Robert and Michelle King break down that delightfully demonic Evil finale
Evil (TV series)
- TV Show
Warning: This story contains spoilers for the season 3 finale of Evil.
Evil season 3 ends with what might be the most terrifying baby shower of all time. As arguably the best horror show on television right now, this Paramount+ series has a long history of spooky reveals, including cannibal dinner parties, demonic memes, and at least one haunted elevator. But the season 3 finale, appropriately titled "The Demon of the End," ramps up the fear factor, following Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) as she tries to track down her missing egg, which RSM Fertility has supposedly misplaced.
In the end, her worst fears come true: It's in the hands of her nemesis Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), who's used it to impregnate a surrogate. Even worse, Kristen discovers that her own mother Sheryl (Christine Lahti) has aligned herself with Leland.
This entire season of Evil has been a delightfully demonic thrill ride, and season 3 continues the show's tradition of ending on a horrifying cliffhanger. (Fortunately, Evil has already been renewed for season 4, so we won't have to wait long.) EW caught up with creators Michelle and Robert King to break down that spooky finale — and what that baby shower reveal might mean for Kristen.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's talk about that final shot, where Kristen learns that Leland has her missing egg. The RSM Fertility arc has been part of this show since season 1. How long have you known this is where you wanted this story to go?
MICHELLE KING: Mainly this season, I would say.
ROBERT KING: Yeah, I think you always leave yourself the escape hatch. Because we had so many reveals that we wanted to pursue over the first two seasons, I think we were holding this in our back pocket. The pattern had been set in the first season that you end with… not just a cliff hanger, which is reductive, but a chapter changer. Something that changes everything.
MICHELLE: Yeah, I was going to say a "universe changer" for the characters.
ROBERT: So this one felt very appropriate. Probably about mid-season, we said, "Okay, that's where we should go."
Last season you ended on a similar bombshell, with the kiss between Kristen and David (Mike Colter). How much do you like to write yourselves into a corner, and then figure out where to go next?
MICHELLE: We like very much the idea of writing ourselves into a corner. We like less the idea of having to figure it out afterwards. [Laughs]
ROBERT: Yeah, the end of the second season was good one because it ended with them kissing, clearly moving to f---ing. So when we went to the writers' room, it was like, "Okay, congratulations! Last year, that was a good end. Now what do we do?" You're always trying to find some escape clause. That's the good thing about having seven other writers who can put their minds together.
One nice thing is that you've got a deep bench of characters you can play with.
ROBERT: Very much so. I mean, it's hard to downplay what a revelation Sister Andrea was to the show and to our ability to pursue the positive. With Evil as a title, you expect the negative, so how do you uncover anything that is hopeful, but not corny or kitschy? That's what Andrea Martin gives you. The character is very much that tough nun that Meryl Streep was in Doubt. But who else to be hopeful than someone who runs her life like an army sergeant? She pushes Boggs and David through the ringer. We're always looking for those secondary characters.
MICHELLE: It's a pleasure that David is going to have doubts. The character was built that way. And Sister Andrea has no doubts, so it's a way to access yet another side of faith. Kristen has tremendous doubts. Ben is a skeptic. But David, our believer, has his beliefs. But they're tinged with questions about the institution and about his own vows. Then, Sister Andrea flanks him on the right because she is a total believer. It's a nice note to bring to the ensemble.
Plus, you can write a finale scene where Andrea Martin chases demons around and bashes them with a shovel.
MICHELLE: While holding a conversation with a teenager. As one does. [Laughs]
ROBERT: That's one of my favorite parts of the year. Her just blindly hammering these things and squishing them, as Lynn is just staring at her as she hits the floor with a shovel.
Let's talk a little bit about Andy's fate. The past few episodes have been setting him up to die, and now he's back, but he's clearly not well. How did you guys want to approach Andy's story line this season?
ROBERT: The problem with Andy is it's tied to our ability to get Patrick Brammall.
MICHELLE: Half of it is what you want to do with story, but you're not writing a novel, where you're free to do whatever you want with characters. You're producing a show, and it's tied to actors and their availability. And Patrick Brammall was not in the U.S.
ROBERT: We knew we had him for the first two episodes and the last episode. I was directing the first episode, so we had already planned that he would be stored in the closet in Leland's house. So when I was shooting, I shot the scene of him in this shelf unit, which we dropped in episode 6. Our problem was we had to build our arc to keep him alive, but we also knew what we wanted to do, which was to reveal that he was on the shelf and then save him at the end. But it's not a real saving because he's probably brainwashed in some way — which will be solved next year.
I love the theme this season of Kristen and Andy's house, as they deal with renovations and demonic infestations. What interested you about that theme of home?
MICHELLE: It's this idea that there's no safe space for Kristen. Evil is coming at her. It's invading her home. We saw it with the daughters with Lexis, and now it's in the very fiber of the structure.
