“I Will Tell All Your Deeds”

Edi Patterson, Danny McBride, and Adam Devine star in The Righteous Gemstones

Edi Patterson, Danny McBride, and Adam Devine star in The Righteous Gemstones
Photo: Ryan Green/HBO

Jesse Gemstone and Lyle Lisson are mirror images of one another. Both men still feel like they are under the thumbs of their fathers and are perpetually trying to prove themselves. Jesse wants to take over the church, but Lyle wants to take over the world. It’s revealed that Lyle has his own complicated relationship with his father, Roddy Lissons. He and Lindy have put Roddy up in a retirement home where he sits, stewing and angry. Lyle took everything from his father so that, as he explains “his son and his wife can live the life they deserve,” a phrase that echos statements from Jesse and Amber. Whereas Jesse never had the gumption—or maybe even it was his moral compass—to do anything nefarious to take control of the Gemstone church, it’s suggested that Lyle was more cutthroat in his dealings with Roddy.

An angry, mean side of the Lissons is on display—Lindy slaps Roddy across the face when she feels disrespected. The elder Lissons has no time for his son’s activities whereas the events of this past season have finally led Eli and Jesse to an understanding, with Jesse realizing that he’s not quite ready to take over the family business and at the same time Eli loosening his grip, and giving his son the chance to try and expand, Eli finally giving Jesse the money to invest in the Lisson’s timeshare. One wrinkle, though—Lyle and Lindy were in fact the ones that tried to kill his daddy.

The cold open brings us back to the season premiere, quickly revealing that Lyle was Thaniel Block’s source. He’s looking to remove the competition by any means necessary in a bid to become the biggest pastor around. He outed the Butterfields and had promised information on Eli, but things changed. With Jesse looking to invest in the timeshare, Lyle explains that he can’t divulge any dirt on the Gemstones and Thaniel turns his sights on Lyle. It’s a narrative device that Gemstones employs frequently, employing flashbacks to reveal everything isn’t what it appears to be and shifting perspectives.

The questions that have been on everyone’s tongues this season are answered swiftly: Thaniel shot himself on accident, it was Lyle and some fellow ministers that burned the house to the ground, and Lyle turned on his accomplices, burning them alive before hiring the teenage cycle ninjas from his orphanage and stiffing them on payment after they fail to kill Eli. But Lyle got the money out of Jesse anyway, and the whole Gemstone clan makes their way to Zion’s landing for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Judy has it out with Baby Billy who, broken nose and all, has made it down to the timeshare as well. Judy has taken on a motherly role with Tiffany, cutting Tiffany’s steak and feeding her at family dinner, essentially adopting her as her own child. And she’s not happy when Billy attempts to work his way back into Tiffany’s life. “I’ve already gone on my journey,” he exclaims as Judy reads him the riot act. And he does come across as sincere. Baby Billy’s arc has been one of the most compelling of the season, constantly at odds with himself, trying to do the right thing but still falling into his same sleazy ways. He made amends with his estranged son Harmon, and when Tiffany goes into labor in a Porta Potty, fulfilling baby Lionel’s destiny as a toilet baby like his mother before him. And Billy, in what’s could be the most selfless act he’s ever made in his whole life, rescues his son from the toilet, raising him to the sky, tears in his eyes, presenting Lionel to the world.

When Lyle has to come clean to Jesse, there’s a notable hesitation around the firstborn Gemstone. Lyle explains that he only did it to help Jesse realize his potential–their potential as firstborns, suggesting that Jesse has wished Eli would “hurry up and die.” Jesse protests, but it’s clear that the comment cut him to the bone because before Eli was on his deathbed, he probably did wish that exact thing on his father. But Jesse has changed and matured over this season. He realized that taking over the church may not be all it’s cracked up to be and when Amber suggested that they should have been making deals while Eli was laid up, Jesse says that it just wouldn’t have been right. The two men have it out on the beach and Jesse wallops Lyle in the noggin with a rock from his sling. He brings the whole family down to the beach—including Eli, who has learned from Junior that the Lissons are behind the whole thing—and the very much alive Lyle and Lindy force the Gemstones into the water, wounding B.J. and making their escape.

One month later, we catch up with the Gemstones. The climax suggests second chances for everyone: Amber and Jesse lean into their roles as marriage counselors and help Chad and Mandy get their happy ending. Baby Billy, Tiffany, and Lionel drive off to start life anew while it appears that Judy and B.J. are considering starting a family of their own. Kelvin and Keef turn their eyes back to youth ministry with their Youth Squad, a kiddie version of their God Squad muscle men, and it is appropriately creepy. I really hope that the showrunners keep the strange sexual tension between these two going for many seasons to come.

Eli makes good on his promise to Junior, returning to him the money Glendon stole and helping to build a new wrestling arena. “You’re a good man, Eli, I swear,” Junior tells him while they gaze upon a photographic tribute to Glendon that Junior has installed at the new spot. Junior suggests that he’d be tracking the Lissons down to the end of the goddamn earth if they had tried to kill him and Eli simply replies, “It’s not our duty to judge one another, that belongs to the Lord.” But that’s simply Eli showing off his public persona. As we’ve learned this season, Eli has a dark side that Aimee-Leigh Gemstone may have tamed for a while, but is still very much a part of him. While it is nice to see happy endings and newfound maturity for the Gemstones, I can’t imagine it will hold for long. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re up to their old tricks next year.

Eli looks upon his children leading the congregation in a rendition of Don Williams’ “My Love For You Will Never Die,” as his own team of snowmobile ninjas—probably the orphans that Lyle owes—take out the Lissons, who have been hiding out in Alaska. There’s a moment when Eli looks directly at the camera as if to say, “You didn’t really think I’d let them get away with it, did you?” Eli still has the devil in him.

Stray Observations

  • “I am not a thief, I’m a minister.”
  • “Promise you won’t get mad? Them motorcycle fellas that shot your daddy? They work for me.”
  • “Hey, where’s Joe Jonas? Get your Christian ass up here!”
  • “Yeah, it is gross. Yuck. It’d be sick.”
  • “Let’s touch tips.”
  • Lyle mentions being a firstborn, and it’s suggested that his father Roddy was in the business of religion as well. Will we ever meet the rest of the Lisson clan?
  • “Hi. Hello. Would you all please come with me? I just killed someone.
  • “Angles, buttholes, coochie.”
  • “Got her gums, too.”
  • Drinking game for next season: take a sip every time a character says “daddy.”
  • “Look at Dereck’s pecks. Those things are bulbous.”
  • Junior’s main henchman cleans up nice.

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