Silence may be golden, but watching a drunken Kristen Bouchard pratfalling into a giant wine barrel is pretty great, too.
I learned this valuable life lesson while watching Evil‘s return Sunday, a nearly silent episode that might just be the show’s most entertainingly goofy hour yet. After all, would you expect the f-bomb to be dropped both repeatedly and with vigor throughout an episode set at a monastery?
Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of stigmata and insect infestations and possessed statues, making this an Evil episode through and through. Read on for the highlights of the Robert King-directed “S Is for Silence” (then read what he had to say about the episode here).
SHHHHH! | You’ll recall that, at the end of the previous episode, Bishop Marx tasked our trio with investigating the curious case of Father Thomas, whose corpse at a remote monastery remained untouched by decomposition long after his death. To meet the Vatican’s threshold for sainthood, they’ll need some DNA evidence and proof of a second miracle. So Kristen, David and Ben trudge north to do the Pope’s bidding.
The Sacred Trinity Monastery is 130 years old. No work has been spoken there since its inception. “Please honor our vow to God by not speaking. Ever,” a sign asks visitors, who also are forbidden from using electronic devices or cell phones. (Ben gets by because he has to take photos; a monk does something to his phone, however, to lock it from reaching the outside world for 24 hours.)
The visitors are handed Magic Slate-like boards to facilitate communication. Kristen’s has Casper the Friendly Ghost at the top, Ben’s has the animated Robin Hood, and David’s features Star Trek: The Animated Series. It quickly becomes clear that Kristen’s presence, by virtue of being a female, is disruptive; she (not happily) goes outside while Ben gathers hair and other DNA samples.
While she’s outdoors, she makes the acquaintance of Fenna, a nun carting glass bottles through the courtyard in an old wheelbarrow. With pantomime and friendly smiles, they strike up a fledgling friendship, a social interaction lubricated liberally with the whiskey brewed on-site. The brothers also make wine that’s “aged in whiskey-soaked barrels,” per the label, and Kristen gets firsthand knowledge of that as she — hilariously but unsuccessfully — tries to help Fenna infuse the wine casks by soaking sponges in the hard liquor, climbing into the massive barrels and squeezing the spirits into the wood by hand. Did I mention that the ladies have been sampling the wares?
Kristen is sliding around one of the huge casks like a hamster on a buttered-up wheel when David, Ben and the brothers enter the brewery. It turns out that Fenna, who is wearing one of Father Thomas’ crucifixes, is part of the “second miracle” evidence: She’s got stigmata wounds in both hands.
IN WHICH DAVID ATTEMPTS TO MEDITATE | The first dialogue in the episode shows up when David, Ben and Kristen slip under a wire fence — therefore stepping off the monastery’s property — to have a whispered confab. Kristen is sure that the wounds on Fenna’s hands are from the wheelbarrow’s rough handles. Ben hypothesizes that there’s something in the clay of the catacombs that protected Father Thomas from decay. And David fills them in on the story of a demonic cabinet that’s standing in Father Thomas’ cell: It was discovered in that spot a century ago, the facility was built around it and monks have been keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t open. It’s also the reason for all the silence: If a word is spoken, the demon inside will get out and never be recaptured. (Side note: If you’re into ASMR, I have a feeling you really enjoyed that scene.)
Back inside, Kristen quickly ascertains that Fenna’s injuries aren’t from the wheelbarrow: She also has pain-free wounds on the tops of her feet and along her ribs — mirroring those the Bible says Jesus endured on the cross. Kristen goes to touch the wound but winds up cupping the young woman’s face, one of several chaste but intimate interactions they’ll have over the course of the hour.
While Kristen is getting photos of Fenna’s marks, a monk named Father Winston invites David to “silence your mind” in the chapel. But David can’t, and so we’re treated to a running commentary — via subtitles — of his racing thoughts. He’s distracted by a stain on the floor that he thinks might be from vomit. “Jeuss died for my sins. He suffered. All I have to do is not think about a monk throwing up for a few minutes,” he muses. And then that devolves into several “f—k”s with a “Kristen” — and a visual of her lips — thrown in for good measure.
