This Righteous Gemstones review contains spoilers.
The Righteous Gemstones Episode 7
Though I was raised Catholic, my family and I are what you would call Rabbit and Reindeer Catholics, in that we really only attend church, outside of weddings and funerals, on Easter and Christmas. The local Catholic church in my hometown gets so busy on Easter Sunday that they have to hold a separate service in the adjacent gymnasium just to fit all of the fair-weather worshippers. For those that have made religion their business, Easter is the biggest day of the year, a sort of “season finale,” the moment every other Sunday service has been leading up to. Though this Easter-set episode isn’t the season finale of The Righteous Gemstones, it still carries the same sense of scale and importance.
“And Yet One of You Is a Devil” is the biggest episode of Gemstones so far, both narratively and production-wise. The biggest telecast of the year, the Gemstone church on Easter Sunday feels like a sold-out Taylor Swift concert, with requisite laser and light shows, fancy ensembles, an epic backing band, and an army of adoring fans. For the biggest day of the year, an oddly warm and sentimental Eli calls on all of his children to play a role; Kelvin will lead the youth in a performance (which he’s a bit sore about, seeing as he does the same thing every year), Judy will dance with Baby Bill and sing a collections song, and Jesse will headline, giving the main sermon.
It should be a grand celebration and an affirming moment for the Gemstone children, but Judy isn’t having it. With Baby Billy in her ear, Judy rejects Eli’s offer, saying that it’s too little too late for Eli now to notice Judy’s talents. Edi Patterson continues to steal every scene that she’s in, and she especially scores giant gut-laughs telling her father “I have tits. I do sex,” while trying to prove that she isn’t a little girl anymore. Eli’s dumbfounded response, telling Judy that she’s almost 40, is the icing on the entire scene. Judy’s resentment and rejection of her father’s offer makes sense, especially with Baby Billy acting possessive and spurring her on, but it seemed like Baby Billy and Eli made amends after fending off Johnny Seasons’ posse. It feels as if the show forgot about this cease-fire, though maybe one bonding moment isn’t enough to erase a lifetime of animosity.
Judy decides to skip the Gemstone Easter service and instead perform with Baby Billy, but it’s clear she has mixed feelings about it. BJ tries to console and support his fiancé, but in typical Judy fashion, she misplaces her anger and starts attacking him. Finally standing up for himself, BJ leaves, albeit in pretty pathetic fashion. Having BJ drive one of those silly tiny cars is a perfect character choice. While Judy is getting jumped, Kelvin and Jesse nail their respective parts in the Gemstone service, particularly Jesse. A big screen is behind Jesse projecting shadows as he gives a thematically on-the-nose sermon about Judas, and it’s honestly more of a subversion of expectation that nothing bad, like the blackmail video, is projected on the screen.
No, Scotty and Gideon do not air out Jesse’s dirty laundry because their partnership is too busy falling apart at the seams. As I said in last week’s review, Gideon’s motivations to turn on his family just didn’t feel strong enough, and this week that thought is proven right when Gideon decides to not go along with Scotty’s plan. Scotty had been posing as a mild-mannered friend of Gideon staying with Gemstone family, but come Easter Sunday, he springs into heist mode. Gideon has second thoughts and attempts to come clean to his dad, but Jesse mistakes the moment as Gideon coming out of the closet. It’s a passé joke you’ve seen a million times, but it works due to Jesse’s enthusiastic support of his son.
Gideon confronts Scotty about not wanting to follow through on their heist and ends up having to violently beat Scotty up. Unfortunately, Scotty returns that night to the compound with a gun, taking Jesse and Gideon hostage, revealing Gideon’s involvement in the blackmail scandal, and assaulting Eli to receive the church’s vault key codes. In another sly subversion of expectation, the episode makes you believe that Amber will save the day with a firearm, considering the show has spent time establishing her as a badass with a gun, but the moment never comes to fruition. Jesse and Gideon end the episode locked in the church safe as Scotty escapes with cash.
I’m sure next week will begin with a difficult conversation between father and son. Just as the pair were beginning to trust and understand one another, Jesse will have to confront the fact that his son was plotting against him. It’s nice that the series didn’t drag this reveal out and will give ample time to deal with the fallout of this betrayal. This was a big, funny, and suspenseful episode of Gemstones, highlighting everything that this show has been doing well. Next week is the penultimate episode of season one and there’s still a lot of story left to resolve.
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Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.