Rameumptom Ruminations: 055: Under the Banner of Heaven Review with RFM

A love letter to the ex-Mormon community, Under the Banner of Heaven is an emotional ride from start to finish portrayed through the lens of a man struggling through a faith crisis. Radio Free Mormon joins the podcast once again to discuss the show. Spoiler alert. In the episode, we discuss the show at length and cover the events throughout the series.

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9 thoughts on “Rameumptom Ruminations: 055: Under the Banner of Heaven Review with RFM”

  1. The creators of the show only left a few names the same: Brenda, Allen, Ron, and Dan. The dad and other Lafferty brothers’ names were all changed for the show. So you’re both correct: the father’s name is Watson in real life and Ammon in the show.

    1. Thanks for looking into that for us. I had IMDB up during our chat, but that didn’t reflect the real world names.

  2. I really enjoyed the review. There was a nightly TV newscast done by students on KBYU Channel 11. It was named “Newsroom 11” then at some point changed its name to something I don’t remember. As kids we watched it to get laughs out of the mistakes and difficulties of the students, which I feel bad about now. I believe one of Utah’s most popular TV news anchors of the ’80s and ’90s, Michelle King, came from KBYU.

  3. I got about an hour into this discussion and, wow, when you started talking about Mathilda’s character, I had to wonder if you and I had even watched the same show. The things you said were so upsetting, so triggering, I literally lost sleep last night wondering how to I could possibly respond.
    You talked about her needing a “redemption arc” and said that she had acted as a defender of the fundamentalist faith and of the brothers. I truly don’t want to make accusations or insult you, so please try to read this with an open mind, but when I heard you say those things, I felt like I was hearing the voice of the entire patriarchy and its hateful ignorance crushing me. How did you not see who she was? How did you not see that she was already broken when she joined that horrible family? She was spiritually and emotionally abused for years. She was an abuse victim. No, she wasn’t strong. She was barely surviving. And somehow you think that this desperate, sad, abused, heartbroken woman needed to be redeemed? My gosh–you sound like the Bishops who tell rape-victims to repent.
    Yes, Brenda was lovely and strong. But she was raised to be strong. Her background made her strong. Strength came easily to her and it was easy for all of us to admire her strength and confidence. Mathilda didn’t have any of that, and that’s what made her so very compelling. She was broken, down-trodden to the point that she had no fight left. Redemption arc? How dare you. And the fact that you didn’t see that she was utterly conflicted–painfully conflicted in every scene. How? How is that possible? I can only assume (and this is really troubling) that somehow male privilege has blinded, not just you, but I’m sure many men in the church, to what a torn, conflicted woman even looks like.
    Please get out and talk to some women who have suffered spiritual and emotional abuse. Find out what it’s like to be in a religion and a culture that teaches in a million insidious little ways that you really are worthless. Then come back and tell me that abuse victims like Mathilda should have been stronger and need to redeem themselves.

    1. I am so sorry that the way I viewed this story arc upset you. In no way did I mean to diminish or downplay the real harm that these institutions have done to women. My critique had to do with the storytelling and not the subject matter of the themes. I agree with you on almost all fronts. I loved her character, and I enjoyed the story they were telling about her. Her story was one of the most important ones in the show. My critique of the writing was that they needed to give it more screen time. My complaint on the redemption arc had to do with the fact that they did not give this story enough build-up leading up to the climax. I was left wanting to see her more and see her struggle more. I never said she should redeem herself. Diana came to rescue her from the Laffertys. I felt as though the acress Chloe Pirrie did an outstanding job as Matilda.

      None of these complaints mean that I don’t sympathize with her struggles. I’m sorry that you interpreted my critique of the story as a critique of those that have struggled through similar abusive systems. In no way was I endorsing the systems or belittling her struggles. In the future I’ll do my best to explain myself better. I recognize that I come from a place of privilege. I am sorry that you misunderstood my criticism of the storytelling in a way that I did not intend.

      1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. Sorry for going on a rant–there has been so much around this show that has been surprisingly triggering and difficult to deal with. I appreciate your insights and thank you for taking the time to read and consider my perspective.

    2. The “new movie” referenced by RFM regarding the Carthage Jail conspiracy is not new. It is a short documentary by Justin Griffin, called “Who Killed Jospeh Smith?”, and is available on YouTube.

      I sincerely appreciate your perceptions as a writer while reviewing the Hulu series. Although familiar with Campbell’s template of the hero’s journey, I did not make the connection with UTBOH until you referenced it.

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