On September 4, Amazon Prime will launch a new 10-part series called, “The Hand of God.” The show’s title comes from the instructions “from Above” that fill the mind of Pennell Harris, a corrupt and womanizing American judge played by Ron Perlman, from “Sons of Anarchy.”
Judge Harris experiences a breakdown and his mental anguish is so excruciating that it causes him to believe in the disturbing visions and messages he believes are an outright obligations for justice. The commands come as a voice-over that the audience can hear and as images that the audience can see, as if they are real.
The commands seem so clear to Harris that he begins on a corrupt vigilante search to administer justice to the unknown perpetrator of a violent sexual act against his beautiful daughter-in-law. The attack had already broken his family apart and darkened his life even before the events that occur in the pilot.
The judge’s life falls apart as the series continues, and his mental state worsens along with it. Harris’s ability to “control his environment, which has been pristine up until this time, is now is being undermined by events that are beyond his ability to change,” Perlman told the LA Daily News. As he is fueled by his desire for revenge, Harris obtains the help of a white supremacist to aid in the mission.
“This is a challenge of life for me,” said the Jewish Perlman, 65, who is also a producer on the series. “It’s the big kahuna. I don’t think I would’ve been ready for it at a younger age.”
Aside from Perlman, the Amazon series’ Jewish cast members include Herzliya native Alona Tal, an Israeli-American and IDF veteran who plays the fictional judge’s daughter-in-law Jocelyn, with a perfect American accent as well. Tal, who is also a singer, got her start on a children’s musical video and later starred in the Israeli film, “Lihiyot Kohav/To Be A Star.”
Tal told Deadline.com that her character, who is raped multiple times during a home invasion, cheers herself up after the attempted suicide and hospitalization of her husband, who is now in a coma. Instead of believing she is just a victim, Jocelyn musters enough strength to deal with much more than the rape, which had caused her husband, P.J., who saw the rape, to shoot himself.
It is while his son is in a coma and on life support that Harris, Jocelyn’s father-in-law, believes that he starts to get messages from heaven that lead him on a path of violence.
Perlman’s and Tal’s characters eventually fight over P.J.’s fate. Jocelyn prepares herself to take P.J. off life support and allow for unavoidable to occur. His father cannot allow himself to let his son die, especially after he promises his son, while his son is still on life support, to avenge his death.
Harris relies on a young, charming, and suspicious pastor, Reverend Curtis, for support. In turn, Reverend Curtis baptizes Harris.
It is after this baptism that Harris starts to see visions and act oddly. Harris disappears for three days and appears without clothing in a public fountain speaking in tongues. Harris claims that he is born-again.
Harris’s rejection of an inmate’s criminal charges on religious grounds, his large donation to the previously unknown pastor, and his odd public behavior make his family wonder about his increasingly strange beliefs.
The drama, which was created by Ben Watkins for Amazon Studios, celebrates the premiere of a handful of pilots that Amazon showed online last year that asked the viewers for their thoughts.
The original “The Hand of God” pilot, which begins by showing the judge in a delicate mental state, includes language, violence, and adult content, and is still available on YouTube.
Last year, the viewers had contradictory thoughts on the plotline: whether the protagonist is delusional and acting strangely under the appearance of a supernatural event or if the events themselves are actually supernatural. This is left up to interpretation, with lots of hints that it might actually be what is occurring.
The opportunity to work with Amazon’s original streaming services is very exciting for Perlman.
“This is the most exciting period I’ve ever seen in television and most exciting place to be if you’re a storyteller is television,” Perlman told Deadline.com.
“Ten years from now it will all get f****d up, but right now it’s a beautiful place. Right now, I’m coming from the dream factory called FX,” where the “Sons Of Anarchy” aired. Perlman added that he was hoping “lightning could strike twice” and described working at Amazon Studios as “a love affair.”