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A judge to dread: Amazon Prime’s ‘Hand of God’

Written By | Jul 15, 2016

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2016 — When God spoke from the burning bush, the humble shepherd Moses answered, “Here I am.” But when the voice commanded Moses to seek an audience with Egypt’s powerful pharaoh, a man considered a living god, and demand the king release the Hebrew slaves, Moses said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

In Amazon Prime’s original series “Hand of God,” the Almighty gets a less insolent rejoinder from his Honor Pernell Harris (Ron Pearlman), a judge of the criminal court whose son P.J. lays brain-dead in a hospital bed, victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound delivered soon after he was forced to witness his wife’s brutal rape.

Judge Harris is moved by the spirit and the voice in his head.

Judge Pernell Harris is a man moved by the spirit and the voice in his head.

We first meet Judge Harris as he stands waist deep in a fountain, naked, hands raised to heaven and speaking in tongues. Curious bystanders record the event with their cell phones, lighting up San Vicente’s social media – the fictional California setting for this curious tale.

This makes corrupt San Vicente Mayor Robert “Bobo” Boston (Andre Royo) a tad nervous. As it turns out, an equally corrupt Judge Harris is vital to the success of a scheme meant to entice a company to build its mega-facility in their fair city.

To secure his cut of the action, Harris will sign the necessary legal waivers cutting through any red tape that could delay construction. It is California, after all. A state renowned for its anti-business climate.

Bosch: Amazon’s jazzy detective

But Harris is too preoccupied by grief and anger to dedicate much attention to the plot. Seven months after his daughter in-law’s rape, San Vicente’s finest have yet to arrest a suspect.

This diminishes any excitement Harris feels at the idea of stuffing his pockets with dirty cash. In fact, he’s more preoccupied with giving it away.

He writes a check for $50,000 in the name of a shady new-age minister helping him cope with his profound anguish and to make sense of the disembodied voice of God that he hears in his head. As well as the portentous visions of blood he’s convinced render verdicts better than a jury of “twelve good men and true.”

He tells his wife Crystal (Dana Delany), “God gives everyone gifts. For some, these gifts are more pronounced than for others. It depends on what God has planned for you. These voices I’m hearing, these visions that I’m seeing, they’re real. God is speaking to me through P.J.”

 Harris' daughter in-law Jocelyn (Alona Tal) sits by her husband in "Hand of God."

Harris’ daughter in-law Jocelyn (Alona Tal) sits by her husband in “Hand of God.”

When everyone around him tries to convince Harris that he is losing it, he seeks council from his minister – while having a drink at an upscale bar.

“I think God’s vision is wrong,” says Harris.

“His vision is never wrong,” insists the Rev. Paul Curtis (Julian Morris) in a voice dripping with insincerity, “He’s God.”

Harris starts to come around, “So, you don’t think He could just be f**king with me? You know, like a test?”

“God doesn’t test,” insists Rev. Curtis. “The Devil does. You see, God gives you free will so you can prove your faith by believing in him during times of trial. And the Devil saves his best tricks for God’s anointed ones. If you’re being tested, that means you are on the right track.”

And with that, Curtis sends Judge Pernell Harris down the road to madness and murder. A journey guided by a voice that drives one man to dispense the justice of King Solomon by employing the means and methods of Dirty Harry.

“Hand of God” season 1 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.