This week, everyone’s favorite children’s book, The Pop Up Book of Terrifying Things, tells us that F is for Fire and boy is it! Here’s the thing: The literal fires in this episode are much less terrifying than the metaphorical ones. Things are getting hot, hot, hot on Evil and not in a fun, sexy way (okay, a little bit in a fun, sexy way), but in a there are some things starting to brew and they will boil over eventually you just wait kind of way.
Let’s start with the case of the week. Thanks to Sister Andrea, who cracks Leland’s code in regards to his notes on the sigil map (every letter is from a different alphabet, duh!), David, Kristen, and Ben get the name of another child who came from the RSM clinic, Mathilda Mowbray. They arrive at her foster parents’ house trying to figure out a story to tell them as to why they are just showing up to suss out if their kid is creepy or not, only to discover that Brian and Jane Castle are sort of expecting them — they had called St. Joseph’s to request an assessment on Mathilda two months ago. I may not know a lot of things about this show, but I do know that can’t be good.
Mathilda, you see, has been setting fires in the house. It’s especially curious because Mathilda was put into foster care because her mother was arrested for setting fire to Mathilda’s room. Interesting, right? Through a little prodding from Kristen, Mathilda eventually confides that she isn’t the one setting the fires, there’s a man who comes to her room at night who has no face and his head has fire pouring out of it, and he sets the fires when he’s angry with her. Brian and Jane know all about this monster, Mathilda told them and they have some nanny cam footage of her yelling at the closet to leave her alone before it lights up in flames. This is why they decided to call the church — it has to be more than psychological.
Ben thinks they might have the wrong religion. Thanks to some help from his sister Karima (so glad she’s back but also, tell us about that whole baby thing!!), Ben realizes that Mathilda is describing a jinn — a figure from Islam that can be a demonic or benevolent presence. This jinn in particular has to do with fire and seems to be up to no good. He seems to be on the right track because at one point when they confront Mathilda as to why she has brake fluid and chlorine tabs in her room, her eyes flicker and she begins to speak in Arabic as the jinn. Jane, who is Muslim and knows Arabic, translates: “The fire will burn who ever is close and jump to one of you.” You know, that is an alarming sentiment on a good day, but the fact that Mathilda is holding on to Kristen and looking directly at her while saying this really makes it stick with you.
What happens to Mathilda next can really only be described with assistance from Billy Zane in Zoolander: It’s an exorcism-off. David rolls up with our Exorcist Priest (Brian! Stokes! Mitchell!) looking to expel a demon, but they find that Jane has called in a sheikh from her mosque to perform an exorcism, seeing as how they’re dealing with a jinn and all. There’s a lot of “religious leaders trying to assert their authority” vibes going on until David, like the king he is, suggests the two guys try working together. At first Mathilda is writhing and speaking in Arabic again, but then she switches over to Dan, a demon who speaks in English and tells Kristen that “the father will embrace you in his warm hellfire.” So it’s, like, a really cute afternoon for everyone.
It seems like Exorcist Priest gets the last word in before Mathilda appears to return. The priest and David do not hide their smugness, but they might if they had gotten a glimpse of Mathilda at the end of the episode, sitting on the front lawn in the middle of the night, watching a trash can go up in flames. So it seems that nobody wins, least of all Mathilda. Another creepy kid to add to Evil’s collection.
There is a more pressing matter, however: Those threats that Mathilda/whatever possessed her made toward Kristen? They weren’t just for show. That darkness that Leland believes is taking over Kristen, it seems to be growing.
The episode begins with Kristen in bed feeling all hot and horny, but things escalate throughout. After the first incident of Mathilda grabbing Kristen and telling her the fire jinn is going to jump to her, Kristen is driving home when, bathed in the glow of a red light (Evil loves a red moment) she sees that fire monster staring at her on the street. A few days later, Kristen decides to get all glammed up and head out to a bar in the middle of the night (it’s cool, she tells a confused Lynn that she’s in charge) where she proceeds to intensely flirt with a guy who wants to take her home. We’ve never seen this side of Kristen! It’s that excitement she was trying to hold back in her therapy session over doing a bad, bad thing, only this time she’s not holding back. You can see her really living for the thrill of it here. But then she sets her eyes on the exit sign and makes her getaway before taking things further.
And then she gets in her car and that fire monster is literally breathing down her neck. Kristen!!
The next day she fills Dr. Boggs in on her new “hallucinations” and tells him to prescribe her some meds. We need to follow Boggs home at some point because this man must be losing his shit after these sessions. Kristen ends up seeing the jinn one more time: Again, she’s about to go out to satiate her horndog craving (please note her red underwear and heels!), but after seeing the fire monster standing in her yard, she curls up in the fetal position on her bed, unable to shake it.
Here’s a fun development: Dr. Boggs’s sanity is being tested not only because of Kristen, but because of her mother! Yep, Sheryl is Up To Something, friends. She doesn’t have any more spectacular run-ins with Leland in this episode, but she is, um, hellbent on getting back in Kristen’s life and decides the best way to do that is to become a patient of Dr. Boggs, lie about who she is (she says her estranged daughter’s name is Jasmine), and get Boggs to give her advice on how to reconcile with her daughter based on other women he knows who might be in a similar situation.
Oh, Boggs is very helpful. He tells her to think about finding someone in their lives to act as an intermediary and bring them together. Sheryl interprets that to mean tracking down Lexis, her most possibly evil kin, at school and having them tell Kristen a story about how Lexis was sick and Sheryl was still listed as an emergency contact. Sheryl proceeds to make a tearful speech about how important their relationship is and that she’s so sorry about the Leland thing. Is even 3 percent of this sincere?
Sheryl makes a second emotional display in this episode: When Boggs figures out who she is and calls her out, the woman bursts into tears, gets down on her knees, and begs Boggs to not judge her. She needs his help, she pleads! He tells her to come in one more time and he’ll help her find another therapist. So honestly, what the hell is up with Sheryl?
• One element of Evil that’s really getting a deliciously slow burn (pun very intended) is the Lexis stuff. Aside from the Sheryl connection, we have the whole tea set situation running through this episode. Kristen sees that Mathilda has the same set as Lexis, goes home and immediately tosses it, but then it somehow ends up back on the foot of Lexis’s bed. Also it’s red, SO YOU KNOW IT’S BAD.
• If you ever need to explain Evil to someone, please just show them the scene of David explaining what’s going on to Sister Andrea: “something to do with the manipulating of embryonic implantations in a local fertility clinic in order to result in disturbed children.” Not only does it sum up things pretty nicely, it also perfectly demonstrates the tone of this show. I mean, Sister Andrea’s look in that moment really says it all.
• That same tension between Exorcist Priest and the sheikh was also felt between David and, surprisingly, Ben. He may not believe in Islam, but he’s protective over his family’s faith. His little demon girlfriend returns one night trying to exploit that division, telling him that his friends don’t take him seriously. It’s an interesting development!
• I know there are much bigger fish to fry on this show, but Exorcist Priest stating that he has authority because Brian, the “head of the household,” requested him made me want to punch a hole through a wall. Anyone else?
• Dr. Boggs microwaves a teddy bear cushion to sit on during sessions. Boggs must be protected at all costs.