Evil descended on New York Comic Con on Thursday. The cast and producers of CBS' new drama, which mixes religion and science, took the stage following a screening of the second episode, "177 Minutes," which referred to the amount of time a young woman was dead before coming back to life in an apparent miracle.
The show premiered last week with a haunting pilot that introduced a new spin on the mismatched-partners-in-crime-fighting paradigm. Katja Herbers plays a Kristen Bouchard, a forensic psychologist who somewhat skeptically helps priest-in-training David Acosta (Luke Cage star Mike Colter) get to the bottom of alleged paranormal mysteries for the Catholic church.
The cast also includes Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir, David's tech-expert associate and, fittingly in this religious-themed drama, a carpenter. Michael Emerson plays occult fanatic Leland Townsend, who encourages others to commit evil acts and has a knack for getting under the skin of both Kristen and David. It's Emerson's creepiest role since playing Others leader Ben Linus on Lost.
The sharply written show was created by Michelle and Robert King, the team behind the critically adored legal shows The Good Wife and The Good Fight. "We always wanted to do something where science was weirdest and religion was weird, too, and there might be a disagreement," Robert King said. "You wouldn't know where the scares were, in the science or the religion."
And the debate is remarkably civil. "It seemed like an opportunity, if you're going to show religion and science, or any two very different points of view," Michelle King said, "to show characters that have different ideas but are actually talking to each other and listening to each other."
That said, there's no ambiguity where Emerson's character stands. "It's great to be an unequivocal villain," he said. "There is no time where you wonder about him, you just full-on know. We've got that out of the way, and now we can get on with the fun. This is a great villain role because he's passing very well among humans and he seems to enjoy his missions so much."
Though the show feels very much like a network procedural series, the Kings have said that Evil won't follow an "exorcism of the week" format. They plan to show how the science vs. religion debate intersects across all aspects of life. With one exception, at least for now. "We were hopefully going to explore more politics, how evil creeps into politics," Robert King said. But "if we do it, we'll save it for next year."
Evil airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m./9c on CBS.
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