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Created by Lee Roy Kunz and Katherine Montgomery
a·pos·tate əˈpäˌstāt, əˈpästət
a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.
abandoning a religious or political belief or principle.
Eliza, an ambitious nineteen-year-old journalism major, disappears while doing a student project on a radical fundamentalist sect of the Mormon Church.
Eliza's older sister, Ivy, and her estranged ex-husband, Noah, travel to the small polygamous town of Red Rock City to try and find her.
“This is loving your neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.”
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 4, p. 220
Each season will follow an investigation of religious crime and corruption as investigated by Detective Perish, a devout Mormon woman from Salt Lake City.
Season One is set in Red Rock City, Utah:
a deeply isolated and radical religious community, framed by the red rock cliffs of the Grand Canyon that was founded in 1913 by a breakaway extremist group from the Mormon Church.
For generations, the cult's leadership has had total control over this desert outpost: selecting the mayors, the city council, and even the town marshal. In recent years, there have been allegations that the town has been violating residents' civil rights, denying utility hookups, spying on and harassing citizens, and allowing the church to use public officials to run members who left the faith – "apostates"– out of town.
The cult still practices plural marriage. They do so upon the guidance of their prophet who is believed by its members to speak directly to God.
In Red Rock City there is strong division and hostility between the faithful and unfaithful. Apostates often wake up to find slaughtered animals hanging from their porches as threats and warnings. And church members are often forced from their family homes by apostates buying them back from a government-seized land trust. Red Rock City is at war.
In Mormonism, blood atonement is a controversial doctrine. Its message: some crimes are so heinous that the atonement of Jesus does not apply. To atone for these sins, the perpetrators should be killed in a way that would allow their blood to be shed
upon the ground as a sacrificial offering.
The doctrine is no longer accepted by the mainstream Mormon Church, but it was paramount during the Mormon Reformation when Brigham Young governed the Utah Territory as a near-theocracy. And it continues to be considered critical within Mormon fundamentalism.
A devout Mormon, wife and mother to three daughters. Born and raised in Sandy, Utah, her father is a high-ranking Church Elder who raised her to be a submissive Mormon housewife. A gifted genius in school and a master of multiple languages, she was recruited by the CIA out of college for her ability to speak Farsi and Arabic. With her rebellious nature, she accepted the offer to the scorn of her family, and was the first in her class at the academy.
She dropped out, however, to be with a Mormon man, and found herself in the role of a traditional Mormon housewife. An affluent and respected member of her Salt Lake community, she fell into a deep depression as a stay-at-home mother. She ultimately decided to find work in local law enforcement alongside her husband. With incredible intellect and intuition, she made a quick rise to Homicide Detective.
Detective Perish will journey deep into the American heartland to confront the darkest corners of humanity. She will face the true nature of her own faith and ultimately apostatize from the Mormon Church. She will tell her husband she can longer raise her three girls in a religion that treats women as second-class citizens; flesh for pleasure and breeding.
An ex-marine with PTSD, Noah was a military investigator. Dishonorably discharged after being caught planting evidence on a suspected terrorist in Afghanistan, Noah feels betrayed by the U.S government. His wife, Ivy, was waiting for him while he was overseas but he kept extending his time- addicted to being in a war zone- breaking his promise to her again and again until she eventually left him for another man.
A late-blooming philosopher, the brooding nihilist, was raised Irish Catholic. He now believes he is beyond good and evil and is beyond saving. But the opportunity to reconcile with Ivy offers something he hasn’t had in years: hope. Noah will set out on a path toward redemption as he helps her find Eliza. But his impulsive and violent nature will take over when confronted with The Sect’s evil, forcing him to spiral out of control and bring the flames of hell to their church.
A kind and earnest—if often naïve—liberal atheist with a bleeding heart. Ivy is more than Eliza’s sister; she’s her mother figure. After years of waiting for Noah she partnered with another man, believing her husband would never coming back after he broke his promise to her for the third time. When Noah was forced to return from war and was confronted with the relationship, he nearly beat the man to death, permanently blinding him in one eye. Ivy cut off all contact with him. But now--desperate to find her sister and receiving no help from the corrupt local police force—she asks Noah to come help her.
