Under the Banner of Heaven – Episode 2 “Rightful Place” Recap & Review

Rightful Place

Episode 2 of Under of the Banner of Heaven begins with Jeb speaking to his daughter before her 8th birthday. He encourages her to obey God and continually repent of her sins.

Last night, before Robin was taken into custody, a woman spotted four suspicious men together, each with long beards like pioneer men. Bill thinks these men might be hiding in the forest.

They find out that the handprint on the nursery door (where the bodies were found) wasn’t Allen’s.

Jeb asks Robin why he ran. He answers that he was running from wrongful persecution. He thought the government wanted to harm the LDS family with their unholy laws.

Jeb then questions Allen again. He asks why he had Brenda’s blood on him. Supposedly, he knelt down in it to pray for her and their baby girl, despite having lost his faith.

Allen mentions two bearded men in particular, whom he only met once. They belonged to a patriotic, anti-tax group with his brothers, Dan and Robin.

He remembers back to when Dan took over the family business. Apparently, he and his wife Matilda weren’t at all prepared for the task.

Brenda noticed Matilda struggling with the bookkeeping. She encouraged her to listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Robin noticed her interfering and disapproved.

He told Allen that he should find a woman who would build a family with him “for eternity.” He didn’t like that Brenda was going to BYU and thought she was going to get in Dan’s way. “Mind your property,” Robin told his brother.

Matilda confessed to Brenda that she can’t hear the Holy Spirit anymore. She used to hear and had visions telling her to marry Dan, despite his smoking and drinking. But after they got married, “he got perfect,” while Matilda still felt like a failure. Brenda said she was still hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice and just didn’t realize it.

Allen saw that the more Brenda tried to get involved with his family, the more he wanted to get her away from them. Except for Ron, who was more modern, although he still believed in Ammon’s authority and butted heads with Brenda on several issues.

In the present, Bill treks into the forest to try and find the men in hiding. A ranger shows him a portion of the forest they wrecked. He saw them briefly, and they have girls with them.

Jeb asks Robin if he’s part of any anti-tax group. Robin calls it “Patriots for Freedom.” 

When Robin and Dan took over the chiropractic business, their method of letting the spirit guide them wasn’t so popular with their clients. Dan simply called their unpopularity a “test” from God.

Dan told Matilda not to pay their government license fees, as they only owe God. They came home one day to find a man in their home, seizing their assets.

Dan yelled at him for stealing his private property. He didn’t recognize the government’s authority. He swung a bat at the man, and he left, but not before promising to bring the police next time. Dan then told Matilda they were on a righteous path.

Bill goes deeper into the forest. He later hears a person howling and calls for them to come out. Others shake cans. He falls into a hole, surrounded by unseen figures.

In more questioning by Jeb, Allen remembers Brenda’s “dangerous” and “liberal” ideas and how he loved her for them.

Allen’s family watched Brenda on TV after she got a position as a host. Even Ron didn’t approve. 

Jeb doesn’t think a Mormon would kill someone for stepping out of place. But Allen says it’s all over their history and scriptures.

Allen says he wanted to marry Brenda, but her dad worried him. He was more liberal in his beliefs and didn’t like Allen’s more ingrained, old-fashioned ideals. But Allen recognized that they would be better off keeping closer to Brenda’s family rather than his own. 

Jeb asks why he was afraid of Brenda going near his own family, so Allen tells the detective a story. Once, Ron got a mutt for his birthday. When came home one day and the brothers had not done chores, he had them stand in a circle. He called the dog to the center and beat the animal to death with a baseball bat to teach them a lesson.

Allen wondered, what if Ammon decided that Brenda needed to be taught a lesson?

In questioning, Robin defends his and Dan’s way of defending their values against government law. He points to the prophet Joseph Smith as an example. The fact that they were being persecuted like the prophet was a sign to them that they were doing the right thing.

Jeb then sends officers to back up Bill, since his partner has been gone for a while. He asks Robin if they will be in any danger. He says they will need to consider the words of the prophet. That they “will tread upon the wicked.”

At this, Jeb looks into his eyes and says, “So you killed her then… for daring to resist you.” 

Robin looks confused. “What do you mean?” Just then, Allen starts screaming from the other room, alerting Robin of his presence.

Back in the forest, Bill walks up to a shed. He shines his flashlight into a hole in the wall. The episode ends with a gun pointing out of the hole and at the detective.

The Episode Review

This episode uncovers a lot more of the differences between Brenda and the Lafferty brothers. The more we know about these unhinged men, Allen’s story starts making more and more sense.

Religious extremism is a fascinating focus for a true-crime series. There’s no reasoning with someone who believes that persecution affirms their position. One can kill in the name of his faith, receive (reasonable) backlash, and be more reassured that he is in the right. This line of reasoning makes the religious extremist a sinister villain.

Except, in this case, it’s not exactly clear who the villains are (unless you’ve read the book). Robin’s confusion at the mention of Brenda’s murder shows that not all is as it seems.

After that chilling cliffhanger, I’m excited for what the show has to offer next week. Has Detective Taba run into more trouble than he can handle?

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