Whether Bad is weird TV, “S Is for Silence” marks a real peak of weirdness. The standout episode from the acclaimed series’ second season, created by the Emmy nominees Robert King and michelle king (The good wife), is almost entirely silent, set in a monastery where there is no electricity and speaking is forbidden. Kristen’s team of supernatural investigators (Katja Herber), David (mike colter), and then (Aasif Mandvi) arrives to investigate the death of a monk, considered holy, as evidence of a miracle: A year after his death, his body still shows no signs of decomposition.
Beautifully shot on location and cleverly committed to its silent film conceit – while occasionally breaking the fourth wall – the episode was filmed assuming it would air on CBS, as the first season did; it would have made the episode about as innovative as network television can get. (It ended up debuting on Paramount+, after CBS decided to move Bad to the banner; more on how that impacted things in an instant.) But the Kings have long demonstrated a particular genius for working within broadcast boundaries — even embracing them — while pushing form forward. BadThe procedural component of is among its freshest elements, offering a kind of weekly ghost tale imbued with the Kings’ singular brand of eccentricity. “S Is for Silence” is no different: it takes our main characters to a new place, on a haunted journey home in intense matters of faith and horror.
Robert King directed the episode with longtime DP Petr Hlinomaz, working from key reference films and texts while staying true to the series’ goofy spirit. They filmed at St. Josaphat Monastery on Long Island, a location so beautiful it took a bit of a step back. “Rather, we had to downplay how pretty it was because what we thought was the front of the monastery was actually the back, that four or three story part,” King reveals. “If you went to the front, it looked like a college in New England. Just huge.
King had wanted to do a silent episode for over a decade. “It all started with this idea of how to meet the challenges of making a silent film in a world where you don’t need it – like, we could have people talking all the time. I think that’s madness of all of that,” King says. “In the room, we all toyed with the idea that this was going to be the worst episode of the year.”
In fact, it was one of the best of the year – for any television show. King and Hlinomaz presented us with some images that show exactly why.