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The Righteous Gemstones S2E2: Daddy Said Not To, I Did Anyway

“After I Leave, Savage Wolves Will Come”

Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

The following contains spoilers for The Righteous Gemstones S2E2, “After I Leave, Savage Wolves Will Come” (written by Danny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff Fradley and directed by Jody Hill)


Well, I did not see that coming. If you’ve read my article on S2E1 of The Righteous Gemstones, it’s probably pretty obvious that I wrote it before I watched S2E2. That might make it a bit of a unicorn in the world since the first two episodes of Season 2 are airing back to back on HBO, but it’s in line with my general modus operandi, so I hope there are some who appreciate it.

There, I speculated that Season 2 would be centered around Thaniel (Jason Schwartzman) investigating the Gemstones, positing something of a parallel between how he’d be pressuring Eli with how Jesse was blackmailed in Season 1. Instead, as S2E2 comes to a close, it’s clear that the season will be a murder mystery, as Thaniel is dead. Beyond this, there is the question of just what in God’s name happened out there at Pluff Haven before Jesse, Judy, and Kelvin arrived.

Thaniel sits in a wood chair with a laptop on his lap, a cup of coffee and pack of yellow American Spirits beside him on the arm of the chair
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

There is a charred (and smoking) corpse sat lying against a car and another corpse in a tree, in addition to Thaniel’s, which the Gemstone siblings find in a massive pool of blood—which of course they manage to slip and fall in pretty immediately. But even more troubling is the fact that as they are washing themselves off in Eli’s fountain, he arrives home with bloody pants. He says it’s from a deer, but I doubt if anyone believes that’s true.

Did the Maniac Kid maybe go do some murders? But if so, where’s Junior? And it doesn’t quite sit right that Martin would be involved. (I have just spent some time staring at the dead man by the car with a burned face trying to determine if it’s Eric Roberts, and I’m not sure!)

Junior has one hand on his hip and another on the back of a chair as he smirks while wearing a robe
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

Eli’s motive seems a bit thin. Yes, Thaniel was snooping around, but I was prone to believe that Eli was being sincere when he told his children to ignore the man. If he was looking into Aimee-Leigh as he said, it’s hard to see what he could have drudged up that would be so awful, both because she seemed like a lovely person when we met her in “Interlude” and because she’s very much dead.

How much of a threat could something she did be, even if it was very bad? Thaniel just says something that amounts to a claim that she harassed the staff, which would be bad, sure, but surely leveling such a charge at a dead woman would strike most as petty. So if she did do something, how could this line from Thaniel allude to it enough to Eli for him to take the hidden meaning?

Baby Billy and Aimee-Leigh stand on stage behind mics, each with one hand in the air
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

So, as intrigued as I am by all of those questions, I find myself a little more prone to think that the mention of Aimee-Leigh is a red herring. This was my initial thought, that it was more bait to try to get Eli to engage than anything, because clearly Aimee-Leigh was innocent. So maybe it was that and Eli took the bait, headed out there with Martin to find out what was really going on, and things turned ugly.

But he seems kind of happy at the end of S2E2 as he lies about the deer, so who knows. I guess we’ll have to keep watching The Righteous Gemstones to find out.

Jesse and Amber Gemstone line dance with Lyle and Lindy Lisson, wearing cowboy hats
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

The other main storyline that advances in S2E2 involves Jesse and Amber’s aim to invest in Zion’s Landing. They travel to Texas, line dance with Joe Jonas, and learn that the initial investment price is set at $10 million, which of course they absolutely cannot afford. So they proceed to ask Eli for the money—or Amber does, wearing that green dress—and he predictably says no.

I’m sure this will continue to factor into the plot of the season, but it is a little hard to see how given the way S2E2 ends. Perhaps it will primarily be in the spotlight Jesse and Amber have brought upon themselves by getting involved with the Lissons, and the stakes will reveal themselves later. It’s hard to see them successfully becoming hoteliers at this point.

Jesse and Judy Gemstone stand side by side, looking downwards, dumbfounded
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

Or maybe they will attempt to extort the money from Eli? That would provide an even more direct parallel to Season 1 than I had been thinking, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where this is all headed.

Just to say for the record, though, having only seen the first two episodes of the second season at this point, and with no real evidence whatsoever, I think Eli is innocent…somehow.

Circling back to the opening scene of S2E2, maybe Thaniel’s Brooklyn attitude really didn’t serve him well…

I hope Baby Billy shows up next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of 25YL. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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