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‘Evil’ returns on Paramount+ : A review-preview of Season 2

Written By | Jul 2, 2021
Evil, Paramount+

Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) and his master in the series “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

WASHINGTON — ‘Evil,’ Season 2, is returning to Paramount+, just in time to remind series fans that the battle between Good and Evil is always with us. This supernatural war remains a common thread running through works of fiction and film as well as life itself. Yet writers often depict this eternal battle in other, sometimes subtler ways. The renowned author of the macabre, H.P. Lovecraft, called his brand of storytelling “cosmic horror.” In his classic 1926 tale “The Call of Cthulhu,” its opening paragraph sets the tone for the genre:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity. And it was not meant that we should voyage far.”


H.P. Lovecraft circa 1930. Photo via Wikipedia,,_1930.png.

This observation describes the secularist worldview of humanity’s insignificance in the cosmos and our vulnerability to its ancient, hidden and horrific mysteries.

But the flip side of this cosmic coin places two primordial forces in separate camps: good and evil. This is a reality where human beings factor greatly in a titanic clash. One cosmic camp seeks to pull humankind to its side through grace and loving arguments. But the other exerts the opposite pull, offering promises of earthly delights and a surrender to hedonistic license. Or, as a last desperate act, by invading and violating the sanctity of the individual’s body and soul through demonic possession.

But this moral rejection of the empty Lovecraftian mythos, given humanity’s cosmic centrality, proves far more terrifying. Yet this observation lies at the core of CBS’ supernatural offering “Evil,” now streaming its second season on Paramount +.

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Accused serial killer Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie) confronts forensic psychologist Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) in “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

It begins… (Spoiler alerts, incoming)

Season 1 of “Evil” began with forensic psychologist Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) evaluating the mental state of an accused serial killer, Orson LeRoux. His defense attorney insists that LeRoux’s horrific murders result from his client’s demonic possession.

Bouchard’s association with the case introduces her to the cosmic battle between good and evil that her supposedly rational mind refuses to acknowledge. This persists even after George – a red-eyed preternatural hellion, whose nighttime visitations are unsettling in the extreme – interrupts her evening’s slumber to harass and threaten her and the lives of her four young daughters.

George the demonic intruder of “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

But Bouchard’s stubborn skepticism is just what David Acosta (Mike Colter), a former journalist and seminarian bound for the Catholic priesthood, needs to round off his paranormal team of investigators. These “assessors,” as he calls them, work for the local archdiocese.

According to Acosta,

“There are people in this world who are connectors. They influence people. They have day jobs: teachers, stock brokers, expert witnesses [and] they pretend to be normal. But their real pursuit is – Evil. Encouraging others to do evil… The world is getting worse, because evil is no longer isolated. They’re connected.”

And the diabolical “connector” of the story is Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), a forensic psychologist and rival to Bouchard. Townsend says his mission is to imprison the innocent and free the guilty. He is, in fact, a man possessed by the unclean spirit Anatas, a name listed among the hierarchy of demons. Their insignias (sigils) are all found in the occult book known as the “Lesser Key of Solomon.”

Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) confronts rival Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) in the Paramount + original series “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

Acosta describes Anatas as:

“A great beast. A mighty king in the hierarchy of devils and demons. He rules over thirty legions of infernal demons, feeding off the sins and lies of humanity. Lies and sins that give him strength and power.”

And Dr. Townsend, or Anatas, has a diabolical goal in mind. He intends to use fertility clinics to genetically corrupt an entire generation, transforming them into an army of evildoers.

But in season 2, we see Dr. Townsend work to co-opt the church through generous financial contributions that come with an unexpected request: a cynical appeal for exorcism.

When asked what he knows about exorcism, Townsend says,

“It’s the Roman Catholic Church’s attempt to separate man from his darker nature… Unlike with your Christ, where the rewards don’t come until after death – and then not particularly well defined – with Satan it’s a clear contract. The rewards are now, it’s always something that you’ve asked for. Something you covet.”

When asked what he covets, Townsend sidesteps the question.

But just as hell’s minions appear unstoppable, a young woman seeks help from the archdiocese. It seems her husband Raymond has been possessed. Not by a demon but an angel – the Archangel Michael to be precise.

After meeting with Raymond, Acosta receives an evening visitation from the incorporeal, winged being. And he is nothing at all in appearance to the idealized depictions of angels by Gothic and Renaissance painters. In fact, the supernatural being is every inch a monster.

Evil, Paramount+

The Archangel Michael in the series “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

Archangel Michael says he has come to wage war against evil, a war after which “half the world will be dead.”

Evil, Paramount+

David Acosta (Mike Colter) prays in series “Evil.” Paramount + screen capture.

Acosta is horrified,

“But what happens to all the people, the innocent people who did nothing?”

The question only enrages the angel, who pulls his sword, placing its point inches from Acosta’s chest.

“Who are you to question the Lord? God is the measure of the just.”

Later, Acosta recalls an early Christian thinker in a meeting with his team.

“St. Augustine advocated for just war. That there are instances when war may be a necessary right, where violence can stop a dire wrong. Choosing peacefulness could be considered a sin… God’s logic isn’t ours. I think there’s evil in the world and it should be confronted.”

And the scale of horror to follow in the wake of the coming cosmic war against evil diminishes into insignificance the terror of a meaningless Lovecraftian universe.

The second season of “Evil” is currently streaming on Paramount +.


Read more from Steve Lopez

About the Author:

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area, and now resides in South Florida. A cigar and bourbon aficionado, Steven is a political staff writer for Communities Digital News and an incredibly talented artist.

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Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.