David, Kristen and Ben hit the road — and the diocese hopes Sister Andrea will do the same — in this week’s Evil.
First up: The wife of a trucker who thinks he’s possessed after driving an allegedly haunted highway enlists the assessors’ services, which of course requires our Holy Trinity to drive the road in question. In his defense: It’s a stretch of I-95, which as a lifelong East Coaster I feel secure in saying definitely is accursed.
Then back at the parish, a handful of priests take the first steps to boot Sister Andrea into retirement. They think she’ll go quietly. They don’t know her very well, do they?Read on for the highlights of “The Demon of the Road.”
SISTER ANDREA UNDER ATTACK | Let’s handle Sister Andrea first. Father Katagas, from last season’s UFO episode, leads a group of priests who meet with the nun to tell her that the reports about her mental and physical decline indicate that it’s time for her to retire to a “retreat” upstate. All she has to do is sign a document agreeing with their decision… but she won’t. And when Leland shows up, she really won’t.
She freely admits that she sees demons, and that there’s one in the room with them at the moment; we see the hellbeast with his hand on Leland’s shoulder, and I chuckle when Sister Andrea and the demon wave fondly at each other as if they’re on opposite sides of a garden party. The assembled fathers aren’t happy that Sister Andrea is putting up a fuss, but they agree that she has the right to a hearing before a three-person priestly council, and that she will undergo a psychological analysis conducted by an outside party (sorry, Leland!).
So Sister Andrea has a session with Dr. Boggs, who tries to figure out if she’s suffering from early onset dementia. He wonders why she requested him, specifically. “You’ve seen a demon,” she says, matter-of-factly. He stammers that he doesn’t know what he saw (but we do). She tells him she sees demons “once an hour,” and that she had her first religious vision when she was playing the piano at age 15. Saint Bernadette appeared, holding a vase with roses. “That’s when I gave myself to Christ,” she recalls. At home later, Boggs sits at his piano and plays the same chord that summoned the vision for Teenage Andrea, but nothing happens.
When the Council of Heretical Practices next convenes to discuss Sister Andrea’s case, David is there. He wonders why the sister is being accused of heresy, and we learn it’s because she says she saw a demon consulting with the cardinal at a recent Mass. Boggs testifies, as well; Sister Andrea lovingly “boop”s him on the nose before he leaves. Father Katagas tells Sister Andrea she’ll need a priest to defend her as the hearing continues. “Good thing I am one,” David says, smiling.
I AM… KRISTEN FIERCE | Unrelated to either of the week’s main plots: The guy whom Kristen beat up at the grocery store last season shows up on her doorstep, recording her with his phone and demanding an apology. “You know you have a punchable face?” one of her girls (accurately, if not diplomatically) shouts at him before Kristen sends them upstairs. Kristen winds up apologizing, and he leaves. “Why can boys do whatever they want, and girls can’t?” Lexis asks her mom soon after.
It’s a question that resonates with Kristen throughout the rest of the episode. After she searches for the video that made her Internet-famous, she’s led to another video of a young woman talking about Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce persona and how it allows the pop superstar to summon confidence she might otherwise lack. And that, plus a brief conversation with Sheryl about how she taught Kristen from an early age not to take any nonsense from boys, fuels Ms. Bouchard when the contractor working on her house starts to pull some stuff the next day.
He demands a second payment before he starts the second phase of work. She reminds him that was not the deal they struck. He asks to speak to Andy, and when that isn’t happening, threatens to tear down the work his crew has already completed. “Good,” she says calmly as the girls arrive home from school to witness what’s happening. “Then I’ll help you.” She picks up a sledgehammer and starts knocking down the frame to the addition; within seconds, the crappy contractor caves and says they’ll continue the work — and payment schedule — as planned.
WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN | OK, onto the scaries. A woman contacts David and says that her long-haul trucker husband “just wasn’t the same” after coming back from a recent job. He’s been sleeping in his cab because when she tried to wake him from some truly bizarre behavior one night, he hit her, and now he’s afraid of hurting her.
The trucker tells Kristen, David and Ben that he was on I-95 one night when something with red lights started following him. He thought it was a drone, though it didn’t move the way a drone moves. He felt a presence but couldn’t see it clearly, and then he blacked out, coming to near Montreal. “I drove 500 miles that I have no memory of,” he says, haunted. And when they examine his rig, they find a circuitry diagram sticker that looks suspiciously like one of the demonic sigils from their map.