She still harbors feelings for her husband and it seems they are building toward a reconciliation, as she nurtures the more loving, humanistic aspects of Noah's character. And at first, Noah is his best self when he is with her. But the world has other plans; the monster pushes back. She is trusting and earnest to a fault; her optimism about human nature will ultimately be her downfall. She will find herself fighting for her life in the unforgiving desert, against an evil beyond her own comprehension. Alone, with her illusions shattered, she will prove to be tougher, more heroic, and resourceful than anyone thought. She is a hero of this story and it will be her kindness and compassion that saves not only her own life, but the lives of those around her.
A motivated, idealist and social activist in her first-year as a journalism major. Fearless and stubborn, Eliza disappeared while doing a journalism project on "The Lost Boys" (young boys cast out of The Sect). We are introduced to her extraordinary determination in the first scene of the pilot, and will spend the majority of the first season trying to uncover the mystery of what happened to her. The two leading theories: she has either been killed for uncovering a church secret, or taken to be a "seed bearer" within the church. A seed bearer is a woman decreed by The Prophet to become perpetually pregnant by carefully selected high-ranking males within the church. The goal: to breed a population of Mormon fundamentalists loyal only to him. However, we ultimately realize that she has was not kidnapped or killed by The Sect but kidnapped by The Lost Boys, who have founded their own competing polygamous sect, in the desert on the outskirts of town.
The son of The Sect’s Original Prophet who took over when his father went to jail on charges of sex crimes against underage girls. The Prophet is a shadowy figure, more talked about than seen. When we do see him, he remains tight-lipped, soft-spoken, and sinister, surrounded by scores of young wives.
The Prophet is deeply defensive of the his church’s secrecy and, for fear of the same fate as his father, will do whatever it takes to keep the police from looking too closely into his affairs. Confronted with the threat of a deeper investigation involving the FBI, it becomes in his vital self-interest to find out what happened to Eliza. He genuinely becomes most informative ally to Detective Perish in her search for Eliza. Evasive, shady, and eerily smooth, he rubs Noah the wrong way and soon finds himself on trial for his crimes in the people's court of Noah, burning to death, locked inside his own church with all his followers.
BECKETT, BRAXTON, BARTHOLOMEW, BRIGHAM, OAKLEY, OLIVER, ORSON, JARED, JOE, JOHN, JESSOP, and JOSEPH.
Cast out of The Sect by The Prophet to create more child brides for himself and the other older men. They refuse to leave their hometown town and are living together in their own desert community.
The Lost Boys seem friendly and helpful at first, offering firsthand insight into the secret community of The Sect. Cast out by their church and families, they share an interest in bringing down the cult. However, they have been so radicalized that they can’t escape from their upbringing. The Lost Boys are secretly attempting to build up their own competing breakaway sect. Braxton, the oldest and most sinister, believes himself to be the next True Prophet.
They have kidnapped Eliza, easy prey as an outsider, to be their own "seed bearer," and will eventually lure Ivy into becoming a second. When we first see Braxton "helping" Ivy in the pilot he is actually leading her into a trap before being thwarted by Noah. Braxton covers his tracks by showing them the secret tunnels of The Sect and becomes a false ally throughout most of the season.
Like any group, there are competing agendas and beliefs. Two of the younger boys, Bartholomew and Joseph, will ultimately try to help the women escape, having been touched by Ivy’s maternal kindness over the season.
THE LOST BOYS
Headstrong journalism student Eliza disappears in the fundamentalist Mormon-run town of Red Rock City as tensions rise over her investigation of the church. Detective Perish—a Mormon family woman—is called in from Salt Lake City and is immediately frustrated by local police Chief Gideon’s lack of urgency in the investigation. Eliza’s sister Ivy, equally frustrated by the lack of progress, reluctantly calls her estranged husband Noah, a PTSD-suffering former marine investigator who she had a tumultuous falling out with; the two begin their own search for Eliza. Ivy and Noah are introduced to the “Lost Boys,” a community of orphaned boys cast out of the church who refuse to leave their hometown. They begin talking to the town’s nonbelievers and an increasingly sinister portrait of the extremist sect emerges. A woman’s body is discovered in the desert; Detective Perish and Chief Gideon wait for it to be identified. Noah attempts to reconcile his relationship with Ivy but she is unwilling to give him another chance. Noah learns of the body; he and Ivy race out to the scene and are confronted by Detective Perish, who just received confirmation that the woman is not Eliza but a girl from the church. The head of the Lost Boys—Braxton—wakes Ivy in the middle of the night and brings her to the church perimeter; Noah sees them and follows. Braxton reveals a network of tunnels beneath the church.
