Sunday, September 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Righteous Gemstones' - Judy Yearns for More Responsibilities in 'Now the Sons of Eli Were Worthless Men'

HBO's The Righteous Gemstones - Episode 1.06 "Now the Sons of Eli Were Worthless Men"

Jealous of Kelvin's rising star, Judy seeks her moment in the spotlight under Baby Billy's tutelage. Jesse procures a key piece of evidence he hopes will lead to the blackmailers.

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.

"Now the Sons of Eli Were Worthless Men" was written by Danny McBride, Edi Patterson & Grant Dekernion and directed by Jody Hill

The flashback to the past helped put a lot of personal drama about this family into better context. It allowed the characters themselves to be at the forefront of the narrative. Some viewers probably saw that trip to the past as an odd detour that killed the momentum of the overall story this season was telling. However, it helps put into context exactly what hasn't worked so far. It's difficult to care about the whole blackmailer plot. It's the entire thing that consumes Jesse though. There was the understanding that Amber would see her husband in a new light following the huge accident he caused in order to catch Scotty and Gideon. And yet, it doesn't. Jesse still insists that it was an innocent prank gone wrong. That shouldn't be good enough even though it seemingly is. In fact, it empowers Jesse to push back against the blackmailer. He believes he is completely in the clear now. He operates with the understanding that Scotty has no leverage to play anymore. He doesn't have the tape of Jesse's scandalous behavior with his friends. If he did, then it probably would have been released already. Sure, Jesse doesn't know that Gideon has been in on this blackmail plot and is even staging his own heist of the money the church collects every week. It's incredulous that neither Jesse nor Amber are suspicious of the physical injuries Gideon has right after seeing a car flip over with its passengers limping towards the nearby woods. They don't associate the two events at all. That comes from them wanting to see Gideon in the best light. He may have abandoned the family at one point in time. But now, the focus should be on love and acceptance. It does seem like Gideon is enjoying his time at home once more. He smiles for pictures and has fun playing games. Of course, he still allows Scotty to come onto the Gemstone compound. That's bound to only accelerate things further. There is nothing wrong with the overall pacing of the story. It's just not the most interesting thing going on. The blackmailer plot probably gave the season a narrative spine to navigate fully. But it's much more engaging to spend time in the character drama aspects of this world. Judy wants to be taken seriously as a member of this family. She feels like she is constantly overlooked and under-appreciated. Kelvin is doing the refugee outreach that she desperately wanted to be in charge of. When it is withheld from her, she lashes out. That has been the way she has been conditioned to approach the world. Only now is Eli starting to issue stern consequences for her actions. She is still a petulant teenager though. She wants responsibilities and to have meaningless fun in the world. But that also makes her vulnerable to manipulation. Baby Billy sees the rising tension between Judy and Eli. He hopes to use that in order to disrupt this family further. He too has been a man who has long yearned for the spoils of his past. He was so successful as a child star alongside his sister. And yes, "Misbehaving" is a catchy song the show should be proud of for creating. However, it's starting to come across as the only thing that defined the act Baby Billy performed with Aimee-Leigh. He is so nostalgic for its success. He hopes to achieve that same high again with Judy. But it may no longer be as special as it once was. Plus, there is a significant loss to the community as a result. Other churches have to close because they can't compete with the product the Gemstones are offering. And yet, Eli and his family are so vein and petty. That's not the kind of religion anyone should preach. As such, it seems inevitable it will only hurt the people of their flock. However, this has remained a profitable business for so long. And so, any action may not be as dire and destructive as one might hope. That just ensures the corruption is allowed to continue. That is sickening. The show should absolutely focus more on that than the simple hypocrisy of Jesse's actions.