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Those who like to be a bit creeped out when watching their favorite shows of a procedural nature got quite the treat when Evil premiered on CBS last fall. The show features a trio of investigators, Catholic priest-in-training David (Mike Colter), forensic psychologist Kristen (Katja Herbers), and technical expert Ben (Aasif Mandvi), who team up to look into cases of demonic possession and other things the Catholic church would like, in order to determine whether or not supernatural forces are really at work. Now, Mandvi has revealed why he thinks it's important for the drama to keep the true nature of its cases vague.
One of the things Evil did a remarkable job with during Season 1 is delivering all of its drama and mysterious cases, without usually spelling out for the viewer whether or not the crazy things we were seeing were real, imagined, supernatural or had basis in scientific fact. When I spoke with star Aasif Mandvi recently, I asked him why the show has to keep such secrets from the audience, and his answer will likely make a lot of sense to fans of the series, even ones who find not knowing the answers frustrating:
I don’t think that the agenda of the show is ever to come down on one side or the other. I think what makes the show fascinating is that constant questioning, and that’s what I think keeps the show engaging for the audience and interesting to keep writing for the writers. The minute you start coming down on one side or the other, then you’re done, you’ve sort of concluded what it is. And, it is the inherent questioning of it and the subverting of expectation that makes the show interesting. So, I think that is the DNA of the show.
Those who've spent any time at all watching Evil with all the lights on in their home while still being freaked out enough to see strange shadows, but who continue to return week after week (Fine. That's me, OK?) will completely understand what Aasif Mandvi means. While we're all for the occasional explanation based in science, the thing that keeps us coming back regularly is not knowing for sure what the hell is going on.
Evil has already presented us with a ton of such questions to ponder over the hiatus. Is the menacing little girl in the VR video game that Kristen's daughters like to play somehow sentient? Does the show's Big Bad, Leland, really have a horned, furry demon for a therapist? Are we really seeing demonic possessions and miracles, or is something else going on? Fans continued to tune in to see if we got answers, and also to see if we would at least get more clues that let us come to our own conclusions about the nature of the world that these characters inhabit.
As Aasif Mandvi said, it’s the subverting of the expectations that the audience has about what’s happening in all these cases (and, many, many more) which keeps us intrigued. Maybe Leland is just a dangerous and crafty psychopath or, maybe he’s really demonic (or he’s both), but either way he’s still fun to watch, just like Evil itself.