The newest Showtime series, “Waco: The Aftermath,” premiered its second episode this week, and things are heating up already. The show follows two separate storylines, with Giovani Ribisi’s character Dan Cogdell representing the survivors from the Waco Siege of 1993 while the public prosecution plans to damn them as mindless killers. On the other hand, Michael Shannon reprises his role as FBI negotiator Gary Noesner, who begins investigating a potential terrorist threat that will emerge soon. Here’s what happens on the second day of the trial, and we also look at what Noesner discovers.
The Trial Continues
The episode begins with one of the police officers who were on the scene of the action on the very first day that Mt. Carmel was surrounded by forces sitting in the witness box to give a vivid description of what happened when they approached the compound. Agent Ballesteros, the witness, is asked to describe the situation, and if the flashback of the day is to be believed, there are some discrepancies in the agent’s testimony. He says David Koresh had come out, and then when the police approached, saying they had a search warrant, he apparently smirked and went back inside, but the flashback shows Koresh shouting, “There are women and children in here.” While Koresh is shot at and then the Branch Davidians begin shooting in retaliation, Ballesteros says that it was the Davidians who shot first and then goes on to describe how he and his fellow officer Agent Willis had to hide in the dog pen for two and a half hours as the bullets rained. However, Willis being shot is represented in the flashback, and when Ballesteros realizes Willis is dead, he calls for the medic
While listening to the testimony, Ruth thinks back to 1983, when Koresh, then known as Vernon Howell, and Lois Roden came back from their Israel trip, and in the kitchen, Lois told Ruth and Clive how Howell had had visions when they were in Jerusalem, and now he’s become the vessel for God. After Howell and Lois leave to get rested after their tiring flight, Clive wonders what it’d be like to have the powers of prophecy as Ruth heads inside to hand Lois her suitcase that she’d left outside. However, in Lois’s room, Ruth finds the prophetess kissing Howell, and as Ruth looks on with a shocked expression, Howell stares at her.
The Lawyer’s Tactics
Lawyer Dan Cogdell later refutes his colleague’s idea to try to destroy Ballesteros on the stand and advises that their best approach is to show the jury that the Waco tragedy happened because of failed leadership on either side. When the trial continues, Cogdell questions Ballesteros about why they didn’t just ‘knock and serve’ the search warrant, but the agent says they had information that the Davidians might’ve taken their own lives if Koresh was arrested. As Ruth scoffs at this blatant lie, Cogdell makes Ballesteros admit that internally, this operation was discussed as Operation Showtime and adds that the action was being filmed. However, when Cogdell asks if the tape can be shown to the court, Ballesteros says it’s not possible because it was misplaced. After Ballesteros fails to say if any other raids are also filmed or not, Cogdell learns from him that EMTs took hours to arrive and the superiors hadn’t taken any contingencies in case things went sideways. Instead, they had 100 McDonald’s Happy Meals but no ambulances, even in case someone fell sick. In fact, the McDonalds were later handed to the Davidians’ children in front of the camera to show the FBI as the good guys.
Cogdell asks about what the dogs were doing when Ballesteros and Willis jumped into the dog pen, but Ballesteros says they didn’t do anything because they were dead. They were dead because the FBI went inside and shot the dogs, in response to which the Davidians began shooting. Cogdell reads from a 10-month-old interview by Ballesteros where he said that he’d heard gunfire and thought it was the “dog team” killing the dogs before they went in, but now, the agent denies saying that. Later, the prosecutor hands Cogdell the details about the next day’s witnesses, and the defense attorney tells Clive that instead of getting these depositions weeks ago, they’re getting them now. He adds that no matter what they do, the jury won’t like them unless Ruth stops scoffing at the witnesses and making the Davidians out to be some kind of victims.
In a restaurant, after his buddies leave, Cogdell heads to the washroom, and a strange man with a pistol follows and locks the door from inside. Instead of beating the lawyer or threatening to kill him, though, the man says Cogdell has to attack the government more and adds that the FBI shot bullet holes at the metal doors that they’re now hiding and that he’d spoken to the former FBI director William Colby, who admitted that US federal agents killed Davidians and then he suddenly drowned. The conspiracy theorist hands Cogdell his card and says he’s got photos, documents, and evidence that he can help the lawyer with.
The Threat To Vernon Howell’s Life
In 1984, Lois asked Howell to lead that day’s readings, and mid-reading, Howell started giving his own version of the sermon about what he’d heard in Israel from God and claimed that he’d give his life for the congregation. Lois’s son George tries to warn his mother about Howell, but she’s too smitten to notice. Later, during breakfast, Howell stands up to announce that he’d gotten another vision from God. He’d told Howell to take a wife and added that together they’d birth the first among the Elders, who’d be the judges during the End Times. While Lois waits in anticipation to be announced the bride of Howell, the future prophet names Rachel, and amidst everyone’s shocked murmurs, Lois retorts that Howell must’ve misinterpreted the vision because Rachel is a young girl, but he continues that the prophecy was pristine. Lois says Howell had just used her, which makes George whip out his pistol and fire at Howell, creating havoc. As the women, children, and everyone else start fleeing the house, Clive leads some to a bus, but Ruth refuses to leave Lois when Howell tells her that he’s been told by God that he’ll return to the area. George barges out of the house and fires at the bus, and Howell narrowly escapes being shot by ducking.
