'Under the Banner of Heaven' Episode 1 Review: Faith breeds dangerous men in extraordinary saga
When FX announced that Andrew Garfield will be playing the lead role in its next true-crime drama, there was nothing that could have stopped fans from viewing that series. Titled ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’, the story revolves around the real-life killings of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter Erica. The real story included a lot of elements, including religion, faith, and fundamentalism as well.
The first episode of the show primarily focuses on how faith plays an important role in the family of Mormons and how difficult it is for them to consume something bad about the church or their religion. So, the episode starts with Officer Jeb Pyre (Garfield) playing with his daughter and leading a happy life. He is a Mormon and his entire family attends church. He gets a call from the station and is called to investigate a case. As soon as he reaches the crime scene, he finds it hard to believe how someone can do something so heinous, especially to a 15-month-old child. When he is finished, he and his team witness a man covered in blood just right outside the house and he turns out to be Brenda’s husband, Allen (Billy Howle).
That’s when everything starts to come out. How Allen is also a member of the LDS Church and he followed it religiously, along with his family. But his father never really liked Brenda (Daisey Edgar Jones) because he was free-spirited and even though she also went to church, Brenda was more interested in enjoying life. Police believe that Allen is the only suspect because he doesn’t know where the other members of the family are and continue to say that he hasn’t seen them.
During the process, we get to know how religion can be exploited as well. There were a lot of things going on in the Lafferty family. They were considered to be the most influential family of the LDS Church. We get to know how different that family was and it gets even more intense when Allen tries telling Jeb that the faith is not always right. This is where the show turns into something extraordinary. Garfield’s character being a religious man finds it hard to believe what Allen is saying because he believes in his god and feels that nothing wrong can come out of the temple of God.
There’s one line in the episode that made me shook. While interrogating, Allen says, “Faith breeds dangerous men” and you like it or not, it’s somewhat true. The first episode is all about a man’s conflict about what he knows and what he doesn’t. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in existence for almost 200 years now and there has been a lot of mystery around it. The show tries to examine that mystery against the backdrop of the brutal murders that took place in 1984.
Andrew Garfield is extraordinary as Jeb Pyre and in every single frame that he is in, he does something magical. He’s just too good. Meanwhile, Gil Birmingham as Detective Bill Taba is absolutely brilliant. The camaraderie between Garfield and Birmingham is a treat to watch.
Even though many people already know who did it, we are still rooting for Pyre and Taba to find out who killed those innocent people. A perfect start to an intriguing series that will make you question your faith as well.