With hits such as American Crime Story, FX is no stranger to producing popular true-crime television shows. On April 28, 2022, Hulu and FX released the newest true crime dramatization, Under The Banner of Heaven. The miniseries is led by The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield and Fresh actress Daisy Edgar Jones.
Under The Banner of Heaven focuses on Garfield’s character, Detective Jeb Pyre, as he tries to solve the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her young daughter while uncovering dark secrets within the Latter Day Saints community. With only a few episodes released, this miniseries already has fans intrigued about which direction the show will take. The pilot pulled no punches when it came to tension-filled moments, leaving the viewer ready to hit “next episode” as soon as the credits rolled.
Jeb’s Evening Prayers
The viewer gets to know a lot about Andrew Garfield’s character Jeb very quickly, including how dearly he holds his faith. During the opening scene, Jeb is called into an emergency for work. The audience feels tension starting to build when he has to rush to leave the house, but he stops to say evening prayers with his mother, wife, and two children.
During this scene, the audience gets an intimate look into how Jeb’s faith will probably play out in future episodes and how he seems to be a man of order and tradition.
One of the wives in the Lafferty family, Matilda is introduced as an odd character. While wives of the many Lafferty brothers are reserved and understated, Matilda comes off nervous and slightly vulgar compared to the rest of the family.
She overshares about her past as she pours lemonade for Brenda, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. Matilda’s off-beat nature definitely makes her stand out from the crowd, and it will be interesting to see if she is perhaps hiding something.
The Tense Conversations Between Jeb and Detective Taba
In the pilot, the viewer sees a heavy amount of tension between Jeb and Detective Taba. Although they are partners, their religious differences seem to have them at odds with one another.
With every disagreement, the audience cannot help but wonder if these two are weighing each other down, creating a barrier that will help them get to the bottom of this murder case. It also begs the question of whether or not their differences will lead to a pivotal plot point later on.
The Entire Meal Scene
During Brenda’s first meeting with the entire Lafferty family, they share a big meal together. During this lunch, everyone is asking Brenda about her life plans and goals. She shares how she wants to be on television as well as eventually have a family.
The audience can see that this is where the Lafferty family’s disapproval of Brenda begins, especially with the father, Ammon. The scene is the start of the path that led to Brenda’s tragic end.
Allen’s Statements During Interrogation
When Allen is brought to the police station for questioning, he is visibly distraught throughout the interrogation. Jeb knows his connection to the LDS church but is shocked to find out that Allen believes people within their community could be responsible.
He shows great regret and remorse for bringing his wife into the church and believes he could’ve saved her if it weren’t for the LDS community. Allen then states that he is worried for his brothers but has no idea where they live. His inconsistent stories leave the detectives confused and the viewer wondering how much he had to do with the murder of his wife and child.
Ammon’s Speech To His Sons
In a scene filled with subtle tension, Ammon gives an announcement that he and his wife were chosen to go on a mission. The family shares excitement for them which quickly turns uncomfortable once Ammon gives responsibilities to his sons for the time he is away.
He gives duties to each son, highlighting their achievements and how they are a great choice. He then, not so subtly, passes over his son Ron, completely ignoring him. This catches Brenda’s attention as she watches him angrily leave the circle during a time of prayer. At this point, the viewer does not have a clear picture as to why Ammon is so at odds with Ron and is eager to see how this plot point will play out.
The Quick Flashbacks
Throughout the episode, the audience sees quick flashbacks to Brenda and Allen’s life. The scenes will then be cut to Jeb in the present, seeming like he is remembering them. These flashbacks sometimes coincide with Jeb’s own flashbacks.
The shocking aspect of these scenes is the level of mystery it leaves. It’s only natural to ask, how much does Jeb know of the Lafferty family and how does Allen and Brenda’s past relate to Jeb’s?
Finding Robin’s House
Despite Allen not being able to give the detectives an address for any of his brothers, they find an address for Robin’s home. Detective Taba heads to the property only to find an abandoned house. Not only is the place left in disarray, but Detective Taba finds a pile of burning documents in the home.
This leaves the detectives and the viewers more suspicious of Allen and his story. The audience doesn’t know if he’s telling the truth or what this family might be hiding- or running away from.
Finding Robin Lafferty Outside The Hotel
Towards the end of the episode, viewers see Jeb and Bill’s team pursue a lead that sends them to a local motel. They notice a man trying to flee, and once they are able to catch him, they find out it is Allen’s brother Robin.
What makes this scene so shocking is its abrupt ending. Robin looks vastly different than he did in the flashbacks and audiences are left wondering what exactly happened or what did Robin do that led him to this point.
The Crime Scene
Within mere minutes of the show’s start, the audience is introduced to the central plot point of the show, the scene of Brenda and her child’s murder. The audience is not explicitly shown the bodies, and much is left to the imagination.
However, the visuals of the excessive amounts of blood, the cop’s inability to stay inside the house, and Jeb’s look of pure terror when surveying the scene leaves the audience terrified of whoever committed this horrific act of violence.