I’d ask where to begin, but I think we all know what needs to be addressed first, and that is the hairy, horned, five-eyed demon beast sweating it out on the elliptical.
So, Sheryl’s workplace storyline just kicked up a notch or seven. To ensure Leland isn’t taking all the credit for her cryptocurrency successes, Sheryl takes matters into her own hands. She’s hired her own assistant, who seems alarmingly good at her job, and bribes her way in to see the mysterious Manager and ask him for a promotion. Armed with a tiny pink box of shortbread cookies to butter up her boss (I’m sorry, does Sheryl Luria watch Ted Lasso??!), she comes face-to-face with the Manager, the aforementioned horned beast on the elliptical (he’s got to get his 20 minutes in, guys). Sheryl is beside herself with shock. Also, with nausea. The Manager is disgusting. Sweaty and smelly, and did I already mention the five eyes thing?
After her initial meeting, Sheryl asks a co-worker what he thinks the Manager looks like. His response? “The guy from The Good Place.” Now aside from this being one of the best references imaginable (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen The Good Place, but Ted Danson plays a demon wearing a human suit), it also signals that something is going on with Sheryl. Is she having a psychotic break, or is she simply one of the few people who can see demons in their true form? This is the question she asks Leland after her second meeting with The Manager, in which, after a foul back scratch, she earns that promotion to Head of Misinformation. He’s not pleased that she went around him, but as soon as he sees the look on Sheryl’s face — she is holding back tears — he knows what she’s just experienced. He welcomes her to the club and offers both “congratulations and regrets.” Has Sheryl ever seemed so unraveled as she does here? Has she ever seemed unraveled at all? Up to this point, all of this breaking bad and performing evil acts has been more or less a fun game for Sheryl, and now suddenly, she’s confronted with how real it is and how deep she’s in it all. When you have daily standing meetings with the HBIC (Horned Beast In Charge, obviously), you are in it. It’ll be interesting to see what her next move is.
David is also confronted with some truths that are giving him some pause. He’s called to the emergency triage site of a horrific building collapse in Bushwick. Over 100 people die, but David speaks with the few survivors and learns that all four of them say they saw a woman in a bright white dress holding a lamb, and she led them safely out of the building. There are two major things this case of the week is being used for. First, to remind us that Leland Townsend is not done messing around with David. He’s been focused on eliminating Sister Andrea, but with this building collapse, he finds he can torment both of the people at the top of his list.
One of the survivors, a woman named Jessica, tells the same exact story about the woman with the lamb as the rest do, but she adds one very peculiar part: She says that she also received a phone call ahead of the collapse, in which a woman warned her to “get out now” and then when they send Jessica to do some hypnotherapy with Dr. Boggs to see if they can illuminate any of her memories of the incident, she tells them the woman also told her to “tell David […] don’t trust your sister.” The intended effect is to make David question his work and friendship with Sister Andrea, who he is currently defending in her ecclesiastical tribunal. But it doesn’t take long for Ben and Kristen to figure out that not only does Jessica’s story about being in the building not hold up, but that she used to work for a psychiatrist … named Leland Townsend. When the three assessors confront Jessica with this information, she goes real evil on their asses and tells them that the fact that people are angrier and meaner and prone to more violence means that “your team is losing.” “That doom you feel? It’s justified,” she adds. And I know she’s looking at Kristen, Ben, and David, but the brilliant way it’s shot (Matthew Kregor directed this episode) means that her sightline has her looking directly into the camera when she says this. It is, uh, unsettling?
Aside from reminding us that Leland is up to his old antics, this case also allows Evil to dive back into some discussions about the racism prevalent within the Catholic Church. At first, the Monsignor and the Vatican are pretty hype about this lady with the lamb because they’ve been looking for a second miracle to attach to a dead Sicilian nun, known as “Sister of the Lambs,” who is in the process of beatification. The Catholic Church loves turning people into saints, so this could be a big win. But then one of the survivors describes this angel as a Black woman, and immediately the mood shifts. The Monsignor gets so uncomfortable even talking about race but also makes it obvious that the Vatican is no longer interested in investigating this miracle. He wonders — aloud, mind you — if the survivor, who is also a Black woman, was simply trying to “make a political statement” and is making it up. David, Kristen, and Ben cannot hide their disgust at any of it. “Why is the church so afraid of a Black angel?” David finally asks before the Monsignor moves on to their next assignment.
It’s all par for the course, really. As David explains, “Angels and saints are thought of as white because Renaissance iconography has been force-fed to us for centuries.” Ben’s response is the best: “Oh, you mean the people in power wanted God to look exactly like them? I’m shocked.” But David’s not lying — and the discussion gets him thinking about his visions. Suddenly he realizes that all of the angels he’s been seeing are white, too. But that night, when he goes to sleep, he has another vision of the angel — only this time she’s Black. He spirals: If his visions are all influenced by religious art, then they aren’t visions from God, they’re just his subconscious. When he tells Sister Andrea that he’s now questioning everything, she dismisses him, telling him that he’s making a religious issue into a political one. “Don’t talk to me that way too, Sister,” he tells her, obviously hurt.
All of this gives David an idea: He can use the church’s obvious racism against them in order to help Sister Andrea win her case. He’s been doing a great job during the tribunal, repeatedly exposing the hypocrisy and misogyny at play here, but it’s clear that none of it matters and they are going to force Sister Andrea to retire. David stands up and admits that he sees demons, too. In fact, everything that Sister Andrea has seen, he’s seen — including the demon with the Cardinal. So, if they are going to force Sister Andrea to resign for that “blasphemy,” then they’ll have to force David to resign, too. But do they want to do that? Force one of the three Black priests ordained by the Catholic Church this year? All the priests in the room look as uncomfortable as the Monsignor did back in his office. Of course, they aren’t going to do that. David played them perfectly.
Back in her room, after making sure David promises to go to confession since he just lied his ass off, Sister Andrea not only thanks him for his help but apologizes, too. “I don’t see the world the way you do, and it’s wrong to think there’s only one way.” She’s sorry for being so flippant with his racial concerns. David accepts this apology, but he’s still doubting his visions. “Your doubt makes your faith stronger,” she says, trying to comfort him. This unlikely friendship brings me joy. You know what doesn’t bring me joy? The amount of turmoil David is about to go through as he tries to figure out what he believes to be true or not. Also, Sister Andrea still has George, the booping demon, hanging out in her room. Okay fine, that brings me a little joy.
• During the tribunal, David tries to discredit Dr. Boggs by forcing him to talk about how he saw a demon, but Sister Andrea won’t have it. She makes David stop that line of questioning. “I don’t want to hurt him with what he saw.” Is this the beginning of another beautiful friendship?
• The Bouchard girls are on edge, unbeknownst to them, it’s mostly thanks to all the misinformation their own grandmother has been helping spread online about the building collapse. After they wake up one night screaming — Lynn had a nightmare about their dad dying — Kristen dons her leather jacket and makes them all go outside and scream at the train. “You are stronger than the world. You are stronger than anything that can threaten you,” she tells them.
• Kristen hears a voice while she’s sleeping telling her to “watch out,” and according to her mother, she had similar nightmares as a kid. She started having them when Sheryl and Kristen’s dad were getting divorced, so Sheryl wonders if this has anything to do with Andy. “You’re better off without him,” Sheryl tells her daughter. Man, she really hates Andy, huh?
• Speaking of Andy, that static-filled phone call Kristen and the girls have with him offered zero comfort as to his well-being at all. Andy has to be in danger, right?