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Hand of God – God’s Will in Human Hands


Amazon’s “Hand of God” is set in Los Angeles, San Vicente, California – where the action takes place, and we’re not talking about the movies.  A land deal worth tens of millions of dollars, a mayor and a prominent judge in cahoots, a prostitute, an affair, a marriage on the rocks along with the whiskey; it doesn’t get juicier than this, but it also doesn’t get stranger.  What might God have to do with these things, besides being deeply disappointed?  Well, for starters he’s the one in charge, and while it looks like an irredeemable mess, everything happens for a reason.

Ron Pearlman stars as a self indulgent, workaholic judge from a successful family with a long history in San Vicente.  His recent conversion to Christianity from…nothing is a point of contention for his wife, played by Dana Delany and his best friend, the Mayor, played by Andre Royo, who are about to make the deal of the century (or at least a few decades) and need the judge to make it all go smoothly.  To complicate matters more, their son, played by Johnny Ferro, has just shot himself in the head, and rests in a coma at the local hospital.  Filled with guilt for how he treated his son while he was alive, Judge Pernell Harris goes from one “medication” to another, liquor, women and finally God.  For Pernell, God is a fixer, not just a redeemer, and his new membership in the Hand of God church benefits him, as well as the young couple who just opened it.  A fifty thousand dollar check and everything’s fine!

Throughout this series, seasons one and two, we follow Judge Harris and his family through a series of events that test their beliefs not just in each other, but in the larger picture of life’s lessons and meaning.  For Pernell, God has the answers; he’s talking to him, he’s solving the mystery of who drove his son to kill himself.  The problem is that in the process of solving this mystery he drags others with him, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes willingly under the same delusion, such as his strong man, KD, hauntingly played by Garret Dillahunt.  As a result, KD, who’s newly released from prison and who met Pernell at the church, commits the mortal sin of killing an innocent man (ironically, Pernell’s son’s best friend) under Pernell’s mistaken orders.

So many things go awry for all the characters that it becomes a story of what happens when God’s plan is messed with by ridiculous human beings!  All Pernell’s daughter in law, played beautifully by Alona Tal, wants to do is put her husband to rest, and end this prolonged nightmare.  First she was raped while her husband was made to watch, now her husband shoots himself with the gun she made him buy for their protection.  But Pernell is on a mission to find the rapist, because he believes this will bring PJ back.  The doctors and everyone else disagree, and therein lies just one of the battles in this story.

So much is good about this show, including amazing performances by all of the cast.  There isn’t a weak link in any of them.  A particularly beautiful detail of the story, is the poetry written by the ill-fated  PJ.  His marriage proposal, and his parting letter reveal the depth of his character, and the pain he’s suffered.  It’s hard to believe Pernell is his father.

In the end, what can be learned from this story is that God can heal our wounds, and bring us together to form a better world, or he can be used as a means to an end for man’s own agenda and personal greed.  Almost everyone in this story is fooling themselves, and sadly, those who aren’t suffer the most.  Still, it’s worth the watch.

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Melody Stewart is the founder of act.land and President of iactingstudioskc.com. She is a filmmaker in Kansas City.