This article is by Cor Chmieleski
***Spoilers galore (and a little cussing) from Knives Out and Glass Onion.
Our family loves the Knives Out story. Mystery. Intrigue. Justice. Grace. Recall the plot. The patriarch, Harlan Thrombey–fully in control–orchestrates events that not only include his own death but simultaneously protect his beloved nurse, Marta, from incrimination. And, oh yeah, he bequeaths all his riches to Marta rather than the Thrombey kin. Why? His children and grandchildren are selfish, greedy, arrogant, reckless, heartless, and ruthless. It’s easy to root for the nurse while wanting justice (i.e. no inheritance) for the patriarch’s immediate family members.
Now consider Glass Onion, the second Knives Out mystery. Recall the plot. Helen pretends to be her deceased twin sister, Andi, in hopes of identifying her sister’s killer. The entrance of Andi, ‘er Helen, ‘er “Andi” for her island reunion weekend confounds her sister’s so-called friends. As Blanc unfurls the backstory, we uncover the group’s dysfunction as well as the killer’s motive and identity.
Mystery. Intrigue. Justice. … Grace?
Watching Glass Onion makes you wonder who you are cheering for. Miles Bron manipulates with money. His disruptor friends will “lie for a lie” before deciding to “lie for a truth”…which, despite this transformation, means they’re still liars.
What about Benjamin Blanc – is he our hero? Before exiting, he becomes complicit (!) in criminal destruction by handing Helen an item used to destroy the Glass Onion – and the Mona Lisa! Even Helen, the formerly quiet, rural, 3rd-grade teacher, shirks justice in favor of retribution on her own terms.
This film gives us some good laughs, an exciting adrenaline makeover with a thick plot twist, and a creative mystery that resembles the very title of the movie, but something is missing. At the end of the day, I finished the movie longing for something the first film provided that this one didn’t.
Consider the last line of Glass Onion compared to that within Knives Out. In the former, Benoit Blanc asks, “Did you get the son of a bitch?” to which Helen replies, “Yeah.” Helen’s story is one of retribution. But in Knives Out, after all the horrendous mistreatment by the family toward Marta, she asks Blanc, “This family, I should care for them. Right?” Wow! The family’s treachery will not be met with revenge and this story will not end with Marta getting those SOBs. In short, Marta somehow (supernaturally?) tells a different story than Helen.
Christian theology teaches a message of low anthropology. This means that, despite our best intentions, we can be just as selfish, greedy, arrogant, reckless, heartless, and ruthless as the Thrombeys or Miles Bron or any one of the “s—heads.” We may not blow up buildings but we light fuses with our biting criticisms. We may be spared the sense of resentment against a loved one’s killer but who isn’t familiar with resentment toward a parent? A spouse? Your child mid-tantrum? Benjamin Blanc solved the case but couldn’t solve the human condition. He soberly and yet fittingly concludes this “just stinks”… kind of like an onion.
In stories and in life we long for a hero who doesn’t just look at our circumstances with a diagnosis. We long for one who addresses and even resolves the “just stinks” nature of the human condition. The Bible tells the story of one who came to do this very thing.
Recall the plot. Jesus diagnoses the brokenness of our world, those parts of life which just reek, and brings resolution – even declaring, “I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). God the Son–fully in control–orchestrates events that not only include his own death but simultaneously protect his beloved–his church–from incrimination. And this gift is not only for the Martas of our world, those described as having “a good heart.” An invitation is extended to the most selfish, greedy, arrogant, reckless, heartless, and ruthless Thrombeys of our world. In his story, Jesus doesn’t stop at mystery, intrigue, or even justice; he ends with grace…for you and for me.
What is more, this grace transforms us. Those who have been given an inheritance, scandalously, apart from their work and expectations, tend to consider others in a new way. They, like Marta, instinctually start to ask, “This person, I should care for them. Right?” Yes. Because Jesus has cared for us at the highest of levels.
What a story Jesus tells! Mystery. Intrigue. Justice. Grace upon grace. Our family loves this story.