The following will contains spoilers for The Righteous Gemstones season 2, episode 6. For last week’s recap/review, click here.
The Righteous Gemstones returns to the present day, as does its naming tradition of biblical scripture. This week’s title, “Never Avenge Yourselves, But Leave It To The Wrath”, is a paraphrase of Romans 12:19. Said scripture refers to karma, leaving God’s will to sort issues out. As in past episodes, this scripture further hammers home how screwed the Gemstones are in their current predicament. Redundancy of title be damned, director Jody Hill delivers another bang-up episode of HBO’s most underrated series.
Jesse (Danny McBride) and Amber (Cassidy Freeman) narrowly survive their encounter with the murderous motorcycle-riding assassins. Stepping out of the party bus, Jesse fires shot after shot towards the fleeing would-be hitmen. Amber, expert marksman that she is, pops off a few shots that manage to get close to wounding them. At a Church service, Amber is praised as a hero- compared to David slaying Goliath. Fragile as ever, Jesse challenges this comparison, and decides to hold a meeting of his own.
Gathering all the men from the congregation, Jesse says that it’s time for them to rise up. The kind of artificial pomp and circumstance Danny McBride gives this meeting makes it characteristically hilarious, but the scene also gives us some time with many of his old crew from the first season. Seeing characters like Levi (Hill himself) and Chad (James Dumont) get their due makes me happy. For all the outstanding work season 2 accomplishes, Jesse’s boys are sorely missed in some episodes. Now, the gang’s back together and they have a plan. They are to go intimidate the man who Jesse thinks is behind this: Junior (Eric Roberts). Armed with David-style slingshots, they go out in the cover of night to confront the man (allegedly) responsible.
Everything about this set-up is funny. Jesse making sure they brandish a weapon of the Biblical figure their wife is compared to? Priceless. Their escalating threats to Junior, saying they’re going to chop off the limbs of his friends and family? Great. The absolute peak of this sequence comes when one of Jesse’s men says they’ll “rape em”, leading the group to openly talk about how now they’re going too far with the threats. It’s the funniest bit of The Righteous Gemstones this season by far. Either way, with a few rocks thrown at him later, Junior gets the message. It’s doubtful at this point that he’s involved in the killings. If this is his send off, it’s a good one.
Judy’s (Edi Patterson) storyline this week has her stuck watching over Tiffany (Valyn Hall), the abandoned second wife of “Baby Billy” Freeman (Walt Goggins). Judy has her traditional snark, Tiffany her ignorance, and it seems to be a typical Odd Couple filler pairing. Surprisingly, Hill lets us see Judy’s realization of the pain Baby Billy’s abandonment of Tiffany left. She spills the beans to Tiffany about Harmon, Baby Billy’s first abandoned son. At this point, it’s clear as day that Harmon is going to appear in this season to some capacity. And when does, it’s going to be huge.
Judy’s husband, BJ (Tim Baltz), goes to meet with Eli Gemstone (John Goodman). Like the scene with Tiffany and Judy before, it’s a good opportunity for a smidge of awkward humor. Yet, akin to the scene, they take it to a more heartfelt place than necessary. BJ expresses that the Gemstones seem dysfunctional. A meager insight, sure, but he expands upon it, stating that the Gemstone siblings only want his approval. Eli is moved, delivering BJ something he’s always wanted… a handshake. BJ returns to Judy and Tiffany, beaming about his newfound (step towards) acceptance.
Kelvin (Adam DeVine) has the roughest go of all the siblings this episode. Out of commission due to his broken thumbs, he has become the laughing stock of nearly all of the God Squad. A member of the God Squad, Tourston, challenges him for leadership in the same cross-bearing challenge we saw episode before. Kelvin accepts, thinking it’ll be another easy victory. Much to his horror, Tourston completes the challenge perfectly. That’s when Keefe (Tony Cavalero) comes to the rescue as his champion; or so it seems. He fails the challenge, leaving Kelvin dethroned of of his own enterprise.
As the God Squad reduces Kelvin to household chores, Eli pays him a visit. He gives a tender apology for not taking him seriously, not being there for him, and, most importantly, publicly breaking his thumbs. Kelvin is cold towards him, barely acknowledging his words, so Eli leaves. As Eli drives, he meets an alarming fate: the same group of motorcycle assassins pull up on him and fire into his car, gaining at least one hit. Eli crashes; fade to blame.
Is Eli dead? Who’s to say for sure. I’m not convinced that they’d off him in this way without a more violent or distressing end, judging by the patterns of previous character deaths. No matter, the die is cast. The Gemstones are in more danger than ever before. The Righteous Gemstones this week is another slam dunk, marrying the tender to the hilarious in an episode that has an ending that could change the family forever. –James Preston Poole
Episode Rating: 9/10
Season Rating: 9/10
The Righteous Gemstones season 2 episodes 1-6 are now streaming on HBO Max, along with season 1.