ROBERT: I think the show is at its best when it takes traditional things [and subverts them]. You're used to thinking demons are called Beelzebub, but here they're called George or Abbey or Mike. It's the same thing in that we don't do a horror show in gothic castles. It's the most suburban and bland of houses. When you do the addition, like Michelle was saying, you think you're escaping the trap of where you live, but then you realize that the demons are, in fact, infecting that. When you tent a house and try to get rid of vermin in the house, they never go away completely. They're there, and they're ready to invade again.
Speaking of demons, the creature design on this show is so unique, and no two look the same. Guillermo del Toro recently gave you a shout-out on Twitter for that. How do you approach creature design for this show?
MICHELLE: A lot of it is thanks to [special character designer] Joel Harlow, who's just wonderful at it.
ROBERT: We just stumbled into this relationship with Joel Harlow, who is the most intense artist I've worked with. He designs these creatures he keeps sending us, like, "What about this?" For the silent episode in the second season, he showed us this demon cabinet he built and said, "I don't know what to do with this." I think he was doing it for a show that never came about. We said, "I don't know, but we're going to find a way to use it." He just designs these things, not knowing how we're going to use them, and we go, "Oh my God, that is a great design. Let's use that." And then we write towards it.
Sometimes we start with the design, and then we write towards the design. Other times, we're saying, "We're doing a character called the Manager, who has to be as good as your goat therapist from the first season. What can you do?" We were trying to get more money for more eyes because we were maybe going to have only three eyes with the Manager, and we all wanted five. [Laughs] Sometimes we start with design, and then we move towards how we use it.
MICHELLE: That's half the time. Other times with the goat therapist or with the Manager, the script comes first, and then he brings it to life.
ROBERT: Or even the demon baby this season. We knew we wanted to do a dream where Kristen walks into her kitchen and sees one of those normal baby carrier things, and then there's just this horrifying demon baby in a diaper. So Joel just went to town! He's amazing that way. He's sent us eight designs already for this season, and you get overwhelmed.
MICHELLE: It's fun to work with somebody who clearly gets so much joy out of their job, to the point where they would be doing this even if they weren't fortunate enough to have that as their job.
ROBERT: Not to go on and on about this, but one other thing that I think works is that Joel Harlow starts with a physical thing — not a CGI thing. Often, I find horror movies or TV shows throw me out of it because I can tell when it's CGI, and I know there's an unreality to it. What works best is when Joel does something real, and then maybe CGI wings need to be attached to it. We did this demon mosquito sucking the energy out of David's head, and all we had to do was CGI the wings. So you're staying grounded in something that's very real.
One of the other big plot points this season is the death of the Monsignor, played by Boris McGiver. How did his sacrifice come together story-wise?
MICHELLE: Part of it came from wanting to make sure people understood just how dangerous Leland is. This is not a character who can be beaten by four girls that are looking to best him. No, he's a truly dangerous demon — or psychopath, depending on how you're looking at it. And you get to see that with the killing of the Monsignor.
ROBERT: We started with the idea that he would kill Grace. And look, we're softies at heart. We just loved the character of Grace. I mean, we loved the Monsignor too, but we thought that because of that Wallace Shawn connection, it would create some real heartbreak there. As much as Grace matters to David, we weren't sure if we had her enough in the show to then bring her back, and then whoops, there she goes. It wouldn't mean as much as someone who we've seen over the course of the show.
MICHELLE: It also made more sense thematically that if Leland was going to be killing someone, it was going to be a clergy person. Someone central to the church.
Dr. Boggs, played by Kurt Fuller, is another character who's evolved since the show started. He began as the voice of reason, and this season has been all about his descent into madness. What interested you most about his journey?
ROBERT: I think his journey came out of the inevitability of someone who wants to write, but who may not be a very good writer. [Laughs] You keep running into writer's block, and then you sell your soul to get around it. First of all, we're friends with Kurt Fuller, and we wanted to give him something really challenging this year and comic. And once he saw this demon that booped his nose, I think he was telling the truth when he said it was his epiphany, even though it was a negative epiphany. I do think you're in this territory where you have Sister Andrea and Leland struggling over his soul, which gives us something to play with next season, too.
MICHELLE: It plays a little bit of the Rosemary's Baby game, where he's an actor who's going to do anything for a part.
How far are you into figuring out season 4?
MICHELLE: We're probably a little over a month away from starting in the writers' room again.
ROBERT: Part of it was the practicality of this year. We went and did The Good Fight, so that's been on our mind. So it clears the brain a bit, when you have the [Evil] writers come in and say, "Okay, this is what I'm obsessed with." One of the dangers of a long-running show is pre-plotting too much. If I know what I'm going to do in the seventh season, there's not enough organic energy of how you get from A to B. There's not enough surprise. If there's something political or something in the news, we can say, why don't we do something that plays on this? So we're leaving ourselves a little blank slate at this point.
MICHELLE: I was going to say, if we knew what we were doing in season 7, you would undoubtedly see it in the next episode. [Laughs]