Episode five of this excellent series – which retells the fateful siege of Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas in 1993 – feels like the slight calm before the storm.
We’ve seen how politics within David Koresh’s compound and outside in the FBI compound has frayed minds and temperaments.
And even now, there’s a sense that the events that actually took place are far away from becoming reality. An opening telephone call from Steve – the rational person in the group – and chief negotiator Gary Noesner sees Steve say categorically that mass suicide is not on the table. But, of course, Noesner’s bosses have employed shock and awe tactics – extreme noise at night, cutting the power. These so-called shows of force have pushed the remaining inhabitants to the limits, and yet… even though this is a true story and we know what happens, as viewers we’re hoping that something can be done.
And that’s the skill of this series.
There is, of course, one person that will not bow to reason or rational thought: David Koresh. He’s beginning to bare his teeth. As people around him begin to express a want to leave, he turns on them. As Noesner talks to him and seems to be making progress, he fights back, narcissistic, paranoid thoughts begetting narcissistic, paranoid thoughts. He says he’s on a mission from god, and now god is telling him to fight.
As time ticks by, FBI chief Tony Prince decides enough is enough and gives Koresh a deadline: if you don’t come out by morning, certain actions will be taken against him.
With the world watching, and Prince feeling the heat from outside – and Koresh, too, from the inside, seeing TV reports calling him a crackpot and a charlatan – tensions are at an all-time high.
There’s one final scene: Koresh, bombarded by white noise and unsettling noise, muster up enough power to plug their instruments into amps and perform loud Christian rock music back to the FBI. This act of defiance makes Prince seeth. He’s had enough. They’re taking the piss, laughing in their faces.
Episode six is going to be a difficult watch.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FOUR REVIEW