Ivy and Noah show Detective Perish the tunnels; she keeps this new knowledge a secret from Police Chief Gideon and submits a request to a judge in Salt Lake for a warrant to bug them. Ivy and Noah continue their own investigation. Noah becomes increasingly suspicious of The Lost Boys, while Ivy’s sympathy kicks in; she grows closer with them, taking on a maternal role and caring for them. Detective Perish sits down with The Prophet and, to her surprise, he expresses willingness to help her however he can. Meanwhile, Noah and Ivy’s investigation creates tension with the church; Detective Perish worries that this will harm her own access, but they refuse to stop. Security measures increase; Noah and Ivy are under constant surveillance and are harrassed by members of the church. Detective Perish's warrant gets denied; with suspicions about both the local police and FBI, she begins to question the scope of the church’s reach. Ivy and Noah learn that the owner of the B&B they are staying in—Porter—had a relationship with Eliza and turn their suspicions towards him.
Porter is investigated and arrested by Police Chief Gideon, who is eager to press charges; Detective Perish determines that they lack evidence, but keeps an eye on him. She meets with The Prophet, who is eager to offer The Sect’s resources to assist in the investigation; he issues a decree from God that his followers find out what happened to Eliza. Detective Perish grows suspicious of his motives. Frustrated by The Prophet’s unwillingness to meet with them, Noah and Ivy break into the church compound and confront him during a sermon. The Prophet tells Noah he recognizes Noah from "The Garden" and reveals knowledge of war crimes committed by Noah and his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, assuring them that God will have justice; Noah is left shaken, unable to comprehend how The Prophet learned of these secrets. Detective Perish discovers that Bartholemew, the youngest Lost Boy, was the mystery caller who reported Eliza missing to police.
Bartholemew disappears before Detective Perish can find him; the Lost Boys tell her that they don’t know where he is, and she reports him missing. Detective Perish explores Chief Gideon’s bank statements; her suspicions of his link to the church are met and he is removed from the case. Noah sneaks onto the compound through the tunnels and explores The Prophet’s home. He discovers a room where the Prophet keeps his newest wives as they are groomed into submission and hard evidence of pedophilia at The Sect’s Texan compound.Noah turns the evidence over to Detective Perish, allowing authorities to raid the compound in Texas. They remove the girls but, too radicalized and terrified to talk, and with the evidence not strong enough for them to be placed in state care, they must be returned to the compound. The infuriated Prophet ceases cooperation with Detective Perish and she falls victim to their harrassment. It is no secret now that the FBI has been conducting their own special investigation, using Intel from Detective Perish, behind her back. New evidence about Porter emerges following the recovery of Eliza’s iCloud account, and Detective Perish turns her attention to him and his B&B, which houses the Lost Boys. Detective Perish goes to the B&B to arrest him but he has disappeared, his belongings missing and bank account emptied.
Detective Perish follows a lead on Porter’s whereabouts and his potential involvement in a sex trafficking ring, leading her to an Arizona Indian Reservation. Worried about what he might do if left unsupervised in Red Rock City, she extends an olive branch to Noah and brings him along. The trip quickly escalates into a massive firefight with a mysterious group of men in the middle of the desert. Under seige for 36 hours and unsure of their fate, they open up to one another and reflect on their faith: Detective Perish, the believer, and Noah, the nonbeliever. Finally, the two make a risky exit. In the process, Noah is shot while protecting Detective Perish and they narrowly escape, reaching the hospital just in time to save Noah’s life. They discover that Porter had been involved in the trafficking of Native girls and that he was killed in the shootout, and the results are bittersweet; though they’re able to save dozens of women, emerging details of Porter’s frequent trips out to the reservation provide an unlikely alibi when they realize he wasn’t in Red Rock City when she disappeared. The discovery of the riing leads to a gruesome new possibility as Detective Perish and Noah realize that this might have been Eliza’s fate, meaning that she could be anywhere in the U.S. Detective Perish and Noah are less optimistic than ever, but Noah doesn’t share their discovery with Ivy. Ivy visits Noah in the hospital and they make love for the first time since the separation.
