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Paramount+’s ’Evil’ Proves That Theology and Science Work Better Together

Welcome to W TV Club, in which W magazine’s editors a television show they’d recommend you binge-watch. Since Halloween is coming, our October picks will be a spooky sampling. This week, culture editor Brooke Marine recommends Evil, a supernatural thriller procedural on Paramount+.

Are you watching Evil? You might not have heard of it, but the series, now in its second season has quietly been churning in the background each week on CBS. Dip into the first season which is available to stream on Paramount+ and you’ll find that Evil proves the procedural is not dead.

It’s a big deal for a streaming platform like Paramount+ to give audiences a weekly procedural, rather than a weekend binge. While I was never big on CSI or NCIS, and I can’t remember the last time I elected to watch a weekly crime show (unless you count the episodes of Law & Order that might lull me to sleep in a hotel when I’m traveling), Evil is a series that feels worth viewing, especially in the weeks leading up to Halloween. In fact, though it may be odd to say, it is at times, even downright comforting.

Created by Robert King and Michelle King (the duo behind The Good Wife), Evil follows Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), a forensic psychologist who leaves her job with the New York District Attorney’s office to align herself with the work of David Acosta (Mike Colter), employed by the Catholic church to investigate supernatural occurrences, mainly demonic possessions and purported miracles, and his partner Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), a skeptical contractor who always has a scientific explanation for every phenomenon the team encounters.

Dr. Bouchard is a married mother of four and a lapsed Catholic—details that remain pertinent to her character’s development over the course of both seasons. She and David, who is studying to be a priest, have this sort of flirtatious relationship that naturally proves to be problematic for their characters, but is thrilling to watch. It’s also, at times, a dark comedy. This might all seem too silly to take seriously but you have to remember that the Kings know how to make a solid network show—Evil is perfectly cast (and don’t worry, the Catholic church isn’t necessarily painted as a hero throughout the series, either).

A true procedural, every episode introduces a new supernatural phenomenon for the trio to investigate (sometimes racing against the clock due to the interference of Dr. Leland Townsend, who is either possessed by a demon or just a psychopath encouraging others to do evil things). The debut episode of Evil focuses on the possibility of a demonic possession, while the second hones in on a Lazarus-like miracle. Are people simply psychos or are truly possessed by spirits? Does a young girl actually return from the grave after being pronounced dead, or was the hospital just negligent? It is a philosophical puzzle, but the show is at its best when it depicts how science and theology can work in tandem to arrive at the same conclusion.

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