THE MEANING OF THE BOX IS, WELL, ONE-FOLD | Down in the catacombs, Ben is investigating claw marks on the inside lid of Father Thomas’ coffin when he notices a weird blackness at the end of the tunnel. The blackness seems menacing as it begins to move toward him. Ben snaps a few photos then runs, narrowly making it outside before whatever it is catches up to him.
Upstairs, Kristen sits down next to David at dinner but is ushered to the nuns’ table; at least Fenna is happy to see her. She and David have a running, non-verbal commentary throughout the meal. “Why is he looking at me like that?” she wonders (via subtitles) at one point, followed by some tightly cropped visuals of the two of them together. Can the nuns sense her impure thoughts? No clue, but all of a sudden, they start making a ton of noise with their plates and cutlery. “WTF?” Kristen hand-signals across the room to her equally perplexed co-worker.
After the meal, Fenna brings Kristen to the room where she’ll be sleeping… which is a cot wedged into a storage room stuffed with statuary. Some of the sculptures are really creepy — one is a skeleton/grim reaper thing (which will become important later). Everyone who sleeps at the monastery is supposed to gag themselves before going to bed, in order to cut off any inadvertent sleep vocalizations. Kristen looks right at the skeleton, says “boo” and then stuffs her gag into her mouth.
Is that the reason that the demon box suddenly opens and something (we don’t see what, but we see things from its point of view) flies out and spreads in the monastery? Who even knows? What we do know is that Kristen suddenly wakes up and sees the skeleton statue turn its head toward her. Then it climbs down with its scythe, picks its teeth with the blade (heh) and climbs on top of her… but it disappears when Father Winston starts banging sticks together, summoning everyone from their beds.
In addition to the shock of finding the box open, a bunch of brothers — and Fenna — have been afflicted with painful, pulsating welts on their skin. Kristen wants to call a doctor. David says they have a doctor — and an exorcist — on site, and that the brothers should handle things the way they see fit. Kristin yells that the community is “so f—king anti-woman!,” but the plan to do things the monks’ way stands. And when the exorcist is summoned, he’s Father Mulvehill, aka the priest with the gambling debts and the spurious connection to Leland Townshend.
Mulvehill begins the ritual, mouthing the words instead of speaking them and anointing Fenna’s new wounds, which look like writhing demonic sigils. When he pours holy water on the wound on her abdomen, she screams, black liquid spews from her mouth and she starts clawing at her gut before passing out. AND THEN A SWARM OF FLIES BURSTS FROM HER WOUND and I nearly pass out.
FLIES AWAY HOME | But don’t worry, because Ben the Magnificent has a Scientific Answer: botflies. He thinks that’s what was in the demonic box, as well as what was causing the humming sound coming from Father Thomas’ coffin. Botflies burrow under skin to lay eggs (aka the sigils) and they are known to come out when their airholes are covered with petroleum jelly (or, in this case, anointing oil).
So Mulvehill gets everyone else all oiled up, and Kristen strokes Fenna’s hair while the girl dozes, her head in Kristen’s lap. Then Father Thomas’ corpse is reburied, just after a botfly climbs into his mouth, and it’s time for the trio to go.
Father Winston wants David to stay, and the future Father Acosta is tempted. Despite the lifelong lack of talking and sex, he’s drawn to the peace that the brothers seem to have mastered. But “God needs me out there,” he tells the monk.
Before they go, Fenna gives Kristen a bottle of whiskey but walks away before Kristen can hug her. The young woman is delighted, though, when she returns to her room and finds the nightshirt Kristen was wearing, laid on the bed as a parting gift. “Boy, do I hate being right all the time,” it proclaims.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the mostly silent episode? Sound off in the comments!