The Righteous Gemstones S2E5: “Interlude II” Takes Us to 1993

Eli smiles surrounded by his family, standing in front of a Christmas tree
Courtesy of HBO

The following contains spoilers for The Righteous Gemstones S2E5, “Interlude II” (written by John Carcieri & Jeff Fradley & Danny McBride and directed by David Gordon Green)

Interlude” may have been my favorite episode of The Righteous Gemstones Season 1, so I’m pleased to see it get a sequel in Season 2. What is most striking about both episodes is how they engage in a kind of world-building, but not so much in terms of plot as in terms of a deepening of the characters involved. There are plot points that are relevant to present-day reality, sure (and perhaps even more so in “Interlude II” than in its predecessor), but it’s almost the “irrelevant” moments that I enjoy more, like Jesse (J. Gaven Wilde) and Judy (Emma Shannon) arguing about whether they are saying swear words, and seeing Kelvin (Tristan Borders) as a child.

Jesse, Kelvin and Judy sit on the floor around a table in 1993
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

And then of course there is the presence of Aimee-Leigh (Jennifer Nettles), which makes her absence in the present-day reality of The Righteous Gemstones so much more strongly felt. We see what Eli (John Goodman) was like with her around, and we know how he has become. He’s the same person, but the void is felt. And the same goes for Jesse, Judy, and Kelvin. We can’t help but wonder about how the loss of this loving and moderating influence has affected them.

Aimee-Leigh and Eli Gemstone smile as they look upwards
Courtesy of HBO

I still wonder about Thaniel’s claim that he was preparing to bring dirt on Aimee-Leigh to the surface, and if that was just a red herring. “Interlude II” certainly provides something that if revealed would wreak havoc on the Gemstone name, but she doesn’t have anything to do with the killing of Glendon Marsh (Wayne Duvall) or the disposal of his body.

This does provide an answer to why Eli was riding the Exodus rollercoaster over and over again, insofar as we can infer he was contemplating these past events in light of Junior (Eric Roberts) resurfacing in his life, but I do have to note the way in which the order of things feels almost scrambled in The Righteous Gemstones Season 2. “Interlude II” ends with scenes of Junior prepping a gun and revisits Eli on the rollercoaster, but what of the motorcycle hit squad that attacked the party bus at the end of S2E4? Who killed Thaniel (Jason Schwartzman) and what exactly happened there?

The form of the narrative of Season 2 can almost make us lose sight of these questions, but I think this is to the show’s credit. It’s a character drama and moves thus more through character beats than linear plot. Which reminds me to note that Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) has moved into Grandaddy Roy’s (Emmet Walsh) house, where he discovered old clippings about the Maniac Kid. I wonder if he’ll find something else that will play a role in bringing the various threads of this story together.

Eli sits next to Grandaddy Roy on a medical bed in his house
Courtesy of HBO

And then there’s Baby Billy (Walton Goggins), who lies to his sister about what happened with Gloria (Chloe Traicos) and Harmon (Jeremy T. Thomas) because of course he does, but all indications are that they have been absent from his life since this time in 1993. Yet, I don’t think that will last much longer, since we saw Billy headed to North Carolina last week. One might wonder, too, if Harmon is going to play a bigger part in this story than we may have imagined, or if he has offscreen already.

Baby Billy stands with his hands in his pockets, in front of a mantle hung with stockings
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

Martin (Gregory Alan Williams) was complicit in disposing of Glendon’s body, and it should further be noted that he was willing to do whatever Eli wanted with regard to Glendon’s attempt to donate/launder money to/through the church. He was happy when Eli decided not to do it, but that doesn’t change the fact that he would have involved himself in this financial crime had he been asked.

So as “Interlude II” ultimately sees Eli promising an expansion of the Gemstone studio even though they don’t have Glendon’s money, and we know from present-day reality that they did continue to expand, we have to wonder how the financial side of things worked out. Perhaps there was something further, just a step down the line from these events in 1993, where the Gemstones crossed the line they kept themselves from crossing here, and maybe Aimee-Leigh was central to that, such that Thaniel wasn’t blowing smoke.

Maybe, just maybe, Eli and Martin did kill him.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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