Paul Allen Brown (Damon Herriman) is the son of Pastor Byron Brown (Ben Kingsley) and his wife Lillian (Jacki Weaver). Paul knows that Byron and Lillian don’t just run a church and outreach center in Half Acre Ranch, New Mexico. They force members of the parish to transfer money to the general church account, and about four million have already accumulated there. Byron and Lillian did not want Paul to know about this, so when the boy was fifteen years old, he was kicked out of the house, and his parents began to spread all sorts of fables about him in the town.
Paul wants to take this money from Byron and Lillian. And he came up with a cunning plan. A certain poor fellow, whom Paul will persuade to take part in the operation, under the guise of a drug addict, must get into the Brown help center and ingratiate himself with them. After that, the poor fellow will tell the Browns that their son Paul is now in a Mexican prison, and they can get him out of there.
The Browns will go to jail for their son, and there the local sheriff, hooked on the hook, will ban them from the cell for a couple of weeks, after which he will let them go home – Paul does not want to somehow harm his parents, he just wants to take away the money.
During this time, the poor fellow will impersonate Paul (he will have the appropriate documents), declare himself the heir, withdraw all the money from the church account, and he and Paul will share it.
Poor fellow Paul found pretty quickly – this is a former firefighter James (Jimmi Simpson). Some time ago, at a fire, he got cold feet, threw a hose and escaped from a burning house, as a result of which his trainee partner died there, who left eleven children. James is terribly worried about this and wanders aimlessly back and forth. Paul discovered him, told him about the plan, and noted that with that kind of money, James could at least provide for the children of the deceased intern. James likes the idea and agrees to play his part.
Mexican sheriff Hector Contreras (Luis Guzmán) is hooked by Paul’s girlfriend Clara (Veronica Falcon). She seduced Hector – the phrase “fuck me so that my socks fell off” appeared there – she has incriminating photos, so Hector will do whatever is required of him.
When you read the announcement of this series, you think that we are talking about some kind of complex scam: one person must impersonate another, the pastor and his wife must be locked up somewhere in Mexico for a couple of weeks, it would seem – what could go wrong there ?
However, already from the first episode it is clear that this is not at all an ordinary story about how a couple of scammers tried to pull off some business. This is such a leisurely, viscous, slightly crazy, psychedelic and black humor series that very gradually tells who all these people are, how they are related to other characters and what kind of skeletons they have in their closets. Also, the operation with the withdrawal of money from the church fund is steadily progressing, although not quite as planned, and the main characters have to make significant efforts to somehow cope with all this.
All the characters in the series are unusually colorful, and it is very interesting to watch how they communicate with each other. The simplest and most uncomplicated of them is poor fellow James, who was perfectly played by Jimmi Simpson. A lot is immediately known about James: he screwed up in a fire where an intern died, he is tormented by guilt. In this whole story, James has to work with Paul to solve all kinds of problems that arise, because nothing will be as easy as Paul promised.
Gender is noticeably more mysterious and is told very gradually. At first you think that he is in reality – a potz and a moron. Especially since his parents say so. But then you realize that he is not such a jerk and a moron. He just loves tricks and magic. But the Bible does not approve of tricks and magic. Accordingly, Paul’s parents did not approve. He couldn’t deal with it.
Paul is famously played by Damon Herriman, and James’s conversations with Paul are very funny and somewhat reminiscent of Tarantino’s trademark dialogues. And the part where Paul shows off his magic – “I’m just running fast” – is hilariously funny.
The third character that is slowly becoming the company’s third member is New Leaf, played by Chris Conrad, director Steve Conrad’s younger brother. New Leaf is one of the most hilarious characters on the show and is a lot of fun to watch.
However, no, the most schizophrenic character (if you do not touch the astronaut, the father of James, who wanders around the city in a space suit) is a young boy Glenn Peardew from a pawnshop. He was played by Dash Williams. Glenn is poorly educated, got hit on the head as a result of some incident, but he becomes a friend of James (he just does not know that James himself had a hand in the incident) and performs various tasks for him. The question, of course, is how exactly he performs these tasks, but here the whole company is already complete freaks, so, of course, everything will go wrong, in the wrong direction and in the wrong steppe.
Pastor Byron Brown, played by Ben Kingsley, is something else. A pastor, he is a pastor, but such a Devil is hidden in him that it is better for the pastor not to stand across the road. About him and his past in the series will be told very, very gradually.
Luis Guzman really liked the role of Hernandez. A weak-minded fool and henpecked, sunk into Clara (he does not know that Clara will blackmail him), writing a novel in which he displays himself as a tough detective – well, just lovely!
Well, among the other participants (I won’t list them all), we should also mention the Texas Ranger Wesley Walker, played by Terry O’Quinn (I did not immediately understand that Terry is John Locke from Lost). The Texas Ranger is investigating the strange death of a little girl, somehow connected with one of the characters in this story. In New Mexico, he is out of his jurisdiction, but he investigates and even puts a location-tracking bracelet on some suspects from time to time. Here the character himself is incredibly colorful, and the dialogues that he has with the suspects are just class!
A separate story – with how it’s all filmed. In addition to a very peculiar and interesting manner of staging, there is also an absolutely amazing work of the cameraman, and director Jim Whitaker was the cameraman. The neo-noir style, the strict sandy-yellowish palette, the endless plans of New Mexico and Mexico that go into the distance, a lot of backlight, the bewitching alignment of the frame – this immediately attracts attention, and throughout the entire series I admired these or those episodes separately with points of how it all looked: I wanted to cut out many frames and hang them on the wall, before it was done great.
I’m generally a fan of this shizuha, I really like it. It’s not without reason that one of my favorite series is the British “Green Wing”, where the level of schizophrenia and the unusualness of the production literally go off scale. But “Green Wing” is a comedy, and this series is a black humor tragicomedy, a completely different style. And I really liked him too.
However, it should be noted that not everyone likes this style, it is not for nothing that this series has a rather low rating on IMDB – 7.5. (Due to some features of calculating the average score and due to some peculiarities of voting specifically for TV shows, TV shows are usually somewhere in the top ten, if we consider this system as 100 points, the score is higher than that of films. That is, if for a film 7.5 is clearly high rating, then for the series it’s more like 6.5 for movies.)
And here it all depends on the characteristics of perception. Some viewers will really like this series, others will say: “Oh, what kind of nonsense,” and will not watch it. By the way, even those who watched the series with pleasure were dissatisfied with the ending and said that “the series ends with nothing.” And the ending completely suited me, I was ready for this: such a psychedelic should end like this, without carefully chewing on what will happen with all this next.
By the way, I read that the creators of the series seemed to be planning to make such a heavily truncated second season, where this story was completed in full, but, as I understand it, it remained so planned.
PS I found out that the same show runner Bruce Terris and director Steve Conrad in 2015 staged the series “Patriot”, from which several actors switched to this series. “Patriot” was sensational, it has a noticeably higher rating, I will definitely watch it.
God’s Gift Enterprise / Perpetual Grace, LTD serie meaning
Director: Steve Conrad, Jim Whitaker Cast: Ben Kingsley, Jimmi Simpson, Luis Guzman, Damon Herriman, Chris Conrad, Jacki Weaver, Terry O’Quinn, Madeleine Corral, Dash Williams, Veronica Falcon
Series, USA, 2019, 50 min. One season, 10 episodes