After nearly being killed in the shootout, Detective Perish’s husband demands she quit the case and return to Salt Lake City. She struggles with the confrontation, deeply conflicted by her commitments to the family and the case. Meanwhile, Ivy and Noah grow closer than ever and begin to wonder about a future for their relationship. With Noah still in the hospital, Ivy returns alone to Red Rock City. Braxton and the Lost Boys reach out to her with the promise of a lead and she follows them into the desert.
They take her to an abandoned mining compound and she is captured and imprisoned—reunited with her now-pregnant sister in captivity. She learns that The Lost Boys, under the leadership of Braxton, have created their own breakaway sect—what they believe is their only chance at redemption in the eyes of God after having been thrown out of The Sect Detective Perish and Noah learn that Ivy has gone missing. She decides to stay, the stakes of the case higher than ever.
Detective Perish gets word of the FBI’s sudden interest in The Prophet following Ivy’s disappearance and panics, afraid of the chaos that might ensure. Ivy struggles to form a plan and connect with her sister, who is suffering from severe trauma. Enraged and newly released from the hospital, Noah kidnaps one of the Chosen Members of the Church tries to force him to talk, but the man is too pious to betray his Prophet. Noah, realizing that the member would rather die a martyr than betray his faith, leaves him in the desert. He returns to town and continues his frantic search. Convinced that Ivy’s disappearance is rooted in the town and church, Detective Perish struggles to re-gain The Prophet’s cooperation as she has frustratingly little evidence. Noah goes on a bender and breaks in to the church compound, confronting The Prophet once more and then lighting the church on fire. He doesn’t make it out. Ivy reaches out to Bartholemew and convinces him to let them go. With his help, the women slip out of the compound and into the desert.
The Lost Boys discover that Ivy and Eliza are missing when a couple of the boys try and visit them later that night. They immediately know it was Bartholomew and Joseph, and Braxton sentences them to death. Eliza and Ivy soon run out of gas and freezing in the cold desert, run for shelter, and hide in a cave until morning. Eliza finally starts talking, but only in short, disconnected sentences. The Lost Boys take off after Ivy and Eliza at first light, following their tracks toward town. Ivy and Eliza find an empty house in the desert at the edge of town. They put on Mormon girl clothes and hide in the abandoned house. Detective Perish goes to inform The Lost Boys about the deaths of their families and see the boys behaving very suspiciously. She catches two of the boys redhanded with guns. She doesn't know what the boys are up to but they panic and knock her unconscious. They take Detective Perish back to their compound and lock her up as their new "seed bearer" prisoner. She has a talk with Braxton about why they are doing what they are doing and he quotes perfect Mormon scripture to justify everything they are doing to chilling effect. Detective Perish is kept a prisoner on the compound for days. Ivy and Eliza are stuck in that house, unsure which way town is. They are eventually found by two of the Lost Boys but Ivy and Eliza, kill one and capture the other. They discover from the Lost Boy that Braxton and the others have captured Detective Perish. Police Chief Gideon follows a lead to The Lost Boys, discovering their compound. But he doesn't take the boys serious and is killed by The Lost Boys. Ivy and Eliza trek back to town, using the captured lost boy as their guide. There they are able to contact the FBI and a rescue team is sent to save Detective Perish and arrest the Lost Boys. Detective Perish returns to her family in Salk Lake. She tells her husband she can no longer raise her daughters in the Mormon church. She renounces her faith, and leaves her husband. She is the apostate.
Detective Perish investigates the disappearance of a Navajo Native American adult suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for sexual abuse while participating as a child in a church-operated Indian Student Placement Program.
The Indian Student Placement Program, which operated from 1947 to 2000, pulled Native American children as young as eight from their homes and sent them to live with Mormon foster families, to help them reverse the curse of their red skin by turning them whiter.
Disowned by friends and family for her apostasy, Detective Perish goes through a nasty divorce battle for the custody of her three children as she undergoes the investigation, unveiling a fraud, and a series of financial crimes, perpetrated by the church, that will put her life and family in mortal danger.