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SYFY WIRE San Diego Comic-Con 2019

CBS' Evil series takes over SDCC and literally scares fans out of their seats

By Andrea Ayres
Photo of Mike Colter as David Acosta in CBS's Evil

The cast of CBS's Evil was joined onstage by Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice to give us all the scare-your-pants-off details at San Diego Comic-Con.

Evil unites some of genres favorite actors under one terrifying banner: discover the truth about the origins of evil. The series stars Mike Colter (Netflix's Luke Cage) and Katja Herbers (HBO's Westworld) as an unlikely duo who join forces to find out if the line between science and religion really exists.

Herbers stars as the skeptical forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard. Bouchard would like to believe there is a logical, rational explanation for why people behave in the way they do. Nevertheless, she teams up with a priest-in-training, David Dacosta (Colter). Did we mention Colter is also a contractor/carpenter? Hrmm. We can't help but draw parallels between Colter's sometimes vocation and the one of Jesus.

During the exclusive screening and panel, the audience was treated to the pilot episode of Evil. We won't be giving away any spoilers here, but we can tell you this: 

It is stunningly frightening.

The tension builds from the very first scene and it doesn't let go. The audience was totally silent as they watched Bouchard (Herbers) question a defendant named Orson LeRoux who is on trial for the murder of seven people. The show uses audio (or the lack thereof) to establish mood and given the response we witnessed, it works. During one scene in particular audience members physically jolted backward in their seat!

CBS shared a look at one of the creepies from the first episode via Twitter account which you can see below:

That's a big helping of nope served on a platter of we're never sleeping again.

Going off what we saw in this first look Evil is definitely going to deliver on its promise of being a psychological thriller, with an extra emphasis on the thriller. 

During the question and answer portion of the panel, the cast of Evil came out to uproarious applause.

The creators of the series, Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife) say the show has been greatly influenced by current events, though they did go into further detail about what events specifically they might be referring to. The current mood of the country was mentioned several times by panelists, it seems to be an important inflection point for the show. We suppose this makes sense when you're dealing with the origin of evil! 

One of the creepier characters of the show introduced in the pilot is an Incubus-figure named George. Herbers spoke about filming these scenes, which are based on night-terrors, "I had to go to this place of being absolutely terrified but I think it worked out really well."

We agree! 

Speaking about the different kinds of demons on the show and their names (like George) Robert King indicated he wanted the demons to be based on a kind of Americana. Despite these innocent-sounding names, King says they'll all look like they belong to a David Lynch (Twin Peaks) type town. 

Actor Michael Emerson says he doesn't see a lot of similarities between his character (Leland Townsend) and Ben Linus from Lost. He advised against expecting Townsend to undergo any kind of redemption arc. Emerson's character will appear in around 12-episodes this first season, according to the King's. The show's creators also say the show is about 50% serialized, so you'll probably want to keep that in mind, as there is a puzzle aspect to the series. 

Mike Colter, says Evil is trying to show two sides with very different views working together and listening to one another. Which he added isn't something we see a lot of in our culture today. Building off of this, actor Aasif Mandvi (Ben Shroff) talked about the good versus evil dynamic of the show and how it attempts to grapple with the human capacity for evil. This is a recurrent theme of the entire series which seems to be built on the question of what if the scariest part of evil is that which we do to one another and ourselves.

The panelists went on to describe what the word evil meant to them. For Herbers and Colter, their idea of evil is largely informed by people who do bad things to others for the sheer pleasure of it. Herbers added that she believes there is far too much evil in the world right now, citing racism as one such example.

Evil can't help but remind us of another supernatural thriller, The X-Files. There's definitely a Scully-Mulder dynamic between the series stars, two ideologically opposed forces joining together to uncover the truth behind a backlog of unexplained phenomena. Is it a demon or is it made of flesh and blood? Either way, the answer will probably scare the pants off of us.

Creators Rob and Michelle King also serve as executive producers for the show. Evil also co-stars Michael Emerson (Lost), Aasif Mandvi (A Series of Unfortunate Events), and Brooklyn Shuck (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). 

When the first trailer for Evil was released on May 12, it made us want to watch the entire series with the lights on. 

Here's what we mean:

Evil airs Thursdays this fall on CBS beginning on September 26 10/9c. Remember to bring a security blanket, teddy-bear, or good-luck charm--really anything to hold onto--you're going to need it. 

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.