This Righteous Gemstones review contains spoilers.
The Righteous Gemstones Episode 8
Though every episode title for The Righteous Gemstones’ first season has foreshadowed the events within using an appropriate biblical verse, perhaps none is more befittingly on the nose than “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall.” The penultimate episode of this stellar first season, “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” is a dark installment for pretty much every character. The storm caused by Scotty and his robbery rains down hard on all of the Gemstones and proves that the foundations of this powerful family were greatly weakened by the loss of Aimee-Leigh and only waiting for one turbulent event to send the whole clan crumbling.
Well, I guess things aren’t exactly bad for everyone. Everyone’s favorite supporting character, Baby Billy, is celebrating a successful Easter Sunday service with some road dome when Scotty’s fleeing red van slams right into the side of his vehicle. At first, Baby Billy and Tiffany think that Scotty is dead, but when he jolts to life and scares Tiffany, she shoots him in the head. They unsuccessfully try to hide the body and van in a nearby marsh, but not before discovering the $3 million, which Baby Billy quickly identifies as Gemstone money. The pair takeoff with the money, fleeing town, but not before Baby Billy cruelly dumps Judy, telling the already insecure Gemstone that she doesn’t hold a candle to her mother.
Having Baby Billy end up with the money is a great twist. Scotty was a weak villain that was already starting to wear thin. It’s a much better idea to make the far more compelling Baby Billy the new culprit, who will likely take his new $3 million and use it to become an even sharper thorn in Eli’s side, as long as the police don’t come looking for him. Of course, Judy is collateral damage in Baby Billy’s scheme, and the rejection that he gives her, paired with BJ leaving last week, sets her over the edge. Her hardships in this episode are played almost entirely for laughs, with Judy showing up at BJ’s work to try and woo him back. Everything about this scene, from BJ insisting that he’s “more edgy” with a new earring, to Judy believing that BJ’s lesbian co-worker is looking to “sample some clean dick” and BJ referring to his young patient as “Mr. Walters” absolutely slays. Judy goes berserk in the parking lot and ends up arrested, but Eli is able to grease a few palms and bail her out.
Things in Jesse’s home are a lot more serious. Though we unfortunately do not get to see what was discussed between father and son as they waited to be rescued from the vault, Gideon takes complete blame for the situation and doesn’t sell Jesse out about the blackmail tape. Amber is heartbroken and immediately kicks Gideon out, but Jesse is moved by his son keeping his secret. Not only that, but Jesse actually processes his role in this whole unfortunate betrayal, realizing that he’s to blame for driving his son to the point of hatred. Danny McBride does some of his finest acting, thanking Gideon in private and emotionally apologizing for being a neglectful father. It’s a powerful resolution between father and son and one that inspires Jesse to come clean about his sins.
However, just because Jesse feels the urge to come clean doesn’t mean that he has to bring all of his friends down with him, yet hilariously, he does it anyway. Jesse gathers his friends and their wives (even a few children) to screen them the tape, and all of the family members of those shown on the top are disgusted, but no one more than Amber. Knowing that she’s been lied to so many times in so many different ways, Amber goes postal, eventually shooting Jesse in the ass with a rifle. What Jesse thought would be an admirable gesture backfires on him, quite literally.
In other news, the events on Easter shake Eli and Kelvin up greatly. In another great, emotional moment, Eli wonders aloud if should have just heeded his father’s advice and kept his whole pastor operation small. Eli also comes to the realization that he can’t keep soldiering on without Aimee-Leigh. Eli’s shaken confidence and fragility then sends Kelvin into a spiral, and he ends up drinking wine (gasp!) and dismissing Keefe from his home, feeling unworthy about having such a loyal follower. It’s admittedly quiet silly, but Adam Devine and Anthony Cavalero play it like the infamous “go away!” scene in Air Bud.
Like all the best biblical characters, the Gemstones are tried and tested greatly this week, and these fragile, pampered weirdos don’t take trials and tribulations very well. Next week is the season finale, and based on the slowly building crescendo of these last two installments, I’d expect something extra explosive to take place. We already know that Gemstones will be back for Season 2, so perhaps we’ll be left with a tantalizing cliffhanger? I guess we’ll have to tune in to find out.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.