‘Waco: The Aftermath’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending, Explained: The Domestic Terrorists Affect The Innocent

Not always a show comes along that makes you forget that you’re watching it because your job entails watching it to write a recap afterward, but when it does, you become engrossed in the show, forgetting your duties for a while. Showtime’s Waco: Aftermath is such a show where you stay so invested in the story that after a while, you start hating the characters who are portrayed as evil while rooting for the good guys. However, Waco: Aftermath was not a work of fiction but a dramatization of the trial that happened after the tragedy at Mt. Carmel in Waco, Texas. What you’ll read below is an assortment of my opinions after finishing the finale of Waco: Aftermath, and there’s a chance that you may not agree with some of the opinions I’ve shared. However, you can be the judge of the rights or wrongs that were presented in the show after you go through the article, so read on to find out what happens in the finale.


Spoilers Ahead

The Final Verdict 

Failure of justice and the indolence of authorities—these two phrases can surmise the finale of the miniseries Waco: Aftermath, and honestly, I could hear myself swearing at the corrupt judge and the FBI top brass throughout the episode. It’s because of men like Judge Smith and Alan that innocent people get crushed under the massive wheels of the government, and domestic terrorism plots go unapprehended. Like all the previous episodes before the finale, this one was also split into two parts: the first focusing on the trial of the Waco survivors and the second on the domestic terrorist plot devised by the White Supremacists.


Defense lawyer Dan Cogdell devotes his entire time to saving the four accused survivors from being indicted because of the recklessness of the ATF and FBI, and he shows the jury just how broken the US government was at that time. The jury reaches a verdict; they clear all four accused of any of the crimes, but Ruth, Livingstone, and Paul are found guilty of firing an illegal weapon. Cogdell points out the fallacy of the situation: if the accused are declared not guilty of owning firearms, how can they be accused of using them? Judge Smith removes the decision, declaring all four defendants free to go. It’s time for celebration in the courthouse as the defendants celebrate their hard-earned freedom, and for once, I felt like appreciating Judge Smith for not being prejudiced, biased, or a marionette at the hands of the ones who exert control over a judge.

A Joke For Justice 

Soon afterward, though, as Ruth and Clive are taking their first steps out of prison, Ruth is dragged back in, and later, Judge Smith reverts his decision for the final criminal count. Cogdell argues vehemently, and Smith reminds him that he’s the judge and that he’s free to do as he pleases. He proceeds to sentence Ruth to 5 years, Paul to 15, and Livingstone to 40 years of incarceration, and that’s not all. Smith, the judge who’d probably sold his morality to the highest bidder, demands that the defendants pay more than $1 million when they’re released. As an audience member, I had some opinions about this. For example, why did Livingstone get 40 years of incarceration while SAC Tony Prince, who, from the comfort of his camp, ordered the advancement of tanks at the homes of women and children, never saw the inside of a courthouse? It’s really simple: the US government demanded its “pound of flesh,” as Cogdell put it, and that’s what Smith delivered. Livingstone Fagan, a black man outspoken in his support of David Koresh, who doesn’t bend to the autocracy of racist wardens and judges of flexible morale, needed to be made an example of. Thus, Livingstone was thrown inside a cell for a term of 40 years. Public prosecutor Bill Johnston was presented as a typically disliked government official, trying to destroy the survivors by any means necessary. He sat beside the frustrated Cogdell after the defense lawyer had been thrown out of the courthouse for complaining against Smith’s totalitarianism and suggested that he wanted to prosecute the ATF for perjury and needed Cogdell’s help. The lawyer agreed to nail those lying and evidence-destroying scumbags, but the title cards, in the end, read that Johnston was indicted for acting against the ATF. Funnily enough, he was the only one indicted on federal grounds for Waco, so what does that tell you about the US government? It will steamroll you if you try raising a finger against the injustice that crushes your loved ones and destroy the lawyers who try defending you for good measure so that you never question the “justice” ever again.


Carelessness That Caused The Catastrophe 

Elsewhere, Carol Howe risked her life by sneaking into a Neo-Nazi trailer to collect information about the materials the White Supremacists were gathering in Elohim City for the Oklahoma State Building bombing, and she got caught. It took a lot of courage and quick thinking on Carol’s part to escape the monsters, and she reported it all to Gary Noesner and Agent Angie. Noesner takes her to Alan, who does what any snob who’s paid to sit in a high position and wield a baton of commands would do. He dismisses Carol, choosing not to believe a single thing she says. Like clockwork, Tim McVeigh drives to the Oklahoma building with a truck full of explosives set to go off, and walks away because the FBI top brass was too conceited to consider that the girlfriend of a bank robber wanted to help the innocents. The bomb goes off, killing 168 people, including 19 little kids who were playing in the building’s daycare center as Pappy Millar and Andy the German shake on it. If there’s a hell, that’s where Pappy Millar would find himself, right beside people like Alan, because it was the carelessness of top brass like him that allowed the plan to go through.

How Does The Cowardice Of The Domestic Terrorists Affect The Innocent?

Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 with lethal injection, and before the earth was rid of a pestilence like himself, he’d said that he wanted the US government to suffer as the people at Waco and Ruby Ridge did. Do you know who really suffered, though? It was the hundreds of moms, dads, husbands, wives, and children who lost someone in that explosion on April 19, 1995, because the FBI top brass was too high-handed to consider the information they received from a woman with a Southern drawl and a Swastika tattoo. The White Supremacists were cowards who sought revenge by murdering little kids who didn’t even know who David Koresh was or what White Supremacy meant, and that’s what any domestic terrorism does. These radical extremists attack without any consideration, cause immense terror and catastrophe, and call it doing God’s work. They’re fanatics with murderous intent, and if God could see what the monsters were doing in His name, He would throw them to the bottom-most pit of hell because that’s where these monsters belong. Waco: Aftermath is over, and honestly, it’s been an amazing portrayal of the failure of justice, so if you’ve not watched the show yet, I suggest you give it a go at the earliest, and you won’t be blamed if you find yourself seething with rage, just as I did. Waco: Aftermath ends on a tragic note that if you’re a common citizen and the state declares you guilty, your side of the story doesn’t matter. 


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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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