil. Not to beat the angst horse to death — not anymore than Evil 3×08 and its angstfest beat us to death, at least — but it’s really telling that Kristen discusses the possibilities of removing the empathy gene, or some other wrongness with that last embryo, with Ben instead of David. There’s the science connection, and they’re great friends. But it’s the type of deeply personal stuff she’d usually share with David — and didn’t here.
But Ben assures Kristen it’s “nature versus nurture,” and he’d “bet on nurture every time.” At least for now, when it comes to Lexis, he seems to be right. She doesn’t see what her grandmother sees when they visit the Manger, and while that’s a source of stress that sends Sheryl running to Leland, it’s just about the only positive message on parenthood in this entire episode. Kristen is a good mom, and it shows. Period.
But there’s more to the parenthood aspect of this hour, of course, because of the Valerie and Logan of it all. And that partner violence bit is a powerful comment on an all-too-real and incredibly frequent occurrence.
Sure, men don’t usually hear growling instead of heartbeats. But that over-kill in Evil 3×08? This is the reality that comes with pregnancy:
“Homicide during pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy exceeded all the leading causes of maternal mortality by more than twofold.”(Source: “The Green Journal”)
And that doesn’t even begin to get into what could medically go wrong — even when you’re looking forward to the birth and even when the nursery is ready to go.
It’s…just sit with that. And tell me again why anyone should ever be forced to go through any of it.
Certainly, this series frequently gives us the fun, heartwarming side of being a parent or grandparent — a mother or grandmother, specifically, through Kristen and Sheryl. But it’s not all screaming at trains or going to meet the boss together, or whatever. There’s a lot of trauma, and a lot of risk, and a lot of generally being overwhelmed. It’s really, really fucking hard. And terrifying. Really, really terrifying. In the end, you only have so much control over the outcome, and having no control is probably the scariest feeling of all.
More on Evil 3×08
- “What about your designs?” I am become eyeballs emoji.
- “And why should I trust you?” “Because I tell you the truth.” “No, you don’t. No, you haven’t.” See also: Dead inside.
- “I need the money. But I feel pretty fucked over, and it’s going to take me a while to adjust to that.” I need y’all to understand how much 1) ouch, and 2) it me.
- “As long as you know how much you matter to me.” Dead. In. Side.
- “David, I love you.” I paused and shrieked.
- “I hate saying that because it sounds like…I mean something that I don’t. But I love you. I love you as a friend; I love you as somebody I respect. Somebody who…Look, I should probably just stop talking.” Writing something that hurts people this much should be a felony.
- “This is a game to you, isn’t it?” Me at TV writers.
- Actually, as a dancer, I have to point out how much control of her body Katja Herbers has when she’s working to convey that Kristen is not in control of hers. And then the slow regaining of that control as she tip-toes through the house, only to find that baby demon. Brilliant, even when not trying to destroy people. (But we been knew. Insert the fan cams of Unhinged!Kristen here.)
- “I just don’t want anything bad to happen.” Aged poorly.
- George flosses with Lexis. My TV-rotted brain: “A dancing demon…No, something isn’t right there.“
- That “holy fuck” when Kristen wakes up is basically me whenever I have to wake up, even without getting a visit from George.
- “I want an adult drink.” After that episode, same.
- “HELP ME I’M IN HELL” Correct. Same.
- No, but the eyes on those stuffed animals. Burn them all. Maybe make sure there’s some sage around when you do.
- Once again going to say, if following Leland’s orders and calling a demon is what helps Dr. Boggs write, I’m not holding his choices against him. Especially since, as we learn in Evil 3×08, he…didn’t quite do as Leland asked. Couldn’t bring himself to cut Sister Andrea’s hair, so he grabbed some scraps from the drain. Interesting.
- “Why is it so hard?” Me trying to crank out this review, actually.
- “The muse isn’t coming.” Exactly.
- Ok but why was Kristen apologizing for being emotional? Oh, right. Women are taught we need to apologize for existing.
- And why is she having to reassure Valerie and Logan, when her own world has been ripped apart? Oh, right. We’re taught that, too.
- “Nobody just says honky-tonk.” True.
- I have no idea about 90% of what Leland said to Sheryl because it was so quiet. Something about “more of the right influence.” (Correct, and it ain’t him.) And…ambassador?
- The whole “possessed toys” thing was fun until it wasn’t. Labor camps. Ouch. But at least David saved Grace.
- But, notably, after all that, David decides to share what’s going on re: the whole Grace thing with Ben and Kristen. My dude is finally getting his brains back.
- …was it worth it, though, David??? Hmmmm????
- Reproductive trauma and Strong Female Characters™. Insert long, exhausted sigh here.
Devastated after Evil 3×08? Got other thoughts? Leave us a comment!