|Under the Banner of Heaven|
|Created by||Dustin Lance Black|
|Based on||Under the Banner of Heaven|
by Jon Krakauer
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||7|
|Running time||63–88 minutes|
|Release||April 28 –|
June 2, 2022
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 Hulu. Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham star as two detectives investigating a brutal murder and its connections to Mormonism. The series, while reigniting controversy in the Mormon faith, received positive reviews, particularly for Garfield's and Wyatt Russell's performance.
The faith of police detective Jeb Pyre is shaken when investigating the murder of a Latter-day Saint mother and her baby daughter that seems to involve the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
|Lafferty family tree|
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"When God Was Love"||David Mackenzie||Dustin Lance Black||April 28, 2022|
|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 Mackenzie||Dustin Lance Black||April 28, 2022|
|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 Hunt||Story by : Emer Gillespie & Dustin Lance Black|
Teleplay by : Dustin Lance Black
|May 5, 2022|
|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 Hunt||Gina Welch||May 12, 2022|
|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 Black||Brandon Boyce||May 19, 2022|
|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 community alone, having been abandoned by Ron and Dan. Pyre discovers Ron's list of people who 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 Sandoval||Gina Welch||May 26, 2022|
|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 Schlamme||Brandon Boyce & Dustin Lance Black||June 2, 2022|
|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 and his faith as Allen did.|
Initially intended to be adapted as a film beginning in 2011, 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. The cast was rounded out in August, with Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell, Denise Gough, Rory Culkin, and Gil Birmingham among the new additions.
[A] criticism was the overuse of the word "brother". Everyone calls [each other] "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 (of the Sunstone Education Foundation) and Troy Williams (of Equality Utah) worked as cultural and historical consultants. Lindsay says that when the show's creator employed her, he said her job was to "keep us honest."
Filming in Alberta began in August 2021 and was completed in December 2021.
The series premiered on April 28, 2022, on FX on Hulu. It is also set to premiere on Disney+ (Star) in international markets and Star+ In Latin America soon after. The series made its linear premiere on the FX channel on March 7, 2023.
According to the streaming aggregator Reelgood, Under the Banner of Heaven was the 7th most streamed program across all platforms, during the week of May 4, 2022, the 8th most streamed program during the week of May 11, 2022, the 5th most streamed television series during the week of May 14, 2022, and the 9th during the week of May 21, 2022.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported as 86% approval rating with an average rating of 7.40/10, based on 49 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." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 71 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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. 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." Lindsay Hansen Park later replied, "I guess Deseret News had printed something where they said they had asked FX if there were faithful members involved and they said no. I don't even know why they printed that, that must be misinformation, because we did tell them yes, that there were, cause there were! We had bishops, we had Relief Society Presidents, we had a good number of faithful people that we consulted. [...] I've named a few of the people who I think are okay with me naming them on my Facebook, some scholars who helped. But there are — for this reason — people that don't want their name to be involved."
Randy Johnson, the American Fork chief of police in charge of the 1984 murder investigation 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.” Sharon Wright Weeks, Brenda's sister, likewise said that, "I do not recognize her [Brenda] at all in any of the show."
|2022||Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards||Best Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Under the Banner of Heaven||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Andrew Garfield||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Wyatt Russell||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Daisy Edgar-Jones||Nominated|
|Best Directing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Isabel Sandoval (for "Revelation")||Nominated|
|Best Writing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series||Dustin Lance Black (for "When God Was Love")||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Andrew Garfield||Nominated|||
|Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials||Under the Banner of Heaven||Nominated|||
|2023||Critics' Choice Awards||Best Limited Series||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television||Andrew Garfield||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film||Daisy Edgar-Jones||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Miniseries||Under the Banner of Heaven||Won|||
|Best Actor in a Miniseries, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television||Andrew Garfield||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television||Sam Worthington||Nominated|
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