“B Is for Brain” is such a genuinely unhinged episode of Evil (although I’m 100 percent sure this show can get wilder); where does one even begin? The animal-mask sex? That bag of dicks of a dude getting slammed in the head with a bag of frozen fries by a forensic psychologist at the grocery store? That image of Leland eating David’s severed arm? It’s almost too much to handle, but also the perfect amount.
How about we just start at the beginning? David, Kristen, and Ben have been sent to Cornell University to look into a new piece of brain-mapping tech they’re developing nicknamed the God Helmet. It stimulates parts of the brain and has been causing spiritual visions in a large number of its participants — and 10 percent have since converted to Christianity. The Vatican wants to know if this is legit, and they should be looking into it more or if it’s a hoax. As Kristen terrifyingly notes, why would the Vatican be interested in this at all unless perhaps to use it as a conversion tool? David brushes that theory off, but I would totally pay money to continue that episode of Father vs. Doctor hosted by Ben Shakir.
When the team meets with the participants who’ve had these spiritual visions, their stories are really compelling. One woman even ran into the Who’s Keith Moon, who told her that he did not run over his chauffeur, so that’s fun. It’s all much more than they expected to hear. And speaking of expectations, Bishop Marx conveniently forgot to inform them that they’d all be testing the God Helmet for themselves. You know, for research purposes.
Ben has no problem volunteering to go first. So much of Ben’s arc this season has been him confronting his atheism, mostly in regards to how it affected his relationship with his family — especially his late mother. So, it makes sense that once he straps the helmet on and we watch as he begins sobbing, it’s because in his mind, he’s talking to his mom. She takes him on a walk through his childhood home in India, and they bicker about his choice to be a scientist and how he rejected Allah, all in a way that seems very familiar. This is how they interacted while she was alive. That perfectly timed “tsk” from both of them is such a nice detail.
And then a ghost comes after Ben, he screams, and they let him out of the chair. “I couldn’t get away,” he says over and over.
And this is the moment when the Cornell scientist informs them that while some people have moving, spiritual experiences, others have experienced “counter-positive” reactions. That’s a really nice way of saying that they’re experiencing nightmarish things like being dragged by an animal in the dark and covered in tar and seeing a winged beast covered in humans who are stuck to it and screaming. Or, as David puts it, they see hell. Just, like, would’ve been cool to know that was a possibility before these people put on the helmet.
And yet, that doesn’t deter Kristen from trying it out next. It’s not surprising, really, since (1) Kristen doesn’t believe in hell anyway, and (2) lately she’s seemed up for anything. Like, really up for anything. And in case you’ve forgotten about Kristen’s increasingly alarming behavior — the trolling for dummies at the bar, the murdering, etc. — “B Is for Brain” reminds you in some big ways.
Guess what? Andy’s home! Andy almost immediately notices that his wife is acting differently. What gives it away? Well, maybe the fact that when he asks if they can have sex, she immediately pulls out gags and animal masks. Or later, when they’re at the grocery store and a real asshole cuts in front of them and gives her lip about it, she promptly walks over to the frozen food section, grabs a bag of fries, and assaults the guy. Also, there are those murder maps she’s making of people’s homes when they piss her off. And who can forget her new little habit of burning herself with the crucifix on her rosary because she loves the pain?
Andy seems to think that she just needs to quit her job, and they’ll sell the business so he can get a nine-to-five, and that’ll fix whatever she’s going through. We know better. Something is building within Kristen, and when it boils over, it’s going to be bad.
One thing that seems poised to push her over the edge is, of course, the guilt she keeps denying she feels for killing Orson. We saw her breakdown when Mira wouldn’t let her confess to the murder, and here, when she puts the God Helmet on, her vision is overwhelmed by this guilt. Kristen’s vision is of David having a vision — yup, it’s a vision within a vision — of her murdering Orson LeRoux. This is the first time we’ve seen this whole murder play out, and it is brutal. Once Vision David pulls off the helmet, the story continues to play out: Kristen is distressed by how detailed it is, so she runs off for an emergency session with Boggs, who tells her that maybe she should confess to David, someone she sees as a moral authority, and it will help her move past all of her psychosomatic symptoms she’s been dealing with. And then she runs off to see David only to find Leland in David’s room where he is snacking on the delicious treat that is David Acosta’s arm, as David screams out in pain. It’s all so fucked, guys.
When Kristen comes out of this vision, she then goes to see Boggs for a real therapy session because, again, and I’m not mincing words, that was so, so fucked. Boggs finds it interesting that her entire vision would be about David when her husband just came home, and honestly, there is so much happening in this episode that we’re going to have to tuck that nugget of a therapy session away for later, whenever Kristen decides whether or not she’s going to attempt to stop this priest-in-training to drop the in-training part.
Let’s talk about David. When he finally puts the helmet on, he sees nothing. The one guy we know is a true believer and actually has had visions in the past, sees darkness. And not the hellish kind of darkness, just regular darkness. Unfortunately for David, putting on that helmet was a terrible idea all around.
Later, he confesses to Sister Andrea that since putting the helmet on, he hasn’t been able to have any kind of vision despite trying over and over. Sister Andrea is concerned but not surprised: The tech most likely “rewired” his brain, and everything he built up regarding his conversations with God has been lost. He needs to start his practice and training over again. She issues a grave warning: “Mr. Townsend is coming after us, and we need your abilities to protect ourselves.”
Why is Sister Andrea so concerned with Leland all of a sudden? Well, Leland figured out her little ammonia-as-holy-water trick from his last exorcism and arrives at the rectory looking to pay back the favor. What ensues is one of the best scenes of the entire series. From Leland bringing in dirt to dump on the floor Sister Andrea is cleaning to the surprised-and-impressed look on Leland’s face when he tells Sister Andrea to hold out her hand and she pulls out a knife; this back-and-forth is such a gift. Leland is so impressed with Sister Andrea that now he wants to try and bring her over to his side. “Your ass is mine,” he tells her when she refuses. “You know where to find me,” she responds unflinchingly. Don’t you want to be Sister Andrea when you grow up?
Regardless of how well she stands her ground in front of Leland, she is legitimately worried about what he can do. So yes, David needs to prepare. And fast.
• Every time Peter Scolari speaks in an Italian accent, an angel gets its wings. Or, like, their beady red eyes get brighter. This is Evil, after all.
• There’s a lot of weird shit happening in and around Lynn’s house, but will that child ever truly recover from seeing her mom in a slinky robe and tiger mask late at night?
• Obviously, Kristen is displaying a whole host of fairly disturbing behaviors, but the one moment I really can’t shake is her having to rehearse greeting her husband with a smile in the mirror.
• Thoroughly confused and just a teensy bit scared, Andy goes to Sheryl in an attempt to figure out what’s going on with Kristen. While their back-and-forth is as delightfully contentious as always, what we really need to focus on is the fact that Sheryl is still super into her Eddie doll. During her argument with Andy, in which she squarely blames him for Kristen being overwhelmed, she stops and says to Eddie, “No, it’s not right.” I both need to know and never want to find out what is up with Eddie.
• “I think the church is too hard on its nuns. I think they’re sexy.”