2. Under the Banner of Heaven
At the center of Under the Banner of Heaven—adapted from Jon Krakauer‘s bestselling book of the same name—is the real-life murder of a young woman, Brenda, and her infant daughter, Erica. But beyond the tragic events that befell the pair in 1984 is a complicated web of violence and religious extremism, specifically pertaining to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mormon fundamentalism. Tasked with untangling this web on the FX series is the fictional detective Jeb Pyre (played by Andrew Garfield), who, so far, has done an impressive job of shouldering the show’s emotional weight, as Jeb’s a Mormon himself.
Under the Banner of Heaven as a whole is a masterclass in storytelling. There’s no easy way to interrogate a centuries-old religion, and while the show can be unnecessarily complex at times, it manages to chronicle the descent from mainstream Mormonism to fanatical fundamentalism while also interweaving the history of LDS founder Joseph Smith, his wife Emma, and the competing prophet Brigham Young quite seamlessly.
Suffice to say, Under the Banner of Heaven is well worth the watch. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking and suspenseful show, sure to entertain anyone with even the slightest affinity for true crime.