Amish Mafia episode review: Doppel Leben

The following is a public service announcement.

Every year, millions of people suffer domestic abuse.  Whether it’s spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse or any other type of abuse, the figures and the results are staggering and painful and shameful.  It’s hard for the abused party to leave.  It’s hard for the abused party to get enough strength to find help.  It takes the support of friends, family, clergy, everybody, to help break the cycle of domestic abuse.

This is not a subject that lends itself to humor.  This isn’t a “Punch and Judy” puppet show.  This isn’t a Three Stooges slapfest two-reeler.  I’ve seen domestic abuse first-hand.  I’ve experienced it first-hand.  What happened to Esther Freeman Schmucker at the hands of her real-life boyfriend I’Mir Williams was both reprehensible and horrifying.  We aren’t talking about “Esther,” the character played on the Amish Mafia television series.  We’re talking about the woman born Esther Freeman Schmucker, the real-life woman with the real-life injuries.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, please contact your police or social services unit or child protective services agency.  You could also call the toll-free hotline number at this link.  You can also support organizations like the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence by donating at this link.

And now we’ve come to THAT episode.  And part of me, a very big part of me, hopes that the show takes a moment and addresses this issue, and doesn’t turn it into a plotline that Esther Schmucker was so upset with Lebanon Levi King Stoltzfus that she went on a rumspringa bender with English men until one of them beat the blatz out of her.

Here’s the promotional clip for the episode.  As you can see, Esther Schmucker looks like she went five rounds of a three-round fight.

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So let’s start today’s Amish Mafia episode review.  And as always, the Amish Church denies the existence of the Amish Mafia.  Of course, it would be nice if the Amish Mafia stopped blowing up things and ripping apart chicken coops and smashing up milk bottles to actually protect one of their own from physical abuse.

Sorry.  All right, let’s concentrate on the episode.

So Esther’s leaving the Trump Taj Mahal after spotting Levi with another woman in the penthouse suite.  We get a quick recap of why Levi is using Esther, and why Esther is using Levi.  Esther slaps Levi a couple of times.  Esther whacks Levi in the shoulders.  Esther’s angry enough to turn green and bulk up.  And Esther gripes that all Amish men are the same, they’re all evil like Levi.  “If I’m going to be cheated on by an Amish man, I may as well be English and have some fun.”  Ominous foreshadowing. Esther’s going on an English bender.

Back in Holmes County, Ohio, Wayne is hoping that the Amish community allows his girlfriend Karrie to join the Amish community.  He’s got to hope that Preacher Andrew and Ruck Davey and Croquet-Mallet Mary and all the other elders vote to let Karrie in.  The vote is cast.  Andrew votes against.  He says that he knows Wayne is having carnal relations with Karrie – yeah, he says “carnal relations.” And at that moment, I’m having this kind of a flashback.

Wayne denies it, saying that he and Karrie are friends.  And Ruck Davey steps up and agrees with Andrew.   Wayne’s outside pacing.  He’s fuming.  The conversion must be put on hold.  And Wayne believes Merlin is behind all this.

Wayne is angry, and he starts a little surveillance at Andrew’s house.  Wait, what’s this?  An English taxi driver comes up and drops a stumbling preacher Andrew off at his house late at night.  The taxi driver leaves.  Wayne follows. This could get interesting. Will the taxi driver snitch to the collector of Amish Aid at Holmes County, Ohio about the travels of an Amish preacher? Right. This is the Amish Mafia TV show. I should ask if the sun rises in the East.

Apparently Preacher Andrew has fallen back to his old ways, and Wayne does some more surveillance. And sure enough, Preacher Andrew walks into the gentleman’s club. Wayne can’t go into the sinful place, so he sends a friend with a digital camera to get some incriminating photos. And with a flip cam, Wayne’s friend finds Preacher Andrew – with something in his hair – cavorting with other women, none of them being his wife. Wayne’s got the evidence. Now it’s time for the public shaming. Nothing like a determined Amish man with the ability to get photos printed at the local FedEx Office and nail those photos to the wall – and to share those photos with anybody and everybody in the community. And naturally there’s a few photos left to show the bishop. And the bishop is about ready to rook Preacher Andrew. Guess Preacher Andrew won’t be Merlin’s pawn any more.

