Amish Mafia episode review: The Return

Crank up the crazy violins, show us the slow-motion Amish buggies traipising through Lancaster County, Pa., it’s time once again for the trashiest reality TV series that doesn’t involve 7-year-old beauty pageant contestants, 15-year-old pregnant teens, backwoods alcohol / marijuana producers, girls from Poughkeepsie who wear enough bronzer to confuse pigeons looking for a place to perch, or titillating shows about having sex and ending up in the emergency room afterwards.

Yep, it’s the start of the final nine episodes of Amish Mafia, a show that claims to only exist because it tells “the true story of the Plain Folk,” the unvarnished stories of the Anabaptists, the previously unknown lifestyles about those wacky buggy-drivers and farmers who shun modern conveyances.

Wait, what?  Lebanon Levi speaks for the Amish people?  Did I miss the memo where he became Donald Kraybill’s mouthpiece?

And Lebanon Levi’s responsible for the show airing in the first place?  I’m sure if the Discovery Channel had a few more episodes of shows about crab fishing in the Bering Sea, gold dredging in the Bering Sea, Alaskan live-off-the-land shows, Texas-based car modification shows, and maybe a few re-airings of that show about the outlaw biker gang, there wouldn’t even be room on the schedule FOR a new season of Amish Mafia.  Plus, I understand that the new head of the Discovery Channel wants to bring his shows back to a more educational-based product and less of a dependence on programs like Moonshiners or Naked and Afraid or the like.

But I digress.

Okay, before we start the show, we have to acknowledge something.  There are some castmembers who are no longer part of the show.  This happens over time with reality TV shows.  Some actors move away, some actors decide they don’t want to be part of the televised lifestyle, and others are not part of the scripted storylines any more.

Okay, let’s recap who’s back and who’s gone.  Gone – all the Schmuckers, including Esther, John and Freeman.  And that other Schmucker person – Harvey Schmucker – that they tried to introduce at the end of the third season as a “badder, more violent Schmucker” that might take Lebanon Levi out of the picture.

Also gone – Jolin Zimmerman.  Now that’s a big loss there.  No more bare-chested pushups at the beginning of each episode.  No more slow-motion gun-loading.  No more of the Moody Mennonite.  Goodbye to the Amish version of American Sniper.

Also gone – Alvin Lentz.  Wait, we’re not having any more things go BOOM this year?  No.  No no no!  I’ve got nine more episodes to review of this show, and damn it, I want to see Alvin blow up an outhouse!  And I don’t mean by igniting cow farts!

Also gone – Paul Miller (no relation) and the horde of barefoot, unwashed Amish from Hart County in Kentucky.  Last I heard, they were still on the march to Lancaster County to take out Lebanon Levi.  That was at the end of Season 2.  They might still be on their way to face Lebanon Levi – if they’re marching what, two miles a day?

Also gone – all the goofy characters in Holmes County, Ohio, including Ruck Davey (the penitent Amish with the pink robe), Preacher Andrew (who ministers off and on from the local Hooters), and Wayne (Merlin’s miniature muscle who took over Amish Aid in Holmes County).

And also gone – cross-eyed Barb from Season 1, Crazy Drunk Dave from Season 2, Vernon who runs the Amish strip shows in Holmes County; Flip the Amish DJ who runs the parties in Wisconsin…

So who does that leave?  Lebanon Levi, Caleb Isaac Meyer and Big Steve (the “Amish Mafia”), along with Merlin Miller (no relation) and Constable Paul Castline.  Oh yeah, and defense attorney Steven Breit, just to add some sort of authenticity.  And Alan Beiler, the Schwarz Amish if he can last three episodes without getting thrown back behind bars again.

Oh, and the new cast member of the show – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.  And the Amish Mafia have a bead on the Pennsylvania governor.

How come?  Here’s the TL;DR reason.  Governor Tom Corbett signed a petition to seek the cancellation of Amish Mafia, and I guess that pissed Lebanon Levi off enough to the point where he came out of self-imposed retirement and started the show up one more time.

Wait… Lebanon Levi has a new potential romantic interest, and she’s wearing a hot little bikini under that Amish frock – I guess this begs the question that if Lebanon Levi enjoys chicken, is he a thigh man, a leg man or a breast man?

Am I seeing things, or did someone commandeer an old Civil War cannon to shoot a hole in a silo? And he shot the silo out of the back of his truck?  Did I miss something, or wouldn’t the recoil from the cannon tear the back off the truck bed?  Doesn’t matter, I guess… because now that silo just became the world’s largest automatic bird feeder.

And now there’s now a turf war between the Amish and the Mennonites in Lancaster County? Stephen Hawking’s packing a rifle?

Okay, looks like I have to identify some new characters.  First off, the new “big bad” that plans on taking over Levi’s turf is Doug, a member of the Mennonites who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it comes to anything Amish.  Doug’s lieutenant is named Zach, and apparently a drag-racing accident hasn’t stopped this guy from getting behind the wheels – so to speak – and continuing to serve at the side of Doug.

