if evil is weird TV, “S Is for Silence” marks a true peak of weirdness. The standout episode from the second season of the acclaimed series, created by Emmy nominees Robert King and Michelle King †The Good Wife), is almost entirely silent, set at a monastery where there’s no electricity and talking is not allowed. The supernatural investigative team of Kristen (Katja Herbers), David (Mike Colter), and Ben (Aasif Mandvic) arrives to study the death of a monk, who’s being considered for sainthood, for proof of a miracle: A year after his death, his body still shows no signs of decay.
Gorgeously shot on location and cleverly committed to its silent-movie conceit—while occasionally breaking the fourth wall—the episode was filmed under the assumption it’d air on CBS, as the first season did; that would have made the episode about as innovative as network TV can get. (It ended up debuting on Paramount+, after CBS decided to move evil to the streamer; more on how that impacted things in a moment.) But the Kings have long demonstrated a particular brilliance at working within the confines of broadcast—even embracing them—while also pushing the form forward. evil‘s procedural component is among its freshest elements, offering a weekly kind of ghost tale imbued with the Kings’ singular brand of quirky. “S Is for Silence” is no different: It takes our main characters to a new place, for a haunted house-esque journey into matters of intense faith and horror.
Robert King directed the episode with longtime DP Petr Hlinomaz, working off of key reference films and texts while also sticking to the show’s zany spirit. They filmed at St. Josaphat’s Monastery in Long Island, a location so stunning it required some scaling back. “If anything, we had to play down how pretty it was because what we treated as the front of the monastery was actually the back, this four-story or three-story part of it,” King reveals. “If you went around to the front, it looked like a New England college. Just massive.”
King has been wanting to do a silent episode for over a decade. “It started with this idea of how to meet the challenges of doing a silent movie in a world where you don’t need to—like, we could have people talk all the time. I think it’s the insanity of it,” King says. “In the room, we all played with the idea this was going to be the worst episode of the year.”
In reality, it was one of the best of the year—for any TV show. King and Hlinomaz walked us through a few images that show exactly why.