TV Review: Under the Banner of Heaven

Credit: FX

by Miller C. Lashbrook

I have gotten very behind on watching all of the dramas getting attention this year, but after seeing that Andrew Garfield was nominated for an Emmy for Under the Banner of Heaven, I knew I had to check it out. This show is an acting vehicle, with the crime really serving as a way to comment on family and religion.

There were times when I thought that the story was being stretched a little bit more than the show could afford. The middle part of the show really circled the drain with the mystery and characters feeling a little repetitive. I do think the narrative structure of the present-day investigation, flashbacks to the Lafferty Family as Pyre learned more, and historical reenactments of the beginnings of the Mormon religion was really well utilized.

Thematically, I thought this show did a great job of answering the questions it posed, especially the question of religion vs atheism.

The acting is the real reason to come to this show and stick around. Andrew Garfield of course does an amazing job of portraying the struggle of someone questioning their faith. You see the thinking and the anxiety all on his face even when he isn’t saying a word. Wyatt Russel and Sam Worthington I think are the other two big names in the show and they do a great job playing disturbed and corrupted men. The two actors to watch after this show however are Daisy Edger-Jones and Denise Gough. These women do it all. They play emotional complex women that don’t always make the perfect choice, but you want to route for them. There is one moment in the finale from Denise Gough that she better add to her reel, because I think that speech could get her a big franchise role.

If you are looking for a good true crime series with great acting, definitely check out this haunting look at religious extremism.

4/5 Badges 👮

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