In my episode 4 review, I lamented that this show needs more John Goodman and Edi Patterson and in episodes 5 and 6, we got that and more. Episode 5 was aptly titled as it was a great “Interlude,” serving up a refreshing look at who these characters were before they were the super-rich and much sadder characters they are today. Goodman, who plays Eli Gemstone, was revealed to be a kind and loving husband who clearly loved the church and loved his wife even more. That all came crashing down when she died and now he has to deal with his jealous brother-in-law Baby Billy (Walton Goggins) who continues to plot and plan in this sixth episode. This episode soars thanks to Edi Patterson, who plays Judy Gemstone. She gets a lot of scenes to work with, but also Judy finally gets a bit of happiness she’s been desperately seeking since episode 1.
“Now the Sons of Eli Were Worthless Men” opens with Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy, and Kelvin (Adam DeVine) meeting after Jesse ran the red van driven by the extortionists off the road. They have the upper hand and they’re feeling like they’ve won. In many ways, this episode serves as the revelatory and positive end to the second act. Many characters feel like life is perfect and couldn’t get better, but in the final moments, we see a reckoning is coming that will rock this family every which way.
This episode is largely about Judy and her rise in not only her self worth, but within the family. It’s all thanks to Baby Billy, who sees a possible comeback for his childhood days of singing with his sister. If she’s even half as good as her mother was, they could go far. It’s an interesting turn since we know Baby Billy is likely using her, but by giving her a chance he’s also shone a light on her talents. Judy continues to fight and is reduced to her base emotions by her father and siblings, but deep down she knows she’s better. She continues to be shocking and a bit unhinged, like when she tells her brother Jesse she’s going to move to Mailbu and “shave her p*ssy” to surf. When he asks why she’d need to shave to surf she gasps, “So I can surf faster, Jesse!” In another hilarious scene, Edi Patterson beats Adam DeVine up over and over in a meeting with John Goodman that closes the door on the family seeing Judy for anything but the hothead that they make her. The fact that Edi Patterson co-wrote this episode with Grant Dekernion and Danny McBride is a testament to how good Patterson is in this show and at playing weird, but always relatable characters. You feel for Judy even if she’s mean to her fiance or a bit psycho.
Adam DeVine has some of his best scenes in the show so far, too. Early on in the episode, we find out Kelvin was given a soda machine — the kind you see at the movie theaters that can make any flavor — as a present from a restaurant owner. He covets this machine, and DeVine plays the obnoxious braggart well here. Later he’s entwined in Jesse’s “gang” meeting and DeVine does well to show Kelvin’s fear and also awareness of how stupid his brother is. Later, his scene with Patterson and Goodman continues to show he truly is the baby brother.
Jody Hill directs this episode expertly well too. This show never lets us forget these characters are human and not merely caricatures of people. You see this in a scene where Baby Billy and Judy sing “Misbehavin'” in front of a church audience. The way Patterson plays Judy here is touching as she gets up the courage to do what her mother did so well. All is well until the tap-dancing bit comes up and her fear is real. Can she do it? This builds towards a joyous moment of triumph that captures Judy finally making it and being of some worth, not only to herself, but to the family.
If I were to fault this episode at all, it would be how Gideon Gemstone (Skyler Gisondo) continues to work with Scotty (Scott MacArthur). It appears he’s finally changing his mind about things in this episode, but the guy has always been incredibly mean and awful to him. It makes so little sense that such a good kid like Gideon, who clearly wants to be a good person, would even put himself in the same space as Scotty, let alone continue to do his bidding. Maybe there is more to this relationship we’re still waiting to learn about, and certainly the cliffhanger has got me very interested to see what Scotty will do next, but so far this has been the weakest element of the show.
This sixth episode perfectly sets up the final three, which will likely bring a lot of surprises for this family. The stage is set for quite a finish and I can’t wait to see how its head creators Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, and Jody Hill bring this family to its knees.
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