Eager children rush to the disciples’ secret headquarters to report that the Emperor Caligula’s blasphemous statue has arrived, ready to be placed in Jerusalem’s sacred Temple. The camera sweeps over the vast palace and stoops low to capture this golden abomination as the power play between Governor Pilate and Caiaphas the High Priest grows more forceful. Caiaphas tells him, “You have no allies, no one to blackmail, no one to bully. The statue will never ever enter the Temple.”
In a chilling whisper, Pilate challenges him, “How will you ever stop us?”
In the epic season finale “The Abomination,” Emperor Caligula’s statue arrives in Jerusalem and a heated battle breaks out as former enemies join forces to protect the Temple from desecration. A war also rages inside Cornelius, Pilate’s most trusted soldier and the first Roman convert, as he wrestles between faith and his former life.
The conclusion of 12-week series A.D. The Bible Continues does not disappoint, displaying dynamic interweaving of storylines, subplots, and heightened tension between characters such as Pilate, brilliantly portrayed by Vincent Regan, and Caiaphas, played to excellence by Richard Coyle.
With the arrival of the catalyst statue, all the major players unite against Caligula’s insane demands. Caiaphas sends for James, the brother of Jesus, hoping to form an alliance to stand against Rome’s plans for the Temple. The Zealots also conspire, ready to battle the Romans at all costs.
Meanwhile, the distraught Cornelius (Will Thorp) is on his knees, visibly shaken by memories of killing Joanna (Farzana Dua Elahe). The scene takes a hopeful turn as Joanna comes to him in a vision, extending grace and forgiveness in the name of Christ. Then an angel of the Lord appears and tells him to go to Joppa to find Peter.
At the same time, the Holy Spirit tells Peter (Adam Levy) of three men who will visit him shortly, telling him to not be alarmed. The visual effects department continues to capture the power of the Holy Spirit as the wind circles and whips around the faithful Peter, moving about him and giving him direction. (Acts 10:44)
When the men arrive, Peter and Mary Magdalene (Chipo Chung) accompany them on horseback to Cornelius’s house. Mary asks their host about Joanna’s fate, asking softly, “You killed her, didn’t you?” The broken Cornelius falls into her arms, and they embrace as a brother and sister would. The power of forgiveness and grace leaps off the screen as this inspirational scene evokes deep emotion. Will Thorp’s portrayal of Cornelius brings a gut-wrenching remorse to the character that is undeniable and utterly moving.
While Cornelius finds hope and acceptance from the apostles, a much different scenario plays out in Jerusalem. James tells Caiaphas that the disciples cannot help with the High Priest’s plan to unite the Jews and thwart Caligula. Enraged, Caiaphas spews threats to decimate the disciples, letting James, who has been working so hard to broker peace, see the priest’s true nature.
Back at Cornelius’s house, the Holy Spirit takes center stage as the Scriptures are reverently brought to life. Flames dance around the heads of the gathered believers, Jew and Gentile, as the Spirit empowers them to speak in tongues. (Acts 10:44-46)
Peter exclaims, “This is why we are here, this is our mission!”
Joy turns to questioning as Pilate summons Cornelius, ordering him to provide safe passage for the statue of Caligula. As the centurion leaves, he tells the disciples that he will pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him.
The score darkens as Pilate tells Cornelius that he wouldn’t trust anyone else with this mission and orders him to kill anyone who stands in his way. The tension onscreen meshes seamlessly with Lorne Balfe’s score to reveal the darkened heart of Pilate and the inner turmoil of Cornelius.
The believers in hiding are just as torn, feverishly debating what the coming conflict means for their faith. While some wish to flee and others want to fight, Peter reminds them of the parable of the Good Samaritan and says they cannot “walk on the other side of the road,” ignoring the needs of the people they are called to reach. (Luke 10:25-37)
Bolstered on to help their fellow men and women, John, Peter, and Mary Magdalene walk the crowded streets as Roman guards force their way through the city with the towering statue. The High Priest and Sanhedrin march forward in unison, wearing elaborate robes and solemn faces, while the angry Zealots press in on the Roman guards in protest. Stunning aerial views capture the statue ascending to the Temple; the score quickens as chaos and destruction flood the streets of Jerusalem.
Cornelius asks the High Priest to step aside and allow the statue to pass. Caiaphas refuses, and Cornelius reverts to his old behavior, drawing his sword. Before he can strike, though, Peter walks up to Cornelius and kneels before him, joined by the disciples, the High Priest, and the members of the Sanhedrin in a ripple effect. In a gripping show of faith, those kneeling offer their necks to Cornelius’s sword to say that if death is necessary, they will give their lives to protect the Temple from the abomination. Peter begins to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and Cornelius joins him on his knees.
But the Zealot assassins see this as the perfect opportunity to strike from above. A bloody battle breaks out, and the statue is overturned and destroyed. Bodies litter the streets, and Caiaphas weeps over his faithful servant Rueben, slain by his side. The disciples stand in the dusty streets, unharmed and in shock. The golden head of Caligula’s statue is delivered to Pilate and sits on his desk, covered in the dried blood of the fallen.
The dramatic season finale closes on a cliffhanger as a Roman guard throws Peter to the ground, shoves a sword to his neck, and orders him to come along, leaving the audience wondering what his fate will be and how this epic series will continue.
As viewers express their feelings on social media after the show, the resounding sentiment is that A.D. The Bible Continues must indeed continue. The Burnett/Downey team has set the bar high for faith-based television, exceeding expectations with a stellar cast and crew. Brilliant writing with attention to biblical accuracy and historical accounts, as well as superb cinematography, costuming, and set design, has captivated viewers across the globe. We eagerly await the arrival of Season 2 for another taste of this unique blend of Hollywood quality and faith-friendly worldview.
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