Watching tonight’s fifth episode of A&E network’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, we kept thinking about how it’s really about time we re-read Marc Headley’s great 2009 escape narrative, Blown for Good.
In the second half of tonight’s episode, you’ll get a good sense of how Marc and his wife Claire Headley made their escapes from Scientology’s “Gold Base” near Hemet, California in January 2005, but for the full craziness of their lives at the base and how they managed to get away, you really should get a copy of Marc’s book. It’s the most fun to read of all the books that came out in a small wave by former Scientologists around that time, and part of that is because Marc is such a great storyteller.
But Claire really steals the spotlight when she brings up a subject Leah has been angling toward through the first half of her eight-episode special series: Forced abortions in the Sea Org. Now, Claire brings that subject into the open in a way that should shock viewers and crank up the outrage among an audience that, judging by their reactions on social media, has already been besides themselves with rage.
Claire featured prominently in a previous film about forced abortions in the Sea Org that was put together six years ago by the Tampa Bay Times. And the subject of the first half of tonight’s episode — about the propaganda spewed by Scientology at its own members at its annual events — has also been examined before. But once again, there’s something about the way Leah Remini brings the subject to the screen that makes it feel as compelling as if it were being revealed for the first time.
We do want to point out one thing to keep people from getting the wrong impression. It’s repeatedly mentioned in the episode that Marc and Claire sued the Church of Scientology over their treatment in the Sea Org, and lost. It’s said in a way as if they were actually apologizing for not having won, and the church itself certainly wants to give the impression that their loss in court is somehow a statement about their credibility.
But someone ought to point out — and we’ll go ahead and be the ones to do it — that if you read the actual appeals court decision that upheld the lawsuit’s dismissal, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit says quite clearly that the Headleys did endure hardships that were almost hard to believe — but that their attorneys had sued under a law that perhaps wasn’t the best for the abuses the Headleys experienced. In other words, the Headleys lost purely for legal reasons, and not for factual ones. We think that’s pretty important to point out, and the Headleys certainly don’t have anything to apologize for.
Also new in this episode is Leah coming under surveillance herself. This is the episode when she went to Denver and was stalked by private investigators, one of whom we actually outed as a former disgraced Denver cop named Daril Cinquanta.
Now we get to see the private eyes scrambling as Mike Rinder gets in their faces and tries to get them to admit what they’re doing. It’s fun television. And Mike does all his own stunts!
Please join us in the comments section as the show airs tonight on A&E, and let’s live blog this thing like crazy.
PS: After watching the episode, we wanted to add one thing. One of the heroes of tonight’s dramatic story never actually appears onscreen. And so we’ll do it here.
Bernie Headley, you are one of our personal heroes, and we’re damn glad we got to spend time with you last year when we visited Denver.
PPS: Here’s YouTube video of the superb Tampa Bay Times video about forced abortion in the Sea Org.
And here’s Mark Bunker’s interview of Gary “Jackson” Morehead, who said it was his job, as Scientology security, to coerce young Sea Org women into having abortions…
Go here to start making your plans.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield