It’s nice when you figure out that something really was worth waiting for, isn’t it? We’ve been deprived of our Evil kicks for a few weeks now, but holy hell (pun always intended) does it return with a bang. Okay, well, it’s less an actual bang and more a silent mouthing of the letters WTF. Because guess what, gang: Our assessors are spending the entire episode at a silent monastery. A silent monastery! Almost the entire episode is done without dialogue! And on top of that delightfully weird conceit, there’s a whole host of other wild and/or terrifying, only-on-Evil things happening here: bugs exploding out of people, getting drunk with a nun in an oak barrel, a demon cabinet, mouth gags for bedtime, a trippy skeleton sequence, and truly the best use of subtitles I’ve ever seen.
As we saw in the previous episode, Bishop Marx is sends David, Kristen, and Ben to a silent monastery upstate to investigate a possible miracle. A monk there, Father Thomas, died a year ago, but after humming was heard coming from his tomb, they opened his casket to find zero evidence of body decay. The team needs to test for incorruptibility and since the church would like to submit Father Thomas for sainthood, they need to find evidence of a second miracle as well.
The silent thing is no joke: No word has been uttered within the walls of the monastery in 130 years. Upon their arrival, David, Kristen, and Ben are stripped of their cell phones — okay, Ben gets to keep his, but the IT Monk promptly removes his SIM card — and are handed those Magic Slate boards from your childhood as a means of communicating. It’s something that Evil does so well: Adding tiny details that pay off in a big way by adding a level of absurdism to the proceedings (see also: Kristen wearing a “boy, do I hate being right all the time” sleep shirt while exorcisms and bloody bug-from-human expulsions are taking place).
Anyway, there is another thing this monastery takes very seriously: the patriarchy! When they see that Kristen is joining them as they examine Father Thomas’s body, several monks hold things up until she leaves. Kristen is not having this and expresses those feelings by rolling her eyes and shoving her chest in the general direction of random monks.
Kristen getting pushed out ends up for the best, though, because it sends her on her own separate adventure: She befriends a young nun named Fenna, and the two women proceed to toss back whiskey and attempt to soak the monastery’s oak barrels with the stuff to prep them for wine production. The lack of dialogue and background music in these scenes only heightens the physical comedy, and honestly, it’s wild to think that these sight gags exist in the same episode with one of the grossest sequences of the series to date. “S Is for Silence” is a ride, is what I’m saying.
The Kristen-Fenna good times don’t last for too long — a shame since Fenna seems immediately smitten with Kristen (can you blame her?). As it turns out, Fenna is actually that second miracle related to Father Thomas that the assessors need to investigate. After wearing Father Thomas’s crucifix, she began to exhibit signs of stigmata (for those NOT given nightmares about the idea of stigmata in Catholic school, this is when the five wounds Jesus Christ suffered during his crucifixion suddenly appear on a person, cool right?). Almost immediately, Kristen calls bullshit.
The team makes the trek out into the middle of a field outside of the monastery walls so they can actually have a conversation — those Magic Slate boards don’t cut when you have to talk about the wounds of Jesus Christ and a demon inside a cabinet, you know? Kristen shows the guys that after just one trip with Fenna’s wheelbarrow full of bottles, which is a daily chore for the nun, she already has marks on her hands that look like the beginning of what Fenna showed everyone on her own hands. And Ben thinks that Father Thomas’s “incorruptibility” could be explained by something in the clay surrounding the crypt naturally preserving the body. So while Kristen and Ben go about collecting more evidence to support their theories, David’s going to go look into this whole demon-in-a-cabinet thing.
Yes, folks, the whole reason this monastery has taken a vow of silence is that it was built around this terrifying-looking cabinet covered in carvings of the devil and, I guess, dripping some weird goo? The legend is that there’s a demon inside this cabinet, and if anyone utters one word in the monastery, it will release the demon, which, obviously, wants to destroy the world. The monks guard this cabinet — Father Thomas was living in the same room as it before his death, and it’s where they bring his body to await the decay results. You know what? Maybe Kristen should be happy these monks don’t want her around them because this is some truly coo-coo crazy stuff.
So what’s David’s deal in this episode? Not surprisingly, he’s the only one really defending what the monks are doing here. He wants his colleagues to take this vow seriously. As he studies the cabinet, he’s interrupted by his guide monk, Winston. Winston hands David one of Father Thomas’s crucifixes to keep and tells David he needs to quiet his mind. To do this, David heads to prayers with the monks. This scene is a delight: David is trying his hardest to quiet his mind and have a conversation with God, but thanks to subtitles, we get to see what he’s actually thinking. Mostly, he’s thinking about how hard it is not to think. He’s thinking about how that stain on the pew in front of him looks like a monk probably vomited there. He’s thinking, “all I have to do is not think about a monk throwing up for five minutes.” And then there’s just a long scrolling caption of fucks and fuckity-fucks and whoops, “Kristen” pops up in there. And once he’s imagining red lips being licked, he gives up for the day. Later, we find out this failure is even more frustrating for David than he initially lets on: Quieting your mind and what the monks here are doing is, for David, all about being at peace. It’s why this life, while insane to most people, is admittedly tempting for David. As has become more apparent throughout the series, David is not a man at peace.
He’s ESPECIALLY not at peace when he returns to his room and sees that someone has written “I WANT YOU” on his Magic Slate board, and it seems like the number one suspect is Kristen. A lot of the Kristen/David sexual tension has been downplayed this season but not here, not in this monastery, a real bastion for horniness. David can’t stop thinking about it, even at dinner, but eventually is distracted by some new information: both Ben and Kristen’s investigations might be disproving their theories. Ben goes into the crypt and finds it possibly haunted by something spooky that chases him out of there, maybe?! And when Kristen spends more time with Fenna, she learns that the marks aren’t only on her hands — she has them on her feet and a gash on her side. She is bearing all five stigmata marks. I don’t know why any of them erase ‘WTF’ from their Magic Slates because it is always appropriate. Seriously, what is happening in this place?
Then night falls. Kristen is taken to her room which is just floor to ceiling creepy statues, and instead of turn-down service, she’s got a nice little gag sitting on her bed to wea,r so she doesn’t scream out any words during the night. A real five-star set up here, folks. Kristen’s trying her hardest to take this all seriously, but neither the room nor the misogyny really helps, and so when she makes eye contact with a particularly creepy skeleton statue as she tries to sleep, she doesn’t hesitate to say “Boo!” in its general direction. Well, now she’s done it. The cabinet in Father Thomas’s room flies open and something seems to be let out.
Not long after, the monks are in a tizzy. This whole sequence is so wild. Monks are running all over the place while some are on the floor with their gags in writhing in pain with strange lesions all over their bodies (that sort of look like one of our sigils, David points out), while other monks are all trying to write to each other on their Magic Slates in the dark. Luckily for them, they have an exorcist on hand. Guess who it is, friends. Father Mulvehill! This is where he’s been on “sabbatical” after his gambling issue. He tends to Fenna, who seems to have the worst of it. She’s screaming in pain, she has a lesion on her stomach, and as Mulvehill uses his blessed ointment on it, she screams out even more and blood comes pouring out of her mouth.
And then a whole bunch of flies bust out of her stomach. It is so, so fucked up, you guys.
Lest you think this is really the work of the devil, Ben has some answers: Thanks to a little help from IT Monk, Ben’s able to get on a computer and find pictures of the same lesions showing up on all the monks. It’s the botfly, friends. The botfly, prevalent in upstate New York, buries its larvae in human flesh where it can grow. By covering the lesions with ointment, they blocked any air holes, and so the flies have no choice but to erupt from the body. Now we are all that monk who threw up in the chapel.
There’s evidence of botflies in Father Thomas and his tomb, which would explain the humming and the theory is that when he was brought back up to his room, he brought the flies with him. There’s evidence they were in the cabinet in his room as well. And once Father Thomas’s body spent a few days back in his room it began decomposing, perhaps lending credence to Ben’s theory about natural preservation. Still, the botflies don’t exactly explain all of Fenna’s stigmata wounds. Regardless, after a night of helping Mulvehill get botflies to explode out of monks’ bodies, the team is heading home. Fenna is distraught at saying good-bye to Kristen, who comforted her all night as she recovered and even blessed her with a sign of the cross (thoughts on this, Evil fans?). But Fenna is happy — giddy, really — to find that Kristen has left behind her “boy do I hate being right all the time” T-shirt for the nun to keep. These Evil excursions out of town — ghost farms, silent monasteries — are always a real time, aren’t they?
• Both David and Ben give perfect facial reactions upon realizing how drunk Kristen is when they find her and Fenna in the winery. Again, truly wild how much comedy is in this episode.
• The whole dinner scene is full of great moments: from Kristen slurping her wine, to her being forced out of her seat to sit with the nuns, fantasizing about sex with David when she catches him looking her over, just so much going on in this episode.
• The mystery of the “I want you” message on David’s board is solved, too: It was Winston, who wants David to join the monastery. David replies that God needs him to do his work “out there.”
• Katja Herbers screaming “THIS PLACE IS SO FUCKING ANTI-WOMEN” is some real food for the soul.
• A skeleton coming to life and picking its teeth with its scythe? Okay, Evil!