Home » THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES Season 3: Chapters 4 & 5 | Review

THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES Season 3: Chapters 4 & 5 | Review

by Matthew Smith
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Something that The Righteous Gemstones has casually done really well, aside from graduating from comedy into crime, is the use of flashbacks to anchor their key storylines. The first time or two, there is a novelty, but they have slowly increased in frequency and relevance, adding unique depth to already sound characters. They’re still cartoony, of course, but it has been a refreshing change of pace to step back and find out a bit more about why they are the way they are. Furthermore, they use entire episodes to fill these gaps, as opposed to the odd sequence. What’s more, the casting and performances of the Gemstones’ youthful alternates (save for John Goodman who has been digitally de-aged so well that it gives Indiana Jones a run for its money) are so elite that you achieve a whole new level of investment – but more on that later.

Chapter 4 picks up by placing strain on the relationship between Kelvin and Keefe. Where Keefe’s actions on behalf of the Smut Busters project were so obviously innocent, congregation parents are less convinced, and Keefe is given the boot much to Kelvin’s personal disappointment. How Keefe’s character remains close to the show’s central arcs is anyone’s guess with rumors of him being reassigned to Africa, but given that he’s one of the best characters the show has to offer, you’d have to bet that he’ll return to save the day somehow.

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Meanwhile, where Jesse’s induction into the Cape and Pistol Society (again, incredible name) leads him to believe that he is ahead of the curve with regards to achieving similar status to Eli, he is quickly brought down to earth when, as it turns out, he is forced to abide by their rules of etiquette rather than his non-existent own. Cue Baby Billy, who takes Jesse’s moment of self-doubt as an opportunity to pitch his next great idea – Aimee Leigh’s holographics. No doubt, Eli will have plenty to say about letting her rest and forging his own path, but for now, there are likely some Sunday morning capers on the cards.

Elsewhere, where stakes are higher, Judy is still managing to fend off the truth from BJ, but the relentless Stephen forces her into a corner whence she is forced to finally confess. The outcome of this confession as far as BJ is concerned will likely be key to how the rest of the season plays out. Sure, he will be heartbroken, but he is as loyal as they come, and will likely continue to defend her honor to all comers.

Finally, it is learned that, if a bit predictable, Karl and Chuck are indeed plants. The episode hangs a cliff on the pair driving an absurd amount of ammonium nitrate off the Gemstone compound to their waiting father. God only knows what their plans will be with that amount of explosives at their disposal. Could it be that they want to burn the Gemstone buildings to the ground so that they are all existing on a more even keel? Or, given that they made way with a Gemstone vehicle, could there be some framing at play? It would certainly make sense – any ploy to level the playing field.

Just when the drama is ramping up, there is once again a whisk to the past, this time in the form of the aptly titled ‘Interlude III‘ which spends an entertaining half hour in the presence of the always welcome Aimee-Leigh who, in the midst of Y2K era sensitivities, is looking deliberately more and more Tammy Faye Bakker by the appearance.

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As it is then played out, this snapshot in time doesn’t just serve as an excuse to revel in new millennium pop culture references (there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Darkman reference that is absolutely out of control), but as the potential crux of the whole damn season. Pertinently, Amber is introduced to the family for the first time, and witnessed are the initial stages of her relationship with Judy. More interestingly, though, is the focus on a far more meek and submissive Peter who, at this point in time, is still very much married to May-May. In the run-up to the famous Y2K non-event, the Gemstones have developed an additional revenue stream in their Survival Buckets – family-branded, overpriced literal buckets of supplies that could have equally been purchased at Wal-Mart at regular pricing. Trust the Gemstones, however, to prey on the faithful, whichever angle you look at it. It turns out that one suggestible who has over-invested and therefore stands to lose out the most is Peter who used all of their family savings on $25,000 worth of ‘buckets’. And though Eli does stand to lecture Peter on the nature of the investment, he still does his brother-in-law the solid of offering to buy them back so as to relieve the financial strain. May-May inexplicably refuses, and the third Gemstone interlude climaxes with a bank robbery scene so well directed, you’d think you were watching Dog Day Afternoon…almost.

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Where this contributes most to speculation about how the present-time story continues is in terms of Peter’s motivations. Who does he resent? And who does he want to hurt? Sure, he will always take issue with the disparity between his family and Eli’s, anyhow for trying to make an honest living in the pursuit of righteousness, it is those most dishonest who have come to prosper most in this life. But Eli genuinely tried to help, whereas May-May was stubborn. And, back in the here and now, May-May has come to reconcile almost entirely with her brother, while Peter, for all his earlier best intentions and efforts, is more cast out than ever.

The Righteous Gemstones continues Sunday nights on HBO/MAX.

 

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