Under the Banner of Heaven
Under the Banner of Heaven poster.jpg
GenreTrue crime
Psychological drama
Created byDustin Lance Black
Based onUnder the Banner of Heaven
by Jon Krakauer
Starring
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes7
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Leslie Cowan
  • Brian Dennis
Cinematography
  • Gonzalo Amat
Editors
  • Justin Lachance
  • Mark Manos
  • Chris McKinley
Running time63–88 minutes
Production companies
DistributorDisney Platform Distribution
Release
Original networkFX on Hulu
Original releaseApril 28 (2022-04-28) –
June 2, 2022 (2022-06-02)

Under the Banner of Heaven is an American true crime drama television miniseries created by Dustin Lance Black based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. It premiered on April 28, 2022, on FX on Hulu.[1][2] Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham star as two detectives investigating a brutal murder seemingly connected to Mormonism. The series, while reigniting controversy in the Mormon faith,[3] received praise from critics.

Premise

The faith of police detective Jeb Pyre 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).

Cast

Main

Jeb's associates
Lafferty family
Lafferty family tree
Ammon
Doreen
RonDanRobinJacobSamuelAllen
DiannaMatildaLynnSaraBrenda

Recurring

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"When God Was Love"David MackenzieDustin Lance BlackApril 28, 2022 (2022-04-28)
In the fictional city of East Rockwell, Utah, LDS Detective Jeb Pyre and Paiute Detective Bill Taba investigate the brutal murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty, an LDS woman, and her baby daughter, Erica. Brenda's husband, Allen Lafferty, is arrested but claims men with beards committed the murders. He says he's no longer part of the LDS Church, which upsets the devout Pyre. Flashbacks show Brenda was the vivacious daughter of an Idaho bishop, and she met Allen while attending Brigham Young University. The Lafferty family is a highly respected and conservative LDS family. Allen recalls that when his parents (Ammon and Doreen) were assigned a two-year-long mission, Ammon chose middle sons Dan and Robin to oversee the family and run his chiropractic business; he purposely snubbed his eldest son, Ron. Another set of flashbacks portrays Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, having a religious revelation and proposing to Emma Hale. In the present, police arrest a bearded Robin Lafferty at a motel.
2"Rightful Place"David MackenzieDustin Lance BlackApril 28, 2022 (2022-04-28)
Pyre questions Robin and Allen in separate rooms at the police station. Detective Taba investigates reports of gunfire, and is lured deep into the woods by a mysterious girl. Flashbacks to 1830s Kirtland, Ohio reveal the tense relations between the Church of Latter-Day Saints and other residents, resulting in the Mormons being forced to leave. Robin explains to Pyre that the family business ran into financial difficulties and they couldn't afford to pay federal taxes. As a result, Dan and Robin filed lawsuits and became tax protesters. Allen knew his brothers didn't like Brenda, as they considered her too independent for a woman. He feared for Brenda's safety, recalling how Ammon once killed the family dog to punish the boys for not doing chores. Taba finds a cabin in the woods and is confronted with a gun.
3"Surrender"Courtney HuntStory by : Emer Gillespie & Dustin Lance Black
Teleplay by : Dustin Lance Black
May 5, 2022 (2022-05-05)
Pyre and backup arrive to help Taba. They arrest Sam Lafferty and he speaks of a list consisting of sinners that need to be cleansed by blood atonement. The list includes several prominent LDS families, and police quickly search for them. Sam's daughter reveals to Pyre that tensions between the brothers and Ammon reached the point of violence when Ammon didn't approve of Dan's extreme views. Pyre consults his bishop about violent teachings in the LDS Church's past, and is told to not question it. Brenda tries to convince Dan to end his anti-tax stance but he refuses. She then asks Allen to distance himself from his brothers, to which he agrees only if she puts off her career to have children. Allen says he now realizes he was putting Brenda in a cage. Robin discovers Brenda and his niece were murdered and tearfully insists he had nothing to do with it.
4"Church and State"Courtney HuntGina WelchMay 12, 2022 (2022-05-12)
Pyre, Taba, and Officer Morris investigate Bishop Low's empty house, which has been vandalized. Pyre discovers a letter that Dianna (Ron's wife) wrote, with Brenda's help, to LDS President Spencer W. Kimball, as she was concerned about the Lafferty brothers' extreme behavior. Bank employee LaConte Bascom reports that Ron was denied a loan to save his construction business because the church didn't approve of his brothers' libertarian anti-tax activism. Dan had visited a Fundamentalist LDS community and studied The Peace Maker, a document by Joseph Smith that preaches polygamy as a man's holy right. He also convinced Ron to support his radical beliefs. Pyre connects the Lafferty family to Bishop Low's house invasion. Officer Morris locates Bishop Low, who was on a fishing trip.
