Religion is this week's big issue. After the "Pioneer Journal" advises the Council to look to Bonanza City's collective soul, the Council members decide to try to force everyone to attend a catch-all religious service. This goes even worse than you would expect, given the fact that a lot of different religions are represented in the town, and almost nobody wants to share a place of worship with people of different beliefs. But then that night, Morgan finds a low-key way to bring everyone together informally for a few quiet prayers. Do you think the Council will see that there are other modes of leadership besides yelling at everyone? No, me neither. The theme continues, as this week's showdown is a "steeplechase." Except that instead of being a steeplechase in the horse-race sense, it's a race for the teams to assemble giant jigsaw puzzles of -- what else? Churches. Blue wins again, returning to the Upper Class; Red are again Merchants; Yellow is back in the kitchen, to general dismay (including that of the Yellow team, because Taylor's balls are just that huge); and Green is back to doing what Green usually does. Since they all finish within the time limit, the reward choice is between a miniature golf course in the town and a library of religious texts. The Council finally wises up a little and puts the choice to the town for a vote. And the holy books carry the day. And everybody learns a little something about religious tolerance, even though several girls watch Anjay's Hindu prayer as though he's some kind of zoo exhibit. With Taylor and the Yellow team back to ignoring the kitchen on a full-time basis, the District's one diligent worker, Zach, organizes a multi-team dishwashing session to get it done, which puts him in the running for a Gold Star. Also in the running: Morgan again, as well as Greg. But we'll get to that in a minute. At the Town Hall meeting, Taylor has given up any pretense at caring about the town's rapidly declining opinion of her, and openly admits to Jonathan and everyone that it doesn't bother her too much. Why do the members of the Yellow team still get their salaries? When Jonathan asks if anyone wants to go home this time, he gets a taker: nine-year-old Cody, whose attempts to drown his homesickness in root beer proved unsuccessful. And the Gold Star goes to Morgan, to nobody's surprise -- not even Greg's. Next week: politics!
Big thanks to Daniel for doing such an awesome job filling in last week. As a fellow parent, I'm sure he's also looking forward to the day when we can make our kids help us with these things.
On Day 11, Sophia and Morgan are heading to the pump to fetch water. Which is weird, because I thought that was the Red team's job now, and both these girls are on the Green team. And there's no way a reality show would edit scenes out of sequence to make them fit the week's theme, right? Morgan's got weightier matters on her mind, namely whether God put them there for a reason. Whoa. Heavy. Even heavier is that Sophia says she stopped believing in God a while ago. She says Morgan is sweet for thinking Sophia's there for a reason. Morgan says, however, that she hasn't yet figured out her own reason, and thus doesn't deserve to be there. Like, on Earth? Morgan, dude, you're twelve. Cut yourself some slack. Sophia agrees with me (as she so often does), telling Morgan, "You're the nicest person here. I think that's good enough of a reason."
Meanwhile, in the Red team's bunkhouse, a religious discussion of a different kind is underway, as Jared confesses to Guylan (11, still from Massachusetts) that being Jewish has made him something of a target at school. You know, I suspected that Jared was the kind of child who gets grief from the other kids, and I also had an idea he might be Jewish, but it never occurred to me to think those two theories might be related. But then, I don't know which part of Georgia he's from. In an interview, Guylan says he doesn't want religion to be a big part of Bonanza City.
But in the mess hall, things are already -- if not conveniently -- splitting along religious lines. Specifically, Colton is asking Eric why he and his fellow Jews don't celebrate Christmas. Eric asks if that's a serious question, and he seems prepared to give Colton the benefit of the doubt until Zach relays Colton's version of the Hanukah story, which he apparently performed for Zach earlier. All I will say about that is that it's rather disrespectful, and includes the non-Hebrew phrase "whoop-de-doo." Zach interviews that religion is something that people have fights about. Which is reasonable, given that we just saw him kind of instigating one.
In the chapel, the Council is looking over the Ye Olde Pioneer Journal. "The town doesn't really like what the journal usually has to say," Laurel interviews. They sit down and start reading as the supposedly dead pioneer claims that since Bonanza City version 1.0 was so busy, nobody took the time to stop, think, and pray, which led to fighting. Yes, I'm sure that was the cause, and an hour or so in the chapel every week would have helped the original pioneers endure prickish weather and impending starvation with much more equanimity, at least until they started fighting over the communion wafers. Or, as Al Swearengen might have said, "Churchgoin' ain't advisable in a town where getting down on your knees is an invitation to some cocksucker to stick a knife through the top of your fuckin' hat."