‘IT’S A SHORT SLIDE TO HELL, BEN!’ | The assessors visit a diner he stopped at in his fugue state and learn from another trucker that the road near Exit 13A is considered haunted, and most commercial drivers avoid it. So Ben, David and Kristen go to see for themselves. The road trip starts off cute — Ben plays The Turtles’ “So Happy Together” — his mom’s favorite song — and all three of them sing along on the chorus. But a scream coming through the car’s stereo speakers cuts short the fun. Soon, the radio is self-tuning to 666 AM while sounds of an exorcism, static and a speech about someone “taking our jobs” are pumped, loudly, into the vehicle. And when David looks in the rearview mirror, something with red lights (or is it eyes?) is following them. Just when you think the situation can’t get any creepier, a voice over the radio gleefully announces, “It’s a short slide to Hell, Ben!,” which we know will come up again at least once later this season.
Then the car’s electrical system starts to fade out, the steering wheel freezes up, and David somehow pilots the vehicle over to the side of the road as it dies. Ben gets out to investigate, even though Kristen protests that that is precisely how every horror movie begins. (Side note: Katja Herber’s “Holy f—k!” when he knocks on the window is absolute perfection.) Ben is successful in tightening the battery cable, and they get underway. He theorizes that someone is disrupting radio waves, therefore messing with GPS signals and overall being a pest. Later, with Karima, he wonders if a short-wave broadcaster nearby was able to turn his phone into a broadcasting unit, which would make that person able to taunt him by name.
SAINTS PRESERVE US | A night or so later, David is woken up by the trucker’s wife: Her husband and his truck are gone, and called her to say he thinks he hit someone or something but that he can’t find any evidence of the incident in the road. David drives out by himself, and runs into the same radio interference once he passes Exit 13A. Then he hits something that rolls up over the windshield, and when he gets out to investigate, he finds a demon with glowing red eyes that’s feasting on a deer’s carcass in the dark along the roadway.
Eventually, the demon drops the deer and starts flying after David. But the chase ends abruptly when a glowing vision appears from a rip in the night sky: It’s an angel with a sword and a shield. The demon takes off quickly. And the vision disappears just as a truck honks and comes to a quick stop right in front of where David’s standing in the middle of the road. The driver is the man David had been looking for, and he asks, “Father, are you OK?”
Back at the parish, Sister Andrea thinks David’s encounter was a good thing, despite the fact that he was terrified. She points out that angels and saints are there to protect him from demons, and she assumes he’s resisting the temptations of the flesh that he encounters in his daily life. (That quick flash of him and DemonKristen going at it says otherwise.) The nun says David’s resistance to sexytimes is why God is helping him — is it any wonder, then, that he worries that everything he’s seeing is just getting conjured up by his own mind?
SMASHING JOB |Our trio drives back out to the highway, with Ben tracking radio signals. He realizes that someone is broadcasting at 18.9 Hz, aka the “ghost frequency,” which can cause anxiety and optical illusions. The red eyes pursue them once more, but they’re no match for Kristen, who’s driving. She bangs a U-turn right in the middle of the road, and follows the transmission static until they find a barn filed with broadcasting equipment and a truck with a giant antenna in its flatbed… and the same demonic sigil that was on the dude’s truck earlier in the episode. There’s also a handgun in the truck’s front seat.
Kristen needs very little encouragement to smash the equipment to pieces. And when the truck’s owner comes out and starts yelling, Ben realizes that the guy was just online clout-chasing. When everything is in smithereens, they leave. On their way out, they don’t see Victor LeConte in a car with another man. “Wipe it down for prints,” Victor tells his associate in Italian.
Later, in David’s room, Victor pops up to let David know that he’s eliminated a demonic family; the clout-chasing truck owner “shot himself in the head after you left,” and since his successor couldn’t feast on his flesh in order to carry on the house, that sigil can get the Emily Thorne Red Sharpie treatment. David accuses Victor of killing the guy, but Victor calmly says that he only got rid of the body before succession could take place. Oh, and also? “We have been following you ever since you let that medical student cannibalize his cadaver” in the Season 2 finale. Cool, cool.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!