Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle’s Waco: The Aftermath on Showtime released its third episode this weekend, and it’s quickly becoming one of those shows that we wait all week for. With gritty storytelling and fantastic acting, the accurate retelling of the events that followed the tragedy at Waco, Texas, in 1993 has grabbed all the viewers’ attention. Two separate stories are presented together, with one portion looking at the defense trial of the survivors of the tragedy, while the other looks at Michael Shannon’s character trying to unearth a terrorist plot. FBI negotiator Gary Noesner figures out that a terrorist plot is underway by the Nazis and tries his best to dig up clues before another tragedy happens. Here’s what happened this week:
Livingstone Fagan, The Man
In 1994, in the San Antonio prison in Texas, Waco survivor Livingstone Fagan was deep in Bible study when he had a flashback to when he was leaving Newbold College UK in 1986 when his attention was piqued when he heard someone giving a sermon. He found Vernon Howell, aka David Koresh, giving a speech about his understanding of the Lamb and the Messiah, and Livingstone engaged him in a debate about the whole concept. Soon, the two men were sitting in the garden discussing how each had benefitted from the knowledge the other had to impart. Vernon invited Livingstone to the place he has in Texas, where men like him would be welcome. Livingstone arrives with Vernon at the camp Howell’s people are living in, where Clive Doyle welcomes them both and announces to the preacher that Lois Roden has accepted Howell’s invitation to come for the Passover Dinner. Back to the present day, Livingstone is asked to strip for a search before he can exercise, and he refuses to comply, which ends in him enduring severe beatings from the warden.
The Defense Lawyers’ Gathering
As the defense attorneys sit discussing the case, Clive’s lawyer, Dan Cogdell, mentions the strange man who’d followed him into the men’s room when another lawyer says it might’ve been Gordon Novel, a CIA operative who’s crazy but well-connected. The list of witnesses for Monday arrives, and the lawyers become concerned because the prosecution is bringing them in, and their faces drop when they find out it’ll be Jaime Helliver, the ATF agent who claimed Livingstone shot him. Rocket argues the racism angle that Helliver can’t ID the two white men who shot at him but remembers Livingstone, but Cogdell says the racist angle won’t stand with the ATF. He adds that allowing Rocket to question the witness is a little concerning because he’s known to become emotional, although he promises to coach him. They visit Livingstone, knowing that he just quotes from the Bible, hoping that he’ll be able to help. However, the lawyers find out that Livingstone believes himself to be a version of St. Paul and has accepted his fate, but Cogdell uses his Catholic School knowledge to get him to cooperate. He reveals that when the shooting happened, Livingstone was helping move a dead kid with Clive, so he couldn’t have been the one shooting at Helliver, making Cogdell rejoice.
The Passover Dinner
However, the happiness is quickly marred by Judge Smith, who is clearly biased against the Davidians, and it shows. Although Rocket and Cogdell say Livingstone had an alibi, Smith denies allowing it because he considers Clive’s testimony inadmissible. While listening to the judge’s decision, Livingstone thinks of the time when Lois came back with the people who lived with her, and they attended Passover together. Howell narrated how Moses took the Jews to the Promised Land, and Lois said that he was welcome to return to Mt. Carmel, but Howell rejected it, saying he wouldn’t return until Lois was gone. By now, he’d already started seeing himself as the Messiah of mankind, but Lois called him the “serpent” and asked Ruth to come back with her, but she decided to stay.
After Passover dinner, Livingstone is preparing to leave when Howell asks the theologian that after spending a few weeks among them, does he not think that Howell is indeed the Messiah? He adds that he’s been chosen for something great, as has Livingstone, to spread Howell’s teachings when he’s dead because he’s the one who understands Howell’s messages the best. Just then, George Roden, Lois’s son, barges in and blames Howell for her death before punching him in the face. While Livingstone helps him up, the preacher reminds him that the world is already turning against him and that Livingstone must carry the message. Inside the prison, the new St. Paul shouts at the guard about how the Lamb named David Koresh will be coming back to destroy the Babylonians. While the guard shuts the door, Livingstone continues screaming.
The Trial Continues
Out of options, Rocket and Cogdell wait for Gordon Novel to show up, and when he does, the lawyers are in for a very risky situation because of how the former CIA operative drives. He hands them a ledger and mentions that no Davidian was given a proper autopsy because the morgue’s power supply was lost and that a man named Jimmy Riddle was dragged into the fire after he was shot to hide proof. As it turns out, Novel despises the ATF for arresting him four times for firebombing the Federation Church Building, although he did do it. Realizing they can’t let Novel anywhere near their case, the two lawyers quickly get out of the car and decide not to mention him to anyone.
