Everyone loves an anti-hero. It’s why The Sporanos was a hit show and why people rooted for Vic Mackey on The Shield. Breaking Bad which just cleaned up at the Emmys because it was a great television show that happened to focus on a meth cook. You can’t get much more antihero than that.
With the previous batch of pilots, Amazon presented Bosch, which may have antihero elements, but seems firmly cemented in “cop show” clichés. This time around Amazon went full antihero with Hand of God.
When we first meet Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman) he’s naked in a public fountain and speaking in tongues. We come to learn that he’s been missing for a relatively short period of time and that he’s a powerful judge. On top of that Harris’ son is in a persistive vegetative state as a result of an attempted suicide after his wife was attacked and raped. It’s heavy stuff.
Apparently during Harris’ missing time he became born again. He donated $50k to the shifty Rev Curtis (Julian Morris). Harris also believes his comatose son is speaking to him, compelling him to find out who attacked his daughter-in-law. He starts badgering his cop buddies to get back on the case, but he does it in ways that make him look less than stable.
But there are other things going on as well. There’s a land deal that Mayor Boston (Andre Royo) is trying to lock up. Unfortunately Harris’ instability is throwing a wrench into the plan, causing the Mayor much grief. Fortunately the Judge’s wife Crystal (Dana Delany) is there for Boston to vent with.
Hand of God isn’t afraid to show you how edgy it is. Garret Dillahunt’s KD brutally beats a man who won’t turn down the television. And there’s also a scene that involves a cop exposing himself to a woman. Judge Harris also briefly has sex with his standing date prostitute before deciding that, since he’s born again, it’s not the right thing to do.
The show does a pretty good job setting things up. There’s a ton of back-story to be conveyed but the exposition never feels forced. Garret Dillahunt does a great job as the creepy and conflicted KD as does Julian Morris as the sketchy Rev Curtis.
That said, Hand of God feels like it’s trying too hard at times. It’s very pilot-y in that characters are two-dimensional for the sake of shorthand. Characters might as well say “I’m the corrupt mayor who does backroom deals” and “I’m the lead’s wife and our marriage isn’t quite what it seems.”
And I get that it’s about a guy who’s becomes born again, but the show was crazy Jesus-y. Personally I feel that the violence, language and nudity will turn off the church crowd and the over Christianity will turn off the people who aren’t super religious.
The mystery/conspiracy that gets hinted at in the end of the episode is intriguing, but I don’t know if I’m interested enough to follow up provided the show gets picked up.