And the new cutie that has captured Lebanon Levi’s eye?  A girl named Susanna, who is a member of something called the Charity Church.  Hmm… considering that Lebanon Levi has been sorta-romantically involved with Esther (he did bring a goat to her house, that’s a sign of commitment, don’tcha know), as well as previous trysts with cross-eyed Barb (at the York County Fair) and a blurred-out woman (in a hotel room in Atlantic City), I would say that Susannah is a trade-up for Levi.

Okay, can we start this week’s episode now?  As always, the Amish Church does not acknowledge the existence of the Amish Mafia.  It does, however, want to know how Brian Williams embedded himself into Amish culture and told everybody that he starred opposite Kelly McGillis in Witness.

We get a recap.  Boom.  Crash.  Smash.  Rage.  Lebanon Levi screaming at people.  Constable Paul Castline commenting on things.  Merlin survived getting his ass kicked.  Alan Beiler coming back out of jail.  More things go boom.  The Amish Mafia cast fighting with the producers.  Well I guess things are getting way out of hand, there’s explosions, hit and runs, clotheslines set on fire, buggies getting blown up… is this Lancaster County or downtown Ferguson?

But the show is concentrating on another big bad – Governor Tom Corbett.  And Lebanon Levi is griping about the situation.  And as God is his witness, he’s going to take the Governor down.

Meanwhile, Constable Paul Castline is in the “Eye in the Sky” chopper, recapping who’s on the show and who isn’t.  And he’s probably glad he’s still on the show.  For now…

Meanwhile, Alan Beiler is turning his own trade, restoring furniture in Blue Ball, Pennsylvania.  Apparently he’s gone straight edge and has left the Amish community.  He’s hooked up with his girlfriend and had a kid.  And … oh wait, he’s still making drop-offs of some sort in the Amish community.  Okay, what’s the over-under on how many episodes it will take before he goes back to prison?  And for that matter, is it just me or does Alan Beiler sound like he had his tonsils removed?  Or maybe something else was removed in the Perry County Prison?  Wait, is this an episode of Amish Mafia or did I accidentally turn on an episode of Oz?

Meanwhile, in Intercourse, Pennsylvania (ha ha, yes, there is a town called Intercourse), Caleb is now Levi’s entire muscle.  And he brings a visitor to speak to Levi the Godfather.  Apparently an Amish man got beat up by some Mennonites… And we get a history lesson about why the Amish and the Mennonites were once of the same faith, but have separated into two separate and distinct religious beliefs.  But now with Jolin out of the picture, now the Mennonites feel strong enough to try to take out Levi.

Meanwhile, in Holmes County, Ohio… Merlin Miller (no relation) shows off the war wounds he suffered at the hands of The Bear in Indiana… and after suffering several injuries and war wounds, Merlin found a kindred spirit to help him on the road to recovery.  Someone that can make his favorite foods – chicken, eggs and macaroni.  Holy Yankee Doodle Dandy, it’s Mary Troyer with the inner-tube neck and the croquet mallet!  And now Merlin and Mary are working together… to try to take out Levi.

Meanwhile, Caleb’s carrying a crowbar, looking for a crew of “black-bumper” Mennonites, a conservative sect who paint their cars completely black, lest the chrome bumpers reflect the visage of the Devil.  Of course, these are the same Mennonites who beat up the Amish man (of course they are, aren’t they?).  So Caleb looks for the blackest car in the parking lot – probably one that was brought in from the impound yard just for this occasion – and, figuring it’s a black-bumper Mennonite car, he takes the crowbar and, with a mighty swing, bashes the windshield and side windows and moon roof to smithereens.

Now we get back to the meta-storytelling, as the show itself reflects on its notoriety.  Levi drives off to meet up with attorney Steven Breit, but apparently he also runs into a series of press cameras and TV trucks.  Apparently Steven Breit alerts Levi that John is squealing like a songbird in jail, and that he and Levi should lay low until the negative publicity blows over.  But Levi has to do what Levi has to do – he has to take care of the people.  And by “taking care of the people,” it means running out of the county like his ass is on fire.

Levi tells Caleb to take care of Amish Aid while Levi is away.  Don’t know where he’s going – Florida, New Jersey, the same locations he ran off to in previous seasons.  And Caleb’s still simmering about not getting the opportunity to run Amish Aid on his own, and he still thinks it’s because he’s of the Brethren faith.

Meanwhile, Alan Beiler takes some producers back to a deep, dark area in Lancaster County… a secluded, mysterious field.  Alan gets out of the car… and he tells the producers that an Amish man abused him, and after he told his parents of the abuse, dozens of kids came forward and said the same thing happened to them.  Listen, if this really happened, I feel tremendously sorry for what Alan Beiler has gone through.  Nobody should ever be put through that level of torture or abuse or child rape or whatnot.  Nobody.  It’s wrong.  And although I appreciate his candor and honesty in discussing this on television, I just wish this wasn’t played as a manipulative, sensationalistic moment.  Oh wait, this is Amish Mafia we’re talking about.  Let’s see how this plays out, though.

