Thursday, May 5, 2022

REVIEW: 'Under the Banner of Heaven' - Fundamentalists Seek to Restore the Country to Its Original Glory in 'Surrender'

FX's Under the Banner of Heaven - Episode 1.03 "Surrender"

The ongoing investigation leads Pyre and Taba into untrod woods where they unearth information that challenges Pyre's own faith, and draw more Lafferty's into suspicion and custody.

"Surrender" was written by Dustin Lance Black & Emer Gillespie and directed by Courtney Hunt

A group of fundamentalists want to restore this country to its original glory. An intelligent woman willing to ask questions represents a direct threat to their very existence. They can't allow that. As such, her image is distorted to vilify her and the child that came from her. It's all absolutely horrid. It also has eerie parallels to the real world. This story is set decades ago. And yet, the world is still fighting against those who wish to restore the prosperity when straight, cis, white men were the only people allowed to wield power. Everything not included in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is illegal. It was never intended when the country was founded. This place was never suppose to evolve from what was envisioned at the very beginning. It doesn't matter how attitudes have shifted over the years. A select group of men were given glory by God. As such, their word must be revered above all else as they spoke with clarity over what society must be. It's a sin to reject those teachings. People are willfully blind to it. They are led astray by those who refuse to teach the true history of this violent faith. The bishops still demand allegiance and respect for leading the one true religion. Shame is the most devastating consequence any person in this community can imagine. That's simply not true given the lethal stakes now apparent. Brenda was raised in the church. She knows what behavior is tolerated. She adhered to the rules. She was a devout woman who had ambitions of her own. Her husband and his family weren't going to tell her how to live her life. She made a deal though. She agreed to prioritize family over her career. Allen created a new cage for her. One where he controlled what was possible for her. It's more than society dictating her who to be. It was a personal torment because the man she loved decided to limit her in this way. Allen has lost his faith. He knows none of this can be justified. He may only have that clarity in death. He sees the pain he caused. He couldn't see it for so long. And now, his wife and daughter have dealt with the consequences. The vulnerable in his life are left abused while he suffers from very little. His brothers scream about protecting their freedoms and rights. They can't be invaded by a federal government with no authority over their matters. They don't abide by the rules that form this country. They seek to change the laws. They hope to rise up as the righteous warriors doing God's noble work. They are determined to succeed and open more eyes to the possibility of redemption. What they preach isn't that though. Instead, it's subjecting others to confinement because they can't tolerate the idea of being ordinary or failures.

Dan surrenders himself completely to his Lord. He is willing to do whatever he needs wherever he needs it. He endures punishment from his father. He expects it and must obey what those in power demand of him. Ron speaks out against it. Even then, it's a constant teasing. One where violence is presented as the only viable way to solve any problems. It's an invasion of physical space. It doesn't matter who witnesses it either. It's meant to be an example. Dan has failed in his leadership. He demands respect from his family because he believes he was chosen for a higher purpose. He must fulfill that glory. He can't be a failure. His father may feel that way sometimes. That's not the end of the story. His journey hasn't been completed. He is simply facing the obstacles in his way. He is being tested. It's a lot of pressure. He remains steadfast in his beliefs. People loyally fall in line. Brenda stands alone in her questions. She wants to redeem the souls of her chosen family. She wants the Lafferty family name. She sees the goodness within everyone. She remains a saint. She can do no wrong. She is still signaled out as deserving of death. Robin is devastated to learn Brenda and her daughter were killed. He immediately tries to absolve himself of that sin by spilling his blood. That's the extreme reaction. This community believes in the power of self-mutilation. They will harm themselves to showcase just how devoted they are to this case. It's making the internal torment physical. They are externalizing their sacrifices for others to witness as well. It's all a performance. One meant to ease the suffering of others. And yet, that mindset of justifying harm only creates a reality where no one treats any threat seriously. Instead, it's something covered in hush tones. It shouldn't be spoken of. If anyone has doubts, then they simply need to be medicated. It's all an appeasement. People have to enjoy life. They must maintain their faith. They have to give to their community. They can never question the orders passed down to them. They have to respect the hierarchy. People are meant to serve in clearly defined roles. Disrupting that nature is upsetting the plan laid out by God. That doesn't allow people to grow. It doesn't let them reckon with their lives. It's simply obedience. It's servitude to an idea in the name of some higher purpose. The devout hold their faith dearly. So many are willing to impose their beliefs onto others. That includes being willing to kill to cleanse the world of sin. That's what the Lafferty's have accepted. Pyre and Taba aren't any closer to solving Brenda's murder. Instead, they simply run to see if anyone else has faced the judgment of the family claiming they know what's best because they understand Mormon history better than those trusted with leadership.