La la la la, la la la la la la. Oh, sorry, for some reason I just can’t seem to get this one song out of my head. You know what I mean? Of course you do — you just watched Evil‘s fall finale, right? That song will haunt me forever and not just because it’s so catchy, but mostly because it caused several teenage girls to shove sharp objects into their ears. That’s the kind of tune that will stick with you.
The case of the week for Evil‘s Christmas-themed episode — you guys, Kristen (Katja Herbers), David (Mike Colter), and Ben (Aasif Mandvi) get each other presents because THEY ARE THE BEST OF FRIENDS I AM CRYING — has to do with four high school girls who just cannot get this song out of their heads. When the team arrives at the school, they find them singing it over and over and over again. They don’t know the words, they don’t know where they heard it, and they don’t know why they can’t stop. Kristen thinks it’s some sort of auditory form of OCD called “Stuck Song Syndrome.” Thanks to an assist from her oldest daughter, Lynn (Brooklyn Shuck), she discovers the song is from an online video called “Pudsy’s Christmas,” which means we’ve got ourselves a patented Robert and Michelle King animated short with a song about Santa Claus getting high written by Jonathan Coulton, who does the songs for the excellent shorts in The Good Fight. Just one of the many gifts Evil has bestowed upon us in 2019, I guess.
An earworm sounds like a believable conclusion to the problem… until the team returns to the school and learns that the song has spread to other girls. Kristen suggests it could be an episode of mass psychogenic illness, you know, like that time in 1962 when there was a laughing epidemic in Tanzania or, let me check my notes, the dancing plague of 1518 in which people died because they couldn’t stop dancing. You guys, these are real things. I cannot even begin to tell you about the internet rabbit hole I jumped down after this episode. People danced to death.
Back at the school cafeteria, Ben proposes another theory: The pesticides on the vegetables offered during lunch are messing with the students somehow. Kristen debunks it pretty fast since she caught her own daughters humming the song as well. And then, friends, all bets are off, as several girls around the cafeteria begin screaming while shoving scissors and pencils into their ears, trying to drown out the song stuck in their heads. The lunch period from hell — hey, maybe literally with this show.
Once things have calmed down, Kristen and Ben question the girls again. They’ve never heard of “Pudsy’s Christmas” but when Ben searches their browser history, he does find an awful lot of videos from an influencer named Malindaz (Taylor Lauderman). Bless Evil for taking on influencer culture. Don’t get me wrong, some of it is fine, but some of it is… well, it makes you want to stick a pencil in your ear.
Lo and behold, they discover that “Pudsy’s Christmas” is playing softly in the background of one of Malindaz’s latest videos titled “Malindaz’s Challenge,” which is a 90-some-minute long video that if you make it to the end, you’re supposed to say “Malindaz’s Challenge” three times. Only a few people have actually done it and they’ve all gone insane. Honestly guys, don’t let your kids on the internet, OK?
Ben, David, and Kristen all watch it separately, and nothing comes of it — although, it is entertaining to watch them each say “Malindaz’s Challenge” three times with a little hesitancy; they have seen some weird stuff in their line of work — but then something strange happens (because of course it does, have you met this show?). While Kristen is watching the video in bed with Andy (Patrick Brammall), their daughters can hear it from their room. But more than just that ridiculous song, all four of the girls start to freak out because they can also hear a creepy man’s voice speaking. Did anyone else think something was wrong with their volume? Because we can’t hear a thing. Then, in the middle of the night, Kristen and Andy wake up to screaming — Lila (Skylar Gray) is shoving a pencil compass into her ear, crying that she can’t get the man’s voice out of her head.
She’s fine in the end (our poor 4Ls have been through so much in just 10 episodes!), and it’s Ben the Magnificent who figures out what’s going on: There is a man’s voice talking in that video, but it is playing at a high-pitch frequency, 17,000 hertz — one that only kids 16 and under can hear. Yeah, guys, there are sounds that only kids can hear. BRB, headed down the rabbit hole again.
The voice is encouraging teens to kill themselves, and Lila tells Kristen that she also heard the man asking people to be a part of his army. The team finds Malindaz — she is as vapid as you’d expect from her videos — and threaten to go to the police if she doesn’t take the video down. She swears she didn’t know about the voice, someone else produced the video for her. And when she goes running to the person who helped her make the video, wouldn’t you know? That person is our old pal Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson). Leland helped Malindaz go from 2,000 followers to 2 million followers. You see that kids? You want more followers, you just sell your soul to devil. Anyway, his advice to his little minion is to put up another video apologizing, explaining that the ‘Challenge’ video is dangerous, and that she’ll be taking it down in a few hours. Obviously, this means that the video will be spread even more than before. And that’s exactly what Malindaz does.
