For one thing, the six-episode series starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch and spotlighting the 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas back in 1993 and its fiery and fatality filled-end is pretty much all over the map narratively, as I say in my video review above. In fact, if there is one consistency in the series executive produced by Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle, it is that most of the FBI, ATF and the rest of the federal government are tainted as stamping all over citizens’ property and right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – even if that includes a lot of illegal guns and some very illegal matrimonial relationships.
To the end, at least from what I’ve seen, Paramount Network’s first original series also paints an uncomfortably kind portrait of the Kitsch-portrayed David Koresh as a man of faith fighting for his liberty against intrusive Uncle Sam as Shannon’s conflicted and resolution-seeking federal negotiator unsuccessfully tries to keep everyone’s fingers off the triggers. Rory Culkin, John Leguizamo and Melissa Benoist co-star.
In what smells often like the waftings of some of the political currents of this era of Donald Trump, the feds here clearly are given the black hats to wear while the more unflattering elements of the cult leader himself are placed on the back burner. That results in polygamist Koresh’s proclivity to sleep with and sometimes wed minors — as but one example — being treated as a non-issue as the whole situation goes up in flames, literally and figuratively.
Over the years, there have been a number of depictions in a number of mediums of what happened at Waco as the FBI and ATF stormed in and about 80 people died, including Koresh and a number of children. While Shannon’s performance is full of the strengths that have made The Shape of Water star such a sinewy actor, there isn’t much acknowledgement in this small-screen version of the complexities of what really went down.
Click on my Waco video review above for more of my take on the limited series. And tell us, will you be stepping back to the Texas of Bill Clinton’s first year as President tonight?