The Righteous Gemstones - Season 3 (2023) Review
PRAISE be to HBO! The juggernaut streaming network has had a tumultuous 2023, creating perhaps the best show of the year with The Last of Us while simultaneously making the worst in The Weeknd's The Idol. However, one show they continue to utilise extremely well is their televangelism spoof The Righteous Gemstones, a series that just keeps getting better and better courtesy of Danny McBride's ironically unholy vision.
The self-enforced retirement of Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) as the family church's head priest results in declining attendance and donations. Criticism from the church board and other family members leaves Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson) and Kelvin Gemstone (Adam Devine) concerned and bitter about the church's future. But a visit from Eli's distant family, including his remorse-filled brother-in-law Peter (Steve Zhan), could prophesize more than just the end of the Gemstone dynasty.
With Season 2 ending on the retirement of Eli, many thought this would be the end of Goodman's involvement in the show. Creator and leading star Danny McBride couldn't have proved the doubters more wrong as not only is Eli very much present in this season, his character is arguably the most integral to the series' progression, laying the foundation for new characters Peter and Mary to carry the emotional weight of Season 3. The Righteous Gemstones continues to follow Eli's children on their path to lead the church as one, an accomplishment that appears to have reached its climax by the end of Season 3, giving resolution to their long-standing rivalry at the perfect time as it was on the verge of becoming repetitive and monotonous.
The Gemstones children truly come into their own this season, with each being given their own struggles which are ultimately resolved in the seventh episode: the season's best. Animosity between Eli and Peter come to ahead in the form of Judy, Jesse and Kelvin as the three are forced to air out their frustrations and feelings towards each other. Years of child and adulthood anguish is put on full display when the trio realise their lives outside the church are more similar than they could've imagined as each are dealing with relationship quarrels, resulting in the three forgiving one another in a cleverly-written nod to the church's confessionals. McBride, Patterson and Devine deliver standout performances, especially Patterson who learns from her many sins to show genuine emotion during their confessions.
Despite not being the strongest episode, the show's third flashback episode provided many answers to long-lasting questions such as how Jesse and Amber first met and why Peter holds an eternal grudge against Eli. Peter's reasoning, while insane, is wildly believable considering the timeframe and the worry surrounding Y2K. His character arch is both understandable and well-executed courtesy of Steve Zahn's talented performance; a righteous man turning to a life of crime while maintaining his construed version of nobility.
The Righteous Gemstone's triennial season marks a turning point for HBO's most devious and religious family. Judy, Jesse and Kelvin take centre stage following the semi-retirement of Eli in the show's best season to date. By introducing meaningful characters while keeping fan favourites interesting and ever-developing, Danny McBride's televangelism spoof continues to be one of the most hilarious and heart-warming shows on our screens. And judging by the this season's spirit-raising finale, it appears a new generation of Gemstone will get their chance to impress following the show's recent renewal.