Thursday, May 19, 2022

REVIEW: 'Under the Banner of Heaven' - Ron and Dan Receive Harsh Punishment From the Church in 'One Mighty and Strong'

FX's Under the Banner of Heaven - Episode 1.05 "One Mighty and Strong"

With evidence now pointing squarely toward fundamentalist Mormonism, Pyre turns to LDS Church leaders for guidance but is met with roadblocks. Undeterred, he discovers a list of names Brenda's killers plan to murder next.

"One Mighty and Strong" was written by Brandon Boyce and directed by Dustin Lance Black

People will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid embracing humility and reflecting on the mistakes they've made. The faithful believe any clarity and guidance can be found in the scripture. A person just has to be willing to look for the answers and see how it applies to their lives to receive that grace. That doesn't account for the selfish and delusional nature of the human ego. Dan and Ron Lafferty arm themselves with a lethal amount of self-righteousness. They believe they have been chosen as the prophets meant to restore the Mormon faith. All of their struggles and shortcomings have to be someone else's fault. It can't be their own because they were chosen to carry out this mission. Dan is sexually depraved and preys on those who rely on him for guidance. That was clear the moment he married Matilda after serving as her missionary. He built up this story of God bringing them together for a reason. It had to be more than spiritual enlightenment. The only connection more special than that is sexual. Dan embraced that fully. His wife was swayed by the argument of Mormonism being the one true religion. Spiritual clarity and certainty was provided to her. She was grateful Dan embarked on that journey. She was willing to do anything to repay him for his deeds. That doesn't mean subjecting her daughters to Dan's sexual torment. He wants to believe he is holier than any man. As such, no one is deserving of marriage to these young girls. As such, it's his responsibility to prey on them. Matilda protects them. And yet, this is a community that doesn't care for the well-being of women. Instead, it's all about uplifting the man of the house. His word is law. He dictates what everyone else is allowed to do. That's a privilege afforded to all men in this faith. The church leaders see women as malleable objects who simply have to be swayed to their understanding. They aren't trusted to have individual thoughts themselves. They are meant to be of service to the men in their lives. That's how they provide value. They bring forth new life. They care for it. Any sins they commit are then reflective of all who come from this world. It's so domineering and oppressive. Brenda aspired for more. She spoke out against these rigid rules. She wanted to help the members of her family. And yet, she was blamed for all the problems that stemmed out of the chaos that swallowed Dan and Ron's worlds. They were led to believe they were important. Every punishment they received wasn't justified. They had to do whatever it took to create the reality in which they would go unquestioned. It's all some careful manipulation of the sacred text and the history of the church. So much of this faith is susceptible to the failings of man. That was true when it was first conceived. It's true now as people believe this certainty affords them the ability to do whatever they want.

Pyre dances around this conversation of morality. He wants to be a solid family man. He seeks to protect his wife and children. And yet, the church says his actions go against their teachings. He returns home to an empty house. It's an invasion. No one is physically there to harm him or his loved ones. However, the darkness has creeped in. It has made him question all that he thought he knew. He understood these stories about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The violence was all done in the pursuit of more power. It was all with the desire to subjugate and control. Any individual thought that could conflict with what the leaders desired was targeted. That was complicated when it pertained to the man seen as the one true prophet. That title could be passed down to ensure the sanctity of the mission was kept intact. People see the ease with which that hierarchal nature exists. Only one man is allowed to lead his household. It's a burden Ron had to take away from Ammon. Ron and Dan were excommunicated from the church. Their behavior was criticized even though plenty of people have condescending views towards women. Dan broke the laws in trying to pursue polygamy. His privacy was still protected despite the toll this left on his family. His feelings were still elevated and treated more preciously than those who were the victims of this abuse. Meanwhile, Ron's family was terrified by his presence. Dianna was beaten several times. His children ran away upon seeing him. They knew he had lost his way and was unrepentant. His exile was determined by refusing to engage in contrition for his actions. He wanted the conversation to be one of unfair retribution. It's all personal grievance. He's upset he isn't allowed to do whatever he wants. He was given a position of power too. That's the scary thing. People want to see him as a trustworthy guy. Even people who know what he's capable of want to believe he is strictly following his beliefs. He has become the new leader of the Mormon faith. He has deluded himself into believing that. As such, his father must die so he can rise. That's the natural order of things. It's all pure grievance. It's better to blame Ammon for the wrongs done that hurt this family. Ron has only continued the cycle of abuse. He has conducted himself in that way to everyone he comes across. People are simply vessels to manipulate to spread his deepest desires. It's scary watching him roam this world while Pyre and Taba are no closer to catching him. Every house they raid has no clarity to his whereabouts. Instead, more lives remain in danger. That's ominously clear even as people want to pretend as if these threats aren't as sinister as they are. People can't live in that denial. Yet Pyre's world is being invaded with such even as he knows just how false that choice ultimately is. He has to placate those concerns while also discovering the truth. That remains an arduous task only getting more personal and destructive. Everyone looks on and sees a man who isn't as good a Mormon as he claims to be. He is judged for that while more heinous individuals roam free and their toxic beliefs grow.