Here’s a spoiler-filled recap of “E Is for Elevator,” Season 2, Episode 4, of Paramount+’s Evil.
One of the limitations in writing a recap of a TV episode is that the recapper must use two-dimensional media to present a summary of the three-dimensional visual artwork. Now, usually, the written word is good enough to convey the facts and feelings of an episode, allowing the reader to experience at least part of what the viewer saw. But now and then, a visual or performance emerges that is so striking, so majestic, that it is almost impossible to put into words.
This is what it’s like to try to describe Michael Emerson’s performance as Leland Townsend, whose exorcism opens Evil’s fourth episode, “E Is for Elevator.” At one point, he was boiling like a mad dog. Next, she gave David one of the most memorable eyebrows in TV history.
Townsend has been delivering moments like this week after week (who could forget “yum yum”), so much fun for this recapper. David, on the other hand, is not happy about it. Worse, there is no end in sight, as this is only the first of several exorcisms for Leland that David must help.
While David deals with Leland, Kristen and Ben investigate the disappearance of Wyatt, a teenager who carved a pentagram on the floor of his bedroom and carved “EL Game 8-4-2-13-1” on his desk. With the help of Kristen’s daughters, they learn that it refers to the Elevator Game, a Japanese ritual in which pressing buttons on an elevator in a certain order takes the rider to hell. Failure to follow the rules of the game results in a person being haunted, and those who are haunted are ordered to carve a pentagram.
Kristen, Ben, and their daughter view security footage the last time Wyatt was seen, which shows him getting into an elevator and never getting out. Police believe he took the elevator to the roof, where there were no cameras, descended the stairs, and fled. But Kristen and Ben decide to cheer up the Elevator Game theory and give it a try. However, the building does not have a 13th floor, stopping them from completing the game.
As they leave, they run into one of Wyatt’s friends, who reveals that Wyatt’s girlfriend, Felicia, also disappeared while playing the Elevator Game. He gives Felicia’s audio recording in the elevator also struggling to figure out what to do about the lack of the 13th floor before she can be heard screaming as if she had fallen to her death.
Back at the church, David gives Leland a beaded rosary to prepare him for the next exorcism. Leland returned the favor by mocking David about the lack of representation of Blacks and his racist past. David was able to ignore it, but when he decided to talk about race and slavery for his first homily, he faced some resistance from his pastoral instructor for talking about “controversy after controversy.”
Ben calls on active and inactive Vanessa (Nicole Shalhoub) to help understand the Elevator Game, which takes him on a ghost tour of NYC. There they learn about Teke Teke, a 14-year-old girl who was cut in half by an elevator and now haunts the Wyatt building. The ghost’s name comes from the sound she makes with her fingernails as she drags her body across the floor, a sound Kristen happened to hear that same night at her house. However, it turns out that only Sheryl is watching something on her computer.
Kristen returns to the building to test the Elevator Game again, this time stopping between the 12th and 14th floors as a fix for the 13th-floor issue the team continues to face. As Kristen investigates, she hears the sound of teke teke and wails of monsters. Kristen was able to free herself just in time and gave Dr. Boggs calls, blaming the “hallucinations” on the recipe he gave her.
David spends his evenings with Kevin, a fellow black pastor in training. The two attend a soirée with some dissident Catholics, where David gets into a fight in defense of his faith and the Church. This caught the attention of a pastor from the Gospel Church, who invited David to stop by. “Come here and you’ll come home,” he said to David. “What the Catholic Church doesn’t do, we do.”
Ben decides to try the game himself and learns that Felicia and Wyatt pressed the buttons for the first and third floors, thus making the number 13. The elevator takes him to the basement, where he finds the decomposing bodies of the two teenagers. , who starved to death after the elevator doors closed, trapping them — and now Ben — below.
David, meanwhile, was permitted to deliver his full homily, but the crowd was less than expected. Whether the Church interfered or not is unclear, but there were Christians there, which mattered most to David. Also present was Leland, who was sitting in the back, happily eating his popcorn like he was returning to the theater after more than a year of quarantine.
Still trapped under the building with his cell phone battery dying, Ben begins typing the final will, writing tearful farewell messages to his family and friends. As if things weren’t going well enough, he is also visited by Abbey, his demon friend, who calls him out of his hypocrisy after he starts praying to Allah. “You’re all right now, mate,” Kristen says to a sobbing Ben. His words should be comforting. New episode streaming Sunday on Paramount+.