Under the Banner of Heaven Episodes 1 – 2 are the first two parts of an 2022 American true crime drama television miniseries based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. The premise involves a police detective who’s faith is shaken when investigating the murder of a Mormon mother and her baby daughter that seems to involve The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
S P O I L E R S
Set in 1984, Under the Banner of Heaven Episodes 1 – 2 introduces us to Detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield), a devout Mormon, who is called to an Utah suburb where he discovers the grisly murder of a mother and her baby daughter. The father Allen Lafferty later appears covered with blood and surrenders himself to the police. Pyre and his partner Bill Taba (Gil Birmingham) initially suspect Allen is the murderer but as they question him further, it appears that Allen is part of the Lafferty family – well known amongst the LDS Church circles – and his brothers may be involved in an anti-government organisation.
Under the Banner of Heaven Episodes 1 – 2 also provides as with the origins of the Mormon cult viz. Joseph Smith, who declares himself prophet and founder of a new religion under dubious circumstances. With the aid of flashbacks, the series juxtaposes the life of Joseph Smith with the criminal investigations. Despite himself, it becomes clear to Pyre that something is amiss within the LDS Church community.
Garfield is perfectly cast as Pyre – his baby-faced charm fits the naivety of a pious religious practitioner – unable to see the violence that lurks beneath the surface which has been rationalised within the contemporary version of the LDS Church. By the end of episode 2, Pyre is conflicted and has to balance his faith with his commitment to upholding the law.
Under the Banner of Heaven Episodes 1 – 2 provides an intriguing setup though ponderous in parts, has enough promise to recommended itself for the remaining 5 instalments.
Now streaming on Hulu.
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