Beneath the Banner of Heaven, Andrew Garfield Reveals ‘Strangely Sacrificial’ Meaning of Pyre Priesthood Speech
[The following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of Under the Banner of Heaven. Read at your own risk!]
Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) is one of the most progressive and feminist characters in Under the banner of heaven, although when compared to fundamentalists who can be driven to a murderous rage when a woman dares to want a job of her own, we admit that the bar is not so high. However, there’s a moment in Episode 3 of the FX limited series on Hulu that makes you wonder just how much Jeb believes in the “a wife must serve her husband” teachings of the LDS faith.
After an alarming conversation with his bishop about blood atonement and how Jeb’s questions about ancient church customs are closed, the detective’s crisis of faith becomes a pressing matter. In a later scene, he suggests to his wife that they delay the baptisms of their young daughters and the idea does not sit well. The in-laws have already made travel plans and Rebecca doesn’t want the congregation or their neighbors to think the girls failed their baptismal interview due to a “very unusual” postponement of the Mormon ceremonial right of passage.
When his wife refuses to concede and postpone the baptisms, Jeb declares: “The decision has been made. As a priesthood holder, I need you to back me up on this, and I’m not asking for anything. Yes, at first glance it looks like Jeb was definitely drinking Lafferty Kool-Aid, but Andrew Garfield reveals there’s more to the scene than meets the eye.
“He’s conditioned by the religion he was born into. He draws this card because something deeper is going on. I don’t think he wants to. I don’t think he’s ever done it with his wife before,” the actor explained. to the TV Guide. “But I think there’s a protection from his wife at that point, like, ‘You have to trust me on this. If we do this baptism now, my heart won’t be there and I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you my heart won’t be in it, so I’m gonna do something that’s gonna make me look really bad in your eyes.'”
For Jeb, helping the girls officially enter the church and take responsibility for their own sins as he is just beginning to unravel the twisted damage of the Laffertys’ twisted faith is far worse than embarrassing the family by delaying the process. For Mormons, doubting the faith is one of the worst things a believer can do and Jeb wants to make sure his heart is pure before officially bringing his daughters into the church. It’s just impossible to explain this to his wife without upsetting her far more than he already has.
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“It’s a weird moment of self-sacrifice. It’s not ‘I’m the man and you do as I say.’ It’s more ‘I need to protect you from the truth of what I’m going through and I’m going to pose as a patriarchal asshole in the process to protect you from the crisis of faith that’s starting to occur in my heart “, Garfield continued. “It’s a small misdirection on Jeb’s part.
As with almost everything in this series, even Jeb’s statements aren’t exactly what they seem. As the case begins to unfold, it looks like a postponed baptism is about to be the least of Jeb’s problems when it comes to getting answers from the church.
The first three episodes of FX’s Under the banner of heaven are now available on Hulu, with new episodes airing weekly on Thursdays.
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