When the jury reconvenes, Ruth arrives in a dress and informs Cogdell that one day Koresh and everyone else whom they’d lost would be returned, and she doesn’t plan on being in prison when that happens, so she wears the dress. The lawyer notices the card the strange man had handed him and wants Clive to confirm that the Mt. Carmel front doors are wooden, but the defendant says all doors are metal.
In Arkansas, FBI Negotiator Gary Noesner and Agent Angie are on the stakeout outside the location where Wild Bill and his mates had been housed on the eve of the final bank robbery. Noesner isn’t very sure anyone’s going to show when two skinheads get out of the building and are immediately arrested by the ATF. As the ATF investigates the building, Noesner takes a picture of a photograph pinned to the wall amidst various Nazi symbols, spots Turner’s diaries, and comes across a room with six fax machines. Upon printing the fax, it turns out to be a militia newsletter called Killing Aim all the way from Montana, and they find out that the oldest newsletter was printed in 1993, right after the Waco tragedy. They realize that no matter how much hatred the newsletter propagates, it’s not possible to run the editor’s phone records, but they can just call and ask about the readership of the newsletter. Upon calling as an arms manufacturer, Noesner realizes that Taking Aim isn’t local at all, but that it delivers to 43 states, and its readership doubles every half year, reaching 50,000 per issue.
Noesner walks into the FBI HQ and finds the undercover unit has been shut down. He learns from a colleague that the man whose photo he’d taken is Pappy Millar, a religious extremist who founded Oklahoma’s Elohim City and even mentored several cop killers and federal agent murderers. He adds that the photo was taken right after the Ruby Ridge incident, where the White Supremacists met and decided to change their media strategy and began calling themselves “Patriots.” Noesner says that “Wild Bill” claimed his people would respond to the tyranny they’d been facing, and a payback would be coming for Waco.
Something Bad Is Coming
The FBI negotiator visits FBI top brass Alan, shows him the newsletter and the book called The Turner Diaries, and informs him that it’s the same book that’s been found in multiple raids across various states. Noesner adds that the book talks about a civil war that begins with the hero blowing up the FBI headquarters using a truck bomb and ends with a storming of the Capitol Building to kill legislators that’ll help topple the government. When Alan considers the concept farfetched, Noesner says that the militia is using the book to organize their plans and that they’ve become united after Waco against a common enemy, and it’s unlike any domestic terrorist faction that the US has seen before. Here, the common enemy is the FBI and the US government, which will have to bear the brunt of an attack if it comes. However, Alan says no matter how bad they might feel about Waco, there’s nothing to be done about it now that a decision has been made. Every effort of the FBI will now be directed toward curbing foreign terrorism. Noesner gets up to leave but comes back to add that even though he kept his mouth shut after Waco, in case he’s not allowed to research the “Patriot Movement” and something awful happens because of it; the negotiator shall not remain silent anymore. He openly states that in case lives are lost, Noesner shall tell the world that he’d warned Alan on that very day, and he wasn’t allowed to act. Realizing the severity, Alan grants him two weeks but warns him that if he does anything remotely reckless, he will fire Noesner himself.
Noesner interviews Carol Howe, Bill’s girlfriend who’d tipped off the FBI about the latest robbery after Bill beat her, and he recounts the several distinctions Howe had had and then questions why she joined the Aryan army. Howe initially states she joined for Bill and that she doesn’t truly believe in the ideologies of the neo-Nazis, and Noesner asks if she’d become an informant for the FBI and head to Elohim City to gather information. Howe says if the Elohim City lunatics find out about her plans, they’ll kill her in the worst way possible, and when Noesner says the FBI would protect her, she reminds him of all the times the organization failed to protect the ones who needed to be saved. She leaves immediately with a warning to the negotiator not to find her again.
What Is Timothy McVeigh Planning?
In Elohim City, Timothy McVeigh learns from a German guy that whatever he’s planning can’t be done alone and he’ll need help, so he drives to a pay phone and begins calling up everyone he can think of. He finally settles on Terry Nichols, whom he asks what Terry would do if he were planning something big. McVeigh shows Terry a news report about the Waco tragedy and riles him up by saying it was people like them who died and that nobody would care if Terry’s wife and kids died in there. As the compound burns on the TV, McVeigh says people don’t care because they’re not afraid of the White Supremacists, and Terry says, “I’m in.”
News reports have stated that a man named Tim McVeigh exploded a homemade bomb outside the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 using a truck. The character of McVeigh in “Waco Aftermath” is undoubtedly planning to carry out the heinous action as we watch the White Supremacist plan his steps. The Elohim City Nazis would supply the materials required for the explosion, and McVeigh would carry it out, so here we see him gather Terry Nichols to aid him in the terrorist activity. In the coming episodes, we’ll get to see the true extent of evil that the Nazis pull, so it’s just a matter of weeks until the explosion is recreated.