‘Evil’ Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: The Demon of Algorithms


The demon of algorithms

Season 3

Episode 6

Editor’s Note

5 stars

Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/Paramount+

“It’s official,” Ben said, “everyone on the internet is possessed.” If that line, and its perfect delivery by Aasif Mandvi, made you want to both laugh because it’s hilarious from a show about demonic forces, but also cry because it’s so true, you are not alone ! Although Bad has taken the internet in various ways before (see: Malindaz, the influencer gift that keeps giving), here it’s off to the jugular on social media, and more specifically, TikTok. Sorry, VidTap, which is apparently “the new TikTok” in the Bad universe (it’s much cheaper that way). This is the best episode of the season.

Ben comes to this astute conclusion thanks to the last case of the evaluators. They’re called in to investigate the possible demonic possession of a teenage girl named Candice – she’s eating glass, speaking in tongues, writhing in a white nightgown, you know, usual possession stuff – only to find that she is logging all her incidents and putting them on her VidTap account. Apparently, as reviewers find out, PossessionTok is so hot right now. They find a whole bunch of people on VidTap who claim, or to some extent believe, that they are really possessed. This all goes back to videos from someone named Great Heller, a magician turned influencer, who honestly has such a strong following. While the Candice case is pretty open and closed, Bad has bigger plans for this scenario.

Instead of delving deeper into the Great Heller deal – please do an episode about magicians, I beg you – the episode starts exploring how easy it is to get addicted to apps of social media and how quickly these apps can become insidious entities in our lives. Kristen, David and Ben are all very critical thinkers, but even they are no match for VidTap’s algorithm. Each of them is carried away in the app: Ben makes a video debunking the Great Heller and telling people not to trust an asshole and ends up getting involved in various fights via video with other users who think that Ben is the asshole; Kristen dives into #moms, which starts out with good intentions (“the best margarita is a quick margarita!”) but escalates into videos about moms who don’t trust their kids and advice on whether your husband wants you. deceived ; David starts watching videos of other priests, many of whom are alone and facing sexual temptation, which leads him directly to a visit from our old friend Demon Kristen – her tongue is all in one piece, but she’s wearing schoolgirl knee-highs, in case you want to know what she’s been up to these days. Needless to say, the app is relentless and addictive. They cannot help themselves.

Ben’s time on the app leads them to a woman named Marie, who worries that something is tormenting or trying to possess her two young sons. Her videos of their beds moving on their own at night, doors opening, and at one point her eldest son Brandon putting his little brother in the dryer in the middle of the night are chilling and her cry for help seems genuine, so the team pays him a visit. She seems to be out of breath and the two boys are truly terrified of their own home. Since all the strange happenings happen around the same time at night, the team tells Marie that they’ll be back at 1 a.m. to check things out. That’s when our evaluators should have said some bullshit to Marie: it’s quick, but as soon as they talk about coming back, her expression turns to… excitement? There is definitely something weird going on with Marie.

And wouldn’t you know, just as Kristen, David and Ben are about to return, Marie starts streaming live on VidTap – Brandon has claw marks on his back, they’re all screaming, something terrible is happening. The three assessors rush inside to help. Then Mary insists that she didn’t activate the app – the app itself must be evil; it turned on to broadcast live what was happening. And then she starts bleeding scratches on her stomach. Something is wrong, and Ben suggests they talk to a friend of his from the science club who works for VidTap. Katie explains that it’s impossible for the app to turn on by itself. It’s impossible. As reviewers press her about their experiences with VidTap, she’s very clear: there’s nothing supernatural here; that’s the whole algorithm. If they hesitate even for a moment in front of a video, the algorithm begins to understand what interests them, even if they do not want to admit it to themselves. It’s about keeping a person on the app, engaged… hooked. So, supernatural, no, but evil? It sure is like that.

