Hand of God: One Saved Message

Okay, so here’s the deal. The eighth chapter – or should we say commandment – of Hand of God is kind of a mess. Despite some great performances, especially by Dana Delany and Garret Dillahunt, the episode suffers from a confusing script.

On Hold
Is it because of the way it’s directed? Well, I suppose Mario van Peebles could’ve made better choices concerning the incorporation of the flashbacks, but it’s mostly due to the fact how the story’s constructed that makes ‘One Saved Message’ feel all over the place. Last week, Pernell (Ron Perlman) misinterpreted the signs/his hunch and got Josh killed. Before KD took his chance, Josh did share a piece of important information with Pernell. PJ was seeing somebody. Somebody who could be pivotal to PJ’s decision to shoot himself. Or did he? However, all this is put on hold for the moment. The reason for that being..? An unnecessary flashback episode.

Antagonizing Mental Coach
Pernell’s in a crisis of conscience, literately. Has he indeed been misreading the signs/visions/hallucinations all along? It’s not gotten him closer to anything, really. So when his office – his judge chamber – gets flooded with white imaginary doves, he knows he’d better get some help. And so he does. It’s Dr. Langston (Camryn Manheim, Person of Interest, Extant and the lady with the pierced ears on The Practice), who should be a psychologist, but she’s more of an antagonizing mental coach. I can’t imagine this approach would ever actually work, since trust needs to be established first. I would’ve been out of there in no time, and got myself someone with a little more compassion.

Unrecognizable Flashbacks
It seems like the voluntary admittance is just a framework, in order to weave flashbacks into it. But the problem is, it doesn’t quite work. There’s no indication they’re actually flashbacks, for starters. It’s hard to distinguish reality and Pernell’s reality filled with hallucinations as it is. Unrecognizable flashbacks thrown into the mix, that’s asking a bit much. Besides, they don’t add much to the story. Is it necessary, or even nice, to know how Pernell got in contact with Paul and Alicia of the Hand of God Church? Have we been dying to see, ever since the first episode, how Pernell got baptised? How PJ’s suicide attempt affected him while being with Tessie? Not really. Or not at all, I should say.

Pernell questioning his visions and his belief, that’s a believable turn of events. Unfortunately, the writers opted for the most obvious way to examine it; a therapy session. It’s not all bad, though, absolutely not. Pernell and Crystal (Dana Delany) are on speaking terms again. Sitting across from each other, being more honest than they’ve been in a long time. Crystal, who’s started (or have been?) sleeping with men outside of her marriage, throws it all on the table. It’s another great performance by Delany. There’s really no going around her when the nominees for the Golden Globes are announced.

Burning Down the House
Garret Dillahunt hasn’t had a lot to do these past few episodes, KD’s been kind of waiting around till Pernell tells him to take care of another suspect for him. But Josh was a mistake. He’s killed an innocent guy and it’s weighing on him. He decides to burn down his house, and himself with it. Alicia (Elizabeth McLaughlin) is just in time to save him – not his house, though. Dillahunt’s at his best when his characters are tormented and/or heavily conflicted. Some actors have it, some don’t, the ability to show you everything you need to know in just their eyes. Dillahunt’s definitely got it.

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