Over the course of its first season, TALIBAMA follows the deteriorating family dynamics and relationships within THE JONES FAMILY and the inner-workings of their Evangelical Christian militia movement called THE JONES FAMILY ASSEMBLY ( JLA ). The show is about how people and families unravel when given power and status -- and what we will do to retain power and status once we have it. The series explores scoping concepts of politics, religion and national identity, putting a mirror up to our societies and today’s events, while carefully deconstructing them through the show’s intimate portrait of a family dealing with a new world order while constructing their own. Yet at the core, TALIBAMA explores how our societies have a constant tendency towards the formation of factions based on our belief systems and the collective myth that is society.
"THE JONES FAMILY MIRACLE"
The pilot begins with the formation of a sinkhole. The earth crumbles into herself and water gushes from the ground as a new lake forms before our eyes. The thundering chaos eventually settles on this tranquil new wonder of mother nature. It’s a miracle.
MALACHI JONES is a water diviner and Pentecostal zealot with a small following, largely made up of his relatives: THE JONES FAMILY. He recently had a vision of a water source that will save his people suffering from drought in the nation of Eden. Following a violent shakedown by local police forces at his family’s Easter gathering, Malachi leads a group of his followers, including his wife MELANIE, and their four children: LEVI (19), MARIA (16), JOSEPH (12), and STEFANIE (6), from the urban center of New Bethlehem on a trek into the wilderness across the Canaan Valley.
They trek for days, running low on water and supplies, until Malachi stumbles upon the newly formed lake -- a big blue body of water as wide as the eyes can see. To the desperate group of travelers, this is their miracle and so Malachi names it THE GREAT JONES LAKE.
Soon word spreads throughout the Canaan Valley that Malachi has found water, and a pilgrimage of Christians begins to the Great Jones Lake. Malachi founds THE JONES LAKE ASSEMBLY (JLA), makes Levi his Highest Cleric, and baptizes new followers in their new code of ethics, which is steeped in a love and protection of nature.
But soon, the settlement’s numbers swell, and Malachi and Levi butt heads on how to make sense of the growing disorder within their movement, while Melanie spreads “the newest testament of God’s Word” through radio dispatches known as The Letters, which reach far across Eden, West Babylon, and Zion, welcoming all believers to the new Promised Land.
As superpower militaries from the East conduct surveillance on the lakeside community and multi-national water corporations drill in nearby valleys, potentially damaging the JLA’s water source, Malachi is unfairly branded by news media as a dangerous zealot and becomes targeted by the Saudi military. Tensions within the camp rise on how to deal with encroaching powers and Malachi’s authority is questioned by other leaders.
Even Maria, his daughter, is lured into a bad element, flirting with the sinful men in the community. At the breaking point, Melanie invites her older brother Karl Hawk, leader of the notorious and violent CHRISTIAN STATE (CSC) and the CSC Crusaders, to Jones Lake to restore power to Malachi - doing so behind Malachi and Levi’s backs.
Hawk’s presence and the presence of the CSC is at once terrifying, yet reassuring. Hawk's Crusaders bring a strict, archaic version of Canon Law and a level of violence unknown to JLA prior to their arrival. While Levi pushes his father to reject the presence of such tyranny, Malachi recognizes the use of their power, even after Joseph his youngest son is irreparably scarred by a brutal execution of one of Malachi’s closest advisors, found conspiring against him. Persuaded by Melanie and hopeful of a peace within JLA, Malachi makes a deal with the most feared terrorists in the world.
Viewed as a blood pact by the media, Malachi and the JLA are now officially considered enemies of the Saudi led occupation of Eden. But with the CSC on their side, the Occupation does not attack, yet.
Then, Kaiya “Kathryn” Hideko, a scientist working for the Environmental Protection Agency of New Bethlehem, arrives to conduct tests on the water. After the test results, she warns Malachi that there will be a plague in the settlement caused by sulphur in the water. Suspicious of Kathryn’s intent, Malachi refuses to instruct his people to stop drinking water from the lake, and does not tell a soul.
But then one day -- the water starts to poison the people. Soon many are sick and dying and what was first a miracle, has become a curse. Their youngest daughter Stefanie is the first to die. It’s a horrible shock which tears the family apart. It makes them question the whole of their purpose, and irreparably divides each family member’s path in life.
Melanie takes a vow of silence and crumples under the loss. Her silent presence, however, invokes the worst in all of her children, as she drives herself further and further into despair.
Maria, shocked by the loss of her beloved sister, becomes obsessed with having a child and leading a clean life. She falls in love with a CSC guard and leaves the camp to marry, and bear a child she can protect.
Malachi announces that the Occupation has poisoned Jones Lake and he instructs his people to stop drinking the water, but orchestrates attacks on water deliveries and redirects the trucks to the camp. They also hijack a shipment of synthetic hydration pills called DRIPS, the saving grace of these drought ridden people.
Levi, enflamed by the death of his young sister, promises revenge on the Occupation and plots an attack that can change the scales of power in the region. What began as a spiritual community built around a fresh source of drinkable water, is now a militant outpost next to a lake full of black water, with a tense group of armed militias geared up for the Holy War against the East.
When Hawk and Malachi denounce one another, Malachi Jones releases a tape to the world and that declares himself the supreme leader of all Christians and the JLA and The Christian State use the tragedy of Jones Lake to mobilize a major offensive against the Eastern Occupation.
When all seems lost for the Great Jones Assembly, Season One culminates with Levi Jones, flying a propeller plane into the gargantuan Babylon River Dam, which collapses and floods the dried up Canaan Valley with Water, freeing the people from the tyranny of state sanctioned drought.