Preacher Andrew gets a call from the bishop. It’s time to talk. And this can’t be good. The bishop chews him out, showing Preacher Andrew the pictures from the bar. And the bishop makes his ruling- Preacher Andrew has to leave Ohio. Not just Holmes County – Andrew needs to leave the Buckeye State. Sorry, Andrew. Guess as far as Merlin is concerned, you’re just collateral damage. By the way, where is Merlin? Anybody seen Merlin?

Levi’s driving back from Atlantic City, and he wants to talk to Alvin and Caleb.  One of them dropped a dime on Levi’s whereabouts, and Levi took a slap in the face from Esther because of it.  He basically screams at Alvin and Caleb, his voice getting louder and louder and higher-pitched until all the dogs in the Amish puppy mills start howling.  Caleb’s trying to deflect the damage, seeing as he wasn’t the one who snitched to Esther about Levi’s whereabouts, but Levi will have none of it. He chases Alvin and Caleb away from the barn.  The producers give chase.

Levi drivers away, only to spot that private investigator in the black SUV.  He argues with the driver, the driver pulls away.  Levi’s day just went from bad to worse.  Now he spots Constable Castline, and Levi brings the camera crew out for a little “come to Jesus” meeting with Constable Castline.  Castline argues back with Levi.  Levi starts screaming.  And at this point, you could replace Levi’s voice with the voice of Beaker from The Muppet Show. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Levi was working his last good nerve. Well, being on a reality TV series for the last three years can do that to some people. Heck, look at Jon Gosselin. Look at Danny Bonaduce.

Meanwhile, John is looking for Esther.  He’s been looking everywhere – Esther’s old house, Esther’s new house, maybe she’s hanging out with her English friends.  Wait, Esther has English friends?  Did I miss that episode somewhere? Now everybody’s looking for Esther. Where could she be?

Jolin’s returning from Wisconsin – I guess that he’s done well with the two territories he’s been in charge of, no complaints from Paradise and all is well in Walworth County, Wisconsin, so let’s get back to Lancaster County and see how things are going. Well, apparently there’s a new assignment for the crew. Some English horndogs are involved in a Madel Gucka, an Amish strip club. That’s right, you heard what I said. An Amish strip club. And now, that doesn’t mean bonnets optional. Apparently English men pay Amish women to take it all off. Everything – the bonnet, the frock, the digitally blurred face. The assignment for Jolin, John and Big Steve – take the Madel Gucka down.

And as the snows fall in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jolin looks for the Madel Gucka. And sure enough, he sees a bunch of cars – the possible location. Jolin puts on a tuque and a pair o fsunglasses… and goes undercover. Naturally the producers give Jolin a mini-camera, and Jolin catches some sideways footage of the Amish women shaking their bonnets. Yep. It’s a Madel Gucka. And the moody Mennonite is steamed. He needs to shut this down. Jolin returns to pick up John and Big Steve. John suddenly gets a dose of angry anti-English settlement. Next thing you know, the crew runs into the barn… Big Steve gets the girls out and puts them in the truck, while John and Jolin start bashing the barn interior up.

Time for another meting with Levi and Jolin. Levi gets a phone call – and Levi seems very shaken. Levi leaves. And we get a clip from a news report from WPMT, the FOX 43 affiliate in Lancaster County… that someone from the Amish Mafia show received a vicious beating.

And sure neough… here’s Esther Schmucker with all the bruises and beatings and facial contusions. She explains what happened to her, that the guy went into rages and took his frustrations out on Esther. Yelling, screaming, and he pushed Esther and she fell backwards. And then the guy started lunging at Esther. He threw Esther on the bed and started wailing on her face. Punches. Blood. And she’s sitting there telling the producers in the confessional barn about the whole thing.

