Sunday, June 5, 2022

What I’m Watching: Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1, Episode 5 “One Mighty and One Strong” (B+)

There’s so much information that just hasn’t been apparent so far that informs all of this, and the assumptions that people make about why things happen definitely don’t always reflect the full truth. The reason for Dan’s excommunication was a big one, and it’s horrifying to see how religious fidelity can be abused as a way to get people to accept and encourage bad behavior. When Matilda caught Dan with one of her daughters, he claimed that God had given him a “vigorous sexual spirit” and that she should become his sister wife, with denying him akin to fornication and therefore punishable by death. Flashing back to Joseph Smith’s death when Emma expressed her objection to his allegedly divine call for polygamy made it even more haunting, and the notion that Child Protective Services were not called because the church wanted to handle it internally just makes it easier for this kind of thing to happen again. The reasons for Ron’s excommunication were different but also unsettling, since punching his wife and then threatening to starve her into obedience also suggest a sense that he is all-powerful and should dictate everything, regardless of who must suffer as a result. Brady was treating the whole thing much too casually, and Pyre and Bill made it very clear how seriously they took it when they made it known that they weren’t going anywhere until he took them exactly where they needed to go, which he finally realized was dangerous enough that he should have a bulletproof vest.

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