Jamie Helliver arrives at court and shows his bulletproof jacket, which became discolored because he’d bled after being shot. He then proceeds to point at Livingstone, claiming it was him who had shot at the agent back at Waco. Cogdell spots Novel in the back seat and follows him out, where Novel gives him a photo of a line-up and asks him to look at the writing near Livingstone’s picture, saying he’d gotten it from a Texas ranger. When presented to Judge Smith, he asks for the “veracity” of the evidence, to which Rocket shows a signed paper from a Texas Ranger, forcing the judge to allow it as proof. Rocket makes Helliver read the writing that says Helliver wasn’t sure if the ID was related to Waco and then states the agent wasn’t sure if it was Livingstone who shot him. However, Helliver manages to wiggle out of the situation, so Rocket uses the race card; he says how the agent didn’t remember the white men who shot him but remembered the only black man who survived. He then reminds the court how the black employees of the FBI complained about the department because of comments, but Helliver tries to pass it off as a joke, and Rocket uses an expletive, losing his temper. Helliver firmly said he could be called anything, but he knows for a fact that it was indeed Livingstone who shot him. Later, Cogdell consoles Rocket, who’s upset that he fumbled on his first day, saying they’ll be able to come back.
The Negotiator’s Discovery
Gary Noesner is looking at the pictures and data available about Elohim City when he comes across the name Richard Snell, and his colleague tells him Snell considered Pappy Millar his spiritual advisor, and is a dangerous person throughout. Snell murdered a man, suspecting him to be Jewish, though he wasn’t, and killed a black cop. He is now set to face the death penalty. When Noesner visits Snell in prison to find out more about Elohim City, the convict starts asking how the FBI negotiator sleeps at night knowing his people burned 76 women and children alive. Noesner is on his way out when Snell blurts out that he’ll be enjoying his last meal on April 19 and imagines the look on the FBI’s face when they realize how these white supremacists “punch back.” Outside, Noesner speaks to the guard, who says Snell didn’t want to have a last meal but wanted a TV so that he could watch the news. Noesner quickly understands the connection between the two: there’s something big about to happen on April 19.
Playing The Cards Right
Noesner once again finds out about Carol Howe, Wild Bill’s girlfriend, who’d told Noesner never to find her again. He sits down with her and mentions the date of April 19, which makes Carol respond that Pappy had mentioned their revolution would begin by then. However, she refuses to help any further, and Noesner begins walking away before he mentions that the FBI pays their informants, and Carol immediately agrees. Meanwhile, Tim McVeigh and his friend drive to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma, and they look at the building intently, as this is where they plan to execute their terrorist act. In Oklahoma, inside a van, Agent Angie sets up the mic on Carol’s chest to use as a listening device as she goes into one of the Aryan buildings to buy drugs with the FBI’s money. Noesner is concerned about her messing up the act and setting the Aryans off, but Carol asks him to rest easy because it’s not her first time buying drugs. Before leaving, though, she gives Noesner a letter and asks him to give it to her father in case she’s killed.
Infiltrating A Nazi Camp
When Carol makes her into the Aryan party, she finds several Nazi flags and symbols, including the infamous KKK, stuck to the wall. She introduces herself to Becca, who has connections with Pappy Millar, and asks if she’s got drugs to sell. When Becca asks if she’s a narc, Carol ironically says that she’s a spy and has a white van outside where FBI agents are waiting for her to get drugs. She buys drugs from Becca and then asks if she can ask Pappy Millar to let her enter Elohim City so that she can get her clothes back. Becca has no reason to suspect Wild Bill’s girlfriend and promises to vouch for her. Things were going smoothly until two Nazis began fighting with each other, and gunshots were heard. Becca and Carol escaped the building, but Carol flipped off Noesner before getting into the car with Becca and driving away.
At the FBI office, Noesner says Carol won’t betray them, and as proof, he shows Angie the letter, but the agent asks him to read it to see if it’s at all a message to Carol’s dad. He opens the letter to find that Carol has written a letter to her father apologizing for all the wrong things she’d done in her life and saying that in case her father learns of her death, he’s to know that she died trying to achieve something good and important. While Angie goes home, Noesner hangs back for a while longer, waiting for Carol to call him back.
Did Carol Betray Gary?
While driving back to Elohim City, Carol asks Becca if she can stay with her for a couple of days since she’s got nowhere else to find shelter, and Becca is a little confused but doesn’t suspect anything. She allows Carol to shack up with her as they draw near the entry gate, and she mentions to Carol that this is where all entrants are searched. Carol immediately pulls the wire off her body and shoves it inside a cigarette packet while pretending to light a cigarette. The Nazis demand to know who Carol is and ask them to step out just as she throws the pack into a nearby stream. As Carol is searched, she watches the box float away when Pappy Millar arrives with his two Dobermans, who keep charging at her. The patriarch questions how Wild Bill was arrested after pulling off 21 heists without a hiccup, trying to blame Carol, but she makes a power move by commanding his dogs to stand down. She then adds that her father had raised Dobermans, so she’s good with dogs, as Pappy reminds her of the church timing before leaving.
Although it might’ve seemed that Carol Howe took federal money and escaped with another Nazi to Elohim City, it seems she wanted to do good. The letter she left her father says that even if she died, it’d be for something important, and she quickly intimidates the other Nazis by making Pappy’s dogs sit down. Now, she might actually end up helping Noesner and the rest of America by informing them about the Nazis’ ploy, or there’s a possibility that she might be a turncoat. What if ‘dying for something important’ means dying for the Nazis? In that case, she’ll be betraying Noesner. However, to find out about her real plans, we’ll have to stay tuned for the next episodes.