Amish Mafia Episode Review: “Forbidden Knowledge”

Part of the fun of reviewing Amish Mafia episodes is the way the show tries to portray what goes on in their fictionalized “real world,” while still trying to deal with how the real world affects their “fictionalized” world.  You know, every time they have a plotline with Alan Beiler, something happens and he gets arrested.  Any time they wanted to set up a storyline with John Schmucker, dude gets arrested.  They try to set up a plotline with Esther Schmucker, and she gets … well … you know what happened to her, I’m not going to rehash it here.

Something similar is happening with Merlin Miller (no relation).  During the times when he’s not trying to bring down Lebanon Levi (or work with Lebanon Levi), he’s had a focus on dealing with Amish bishop Sam Mullet.  Mullet and his followers were arrested and charged with hate crimes against the Amish, including violating the religious rights of several Amish married men by cutting their beards and hair (an Amish man’s beard is grown and uncut when he gets married).

And while on the show, Merlin’s original plotline involved his advocacy to keep Amish religious zealot Sam Mullet behind bars, in real life yesterday Mullet’s sentence for hate crimes against the Amish was reduced from 15 years in prison to 7.  Mullet’s still going to be in jail long after Amish Mafia is airing on reruns at 3:00 in the morning on the Insomniacs-And-Baby-Diaper-Changing Channel.

See?  Merlin did, however, attend Mullet’s re-sentencing.  So at least he’s keeping that doppel leben between his TV show career and his life as an Amish spokesperson-figurehead.

But since episodes of Amish Mafia have been filmed months ago, it will be interesting to see if any references to Sam Mullet and his actions will be addressed.  Heck, this show is still concerned with the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, which (spoiler alert) resulted in Governor Tom Corbett losing his re-election campaign.

Well, let’s get to the most important part of our day.  The Amish Mafia episode review.  As always, the Amish Church says nix to the Amish Mafia.  But to protect innocent Amish, the Amish Church says ooh, eeeh, ooh ah ah, ting, tang, walla-walla bing bang…

Tonight on Amish Mafia, someone turns a buggy into a chop-top convertible, someone else runs farming equipment through a barn, and everybody’s searching for a book.  Meanwhile, someone sends angry bees against an interloper, and Levi dumps manure on a car.  And everybody’s looking for a book.

Apparently there’s a very sacred book – the Book of Menno Simons – and supposedly Levi, in charge of safeguarding the Book, had Alvin bury the book in a farm some years ago.  Now the farmer who owns the land is in danger, and Levi must find the book and recover it from the farm.  Does anybody – outside of the camera guy who filmed Alvin burying the book – know where the book really is?  And apparently the book of Menno Simons is more important than the book of Meeno Pelucci, which may or may not have been involved in a time-traveling operation with someone named Phileas Bogg.  Sorry, I had to throw in at least ONE ultra-obscure 1980’s TV show reference.  That’s just me.

Levi goes to the farm to look for the book, but finds that the farmer has left the farm in disrepair – to the point where he’s almost $800,000 in debt.  The farmer doesn’t know where Alvin buried the book, and if they don’t find the book soon, the land will be sold at auction.  And apparently the only place to find Alvin… is, believe it or not… in Florida.  Florida… Hmm.  That sounds familiar.  Familiar like Season One familiar.

Levi can’t contact Alvin because apparently Alvin was ordered by the bishops to stay away from Levi.  So Levi has to find a way to get to Florida and talk to Alvin.  And Levi needs an intermediary to go with him to Florida.  And who does he ask?  Why it’s Susanna, the Charity Church girl who is major-crushing on Levi.   Eventually she agrees to go with Levi.  I hope Levi has some of his frequent-flyer miles left over from when he took Esther to Florida three seasons ago.  Oh and we get flashbacks of Season One, when Levi and Esther went to Florida together.

Meanwhile, in Mennonite Meadow, Doug’s still furious about his weapons armory being destroyed, and he asks Caleb and Alan Beiler about whether Levi had something to do with the explosions.  Caleb snitched about Levi’s businesses – all the above-the-board and below-the-radar businesses.  I wonder if they’ll squeal about that maple syrup business from a couple of years ago.

First stop – they’re going to repossess Levi’s buggy-renting business.  Caleb breaks a chainsaw by trying to saw a buggy into a chop-top convertible.  Caleb and Alan bash the buggy into smithereens.   Next thing they’re going to take out – Levi’s dandelion wine business.  Dandelion wine?  Seriously?  Why not go after Levi’s maple syrup business from Season Two?  And sure enough, Doug and Zach start shooting up bottles and barrels of what is either dandelion wine or dandelions or wine or moonshine or whatnot.  I just hope that Doug and Zach and Caleb and Alan Beiler didn’t wander into the wrong show and shoot up Tickle’s moonshine still.

