“Jesus of Laramie”: TV’s First Faith-Based Western – The New Yorker
Episode No. 1
“Come Out, Come Out, Wherever Thou Art”
On a stagecoach bound for Laramie, a wanderer by the name of Jesus Jones finds himself in very close quarters with a wide array of personalities—one of whom, Jesus can just sense, is Satan in disguise. But is it the on-the-run army deserter? The whiskey-swilling priest? The very pregnant mail-order bride? The kill-happy Pinkerton agent? The wealthy widow with all the tattoos? Or could Satan be posing as the cynical marshal who’s escorting to trial the only eyewitness to the poisoning of a herd of sheep? While Jesus is praying for guidance, the expectant mail-order bride begins having contractions. Uh-oh.
Episode No. 2
“Blessed Are the Poor”
The inhabitants of Laramie are drawn out to a local canyon to hear Jesus Jones speak. Unfortunately, Jesus talks indirectly, telling somewhat meandering and hard-to-understand stories. These “parables” include the one about the mouse-infested brothel; the jinxed broncobuster; the murderous old spinster; the lost Pony Express rider with no sense of direction; and many more. Meanwhile, with most of the town away at this lengthy sermon in the canyon, bank robbers find that they’ve been given just the distraction they need to do what they do best. The next day, Jesus Jones is hauled in before a notorious hanging judge—who is wholly convinced Jesus was in on the heist. In his defense, Jesus delivers the parable of the torn fishing net. Wait . . . what?
Episode No. 3
“Night of the Holy Spirits”
When the saloon runs dry, Jesus Jones asks for the empty oak barrels to be filled with water. Soon, with free whiskey now flowing from these same barrels, the mayhem and the lustiness amongst the rowdy saloon patrons show no Earthly bounds. Eventually, as a crew of wasted Laramie ruffians with a rope drags Jesus away, he is heard saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do after so much whiskey.”
Episode No. 4
While preaching, Jesus Jones spots a man in the crowd with a withered right hand. When, as a demonstration of his divineness, Jesus heals the man, the assembled scatter like mice—and for good reason. The holy man of Laramie has unwittingly fixed up Dirty Denny, a former gunslinger and an ornery, deranged thug known to have put forty-six men and nine women into early graves, always for some totally imagined provocation. Learning of his mistake, Jesus tries to escape unforgiving vigilante justice by going undercover—this time as a Cheyenne medicine man.
Episode No. 5
Spirits in drought-stricken Laramie are about as low as the water in the town well, when an unusual man shows up, claiming that he can make it rain—for a hefty price. Jesus Jones right away proclaims him a charlatan and a deceiver, but it doesn’t stop the parched townsfolk from shelling out. Soon enough, the skies darken and the rain comes down in sheets. That’s when an infuriated Jesus of Laramie demonstrates his power over the elements: a wave of his hand, and the much-needed downpour ceases. The citizens are quite impressed, at least at first. Then they become one very determined mob.
Episode No. 6
“Get Thee Hence, Satan”
A distraught dancehall girl begs Jesus Jones for help. Her brother has taken to speaking in tongues and wandering the streets of Laramie at all hours—naked and brandishing a mule skinner’s knife. Jesus performs an exorcism on the boy, rebuking Satan and commanding all unclean spirits to take leave. The demons quickly depart—only to take up residency in a team of horses hauling a wagonload of nitroglycerin right through the heart of Laramie. Catastrophe ensues, but before the whole blame game can begin Jesus quietly slips out of town. A posse forms.