Waco premiere recap: “Visions And Omens”


Solid performances across the board by this All-Star cast looks like it’s going to be the saving grace of Waco.

The mini-series promised to explore the tragic event that happened in Waco through the eyes of multiple characters in an attempt to avoid any bias. However, “Visions And Omens” makes it clear that the government will be portrayed as the bad guys in this show.

Taylor Kitsch embodies cult leader David Koresh with the charisma and magnetism that drew so many followers to him. He’s a goofy looking happy guy who plays in a local rock band and spends time plenty of time with his oldest son.

“Visions And Omens,” shows just how tight-knit the Branch Davidians group became through the close-quarter living out in the middle of nowhere. However, there’s darkness lurking just below the surface with a few of the male members growing disgruntled with Koresh’s latest “revelation” that the men remain celibate while their leader impregnates their wives.

While David is in the process of losing his best friend, he stumbles upon a new follower at the bar where his band plays. David Thibodeau is a real-life survivor of the Waco stand-off and the author who helped shape the series.

He’s brought to life by Rory Culkin, the shy loner who ends up playing drums in Koresh’s band before joining the Branch Davidians full time.He becomes infatuated with Michelle Jones (Julia Garner), the younger sister of Koresh’s wife, Rachel (Supergirl‘s Melissa Benoist) which is hinted at being one of the big reasons why Thibodeau ended up sticking with the group.

On the government side, Waco makes it clear that they’re more interested in exploring the cult fully rather than the FBI or ATF. Both organizations use force almost immediately in standoffs rather than proper negotiation, which is highlighted in “Visions And Omens” exploration of the Ruby Ridge siege.

Hostage negotiator Gary Noesner (the steely Michael Shannon) arrives on the scene after the FBI has accidentally shot the innocent wife of the wanted man. While the situation eventually deescalates, the government hides behind legalities to prevent any serious ramifications after accidentally shooting a bystander. Noesner is disturbed to see how the organization he once revered has slowly been turning into another military and how quickly they are to toss the blame on ATF.

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Ultimately, it’s the events in Ruby Ridge which directly impact Waco. “Visions And Omens,” shows how the ATF, desperate to try and salvage their funding, jump the gun by setting their sights on Koresh without gathering the proper intel. However, this is where Waco gets a little shaky: by making any child abuse allegations seem like the ATF made them up for their own gain.

In truth, there were actual allegations made against Koresh, along with many people assuming he was guilty of statutory rape. While there were plenty of doubters whether they were legitimate since a majority came from former members of the cult, there’s no denying that people did come forward about Koresh.

“Visions And Omens” is only the first episode of the six-part miniseries, and it’s possible that Waco continues expanding the viewpoints more fairly. For now, the show clearly favors David Koresh and seems to put some of his more unsavory characteristics to the side while it explores the government’s own shortcomings throughout this tragic event in history.

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While the script leaves something to be desired, the performances have all been rock solid, and that alone should entertain people enough to stick around for the next five episodes.