This week’s intertestial Biblical quotation: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but the sword.”  – Matthew 10:34.  Or, in other words, if you mess with the Amish, we will raise our mighty weapons in the air and shout, “By the poewr of Greyskull…” and you know the rest.

Meanwhile, Merlin and his own camera crew is up to his own business.  And Merlin’s still cheezed off over Mennonite taxi drivers stranding Amish in the middle of corn fields.  So Merlin commandeers a Mennonite church van and decides he’s going to take the parishioners in the van on a little joyride.  He drives them to a farm off Route 23 in Mt. Joy – about 25 miles away – then he kicks them out of the van, and tells the people to take off their shoes and their gloves.  And after chastising the Mennonites and telling them that this is revenge for what the Mennonites did to the Amish, he drives the van away, leaving them stranded.  I want to know what page of the Ordnung Merlin is using for this kind of tactic.

And we get some scenes in Pinecraft, Florida, which is apparently the equivalent of Amish Boca Raton.  Meanwhile, Levi drives around Florida in a search for Alvin, who apparently has taken residence in Florida.  Levi can’t find Alvin?  Wouldn’t it make sense to look for things that have been set on fire or blown up?  I mean, can’t they follow the trail of ashes and charred wood and ignited cow farts?

So meanwhile, Levi and Susanna goes off to the beach.  And Susanna takes off her pink frock – and reveals a seriously skimpy bikini and a bangin’ bikini body.  And there’s a tattoo and a belly button piercing – and Levi’s flipping out.  He can’t be with a girl with tattoos.  And she has her navel pierced.  Wait a minute, when did Cadillac-driving, protection-enforcing, two-timing Lebanon Levi King Stoltzfus suddenly lose it over the sight of a tattoo on a girl’s tummy?  And a piercing?  He has a problem with a belly button piercing?  Okay, Levi, let’s get a couple of things straight.  I don’t know much about your dating habits based on only watching this show for four seasons, but considering you’ve gone through cross-eyed Barb, and your on-again, off-again relationship with Esther (by the way, did you ever get the goat back from her?), and that one blurry-faced girl you were doing in Atlantic City WHILE you were engaged to Esther… I wouldn’t be kicking Susanna out of the car for changing the radio stations, if you know what I mean.  But apparently he DID kick her out of the car… and sent her home on a bus.  Stay classy, Levi.

Then again, maybe Levi is too concerned about finding Alvin and recovering the Book of Menno Simons before the Mennonites get their meathooks on it.

Oh look, it’s Constable Paul Castline, and he’s still following the trail of Levi’s scattered henchmen.  And supposedly the Amish bishops sent one of Levi’s footsoldiers, Big Steve, off to some sort of Amish labor camp.  I guess it’s the equivalent of an Amish gulag.  And Constable Paul Castline looks through his binoculars – and as the camera shoots through the binoculars so that we can get that double-circular binocular view – hey, it might be Big Steve.  Once again, superior police detective work from Constable Paul Castline.

Meanwhile, Caleb goes to purchase some horses – even to the point where he puts on his yellow shirt to indicate that he’s Brethren.  And now we get a factoid about how the Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down on the Amish farms due to the manure from the horses running off to the streams.  And the farmer that is selling the horses to Caleb – he blurts out that the Book of Menno is buried on the farm.  Right to Caleb.  Who promises (wink wink) he won’t tell anybody.

Levi continues driving around Florida.  And at the Judicial Center – hey look, it’s Alvin!  And he’s dressed in English clothes – blue jeans and a windbreaker!  Hell, he’s wearing the same clothes that he wore when he was sent by Lebanon Levi to Florida a couple of seasons ago!  Don’t tell me they’re recycling old B-roll footage from two years ago … either Alvin’s turned English, or we’ve got a Joe Palma / Bela Lugosi’s chiropractor with a cape thing a’goin on.  Why, to Levi, that’s worse than getting a tattoo on your bikini area!  Quel courage!

So Caleb goes back to Mennonite Meadow, and he tells Alan and Duivel Doug about the Book of Menno Simons possibly being buried at that farm.  And there’s an auction next week to sell the farm.  Doug’s planning to snag the book before the auction takes place.  All they have to do is find the book and Levi becomes toast.

