‘The Righteous Gemstones’ Season 2 Ep. 2 Review

The following will include spoilers for Virtuous Gemstones season 2, episode 2. For our review/recap of the previous episode, click here.

After a strong first season, the second episode of this season of Virtuous Gemstones accelerate momentum. This week’s episode, titled “After I Depart, Wild Wolves Shall Come” references the Bible verse Acts 20:29. This verse is fitting, as the Gemstone family faces a new threat while Eli seems to want to take a step back.

The episode opens with obnoxiously pretentious reporter Thaniel Block (Jason Schwartzman). Doing cocaine rails and continuing to smoke a cigarette after a neighbor told him not to, Schwartzman could play that kind of role in his sleep. He’s the perfect villain for this season. Before they can find out more about Thaniel, Judy and BJ go to visit Eli.

After the events of the last episode, Judy is shocked to find Eli and Junior severely hungover. She angrily (and hilariously) accuses the two of being lovers. Also, she reveals that BJ is ready to be baptized, wanting Eli to do the honors, before storming off. It’s clear that Junior is a bad influence on Eli, possibly causing him to regress further into the version of him we saw at the start of last week.

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There’s not too much time to think about this, as Thaniel calls a meeting with Eli. He invites Eli to participate in an investigation he is leading. Still stubborn, Eli refuses, but not before Thaniel drops a bombshell: he’s actually investigating the mistreatment of Gemstone staff by Eli’s late wife, Aimee-Leigh. This revelation comes as a major shock, as Aimee-Leigh has, until now, been seen as a holy figure. Thinking about the kind of deeds she has done makes the stomach churn. Plus, it hits on the season’s apparent theme of uncovering the past.

On Jesse and Amber’s side, they go to a fancy investor event for “Zion’s Landing.” There, they mingle with a variety of top brass, including…Joe Jonas?! As if Jonas playing himself in a Danny McBride/Jody Hill joint wasn’t funny enough, Jesse finds an odd kinship with Joe, who also opposed his siblings for going it alone. Jesse, Amber, Joe and the Lissons are all drinking together. Still-in-game Eric Andre doesn’t do much here to do justice to his exceptional talent. Still, it adds just enough texture to Virtuous Gemstones cast of characters. The Lissons’ real goal in this episode is to reveal another bombshell: they expect investors to shell out a minimum of $10 million.

Although this project is his attempt to strike out on his own, Jesse comes to a family dinner crawling up to Eli. Or, more accurately, crawling to his money. Eli denies his request for $10 million. He has another business to attend to. Eli informs them of the release of the article. The Gemstone siblings are eager to have what they claim is a polite conversation with Thaniel. Eli expressly forbids it, telling them not to do anything.

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You should now know about gemstones. They disregard their father’s advice, going to visit Thaniel. His AirBnB, strangely, is silent. His door is open and the siblings are wondering if they should enter. The more no response from Thaniel comes, the scarier it gets. As Kelvin says, “maybe it’s his wine time, and he’s in the tub!”. Their investigation ends however when they see a dead Thaniel in the AirBnB. Outside, there is a second charred body.

After an accident where the three siblings end up covered in blood, they flee to the Gemstone compound. As they struggle to wash it in the fountain, they are confronted by Eli, who is covered in blood himself. Did Eli kill Thaniel? Is this a red herring? Who the hell is the second body! Knowing how McBride and Hill’s shows tend to go, the answer to these questions could be pretty much anything. And so ends a phenomenal episode.

If the season premiere of Virtuous Gemstones was the appetizer, it is the first course of what will undoubtedly be a delicious seasonal meal. The plot is near Deputy Directors level, and makes me theorize similarly to the mystery-laden first season of this show. My current working theory is that Eli is not involved in Thaniel’s murder, nor do I currently believe Junior is. It seems a bit early with the themes established to let Eli go this far. Nevertheless, Hill and McBride are full of surprises. What matters is that the gems are collapsing and it seems less and less likely that they can recover from the coming storm. – James Preston Poole

Rating: 10/10

Season rating: 9/10

Virtuous Gemstones is now streaming on HBO Max.

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