The visit with Katie isn’t all bad news: she tells Ben that, yeah, duh, they know everything about their users – what, like that’s hard? — and that it’s Marie who’s really up to something, not the application. She edited her videos in the app, so Katie has access to the raw videos before those edits and she sends them to Ben (Katie loves “Benny the Boy Genius”, everyone knows that). The videos confirm it: it is Marie who does all this to her sons, right down to the scratches on Brandon’s back. When the team confronts her, she denies it. She claims she must be possessed to be able to do this to her children – and she runs straight to her phone to start recording before she starts writhing and screaming like there’s a demon inside her at that exact moment . She grabs a pair of scissors and lunges at Ben, David, and Kristen before they hold her down and call the police. And you thought your social media addiction was bad.

Marie is not the only one to play with the video in this episode. Babes: I held off on a major episode reveal, and it killed me, but it’s so good it deserved to be expanded upon. For those of us who were worried about Andy’s safety, uh, turns out we were right.

After one of Kristen’s late-night VidTap scrolls, she gets it into her head that her marriage is in trouble and she quickly hops on the computer for a quick chat with Andy. So far, Kristen’s video chats with her husband in Nepal have been less than satisfactory. The connection is terrible and he rarely has time to stay long. This call, however, seems stranger than usual. His responses to her, especially when she wishes him a happy birthday, don’t seem… not human. He seems robotic, almost, or like he’s following a script he can’t deviate from. When you think of all the other conversations we’ve come across, they all seem eerily similar.

And that’s because the video is a big fake that Leland is making from his apartment.

Andy is not in Nepal with Edward. Andy is held hostage in Leland’s closet. He is paralyzed but can still see and hear everything around him. That, of course, means he knows Sheryl is 100% in on it. There she is, sitting next to Andy, giving him a manicure and informing him that in a few months they will tell Kristen that he died in Nepal but Edward will still give Kristen the promised money. “You’re more useful to them when you’re gone than at home,” she told him happily. It’s dirty and manic – even for Sheryl.

• Leland may have the upper hand over Andy, but Andy’s daughters really have Leland’s number, don’t they? After the Archdiocese decides that Leland didn’t do anything wrong by visiting Lexis at school (of course he was), the girls take matters into their own hands. They put together a video of all the creepy things he’s done on Bumblebee Valley and, as avatars, called him a pedophile, noting his name and that his IP address goes back to St. Joseph. Monsignor at last—at last! — dismisses Leland. Leland not only threatens Monsignor but also swears to orphan the Bouchard girls. So it’s not great.

• I love that we get two perspectives on David’s temptation here: one, we look at his interaction with Demon Kristen, who he plays pretty cool, all things considered. She prompts him a bit to work for Victor and the Entity, noting that she knows David is bothered that several of the things Victor has told him don’t add up. Most of the time, though, David knows how to handle Demon Kristen at this point. Yet, from Sister Andrea’s perspective, he may not have as much of a hold as he thinks: she enters to find David asleep on the floor with a giant insect demon crouched over him, sucking in something. thing from his brain like a bee taking pollen from a flower. “You let something into your life,” she told him fearfully. He pushes her away – it’s worrying.

• While we get photos of David, Kristen, and Ben all resisting VidTap’s lure in the end, we never see them actually removing the app from their phones. Are there any other social media issues ahead of us? I would bet so, at least in some form.

• Alright, but can we get a spin-off that’s just demystifying popular TikTok trends?

• I’m sorry, Monsignor actually thought Kristen’s daughter’s name was “Luxanne?”

• When Monsignor tells Kristen that Leland’s visits turned out to be harmless, he mentions that Leland was supposedly meeting a teacher named Christine Rutherford. It seems weird that we have a name and don’t meet her, so be on the lookout.

• “He thinks I’m a heavy drinking mom.” “Maybe you’re a heavy-drinking mom.” I can’t stress enough how precious Kristen and Ben’s friendship is to me.

Sharon D. Cole