It’s episode 7 of one of the best new series this year – if not the best, Hand of God, and Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman) isn’t exactly getting closer to the truth. There is however new information about his son PJ (Johnny Ferro), but it’s almost insignificant. Almost.
This show knows how it’s done, in every way. Camera, lights, acting, the whole production’s been flawless up to this point. Seven perfect hours of television in a row, I can hardly remember the last time that happened. But also in storytelling, this series has no equal. I’m talking specifically about the leads its characters are chasing – the discovery of new information that drives the plot forward. Many other shows use a trick. A cheap trick. Blindspot, The Blacklist, and also Alcatraz, to name one for which the trick didn’t really work (since it was cancelled after a short first season). Their concepts have the leads built in, in the sense that all Kurt Weller has to do is figure out what Jane Doe’s next tattoo means and once that’s cleared up, we’re a little bit closer to the truth. Explain enough tattoos and we get the answer we’ve been waiting for all along. That’s a pretty common way to do it; just work off a list. But Hand of God is much more sophisticated than that. Leads and clues come from anywhere, from anyone, at any time.
The mystery of the show is PJ. Who’s responsible for his (alleged) suicide, and is he going to wake up from his coma? It’s not like Pernell is getting one lead from God every week to chase – which is how a traditional network series would probably handle it. No, this time, it’s PJ’s best friend Josh (Hunter Parrish) who tells him something that he believes is just a raunchy detail, but it’s more significant to the story than it may appear. PJ was having an affair. And she could know about that memory stick which looks like the smoking gun of it all.
I bet next week Pernell’s going to track down the girl, and because some things are like father like son, maybe PJ was seeing Tessie (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who knows? Probably not, though. Apart from being very coincidental, it’s nothing more but a twist that would make Pernell throw up in his mouth, but nothing else. While Hand of God is shooting for that ‘else’. A deeper layer. That’s not to say Pernell isn’t a bit let down by PJ cheating on Jocelyn (Alona Tal). He fails to see the irony – he himself even married the woman he is cheating on his wife with.
Keeping their Cool
Speaking of tracking down people and Tessie, Crystal ‘call me Crystal’ Harris (Dana Delany) has discovered, through her mole, that her husband’s secretly been getting a second wife. After cursing, but not confronting Pernell just yet, she looks up Tessie. The two of them are equals in the way they’re able to keep their emotions completely in check. Where other series would just have the wife throw a glass of whatever they’re drinking in the prostitute’s face, threaten her and storm out, Hand of God shows it’s a show by, for and about grownups. Of course, in the end Crystal does threaten Tessie, because what else can she do, but their whole conversation’s superbly written and acted. There’s not much more that I love than to see two arch enemies discuss things over a glass of cognac, figuring each other out, keeping their guards up at all times, like each other but hate each other, and keeping their cool.
Pernell has ordered a hit out on Josh, but too soon. Josh is one of the good guys. So KD (Garret Dillahunt) has to be called off, but he’s unreachable – something Pernell told him to be. In order to save Josh, Pernell takes him hostage in his apartment, where KD’s circling the building. As long as Pernell’s inside, Josh will be safe. Until he escapes and KD does what he’s supposed to do; Pernell’s dirty work.