‘Waco: The Aftermath’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: What Did Noesner Find Out About Wild Bill?


“Waco: The Aftermath” begins from where its 2018 prequel series had ended. David Koresh and more than 70 other Branch Davidians had lost their lives in the 51-day standoff, and now the authorities and the victims awaited a trial. There were a few in the system who knew that the FBI and ATF had committed a grave mistake, but then there were people like Mitch Decker who believed that Koresh was a fanatic who deserved his fate. The FBI knew that they would have a hard time justifying the deaths of the minors and that they would have to somehow manipulate the narrative in their favor. The people had already made up their minds about who were the perpetrators even before the trial and the media had a huge role to play in influencing their opinions. The FBI might have committed a lot of mistakes throughout the Waco Massacre but the one thing they did right was to have complete control over the media, and they made sure that only their side of the story reached the masses. 

Spoilers Ahead

FBI Prepares For A Trial

Mitch Decker, Gary Noesner, and other FBI officials were preparing rigorously for the trial as they didn’t want the people to know the kinds of blunder they had committed. The FBI didn’t want to have discrepancies in their narrative, which is why they checked to make sure everybody was on the same page. Mitch Decker said that the HRT and FBI officials didn’t overstep, and whatever they did was according to the prescribed rules and regulations. Noesner was appalled after hearing Decker’s version, and he felt that it was not justified to present such a tainted narrative when the reality was miles away from it. Noesner knew that, though the FBI didn’t have any intention of killing so many people, their negligence somehow contributed to the damage, and calling in tanks to throw gas inside the compound was uncalled for. Noesner clearly said that they should accept the mistakes they had made so that people would know that there was still some integrity left in one of the most coveted organizations in the country. Noesner still believed that if he had been given some more time, he would have definitely convinced a lot of people to come out of the Mount Carmel building. But Decker was of the opinion that it was already a 51-day standoff and that they were wasting taxpayer money by just standing there and waiting for the time when Koresh finished writing his thesis. Gary Noesner was told that they had to look united at all costs, and that they couldn’t afford to have conflicts inside the organization.

Koresh Arrives At Mount Carmel

Vernon Howell, a.k.a. David Koresh, had arrived at Mount Carmel in 1981, and he had a fascinating story behind how he had found out about Lois Roden and the Branch Davidian community. Vernon miraculously remembered each verse from the Bible by heart, and even Lois Was surprised when she saw him speaking it fluently. Vernon believed that he had every right to know more about his faith, his god, and the religion he was asked to follow, but nobody could quench his thirst. Then one day, Vernon’s grandmother told him about what was happening in Waco, and he immediately traveled there in a hope to find the answers he had been searching for. There was a member of the church named George who was very aggressive by nature, and he often had a lot of conflicts with Lois Roden. George got angry about the fact that Lois had said that the Holy Spirit was a female. Before Lois could say anything in her defense, Vernon Howell stood and quoted multiple verses from the Bible, which gave proof of the fact that what Lois was saying was not wrong. There were versus where the Holy Spirit was referred to with the pronoun “she,” and Vernon counter-questioned George about whether he disapproved of what was written in the Holy Book. Everybody present in the room was surprised by the kind of knowledge Vernon had, and George didn’t have anything to rebut his claims. Lois was so impressed by the young man that she offered to have him accompany her on her yearly trip to Israel. Vernon gladly accepted the offer, and he said that he would love to learn more and satisfy his curiosity.

What Happened In The Trial?

The trial was supposed to take place in the federal courthouse in San Antonio, Texas, and the general public had already reached a verdict even before they heard both parties. The media trial portrayed the FBI and the ATF as the heroes, and the Branch Davidians were portrayed as the villains. Dan Cogdell was representing Clive Doyle, one of the followers of Koresh, and he was of the opinion that instead of defending Koresh and humanizing his image in front of the jury, they should focus more on how the United States Government gave the orders to raid the private property of the Branch Davidians without any cause. Cogdell was of the opinion that if they were able to prove that the precedent set by ATF and FBI could have bizarre consequences in the future, then the case would be theirs. The United States of America was a civilized nation, and the way the forces had undertaken the mission said a lot about the kind of authoritarian and unjust attitude the government had and what could happen if its powers were not kept under check. The prosecutors made an offer to Cogdell and told him that if his clients pleaded guilty and testified against each other, they would get 15 years in jail with the possibility of getting parole. Now the trick here was that the prosecutors had made the same offer to all five accused, and if any one of them chose to plead guilty, then the others would get a life sentence without having the option of getting a parole. Clive didn’t understand why the state so desperately wanted to put them behind bars when they hadn’t done anything. Cogdell told him plain and clear that it was a conspiracy charge and that even if one person was found guilty, the judge could easily charge all of them.

There was another strange thing that happened in the court that seemed like probable cause for a mistrial. The jury wasn’t chosen by the parties, but the judge himself chose the members he wanted on the panel. Cogdell didn’t know how to tackle this one-of-a-kind situation, and he had to just accept whatever the judge was saying.

Once Clive and the others decided to plead not guilty, Cogdell got ready with his opening arguments, and he promised Clive that he wouldn’t let them go to jail. Just moments before the trial commenced, the defendants got to know that Kathy Schroeder had decided to plead guilty and had accepted the prosecutor’s offer to be a state witness. The four Davidians sat on their chairs, unable to process what had happened. Cogdell had to make last-minute improvisations, and he told the jury that David Koresh had brainwashed his clients into believing that he was the Messiah. All four of them were unhappy with the approach that Cogdell had taken, and they believed that it made them look like people who didn’t know what they were doing. Cogdell said that he didn’t care if he made them look like victims as long as he was able to keep them out of prison.

‘Waco: The Aftermath’ Episode 1 Ending Explained: What Did Gary Noesner Find Out About Wild Bill?

Noesner was called in to negotiate and peacefully resolve another conflict where a gang was inside a bank and holding a lot of people as hostages. There were four of them inside, and Gary started talking to a guy named Wild Bill. Bill said that he wanted a helicopter immediately, and Noesner started stalling him and finding his weak points so that he could convince him to come out of the facility. After hours of negotiation, Noesner told Bill that up until then the public was perceiving him as a revolutionary who stood up against the system, as he had committed so many bank robberies without hurting even a single person. Noesner told him that if he surrendered now, he would have a future and could ultimately make a bargain with the courts, but if he killed even a single person, he would definitely get life imprisonment. Bill agreed to come out and surrender, and once again, Noesner was praised for his tactics.

Though the mission was successful, Noesner believed that something was off about the whole situation. Wild Bill and his gang members hadn’t made even a single conspicuous purchase, even after they had robbed more than 20 banks. Noesner felt that it was a bit strange, and he had a gut feeling that the gang was somehow related to the Waco massacre. Noesner accidentally bumped into Jacob Vasquez, the same guy who had been asked to snoop around and collect intel about what was happening inside Mount Carmel. Noesner asked him if he knew anything about Elohim City, as he speculated that Bill came from there. Jacob told him that he knew an officer named Angie who had worked on the Elohim City case and that he could connect him with her. Angie made Noesner meet an informant named Carol Howe, who had been beaten by Wild Bill, and that is why she wanted to take revenge on him. Carol Howe resisted for a bit, but then she revealed that the people of Elohim City talked about a holy war that they were going to wage on the government.

Towards the end of “Waco: The Aftermath” Episode 1, Noesner had a gut feeling that something devastating was going to happen in the near future, and they had to find a way to know exactly what was being planned. In the upcoming episodes, we would get to know if Bill had anything to do with David Koresh and what had transpired at Waco and if there was actually a plan to wage a war against the government.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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