Now let’s take a moment here.  I thought the only books that the Amish really cared about were the Bible and the Fisher Book.  You know, the one that tells who’s Amish and who isn’t?  The one that all the castmembers point to whenever the producers ask if they’re really Amish or not?

Meanwhile, back in Intercourse PA, Levi returned to talk to the bishop.  He asks the bishop to let him have Big Steve back, but the bishop says no.  He recommends that Levi use Brent Miller instead, and Levi isn’t happy with that choice.  Brent Miller (no relation) apparently stole from a deacon’s home, and he was branded with a big “T” on his right palm, to indicate that he’s a thief.  That’s “T” for thief, not “T” for tattoos.

At the same time, the Mennonite wrecking crew break into a warehouse where Levi keeps his construction materials.  They power up a forklift and start smashing the lumber and materials in the construction barn.  And after Alan assists in all this fun, he now wants to call in teh chips and ask Doug to help clear Alan’s father’s name.

Levi sees the damage.  And Brent Miller walks in.  Brent says he can help Levi.  And as long as Brent doesn’t steal anything form Levi, Levi will trust Brent to take care of business.

Oh, look, it’s Merlin Miller (no relation) and Croquet-Mallet Mary Troyer, discussing the spreading of Merlin’s Ordnung.  Apparently living conditions in Lancaster are more expensive than in Holmes County, Ohio, and as Merlin and Mary walk through a field, they discuss about how Merlin should get a cut of Levi’s businesses.  And they walk into the sunset.  Man, it’s like the discussions between Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

Levi tries to plead with the bank about letting him purchase the land outright, but apparently the auction will continue.  Maybe he should put a Bible at the front door of the auctioneer’s house.  You know, like in Season 2.

Meanwhile, Alan talks to Duivel Doug about getting Alan’s father’s name cleared.  Alan’s worried about going back to prison for some of the things that he’s done for Duivel Doug, and Doug’s not happy with the disrespect.  And Alan’s beginning to feel used.  Okay, Alan, take a deep breath.  Don’t get sent back to the Perry County Jail until at least the series finale.  I have $10 in the “When will Alan Beiler get sent back to the slammer?” pool.  Hey, if the Amish can bet on Cow Bingo, then…

And today’s Amish factoid – an Amish woman can send messages by what they hang on their clotheslines.  And if there’s a bunch of head coverings on the clothesline… apparently there’s some field-plowing going on inside the house, if thou knowest what I mean.

Levi drives back to the barn… and look who’s waiting for him.  It’s Merlin!  Merlin and Levi have a discussion about God and Merlin’s plans for the Ordnung and Merlin’s teachings and whatnot.  And Merlin wants a cut of Amish Aid.  Levi’s not happy.  And Levi’s getting that whiney-pitch “Stop Talking Back!” voice.  That’s not good.  And the friendship breaks up.  One episdoe and they’re on each others’ throats.

Meanwhile, Brent Miller (no relation0 approaches the Mennonite compound.  And Brent decides to send a “bee bomb” against the Mennonites.  He throws an entire bee farm into the compound, and we watch as the Mennonites swing and flail against the tiny angry invaders.   Let’s see… last week a Mennonite got an oats-and-honey-and-goat torture, this week they’re getting a cascade of stingers.  What’s next?  Can we gather up some tar and chicken feathers, do they still do that in Amish country?

And finally, Levi drives a cameraman to take care of business “the Amish way.” He drives to the home of the auctioneer – and he watches as a dozer drops a huge load of mud and farm soil onto the guy’s car.  Classic!

And next week, Merlin cries out about a Judas in their midst, someone gets branded in the palm, someone’s black-bumper-car gets blown up, and Duivel Doug starts quoting scripture.

And – oh wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a continuing plotline about how Governor Tom Corbett wants to shut down the Amish Mafia television show?  Oh wait, yeah, there probably wasn’t enough time to talk about that plotline, what with Levi going to Florida and back, and glimpses of Alvin and Big Steve and buggies getting chopped in half and some guy with a “T” burned into his palm and Merlin and Mary walking through the countryside and…

Yeah, I’m getting more and more confused as this show continues to air.  I mean, heck, I’m still waiting for Paul Miller (no relation) and the rest of the unwashed Kentucky Amish to march into Lancaster County the way General Sherman marched into Atlanta.

See you next week.  time for more fun in the Amish Mafia universe!

Oh yeah… one more cool thing.  Before tonight’s show aired, I tweeted this message.

// look who responded back!


Now … how cool is that?

See you next week for another recap of Amish Mafia!