The labyrinth of strange philosophies and fundamentalism was growing even more complex, every passing day. Jeb Pyre had realized that Brenda’s and her daughter’s murder was caused by the zealotry approach that a few men had resorted to in their own community. Jeb was as scared as any victim, because he took the attack personally. He was ousted from his beliefs and was made to question the age-old customs and traditions that he had so much faith in. Previously, in “Under the Banner of Heaven” Episode 2, we saw that Bill Tada had gone looking for anonymous people residing in the middle of a forest. He had found a cabin where he suspected that a few suspects would be hiding. Back at the police station, Jeb Pyre was interrogating Robin and Allen Lafferty at the same time. He had a hunch that the murder was committed by one of the Lafferty brothers, but with the revelation, things were becoming more complicated.
Directed by Courtney Hunt, “Under the Banner of Heaven” Episode 3 follows the quest of Jeb Pyre as he unravels the mystery behind the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter.
Whom Did Jeb Pyre Find In The Cabin In The Woods? Was Sam Lafferty Mentally Unstable?
Jeb Pyre went in search of his colleague, Bill Tada. Detective Pyre was undeniably scared for more than one reason. Firstly, he knew that an anti-government group was hiding in the woods, for whom killing a man in uniform would be no less than winning a trophy, and secondly, he had never been privy to such a violent crime in his professional career. He didn’t know how to react or how to control his nerves. He found the abandoned car of Bill Tada and started following the lead. He saw the cabin in the woods. He spotted Bill Tada, who was safe and sound. He had hurt his ankle, but Jeb was glad that he was still alive. Jeb sees a girl running in the woods at the back of the cabin. He grabs hold of her and makes her sit inside one of the police vehicles. The girl was Jenny Lafferty, daughter of Sam and Sara Lafferty.
The little girl tells them, in a petrified state, that the cabin served as a fort for the men who thought they were a part of a revolution and were raising some kind of army. Before she could say anything else, her mother came running towards her out of nowhere. She was frantically shouting and cursing Jenny for being a liar. Sara Lafferty told Bill and Jeb that her sons are inside the cabin and they must follow only the heavenly father’s command. She speaks in cryptic terms and says that they were raising an army to separate the earth’s wheat from the extremists and fanatics like her were referred to as the wheat, and the other adulterated souls were the tares. Brenda used to question things. Not that she was not a pious lady, but she refused to blindly accept anything and everything. Sara felt that Brenda was a pretender and told Jeb that she was drawn towards converts like Dianna and Matilda, which according to her, was proof of the fact that she was a tare. Sara believes that there are some sins beyond repentance and hints that they would have to believe in doctrines like blood atonement, to save the world and keep the purity of their religion intact.
Jeb is flabbergasted. He doesn’t know how to approach this case and finds it hard to understand the mindset of the suspects. Jeb looks at the cabin and scrutinizes the situation. He is trying to decipher what’s going on in Sam Lafferty’s mind. All of a sudden, he gets a premonition. He realizes that to Sam, this whole situation looks like the infamous Haun’s Mill Massacre. He wanted them to enter the cabin and fire at them. Sam, and whosoever was there inside with him were ready to sacrifice their children, just like what happened in Missouri in 1938. Back in the day the government of Missouri had put out an extinction order. They started firing at the saints who were working in the fields. The people started running and hid in a cabin that looked exactly like the present one. The government agents came there and shot everybody inside the cabin. Only three Mormon boys, aged 7, 9, and 10 years old, respectively, survived, but they were brought out and shot point-blank. Jeb speculates that in Sam’s mind, they were like the militiamen who had come to kill them and their children. But Jeb wants to prove otherwise and wants to give one last chance to Sam to surrender. He starts walking towards the cabin, unarmed. He shouts and tells Sam that he was not there to kill him and that Joseph Smith, the true prophet, never fired back but surrendered when atrocities were being inflicted on him. But Sam points a gun at him, and Jeb signals the troops to break into the cabin. They find the boys and handcuff Sam, who is furiously shouting and calling them murderers. Just then, a man comes out of nowhere (who was hiding inside the basement) and runs towards the woods. The officers run after him but lose him in the dense forest.
Jenny is brought to the police station, where she is questioned. She reveals a thing or two, but most importantly, she says that her dad, Sam Lafferty, was not the leader of the group. She narrates an incident that took place when Allen and Brenda were getting married. Ammon Lafferty had come to know that Dan, who was in charge of the family business, had not paid the bills and the taxes. Ammon was an ardent devotee but didn’t have any anti-government sentiment. Ammon gave Dan lashings in front of everyone until Ron came and stopped the madness. There were kids standing there, and Ammon and Dan Lafferty were behaving like lunatics, who had gone crazy in the name of religion and had almost become delusional. It felt like they were living in some parallel world because their regressive ideologies and their putrid mindset had totally failed to reinvent itself with time.
Later, Jenny recalls that Dan heard the voice of the almighty the next morning while saying his daily prayer, and he decided that he was the leader of the pack.
‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Episode 3: Ending Explained – Does Allen decide to part ways with Dan Lafferty?
Jeb had taken his daughters to the bishop’s office for the baptism meeting. He takes the opportunity and tells the Bishop about the murder case and the philosophy of blood atonement, as told by Sara Lafferty. Jeb asks the Bishop if such things were a part of their religion and were the words of the prophets, the source from which such wicked ideas originated. The Bishop tells him to stop investigating and asking questions. It was one of the most convenient ways through which the people who didn’t want others to question their own beliefs and wanted to brainwash them, asked them to have faith, but in reality, they were asking them to adhere to their own personal vendettas.
Allen had a criminal history where he had unpaid traffic citations and was charged with contempt of court. Allen tells Jeb that he didn’t want to do it, but Dan had ordered everybody to stop paying fees, bills, or taxes to the government. Now Allen was jailed because he was being coerced by Dan, who had assumed the position of head of the family, to not pay the bills. Brenda tried to reason with Dan, telling him how irrational his approach was, but he scorned her off. He tells her that he was going to run for the office of Sheriff just like Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, ran for the presidential office. Dan told him that by holding the office of power he could override the legal system and refrain from paying any tax or fee that filled the government’s valets.
Allen, agreed with Brenda, and decided to part ways with his brothers, but had only one condition. He tells Brenda to have babies and raise a family with him, and only then will he leave his brothers. Later, while talking to Jeb, Allen confesses that by doing so, he just put Brenda in a cage. He found it extremely fraudulent and preposterous that women were forced to have kids in the name of God, and it was considered to be a mark of their good character and integrity. Brenda had lucrative job offers, but she was told to leave it like a good Mormon woman and honor the priesthood holder.
Robin, on the other hand, was shattered and distraught to hear the news that his sister-in-law Brenda and his niece Erica were no longer alive. Jeb is a little perplexed, as all this time, he thought that Robin had a hand in the double murder. But it seemed like he was innocent too. Jeb’s initial response was that it was all a drama, but when Robin swore on his family’s life, he knew that there was some merit in his confession.
Robin tells Jeb that Sam is not in a mental state to have committed such a grave offense. His suspicions now moved in the direction of Dan Lafferty, who was undoubtedly a fundamentalist and the head of the Lafferty family. But they still needed to locate him before drawing any conclusions. Jeb Pyre was not only finding it extremely hard to unravel the mystery but now had started entertaining the possibility that rationality and faith could coexist in one arena, and for the existence of one, the other didn’t have to be sacrificed.