UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN on Hulu is a new crime-mystery series. It’s a dark story about the power (and danger) of religious fanatics. In the case of this story, it’s LDS fundamentalism. The series premieres with two very strong episodes. Read our full Under the Banner of Heaven review here!
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN is a new Hulu series (produced by FX) and it features several very dark subjects. Mostly, it’s about how people can be blinded by faith or simply lose faith when they see what it does to others. In other words, it’s about fundamentalism and fanatics who lose their way.
The episodes will be released weekly, but to get started with enough of the plot, the series premieres with the release of two hour-long episodes. After seeing them, you’ll have a good idea about just how dark this story is.
Continue reading our Under the Banner of Heaven review below and find the first episodes on Hulu now.
The dangers of fundamentalism
I am not a huge fan of organized religion for the simple reason that it tends to be “organized” around income and control. In other words: Money and power. Now, in the story of Under the Banner of Heaven, money doesn’t play a big role, but control definitely does.
Think more The Handmaid’s Tale and less The Eyes of Tammy Faye (which also co-starred Andrew Garfield). This new FX on Hulu series opens with a brutal murder and this definitely sets the tone. Not that we see the murder, but we see the bloody crime scene. This series is a very dark story about the power (and danger) of religious fanatics. In this case, LDS fundamentalism.
However, the more normal side of LDS (Latter Day Saints or just “Mormons”) is also shown. Here the focus is on love and trust with family and health at the core of everything. The main protagonist is Police Detective Pyre (Andrew Garfield) who is a devout member of the LDS as well. Something that quickly proves to be a bigger challenge than he ever expected.
Still, this is the same group of people who took in Ted Bundy and thought he was a swell guy. Someone they supported for far too long. He was excommunicated by the LDS Church after his 1976 kidnapping conviction.
Accused of the murders, initially, is Allen Lafferty who is portrayed by Billy Howle. You’ll recognize him from the Netflix series The Serpent where he worked to solve several missing cases (that turned out to be murder cases). A great performance from him in that series, but he is at least as good here in Under the Banner of Heaven.
He plays the husband of the woman murdered, and the father of the child. The murdered woman is Brenda, who is played (in flashbacks) by Daisy Edgar-Jones. She was in the Hulu movie Fresh (2022) which you’ll want to check out as well!
The rest of the Lafferty family is where the names become quite familiar in this star-studded cast: Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell, Rory Culkin, and Christopher Heyerdahl (The Peacemaker) as the head of the family. Also, alongside Andrew Garfield in the lead role, we have his colleague, Detective Taba, portrayed by Gil Birmingham (Wind River, Pieces of Her) who is not in the LDS Church.
Is Under the Banner of Heaven based on a true story?
Yes, Under the Banner of Heaven on Hulu is based on a true story. Or rather, a true crime! It’s based on a non-fiction book where the author investigated and juxtaposed two histories. Both the origin and evolution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and the double murder that this series opens with.
In other words, this series is a very direct adaptation since there is a focus on both elements as well. Continuously tying the real-life evolution of events to the story of how the LDS Church evolved as well.
Yeah, as I said at first, I am not a huge fan of organized religion. For one, these religions always seem to regard men (straight, of course!) as being in charge and overall better in every way. Well, except when it comes to duties around the house, of course. That’s probably why they looked at Ted Bundy and saw a wonderful person. He was, after all, a straight man – with a winning personality, of course.
Start watching Under the Banner of Heaven on Hulu now!
Dustin Lance Black is the creator of this new FX on Hulu series. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because he has already written quite a lot of huge movies. He is an Oscar-winning screenwriter (for Milk) and also wrote Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar (2011).
The earlier mentioned book that this series is based on was written by Jon Krakauer. He also wrote the non-fiction book Into the Wild. This was also turned into a movie in 2007 – directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch (Midnight in the Switchgrass).
There are seven episodes in this FX on Hulu series. Dustin Lance Black is a director on one of the episodes, while Isabel Sandoval and Thomas Schlamme also direct one episode each. Rounding out the team of directors are Courtney Hunt (Utopia) and David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) who each direct two episodes.
The series opens with the murder of a young woman and her 15-month-old baby and based on these first two episodes, I will definitely watch the rest to find out how it came to that. Through flashbacks, we’re shown the evolution of events. Not that it will make much sense, necessarily, but it does explain how it could end so tragically.
Under the Banner of Heaven premieres on Hulu with two episodes on April 28, 2022. Weekly episodes will be released on Thursdays with the final episode out on June 2, 2022.
Creator: Dustin Lance Black
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Gil Birmingham, Denise Gough, Wyatt Russell, Rory Culkin, Christopher Heyerdahl
As Detective Jeb Pyre investigates the murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her baby daughter in a Salt Lake Valley, Utah, suburb, he uncovers buried truths about the origins of the LDS religion and the violent consequences of unyielding faith.