Sunday, August 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Righteous Gemstones' - The Blackmailers Scramble After a Disaster in 'Is This the Man Who Made the Earth Tremble'

HBO's The Righteous Gemstones - Episode 1.02 "Is This the Man Who Made the Earth Tremble"

After discovering Amber, Pontius and Abraham reminiscing about an estranged family member, Jesse tasks his friends with acquiring surveillance footage that could explain the strange events of the night before.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's The Righteous Gemstones.

"Is This the Man Who Made the Earth Tremble" was written by Danny McBride and directed by David Gordon Green

The series premiere only briefly teased that Jesse and Amber Gemstone had a third son who was shunned by the family because he left for a career in Hollywood. And now, he is revealed to be one of the central blackmailers trying to extort a million dollars from Jesse. It's easy to see how he comes to that decision upon growing desperate after leaving home. He probably left because he saw just how hypocritical the family and their sense of religion always was. He saw it as an excuse for terrible behavior knowing that no matter what one does they will always be forgiven. Jesse believes that he killed people and thinks he can just pray away that guilt. He is a man who looms large with power and demands everyone respect his wishes. He orders people around with no consideration whatsoever. His vices led to this whole scandal. And now, those problems are only continuing to mount. He didn't know how to react upon being blackmailed. He couldn't fathom how to access those kinds of funds without involving his father. Judy already had the money stashed away because she fundamentally understands just how scandalous and fraudulent all of this can be. She is the one feeling some remorse for her actions. She ran over the first blackmailer. But it's also outrageous that both Lucy and Scotty survive being run over by the Gemstones. That's incredible especially since they don't get much medical care whatsoever afterwards. Their identities are allowed to stay secretive as well because none of the Gemstones thought to remove the masks after they had seemingly eliminated the threat. Sure, they eventually come to realize that the blackmailers aren't dead and that there was a third in the back of the van who pulled the other two to safety. The Gemstones are continually catching up to what the blackmailers have been doing. They have been hiding out in a hotel for a week. The Gemstones are quickly able to access that information. They do so because they have friends with such traffic information. It's scary just how connected the world can be. Jesse may not always understand the technology but he surely knows how to use it to his benefit. Kelvin is the one who points out the security camera and comes up with the idea of how to track the blackmailers down. But Gideon's true motives are allowed to stay a secret for now. He was the blackmailer who wasn't injured. And now, he has returned home with the pressure to get the money Scotty believes he deserves from all of this trouble. Scotty thought he had a backup video of Jesse in a compromising position. That is soon lost. This impulse may not be though. Gideon is certainly feeling that pressure to provide results. Now that he has returned home, he may be granted the access necessary to make some noise. But all of that comes from the complicated idea of family. The Gemstones are a dysfunctional mess. None of them know how to survive in the real world but have the power and influence to do whatever they want. They suffer no consequences for their actions. The blackmailers are allowed to walk out of the hospital no questions asked. Gideon returns home. Amber welcomes him with open arms. Jesse is upset but that may just be the way he typically exists in the world. Eli is the one preaching the gossip. He is the one who successfully built this empire and knows how to survive in this vicious world. His children may not which could be his greatest undoing. Of course, that final montage is weird because it suggests these personal problems for Jesse, Kelvin and Judy are on the same footing. They aren't. Most of the interest right now comes from the sheer insanity of trying to expose the crimes while committing more crimes. It can propel some aspects forward but the character work still needs work to make it all seem worth it.