This week saw the season finale (Jan. 10th) of a show that only premiered seven weeks ago, but has already garnered a considerable amount of buzz — A&E’s “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.” But more important than the show’s impact on television, the conversation, and the tradition of cowed silence around Scientology is its potential impact on the Church itself.
Leah Remini and Mike Rinder haven’t taken that potential lightly, and this episode sees the culmination of their efforts to bring down Scientology when they decide to look into pursuing legal action against the Church, armed with the information they’ve learned from the victims they’ve interviewed over the course of the season.
However, before finding a solution for the future, Remini and Rinder rediscover their own past, sitting down for an interview with three journalists who covered the organization and were subsequently harassed by the Church — intimidation efforts for which then-Scientologist Mike Rinder was responsible. With both apologetic for all they did in the past to promote Scientology and dispel rumors about it, the interview offers an interesting look at the relationship between victims and their former aggressors — both now working together to bring down the Church.
The episode ends with Remini and Rinder walking into their legal consultation meeting — it’s hard to not feel disappointed in the sudden ending of the episode, but the confidentiality of the meeting prevents us from being a part of it. Moreover, you can’t say the conclusion (or lack thereof) isn’t accurate. There is no solution; no comforting bow to put on this journey. Not yet, at least.
Whether the outcome of their meeting is something that will play out in the media, or a second season of the show, remains to be seen. Originally promoted as an eight-part event, Remini is reportedly in talks for a renewal of the docuseries — no surprise for a show that unexpectedly pulled in big numbers when it premiered, and has maintained consistently steady ratings in the weeks after.
And so, as “To be continued…” fades onto the screen, we’re faced with one of the hardest truths of all: The fight has just begun. Still, there’s a heightened awareness about the Church of Scientology’s misdeeds that would not have existed were it not for the efforts of Leah Remini and A&E, and that’s no small thing. All those involved put their safety, comfort, and privacy on the line for a unified cause, that also taught us a lot along the way — and isn’t that television at its best?