Meanwhile, in Virginville, Pennsylvania (man, they’re picking all the goofy town names today), Levi finds a place to hide out.  It’s an old house in a pastoral area.  He brings his suitcase inside… and… we go to a commercial for the Discovery Channel’s new hit show, Big Giant Swords.  I’m telling you, the Discovery Channel hit shows just keep on coming.  Back to Virginville, where the leaves are falling from the trees… Levi visits a home for Amish children with genetic manipulations, due to the Amish gene pool, these people are listed as geistesgeforte.   And it’s up to Levi to provide for them and take care of them.

And it’s there that he finds Susanna … and she’s immediately smitten with Levi.  And we get a synopsis of the Charity Church religion.  And apparently they freak Merlin out.  That’s saying something.  She explains to us that the wife does what the husband says and the kids live at home until they’re married.  So they’re the Amish equivalent of the Stepford Wives…  And I think Levi’s getting kinda smitten with her as well.  So are we prepared to start the Sussevi ‘shipping?

And back at Levi’s compound, Caleb is shoveling out the barn, and he’s still steaming when people come looking for Levi and won’t accept Caleb’s help or assistance.  And yes, he still thinks it’s because he’s of the Brethren faith.  And we can see the veins in Caleb’s neck pulsing.   The best way for Caleb to release some tension is to take care of his buggy-ride business.  He has four trips scheduled today, so that’s money in his pocket.  So off he goes to his buggy business in Paradise (oh yeah, the place where Jolin was operating Amish Aid last season).   Well, Caleb doesn’t have to worry much about his buggy business today, in that the Mennonites destroyed several of Caleb’s buggies.  You know what they say, folks.  An eye for an eye, and a buggy for a Buick.

Meanwhile, back in Holmes County, Merlin’s going nuts, as he just found out that Sam Mullet, who organized a hate-crime against other Amish by cutting their beards – a terrible sin by emasculating an Amish man by cutting his married beard off.  It was Merlin’s testimony that helped put Sam Mullet in jail, and now Mullet’s apparently talking about getting his sentence reduced – with the possibility of coming after Merlin.  To find his own knowledge, Merlin walks in a cornfield to talk to God.  All I can say is that if Merlin stays in the cornfield long enough, he might bump into Archie Campbell and Gordie Tapp.  Where, oh where, are you tonight – why did you leave me here all alone… I searched the world over and thought I found true love, you met another and pfft you were gone…  And Mary thinks Merlin’s sojourns in the cornfield is weird.  Take it from me, Mary.  This guy is three cups of molasses short of a shoo-fly pie.

Meanwhile, back in Blue Ball, Alan Beiler tries to convince Caleb to come to a Mennonite “mud party.”  That’s right, we’re re-creating Woodstock ’94.  All Caleb has to do is show up at the party and Alan will get him inside.  Yeah, this doesn’t sound like any sort of a trap… does it?

And now it’s time for today’s Amish trivia moment.  Apparently, according to Merlin, Amish collect horse testicles, or balle, in glass jars.  Apparently balle are considered sacred, in that they are the start of life.  And Merlin kisses the jar of horse balle in his hand.  I cannot believe that I’m recapping a television show in which a man kisses a jar that contains equine testicles.   I’ve got to be nuts to do this.  It takes a lot of stones.  Some serious cojones.  It’s a real ballsy move.  I could keep going, but I don’t want to leave all of you hanging.

So Merlin and Mary ride the 600 miles to Lancaster County, Pa. to figure out what to do about the leaderless Amish community.

And at the same time, the Mennonites are having a mud party.  And Alan Beiler is making the money and selling the beer and making the money and – oh hi, there’s Caleb.  All by himself.  Walking into a mud party with dozens of crazy mud-soaked Mennonites.  And while everybody’s having fun, Caleb notices someone at the top of the field.  And when this man at the top of the field talks… everybody stops mud-bogging.

And Caleb understood what’s happening.  And we are introduced to Doug, who controls the crowd like Cyrus in The Warriors.  Can – you – dig it???

Next week on Amish Mafia – Levi starts hitting on Susanna.  A cannon takes out a silo.  We meet Doug and Zach and the rest of the black-bumper Mennonites.  Levi throws a knife into the floor.  More anti-government sentiment against Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett.

And before I wrap up today’s short little recap, I just want to say something.

This final season of Amish Mafia is a classic case of whoever controls the media controls the message.  You’re not getting the true unvarnished story here.  You’re getting one side of the story – the story that the Discovery Channel and Hot Snakes Media and Lebanon Levi want to tell.  It’s like a one-sided debate.

Lebanon Levi and the show want everybody to think that they were the ones that brought down Governor Tom Corbett in the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.  Interestingly, Corbett actually carried Lancaster County with a greater than 50% plurality in that election.  Didn’t matter, he became the first incumbent Pennsylvania governor to lose a re-election bid in over 150 years.

Will Levi stand up against the black-bumper Mennonites, the incursion of Merlin and Mary, the surveillance of Constable Paul Castline, the machinations of Alan Beiler, and the threat of Governor Tom Corbett to shut his operations down?  And… what about Naomi?

All this and more on the next action-packed, nitro-burning, explosive episode of Amish Mafia.

See you next week!