Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode of Evil.
In the unsettling psychological thriller's midseason finale, Kristen's simmering guilt over killing Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie) finally boiled over. Her friend, Det. Mira Byrd (Kristen Connolly), found Kristen in her backyard, hallucinating a violent confrontation with the serial killer in the middle of the night. Unable to hide it any longer and truly broken down, Kristen confessed to her crime with the murder weapon, the ice ax, in her hand.
To Kristen's surprise, though, Mira didn't arrest her. Instead, Mira said Kristen was justified in killing Orson and that she would help cover it up because no one would believe that a white woman with four kids could do something like that. Furthermore, Mira promised to blame this evening's backyard incident on a Black man. In other words, Kristen is actually getting away with the murder because white privilege showed up to save the day.
"I was surprised when I read the script, and thrilled with the way it all unfolded, and the fact that it was in this episode where there's also a story of the white cop getting away with shooting an unarmed black woman," Herbers tells EW. "And then me being acquitted for murder because I'm a white woman who drives a Subaru and doesn't look like somebody who might kill someone and I have a friend who's high up, who's a cop. I thought it was really clever writing and heartbreaking."
Elizabeth Fisher/CBS (L-R) Kristen Connolly and Katja Herbers in 'Evil'
To say that Kristen feels conflicted about how this turned out for her would be an understatement. "What I really loved about getting to play it this way was that, yes, she feels enormous relief that she's acquitted and that she's not going to have to go to jail and she can still be a mother to her kids… Then three seconds later, there's the moment of, 'Wait, I might be free, but I'm going to forever be carrying this; I'm going to forever be shackled by the fact that I got off,'" says Herbers. "Now she understands if she weren't white, things would've gone very differently. I think that's something that's going to haunt her.
Kristen's late-night tussle with an imaginary Orson and her gut-wrenching breakdown and confession were challenging to shoot, and not just because of the heavy emotions at play.
"It was exceptionally hard, actually, because I filmed those things three weeks apart because we were waiting for Kristen Connolly, who plays Mira Bird, to become available. But we had to shoot out Darren Pettie in that episode," Herbers explains. "That was actually hard because I felt like when I first did this stuff with LeRoux, it would've been easy to just go into the cop showing up. Kristen has been through so much and there's so much that fuels her in that moment. Although I'm not a mother, and I haven't killed someone, I can imagine that you'd be very afraid to have to leave your babies behind."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Kristen will continue to grapple with the weight of what transpired with Mira. "We are going to maybe first see her being like there's a huge weight lifted off her shoulder, and then I think she's going to unravel more because she doesn't know where to place this," says Herbers. "She's going to act out. We're going to have a little bit of fun."
Evil returns Sunday, Aug. 29, with a silent episode on Paramount+.