5"One Mighty and Strong"Dustin Lance BlackBrandon BoyceMay 19, 2022 (2022-05-19)
Sam mentions a group called the School of the Prophets. Pyre and Taba learn from Bishop Low that Dan and Ron were excommunicated: Dan for wanting to take his two underage step-daughters as plural wives, and Ron for his controversial politics and for beating Dianna. The detectives question Bernard Brady, who was in the School of the Prophets with the Lafferty brothers and a man called Prophet Onias. Brady and Allen guide Pyre and Taba to the Lafferty farm, where they discover three women from a Canadian FLDS community alone, having been abandoned by Ron and Dan. Pyre discovers Ron's list of people whom they believe must face blood atonement. Brady reveals that Ammon died because Ron refused to provide him with medical care, citing Ammon's own beliefs and abuse toward the brothers in the past. Flashbacks to the 19th-century recount Emma Smith's rejection of polygamy, Joseph Smith's killing, and Brigham Young's rise to lead the LDS Church.
6"Revelation"Isabel SandovalGina WelchMay 26, 2022 (2022-05-26)
Ron sought out a fundamentalist Mormon group that practiced polygamy. Their mother reveals to Pyre that there were two men named Chip and Ricky with her sons the night of Brenda's murder. The School of the Prophets encouraged a return to old and racist practices. Onias tells Ron he is their "One" chosen by God to receive God's revelations, which Ron believes. Brenda and Allen's marriage was on the rocks due to Allen's devotion to his extremist brothers. After he struck her, Brenda had asked the Church to grant her a divorce, but she was instead charged with saving the Lafferty clan from their ways. When she attempted to do so, she was threatened by Dan and Matilda with blood atonement. Bishop Low and Brenda help Dianna and her children flee town for their safety, but Pyre worries Ron may have found and killed Dianna. Pyre breaks down as he confronts his now-wavering faith, reading the book Allen directed him to, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?. Taba encounters Onias in the wilderness.
7"Blood Atonement"Thomas SchlammeBrandon Boyce & Dustin Lance BlackJune 2, 2022 (2022-06-02)
Onias tells Taba that the power of being the "One" corrupted Ron. Flashbacks address the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 and conflicting accounts of what occurred. Pyre is asked to twist the law to save the LDS Church from bad publicity, but he refuses. Pyre's loss of faith causes a rift in his marriage. Allen tells Pyre that he and Brenda reconciled before her death. Jacob gives Dan's journal to the police, which Pyre uses to identify leads. Pyre and Taba go to Wyoming to interview Chip and Ricky, who recall Dan slashed Brenda and Erica's throats while Ron helped. Taba confronts Pyre about blindly believing the LDS Church's version of history. In Miami, Florida, Dianna's children are taken to a safe house. Dianna returns to the Lafferty home, finds Matilda, and they flee Utah. Pyre and Taba locate Ron and Dan in the Circus Circus Casino in Reno, Nevada. The brothers are arrested just as Ron attempts to murder Dan in a bid to become the true "One." Pyre returns home and reconciles with his wife, no longer a believing man but seeing his family as his faith as Allen did.

Production

Initially intended to be adapted as a film beginning in 2011,[4][5] it was announced in June 2021 that it would now be developed as a miniseries, with Dustin Lance Black retained as screenwriter and David Mackenzie serving as director. Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones were cast to star.[6] The cast was rounded out in August, with Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell, Denise Gough, Rory Culkin and Gil Birmingham among the new additions.[7]

Lindsay Hansen Park worked as a consultant.[8]

Filming in Alberta began in August 2021 and was completed in December 2021.[9][10][11]

Dialogue

Another criticism was the overuse of the word "brother". Everyone calls "brother" and "sister" in the show. And while that does happen in Utah — especially in the 80s, especially in small towns — I agree that it's sort of overused to our ears. But again we're trying to communicate that this is an insular community where everybody's a member of this organization — to someone who has no outside interaction with Mormonism.

Lindsay Hansen Park, The Jimmy Rex Show[12]

The show has been criticized for their overuse of the phrase "Heavenly Father", especially in the early episodes. This has been explained as a deliberate decision to establish the vocabulary of the show to an audience unfamiliar with it.

