The recent excellent Showtime TV series “Waco: The Aftermath” made me realised that it was a follow-up to an earlier series “Waco” which was released in 2018. That series somehow escaped my radar and I was not aware of its existence until now. Anyway, as the saying goes “better late than never”. Unlike “Waco: The Aftermath” which had three parallel stories taking place each week, “Waco” only has one main story to tell. Its focus was almost entirely on the events of the siege of the Waco that took place over a period of 51 days between February and April of 1993 (exactly 30 years ago). It was a siege that ended tragically with 74 members of the so-called cult killed, including 25 children!
The series is based on two biographies: A Place Called Waco, by Branch Davidian survivor David Thibodeau (played in the series by Rory Culkin) and Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, written by the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of Negotiations Gary Noesner (played by Michael Shannon). It offers a detail account of what went on during the long days of negotiation and highlights the reckless and blood thirsty nature of USA government law enforcement of the FBI and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). FBI negotiator Gary Noesner is portrayed as the only person with a conscience and patience to work with the Branch Davidian members to get them out safely. This could possibly be a bit one sided seeing that this is afterall based on his book. Nevertheless the end results speaks for themselves and the series offer an insight to a tragedy that just needs to be told to the world.
The overall production values and performances here are excellent. Taylor Kitsch does a very good job in portraying the charismatic “cult” leader David Koresh. The length of the series that expands over 6 episodes allows Taylor to display David through a broad spectrum of emotions. This makes him look like someone believable and not the insane cultist that the FBI, ATF and US government would want the world to believe. The series also shows how the news media can be manipulated to be platform for the version of news the FBI and AFT wants. It also shows the despicable tactics in their attempts to so call “save” the cultists which included the use of noise assault and tear gas which ultimately resulted in the whole building going down in flames.
Waco is not an easy series to watch or to enjoy, as it shows how so many innocent lives were killed in a cruel and heartless manner by so called law enforcement teams. It is a sad reflection of the reality of the injustice that exists in present day America and a testament to why there exists so much anger and distrust among Americans today. I dare say it just fuels the gun culture in America and the continuous incidents of random violence happening today.