Leland has been one busy demon this episode: He’s dealing with Malindaz, he has some other patient who is currently writhing around in some sort of bag which is hilariously never explained, and he’s making sure his plans for Sheryl (Christine Lahti) are moving along. Yes, that’s right, we finally get to see what kind of effect Leland’s had on Kristen’s mom. It is, uh, freaky, to put it mildly.
Sheryl — wearing RED no less — is the only one at Kristen’s when Lexis (Maddy Crocco) comes home crying, with a scraped knee. A girl at school was bullying her and pushed her down. They’re sitting on the swings as she confides in her grandmother and the heartwarming music signaling a heart-to-heart starts to play, and then Sheryl gives Lexis her “grandmotherly advice” — hit her in the face with a brick. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. She then shows Lexis how to hide a rock in her hand and hit her bully right in the nose with no one knowing. “You either make ’em your bitch, or they make you theirs.” Can you even imagine a grandma embroidering that on a pillow?
Of course little Lexis follows her grandma’s advice and when she gets in trouble, she explains who told her to fight her bully. When Kristen questions her mother, Sheryl denies the entire thing. She has no idea what Kristen or Lexis could be talking about. This is a true journey!! Sheryl then goes to see Lexis one more time to teach her about lying versus snitching. Everyone lies, and you should say whatever you have to in order to stay out of trouble, but you should never, ever snitch. Apparently, the entire way in which Sheryl dealt with the Lexis situation was thanks to some “advice” from Leland. I am very worried for Sheryl!
Alas, that worry with have to wait: We have a much more immediate problem to discuss. We learn, thanks to David going to church to confess his sins, that he did in fact sleep with Reneé. Not to be dramatic but, why we don’t get to witness even one hot makeout session between these two might be the biggest mystery of this show. David confesses to sleeping with his fiancée’s sister, but he stops short of admitting that this is a sin because he’s a priest-in-training. He cannot get the words out. Outside of the church, David takes in a lovely manger scene — presumably he’s super into Christmas, I don’t know, I just get a feeling based on how much he loves scarves — and while taking this in, a creepy dude watches him from the sidewalk and then seemingly disappears when David calls out to him.
The creepy factor continues to increase when David gets to his car and finds a little heart doodle drawn in the condensation of his car… BUT ON THE INSIDE. Back in his room, he finds a note on his pillow with that same heart that says “talk to me.” You guys, it is in Julia’s handwriting. David meets Reneé to see if she left it and she’s basically like “why in the hell would I SAVE a love note from my dead sister and then GIVE IT TO YOU, I’m trying to get you to give up the priesthood so we can hook up on the regular!” Anyway, Reneé didn’t leave the note.
But wait! It gets worse! David starts getting “wi-poke” messages, which is basically like Evil‘s version of AirDrop, of someone nearby wanting to send him photos — photos of him and Reneé getting hot and heavy in David’s room. David gets a panicked call from Reneé, who is getting sent those photos too. “David, what’s happening?” she asks in a truly perfect summary of this entire series.
Spooked, David ends up going back to the church to make a much more truthful confession about breaking his chastity vows. The priest seems to barely flinch before absolving him of his sins, which I guess puts David in a fantastic mood because he’s back out at the manger singing a little “Hark the Herald, Angels Sing.” And then that creepy dude jumps out of nowhere and stabs David right in the gut. David fights back, but is ultimately left there, lying on the ground. He turns up to the sky and sees… the three stars from his vision! Then, he turns over back toward the manger and comes face to face with the baby Jesus. Kristen is calling him but he can’t reach his phone, and he’s just lying there on the ground bleeding out. Truly, what a very Evil note to leave us hanging on until January. Happy Holidays!
Evil airs Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS.
Previously on Evil…
Evil Season 1, Episode 1 Recap: “Pilot” |Evil Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: “177 Minutes” |Evil Season 1, Episode 3 Recap: “3 Stars” |Evil Season 1, Episode 4 Recap: “Rose390” | Evil Season 1, Episode 5 Recap: “October 31” | Evil Season 1, Episode 6 Recap: “Let x = 9” | Evil Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: “Vatican III” | Evil Season 1, Episode 8 Recap: “2 Fathers” | Evil Season 1, Episode 9 Recap: “Exorcism Part 2”
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