Chief is absolutely oblivious to the wheels he set in motion when he stared down Patti over the holiday gala. First, there's the fact that his car completely lost pressure, power, and control while he was driving, a possible sign that the wires had been tampered with. Then, he comes home one night to find his wife, Laurie, and butterfly-voiced Meg, waiting to speak with him. He still loves her, of course, but she's there with bad news, which Meg reads aloud while Laurie silently emotes empathy. She wants a divorce. But that's not all. As written, Laurie explains (to the audience) that Tommy isn't Chief's son, that Chief married her after a previous relationship. In other words, Chief is sort of like Joseph, the overshadowed earthly father of Jesus.
Chief is outraged by the notion of a divorce and angrily refuses to consider it. He demands to know if Patti is forcing this on her, which is a fair question since we saw just last week how Laurie spends her evenings, watching over the Garveys' house from the backyard swing set. I'm inclined to believe that divorce proceedings are another strategic spear directed at Chief, and you can bet Laurie's papers aren't requesting a quick and painless break. That house Chief is living in with his daughter, his father's house... expect that to be listed somewhere in those documents. The cult is growing, and what better way to send that message than take over the local church and turn the police chief out on the street. The only wild card here is the Chief's crazy dad, who I don't suspect will take this development lying down.
Jill walks in on the ugly one-sided argument and presents her mother with the only Christmas present lying under the family tree: a fancy cigarette lighter engraved with "Don't Forget Me."
After slipping out of the hospital, Tommy and Christine are traveling by bus. When Tommy slept, Christine cozyed up to a boyish soldier, and just as Tommy awakes and begins to pull her back to their row, the bus twists and turns in an accident. It's not serious—for their vehicle. But up ahead, a giant truck has tipped over and spilled its cargo: corpses, destined for burial in Utah. The soldier mocks those who would pay for a burial of a leftover, so I guess funeral home services are struggling on the post-rapture world? Christine sees the bright side, though: "They're all in white," she scream, as she walks "over the dead." "It's just like the dream!" [Note: Okay. So I whiffed on this one. As some more astute commenters pointed out, those aren't real corpses, but fake ones—dolls, if you will—for people who want a replacement body to bury for their Raptured loved ones.]
That would be the dream of half-naked indifferent-penis guy, who envisioned all this. This makes Christine happy because she must be special, what they're doing must be special—even if it means she's Rosemary of Rosemary's Baby. She has no qualms with that. After all, God abandoned them.
Back in Mapleton, Chief is ready to claim his "win." The twins returned the Baby Jesus, and he shows up triumphant at the holiday gala with the cloth-wrapped child under his arm. Except no one cares. Perhaps no one had even noticed the baby was missing. On his way out, he encounters Nora, sitting alone near her old high-school locker. She lost her entire family and her brother, Rev. Matt, recently revealed that her husband had been cheating on her, a detail she shares with Chief. Flirting ever so slightly, he concedes that he cheated on his wife as well, clearing up that flashback in the premiere that seemed to show him having sex with another woman. Most likely, he was having sex with his mistress at the time of the rapture.
When he leaves the school, he sees that the GRs had arrived, just as he had hoped. But they've been careful not to step on school property to prevent trespassing charges. No matter, says Chief, who's still smarting from those divorce papers. Cuff 'em all. He tosses them all in the paddy wagon, even Patti, who wears a cruel grin. She almost laughs out loud. Chief's been had. With all the police concentrated at the school, the streets were clear for the GR's Operation Grinch Was a P---y. The other GRs went around town, sneaked into houses belonging to families that lost members in the rapture, and stole the very last photographs of the missing people. (Or is it all photos of everyone, period?) Fortunately, the GRs are amazing sneak-ers because none of them get caught, despite walking past sleeping children, necking teenagers, and presumable some adults. When Mapleton awakes, there will likely be no roast beast, no Who-hash, and certainly no joyful "Fahoo Fores" singing of "Welcome Christmas." Poker was the initial analogy, but perhaps it's best to say that Chief was playing checkers and Patti is playing chess. Checkmate. Maybe.
Fortunately, nobody gets to be happy. Laurie tries to recover Jill's cigarette lighter, which she had dumped in the sewer when she originally received it. And Chief, who clearly suspects he's been played, can't stop looking at the Baby Jesus staring at him from his truck's passenger seat. Not only did the town seem not to give a hoot about his missing-Jesus news, but also when he went to return the doll to the Nativity scene, he saw that Rev. Matt was already there, with his own replacement. Driving home, our poor overburdened and underappreciated Joseph pulls to the curb in the woods, tosses Jesus to the side of the road, and speeds away.
Overall, I liked this episode as much as some people are going to be offended by it. It raised the stakes, established the conflict that is now inevitable, and set the course for the rest of the show. Merry Christmas.
[Note: An early version of this recap confused Patti for Gladys.]