Evil stars Katja Herbers and Mike Colter tease that season 2 is even more 'bonkers'
"It really makes sense," says Colter, who plays priest-in-training David Acosta. "We have a little more creative freedom there. We'll be able to reach a bigger audience."
Even though the duo didn't find out about the platform change until near the end of production on the horror drama's sophomore season - meaning a week or so before the public found out - they've already started to reap the benefits. "I went back and added a bunch f---s and s---s, and things," says Herbers with a laugh. "I feel like the show is more fit for streaming. We had our Netflix run last year, which was so successful. And I'm excited about, in anticipation of [a] season 3, that we get to be even more out there."
Evil's "out there" tendencies are what made it a hit when it premiered on CBS in fall 2019. Created by The Good Wife and The Good Fight's Michelle and Robert King, the series follows Herbers' Kristen Bouchard, a skeptical forensic psychologist who teams up with David and also skeptical handyman Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) to investigate potential supernatural phenomena for the Catholic church. But that X-Files-like premise led to some truly wild scenarios, from parents who may have murdered their sociopathic (or demonically possessed) son to a demon baby birth and a group of sociopaths trying to corrupt children before they're even born. Along the way, Evil remained rather agnostic, living in the ambiguous middle ground between offering supernatural or scientific explanations for everything the team encountered. And season 2 will be push the show's limits even more.
"[With] the first season, what I really enjoy about the show is that it's so bonkers, for lack of a better word," says Herbers. "And I think the second season is going to be even more that. The Kings, they just write such crazy, interesting, fun story lines for all of us. I think it's going to be a pretty wild ride."
That journey includes episodes about a creepy angel, a jinn, a hellish elevator game, and a predominantly silent hour directed by Robert King. ("That episode was so also fun for me because I got to get very drunk again, which is one of my favorite things [to portray]," Herbers says of the dialogue-free episode.) According to Colter, season 2 builds more steadily than the first.
"I think the difference between the first season and the second season [is that in the] first season there are these points like episode 4, episode 8, episode 10 or 11, episode 12 and then we have this finale in 13 that leaves you like, 'Well, what's going to happen next?'" Colter says. "Now we're going in a very methodical path of 1, 2, 3, 4… I feel like we're shifting a little smoother. I feel like we're accelerating a little smoother. It's just a subtle shift every episode."
Herbers is especially excited about Kristen's arc. The first season ended with a truly shocking twist: Kristen murdered a serial killer who was threatening her family. Afterward a cross burned her hand, implying that she's been corrupted. Is she actually possessed by a demon, or is this just a physical reaction from her guilty conscience? That's one of the main questions driving the second season.
"She's not lying awake thinking that she did the wrong thing. I think she thinks she made the right decision, but I do think that it's haunting her, the act itself," Herbers says. "It's going to develop over the course of the season. At the beginning she might seem a little more stressed or timid or something's not quite right with her. But I think it's going to start come out in different ways."
Herbers isn't approaching her performance from the perspective that Kristen is possessed. "Just as a person but also as Kristen, I just really do not believe in possession," she says. "So I just tried to never play that, but I was asked to play that. But I would always approach it from a psychological standpoint. Where I understood that somebody who has just murdered someone is obviously going to have some problems, and that's going to manifest itself in many different ways that could maybe be interpreted as her having gone to the dark side or being possessed. I tried to always explain it scientifically, while maybe keeping my cards close to my chest sometimes so the viewer could think whatever they needed to think."
David is already starting to suspect something is up with Kristen because he had a vision of her walking toward the Devil in the season 1 finale. That has implications for their relationship because the two characters are clearly attracted to each other.
"David and Kristen are playing with fire," Colter says. "I think David and Kristen are both adventure seekers. They both like to have each other around because it is a certain forbidden fruit that we have to deal with on a regular basis. How close can they get to the flame? We go into a very slow burn into how she is being affected by what is happening to her and what is causing it, and what are we going to do to address it. And then when David finds out, that was a whole other thing."
David's ordination is also approaching quickly, which further complicates matters. "I think David wanting to be a priest is like wanting to jump out of a plane: It sounds great until you get up in the air and you turn the engines off and you open the doors. So you're standing on the edge and you just wonder, 'It should be all right, right?' David is not certain," says the Luke Cage alum, referencing David's rowdy past. "I think if he doesn't do it this way, if he doesn't go all in [on the priesthood], he knows that he will slip back into his old habits again."
The show's trio will also be tested because the Church orders to them to assess their chaotic foe Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson). Leland claims he's possessed, but they aren't sure whether they believe him. "Nothing about Leland makes sense, and so he's always look at him side-eye," says Colter. "It's very confusing to me from my experience, from David's perspective, watching this happen and unfold, because it's like, 'Is this really happening? Is this what's really going on? And what does it mean?'"
Looking ahead to the end of the season, Colter believes it will leave the audience praying for a third one: "The finale will be something where people go, 'Well, Jesus, now I got to find out what's going to happen."
Evil season 2 premieres Sunday on Paramount+.