Kristen Bouchard on 'Evil' Is TV's Best Antihero

Is Kristen now actually demonic? Hard to say, but Katja Herbers is giving an incredible performance.

katja herbers in evil
Paramount+
Paramount+

When the series Evil began airing in 2019 on CBS, before it jumped to Paramount+, its protagonist Kristen Bouchard, played by Katja Herbers, was a familiar archetype. Kristen, a forensic psychologist, was the skeptic among her group of demon investigators. Her professional partner David (Mike Colter), a priest, was the "believer." But as the show begins its third season, Kristen has transformed into something else completely. Kristen is the best antihero on television, somewhere between audience surrogate and actual demon, impossible to track and thrilling to watch.

The new episodes pick up right where the last one left off: With Kristen (married) and David (married to God) kissing, just after she confessed to the murder of Orson LeRoux, the serial killer who had been stalking her family. In the Season 3 premiere, we replay these moments, and then the showrunners Robert and Michelle King complicate matters further. Kristen and David start to undress, but he stops when he notices the cross marks all over her body. They pull away from one another, and she leaves. But then she comes back. She whispers: "We're doing this. We won't talk about it. We won't mention it. Ever." They have sex. Or do they?

Later in the episode, when Kristen returns to him, she's sporting a cleft lizard tongue. She has either transformed into a literal demon, or is a figment of David's imagination, or there is an evil entity posing as Kristen. The Kings, at least not yet, are not going to let on exactly what is going on—just as they have with the demonic fertility clinic Kristen was investigating last season or the fucked-up blood ritual Kristen's mom, Cheryl (Christine Lahti), has gotten herself into—and that is part of the fun. Kristen tells David she has no memory of their sexual encounters, but there's a cheeky way that the show implies she may know more than she's telling. After the second time Kristen (or Not Kristen) comes to David's bed, there's a smash cut from climax to Kristen, smiling almost too serenely, in bed with her husband (Patrick Brammall). Herbers' wide-open eyes are deeply unsettling, like she's a doll that, at any moment, will spring to life with possession.

The Dutch actress, who was best known prior to Evil for her work on Manhattan and Westworld, appears to be having an absolute blast slinking around Kristen's psyche. When she serves her nemesis Leland Thompson (Michael Emerson), an emissary of the devil, a restraining order to keep away from her definitely possessed kid, she enters like she's on a catwalk, strutting up to him coyly. She looks like she's about to start kissing him before she takes out the envelope, and seductively places it at his chest.

On screen, Herbers is malleable. Kristen slips into harried mom mode when she's at home with her four chattering children, and dutifully performs her functions as an investigator with a Dana Scully-esque seriousness.

But the volatile energy she brings to Kristen means the viewer is always on their toes. At this point in the narrative, it's near impossible to determine where her head is at. Has her confession to David unburdened her soul? Or is her connection to devilish forces just too deep? Wherever she stands, she's crawling under our skin.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.