“Pure” – the CBC drama – Episode 5

My comments on previous episodes of “Pure”are at Episode 1, Episode 2Episode 3,  Episode 4 and Episode 6.

Sometime in the last week, someone at the CBC as decided Pure’s “Edenthaler Colony” in Southern Ontario is an Old Order Mennonite group (thanks to Sherri Klassen for alerting me to this change). Previously CBC’s references had been generically “Mennonite,” though the story line, geography, and language have consistently been Low German Mennonite, if not specifically Old Colony Mennonite.

Perhaps this change was done to justify the horses and buggies and the appearances of the women. This new, narrower description makes even more of the depictions in “Pure” incorrect — the family names are not Old Order Mennonite, no Old Order church members in good standing use cars, the meetinghouse (church) is designed incorrectly, the women still look more Amish than Old Order Mennonite, the cemetery seen in the last episode had incorrect tombstones, the location of the colony (near Chatham) is some distance from Old Order Mennonites who are further east or north. The list of inaccuracies goes on.


From CBC’s “Pure” Episode 5

Today’s episode was again mostly about plot, though there were some gratuitous religious references, including a “communion service” at the drug lab in Mexico, after Noah Funk “turned the other cheek” twice by being slapped by drug lord Eli Voss, before Funk agreed to serve communion to excommunicated Old Colony Mennonites. (The folks pictured in Mexico did look like Low German Mennonites.)

Communion is only served by bishops, and the “congregation” at the drug lab would have known the service had no legitimacy (as Funk did observe in the episode). The only point for including this in the story line seemed to be to display a bit of “Mennonite” content otherwise not needed for the plot.

There were many plot lines that didn’t make sense in this episode. Why did the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have suspended cop Bronco Novack travel to Texas and then order him not to do anything? Why did the crooked DEA agent (who was subsequently killed) think her kidnapping of a child who had nothing to do with the drug business think her actions would go undetected by law enforcement? Why was Tina (Noah Funk’s daughter) not able to escape from a cheap motel room with a window?

The show has generally upped the level of violence in the last couple of episodes.

Many of my Mennonite friends stopped watching “Pure” after the first episode. To me it will be a shame if “Pure” actually gets a second season. The show is now suggesting its drama is based on true events about a Mennonite group that will not defend itself in public and has nothing in its history to justify such a portrayal.

To better understand the complexity and reality of Ontario Mennonites, read In Search of Promised Lands: a Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario.






10 thoughts on ““Pure” – the CBC drama – Episode 5

  1. Having just watched all six episode over the last 7 days or so, I have found your critique of each episode up until this one to be fair and accurate.
    On this one though, you have allowed your general disillusionment (which with regard to the inaccuracies and incongruities and plot holes to be justified) to cloud your perspective regarding two plot points which you dismiss above.

    1) “to display a bit of “Mennonite” content otherwise not needed for the plot.”
    The purpose of this scene in the plot was that after slapping Noah Funk twice who continued to refuse to hold the communion service, Voss then threatened Funk’s family and in doing so gave details of his pas misdeeds in instructing his henchmen to murder others and their family members who had not complied with his commands. This conversation was recorded by the electronic device hidden in Funk’s Bible and Noah Funk later tells his brother that he has now got the proof to “nail” Voss.

    2) “Why did the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have suspended cop Bronco Novack travel to Texas”
    This seemed reasonable in that Novack was escorting his assets and if the DEA had stated that he was not to accompany them, the trio may have refused to go with their trusted handler since the trio did not know if the DEA agent was just another insider working for Voss (and remember they were not entirely trusting of Novack himself).

    3) “and then order him not to do anything?”
    This is a reasonable to assume. Novack was no longer a serving police officer and DEA management would not want a civilian from another country (Canada and non-US citizen) acting as part of a DEA operation.

    4) Why did the crooked DEA agent … think her actions would go undetected by law enforcement?
    She probably was thinking at all but just acting at Voss’s command in fear of being revealed by Voss as working for the criminals or more probably fear of being kill by the mob for refusing to do as instructed. She probably assumed that having delivered the boy, she could report back that all was in order and assumed that nobody would check up. It was never really made clear whether there really were family relatives asking for Ezekiel back or if this was a fabrication by somebody working for Voss all along or even by the crooked DEA agent acting out Voss’s plan to get the boy back.

    5) Why was Tina (Noah Funk’s daughter) not able to escape from a cheap motel room with a window?
    We actually see Tina trying to open the windows but they had been sealed. Assuming that they were double glazed, breaking the glass may have been impossible without one of those special hammer devices (the type you see on double glazed buses and coaches and train carriages). And there could have been a metal (anti-insect) screen as well secured on to the outside of the windows, thereby adding another layer needed to beak through. More realistically, do not most motel rooms have a telephone? She could have just called room service to escape, but the implication was that maybe the motel management or those operating it, were also loyal, had been bought off by and/or threatened by Eli Voss. Admittedly the notion that all the appropriate (for the plot) people in a small town would cooperate or be working for the criminals starts to exceed the already stretched credulity of the story.

    QUOTE To me it will be a shame if “Pure” actually gets a second season. UNQUOTE
    According to IMDB, a second season is in planning (maybe already pre-production) for 2019. I cannot see where they can go with the plot from the criminal angle since the Mexican distributor has been put out of action the local enforcer (Eli Voss) has been killed and the police insider has been arrested and presumably all the Menonite worker accomplices doing time (in Kingston?) . So in terms of plot, it looks like it could be a real failure if they try to enact some incredulous plot reversal, unless they become really creative and follow up with a completely different angle, but they may either be of itself totally lacking in credibility or lacking in dramatic action. How many reasons can you have for an automatic assault rifle shootout with the criminals in the season finale?


    • Correction to above “the local enforcer (Eli Voss)” should of course be “the local enforcer (Gerry Epp)”.


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