Monday, September 28, 2015

Hand of God: Yet Another Amazon Show Well Worth the Time

The Amazon Original Series Hand of God is a psychological thriller/mystery about a corrupt judge who, following his son's attempted suicide and subsequent coma, believes he is receiving direct messages from God leading him to enact vigilante justice to avenge his son.

My wife and I binge watched it over the last week and we didn't look at any reviews before embarking on this. And I'm glad I didn't. Having finished, I see some mixed reviews that, had I read them before starting, might have dissuaded me from starting to watch. And that would have been a shame and a loss. Because this show is simply terrific and worth every second of our time.

As I have read some of the reviews, I seriously think they have misjudged and missed the whole point of the show. 

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a practicing Eastern Orthodox Christian. The show is anything but anti-Christian. It's certainly not Christian propaganda either. It's just brutally real in its depiction of people of faith, with all their zits and warts and failings. Far from being insulted, I'm gratified that a show dares to depict the abuses and excesses and confusions of people of faith, while not taking any cheap shots. 

The main protagonist, Pernell Harris (brilliantly played by Ron Perlman, who is just one of many actors who deserves an Emmy for their work on this show) is a classical prophet, who practices his perceived commission, while also harboring doubt about the validity of it all. 

He is surrounded by a cast of characters that are charming in their authenticity and disarming in their intensity. The stunning and talented Dana Delany ably presents Pernell's wife Crystal as a grieving mother simultaneously dealing with her loss, the confusion of her husband's new found faith, and revelations about his continued infidelities.

These two are the core of the show, but with each passing episode I found myself cheering at the performances of the supporting cast that frequently, as it were, steal the show by
their own incredible performances within this engaging story.

KD (who shares with me the name Keith), played by Garret Dillahunt, is Pernell's "Benaiah." He takes on the role of "henchman for God," until shadows begin to fall on Pernell's ministry. He portrays KD with a tender simplicity and richness.

Where to even start with Mayor Robert Boston, played by Andre Royo? He is an electrifying presence. There is a scene in the final episode between him, his son, and his grandfather which, in a world based on justice, should earn him an Emmy. I paused it and replayed it twice, marveling at the richness of the writing and the acting. 

The cast rounds out with laudable performances from Alona Tal, Julian Morris, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Elizabeth McLaughlin.

This is a story that grabs you by the heart. Until the very last moment, you are one with the characters in the confusion of whether or not Pernell's visions are from of God or a sad delusion. No spoiler here. In the end, it doesn't matter. This is a story worth experiencing either way.