Is Netflix’s ‘Evil Genius’ the best ever true-crime show?
Netflix has been going strong in the true-crime docu-series train since the success of Making a Murderer. But they may have outdone themselves to an impassable level with the 2018 series Evil Genius. Taking a look at the murder of Brian Wells, also known as the Pizza Bomber case, Evil Genius has taken the cake.
While Evil Genius premiered in 2018, it never took off to the same extent its competition did. That’s shameful, because Trey Borzillieri and Barbara Schroeder created something glorious with their series showing off the strangest case in 2003. So, now that the show is 2 years old, why should you revisit it?
The story tells it like it’s happening now
The way directors Schroeder and Borzillieri frame the story like it’s a breaking news event builds tension like no other method. You feel like you’re watching the events of the pizza bomber happen live in front of you. Every moment of Wells’ scavenger hunt for his freedom feels like it could be the next Saw movie.
Most true crime shows tell the story in the past tense, showing what happened during the tragic events. But in the desire to build the tension and really hammer in how unusual the situation was, Evil Genius is told in a more present tense.
The villain is truly an Evil Genius
The title doesn’t lie: Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the main conspirator behind Wells’ kidnapping and death, is truly an evil person. Not only is she responsible for devising the plot against the pizza delivery driver, Diehl-Armstrong killed her boyfriend at the time James Roden so he wouldn’t rat her out to authorities over the bombing plot.
But the crazier thing about Diehl-Armstrong’s involvement is that this wasn’t the main plot. Kidnapping Wells and making him rob a band was all part of the plan to get enough money to kill her father. Her co-conspirator said Kenneth Barnes said for $200,000 he would murder Diehl-Armstrong’s father so she could get the inheritance and split it between her, Barnes, and Rothstein.
Wells was pulled in to rob the bank and get some money so Diehl-Armstrong and her co-conspirators could murder her father. To force someone to be a suicide bomber is already awful, but the fact she did this to get money to murder her own father makes Diehl-Armstrong a truly evil genius.
Wells is just as guilty as his murderers
The craziest thing about the entire story is that Wells most likely had some kind of involvement in the plot beforehand. While no one has gotten a straight story, law enforcement have said that Wells knew about the robbery and agreed to it, but thought the bomb was going to be a fake. He agreed thinking he could use the bomb as a scapegoat and look like the victim, not a guilty party.
Wells was called to the local TV transmission tower to deliver pizza to Barnes. When he arrives, the story splits depending on who tells it. According to Wells’ family, he was held at gunpoint and forced to put the bomb on. According to the police report, Wells found out the bomb was real, and protested participating in the plot. Either way, witnesses note hearing a gunshot during the timeframe Wells was there.
Whether or not Wells was guilty, the story told now has Wells involved in the robbery. But getting to that point along the twist and turns set by Borzillieri is such a roller coaster, you can’t help but have your jaw drop when you find out. Evil Genius is really good about keeping your mouth open and your butt on the edge of your seat.
Evil Genius is streaming on Netflix.