Levi comes to Esther’s house – and he sees Esther with the bruises on her face. They hug. Esther confesses that she has a car, an apartment, some English girlfriends, and that’s how she got introduced into the English world and living a doppel leben. Levi is sorry to hear what had happened, and tells Esther that that English world is not safe.

Levi says that he and his crew will protect Esther so that it won’t ever happen again. And at that moment, the entire focus of the show changes from the battle for turf and Amish Aid, the battle between Wayne and Merlin and the unwashed Kentucky Amish and the grizzled old Bear of LaGrange County, and all the other dangling plotlines – all of that goes away. Now it’s time for Levi and his crew to gear up. Someone hurt one of their own. It’s now time for Levi and his crew to take it up a notch.

And we get today’s Amish factoid – and in this factoid, Caleb shows how to pull an SUV out of a snowbank by using plain and simple horsepower. And in doing so, he receives a few dollars for pulling the car out of a very shallow snowbank. And I don’t care how much they blur out that license plate, it looks suspiciously like a gold New York license. No way can that be true. We live in New York, for crying out loud. We can handle four nor’easters in one winter. And that’s an SUV in an inch of snow. Really? Get you a General Motors car.

In the final few moments… Levi and Esther continue to talk. John shows up. And he sees what has happened to Esther. And he’s shaken. John and Levi say hi. And John says that this is a time that he and Esther need to change their lives, to get rid of all this English lifestyle.

Esther confesses to another abuse attack, this time the abuser took a knife and started poking Esther in the leg with the knife. “Does that hurt?” he asked. And he pulled Esther’s head back and threatened to slit her throat. He later said he would torture her all day and then kill her. Esther started praying, hoping someone would come to the door. A knock. It was John, asking to borrow a broomstick for a paint roller. That gave Esther a chance for a break. She ran. And the guy ran off. I don’t know if the attacker was I’Mir Williams or not. But if he wasn’t – then that means that Esther was dealing with a stalker, possibly one that has ties to watching the TV show? I know that’s just speculation… but…

Then there’s a FOX 43 report of the man being arrested – and his name being bleeped out.

Levi gathers his soldiers around a burning barrel. It’s John, Caleb, Jolin, Alvin, and Big Steve. And Esther comes out. The crew sees what happened to her. She confesses to living a double life. And she asks for the crew’s help. Caleb steps up. John steps up. The rest of the Amish Mafia step up.

It’s time to get ready.

And it looks as if the plain folk are going to go to war with the English. Take no prisoners. John lights a smoke in the middle of a dark, muddy road. Someone approaches. With the silhouette of a light from behind, like a recreation of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie – it’s FREEMAN!! He escaped from the Amish loony bin and is back!

esther sits in a rocking chair. And walking into the house – is John and Freeman. And Freeman says, in clear, unbroken English, “Who did this to you?” Then he screams. Wow. Freeman can speak.

Constable Castline is now on high alert. He’s got reports that Levi and the crew are up to something. He sees Caleb picking up some Amish Aid payments, and asks Caleb to talk. And with the cameras filming both Constable Castline and Caleb, the two talk for a couple of moments. Both of them talking loud and saying nothing.

Meanwhile… Jolin picks up his best rifle, with the biggest scope. Caleb takes a baseball bat and hammers nails it. Alvin’s making explosives. And the Mafia talk about all the ways that the English cause trouble with the Amish. Weapons ready. This can’t end well.

Except that this week’s episode ends.

And in the season finale next week of Amish Mafia… Levi and his crew are burning things, breaking things, assaulting things… Constable Castline gets a new stool pigeon that just happens to be the schwarz Amish Alan Beiler; John Schmucker discovers that being a squeal pigeon still gets you stooled on; and the Amish Mafia take their anger out on – of all people – the TV show film crew.

Oh the season finale is going to be something awesome.  Can not wait.

And please, if you are a victim of domestic violence, or if you know someone who has been a victim themselves, call for help. Don’t wait until it’s too late.