Release

The series premiered on April 28, 2022, on FX on Hulu.[2] It is also set to premiere on Disney+ (Star) in international markets and Star+ In Latin America soon after.

Reception

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported as 86% approval rating with an average rating of 7.1/10, based on 36 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "While Under the Banner of Heaven gets bogged down by an overabundance of backstory, its procedural through-line is enriched by thoughtfully grappling with personal faith."[13] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 71 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

Patrick Q. Mason, in a review of the show, pointed out that it is the most recent entry in a long history of American media portrayals of Mormons as inherently violent.[15] McKay Coppins, a Mormon journalist, stated in an article in The Atlantic that the series demonizes Mormons and misrepresents the faith. He said that "no one involved in the show felt compelled to check the customary boxes Hollywood creators have been trained to check in this era of inclusiveness and representation. Black did not hire any practicing Mormons to write or consult on the show."[3] Lindsay Hansen Park later replied that a number of faithful Mormons provided input on the show's creation, but none of them were hired as consultants by the show creators.[8]

Former American Fork Police Chief Randy Johnson said "I find the book to be substantially more accurate than the miniseries. ... I cannot recognize any actual person that I knew or came to know, accurately depicted in the series. The series does not reflect the actual investigation that I oversaw. Nor does it reflect the attitudes, behaviors and conduct of me or any of my officers. It is clearly a work of fiction as indicated by the disclaimer.”[16]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2022 Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Under the Banner of Heaven Pending [17]
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Pending [18]
Best Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Andrew Garfield Pending
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Wyatt Russell Pending
Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Daisy Edgar-Jones Pending
Best Directing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Isabel Sandoval (for "Revelation") Pending
Best Writing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Dustin Lance Black (for "When God Was Love") Pending
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Andrew Garfield Pending [19]

References

  1. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (February 17, 2022). "FX Is Ramping Up Originals: Thanks, Streaming". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Petski, Denise (March 8, 2022). "'Under The Banner Of Heaven': FX Limited Series Starring Andrew Garfield Gets Hulu Premiere Date — Photo". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Coppins, McKay (June 15, 2022). "A buzzy new true-crime series advances an old, insidious idea—that Mormons are a threat to the American project". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 16, 2022. Cite error: The named reference "TheAtlanticMomonism" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ Chuba, Kirsten (April 28, 2022). "Dustin Lance Black on the 10-Year Journey to Make 'Under the Banner of Heaven': "We Knew This Would Never Be an Easy One"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 19, 2011). "Warner Bros Acquiring Jon Krakauer's 'Under The Banner Of Heaven' For Ron Howard And Dustin Lance Black". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  6. ^ White, Peter (June 24, 2021). "Andrew Garfield & Daisy Edgar-Jones To Star In Limited Series 'Under The Banner Of Heaven' For FX From Dustin Lance Black". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 26, 2021). "Denise Gough, Wyatt Russell And Sam Worthington Among Those Joining Andrew Garfield In FX's Limited Series 'Under The Banner Of Heaven'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Lindsay Park, Rebecca Bibliotheca, Steven Pynakker (May 28, 2022). Lindsay Hansen Park's Take on Under the Banner of Heaven! The Aftershow (YouTube). Mormon Book Reviews.
  9. ^ Dryden, Joel (May 30, 2021). "Adaptation of Jon Krakauer nonfiction book on double murder to shoot in Calgary area". CBC News. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  10. ^ Gittins, Susan (August 13, 2021). "FX's UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN Series Filming in Calgary". Hollywood North Buzz. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  11. ^ Otterson, Joe (November 3, 2021). "FX Drama 'Under the Banner of Heaven' Taps 'Lingua Franca's' Isabel Sandoval to Direct (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  12. ^ "LDS Historian Was Hired As The Historical & Cultural Consultant For New Hulu Series "Under The Banner Of Heaven"". The Jimmy Rex Show (Podcast).
  13. ^ "Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  14. ^ "Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  15. ^ "Under the Banner of Old Tropes". 22 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Under the Banner of Heaven: American Fork Police Chief Randy Johnson interviewed by Craig Foster". FAIR. July 14, 2022.
  17. ^ Longeretta, Emily (June 16, 2022). "'Abbott Elementary' Leads 2022 TCA Awards Nominations: Full List". Variety. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  18. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (2022-07-07). "'This Is Us,' 'Succession,' 'Severance' Lead 2022 HCA TV Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  19. ^ "Under The Banner of Heaven". July 12, 2022. Retrieved July 13, 2022.