The movie, based on Stephen Singular’s book When Men Become Gods, follows Jeffs and his cohorts from right before the death of his father, Prophet Rulon Jeffs, and the machinations that led him to take over as Prophet, through his power-mad, exploitative reign as the FLDS leader, and his eventual place on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.
Lifetime cast a talented, recognizable group — including Martin Landau, Molly Parker (House of Cards), David Keith (An Officer and a Gentleman), and recent Fargo star Joey King as Goldwyn’s co-stars — for the movie, an especially sharp move considering the familiar faces of actors and actresses we like may be the only thing that kept us watching scenes that depicted Jeffs’s especially cruel and criminal treatment of underage girls and dogs.
And then there were moments that were just plain wacky, namely what can only be described as Goldwyn’s nod to the Three Stooges and the most interesting salad consumption you’ve ever witnessed.
The craziest and most disturbing moments from Outlaw Prophet:
1. Early in the movie, Warren’s father Rulon (Landau) embarrasses him, in front of a group of the FLDS leaders. Warren retreats to a bathroom, where he stares at himself in a mirror and then begins to slap himself, harder and faster, in the face. Yes, just like Curly from the Three Stooges.
2. After Rulon Jeffs dies and Warren begins maneuvering himself into the Prophet chair, he goes to the church room where his dead father is lying in his casket. Warren once again finds a mirror, stares into it, and says aloud, “I will be the voice of God on earth. Anyone who won’t hear it… I will cast them out.” Instead of waiting for church officials to choose the next Prophet, Warren uses his father’s eulogy to simply declare himself the new FLDS leader.
3. Before his death, Rulon had ordered Warren to tell Noah Fielding he would be the next Prophet. After taking the position himself, Warren goes to Fielding’s house when he’s not home. When Fielding and his wives return, they find Warren has removed all their family photos from their walls and colored over Noah’s face with a Sharpie. He then tells Noah the Lord has revealed his sins (namely, being Warren’s rival), so he’s kicking him out of the church and giving him 48 hours to leave town.
4. Warren has some creepy, face-touching moments with 14-year-old Elissa (King), a sweet girl who’s being physically harmed by her stepbrother, and who Warren promises to protect. But when Warren sees her kissing another boy, he tells her mother that the fact that she’s getting her “monthly visitor” means she’s ready to be “placed.” So, in a $19.95-a-night motel room, Warren marries the 14-year-old off… to the stepbrother who hits her. “Now, go forth and multiply and replenish the earth,” Warren tells them, even though Elissa hasn’t stopped crying throughout the wedding.
6. Lamont, the kid who kissed Elissa? Warren drives him into the middle of nowhere and drops him, telling him he can’t live in their town anymore.
7. You’ll want him to get another life sentence moment No. 1: While three other young, naked girls look on, Warren has sex with a young girl, asking her throughout if she feels the presence of God. A large portrait of Jesus overlooks the room.
8. Rebecca insists she will remain faithful to Rulon, and continues to resist Warren’s advances, even when he tells her Rulon has been “restored” and now lives through him, suggesting having sex with him would be like having sex with Rulon. She doesn’t buy it, and later escapes the compound. When Warren finds her bedroom door open and her not in it, he stomps through the house, yelling at the other girls, “One of you b—-es let her out, didn’t you?”
Martin Landau, Jeni Reed, Christie Geter, Joey King, and Tony Goldwyn in ‘Outlaw Prophet’
9. You’ll want him to get another life sentence moment No. 2: Elissa’s husband, the stepbrother who hit her, comes to Warren to ask for help, because Elissa refuses to have sex with him. Warren’s advice: force her.
10. You’ll want him to get another life sentence moment No. 3: An investigator working on the Jeffs case suggested Warren was more unstable, making him more dangerous than some past Prophets. That certainly proved to be true when he announced to his congregation that he was banning several things from their lives: the color red (including children’s tricycles and a man’s truck), movies, books, magazines, newspapers, TV, the Internet, music and dancing (how veryFootloose of him), and even dogs, which, as the direct descendants of wolves, are really “the devil’s mascot,” according to Warren. He makes his followers give their dogs to him, and he claims he’ll turn them over to an outside agency. Instead, as a little boy looks on, a group of men force the dogs into a giant grave, and then stand around and shoot all of the pets. “I do this out of love for our God. I do this because I love you all,” Jeffs tells his congregation after announcing the banned list.
11. The escaped Rebecca goes to the police and shares details about Warren’s behavior with underage girls, and how he marries them off to other men, too. And she reveals extra motivation for testifying against him: Her younger sister is still living under his rule… it’s Elissa!
12. After watching a news report that reveals legal authorities have a witness who’s sharing scoop on what he’s up to, Warren yanks the TV and its plug from the wall and tosses it out the window.
13. After seeing papers that list the reasons authorities are investigating him, and listening to the other FLDS leaders express their concerns about how his behavior will bring down on the church, Warren asks a handful of men to stand up during a church service. When they do, he announces they’re all being ex-communicated and divorced from their wives, who, along with their children, will be assigned to other men in the other church.
14. You’ll want him to get another life sentence moment No. 4: Sitting naked at the head of the bed, Warren is surrounded by half a dozen naked young girls. He instructs them to have sex with each other, and to touch him while he’s having sex, on behalf of the Lord. If they refuse to take part in the orgy, they’ll be considered selfish by the Lord, he says, and will be cast out.
15. With authorities moving in for a raid, Jeffs escapes. While on the lam with one of his young brides, he sees a TV report that announces he is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, along with Osama Bin Laden. “10 Most Wanted List? I’m gonna be bigger than Bin Laden,” he mutters.
16. While still on the run, in Texas, a cop pulls over Jeffs’s car, driven by one of his followers. The driver panics and draws more police to the scene, while Jeffs sits calmly in the SUV backseat, munching on a salad that had been procured from a gas station. He smugly refuses to tell the officer his name. Finally, when several law enforcement officials are on the scene, one opens his door and asks him again who he is. Jeffs continues to nosh on those greens, and deliberately chews and swallows his mouthful before telling the officer he is Warren Steed Jeffs.
17. When Jeffs is led through the prison hall to his cell, his fellow inmates taunt him, including one who yells, “You’re the wife now!” Adds the prison guard, “You got a lot of fans.”
18. A broken down Jeffs tells one of his visiting parishioners, “I am not the Prophet. I never was the Prophet,” and instructs the man to go share that news with the church members. Jeffs then tears his bed sheet into strips, forms a noose and hangs himself. He survives.
19. When his visitor shared Jeffs’s words with a church gathering, they assume he’s testing them, and resolve to devote themselves to him. When the man visits Jeffs in jail again, he tells him the church is still behind him. “Did we pass, Uncle Warren?” he asks. A dumbfounded Warren thinks about it and replies, “You have passed this first test. Now, listen to the Revelation about what you all must do to become worthy so that I may be among you again.”
20. An on-screen postscript to the story: 10,000 members of the FLDS still worship Warren Jeffs as their Prophet.
An encore of Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs airs on Sunday, June 29 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.