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S01.E08: Merchants of Fear 2017.05.29

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Leah Remini and Mike Rinder explore the historical relationship between the Church of Scientology and its often vocal critics. 

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Scientology  makes members believe the outside world is evil but they are more evil than the outside world.

why cant the FBI do another raid? someone should take down miscavige.

does anyone else think l. ron must have had a mental ilness. he fabricated his whole biography. he took the time to write this crazy garbage.

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Based on this preview for season two I'm all in!

Looks like they are going to hit the cult where it will hurt the most re: child abuse/child labor and tax laws.

Yes, LRH clearly suffered from some sort of mental issues which only got worse as he deteriorated in his later life. This is why he was so anti psychology, he didn't want anyone to officially declare his mental health status as not healthy.

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I had no idea this episode was a thing until I saw my DVR recording it.  This is WAY more hard hitting than anything we've seen so far. Can't wait for this season. I want to see this cult go down. 

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What a "coincidence" that golden boy Tom Cruise announced just this week that a new Top Gun movie will be made.  Hmmmm...maybe it's the only damage control card they have to play these days.  

I'm so sickened by Tom Cruise I won't go see the movie.  If reviews are good I might watch it on HBO or something, but now that I know about the sick cult he supports I just can't see him in the same light I did in the first Top Gun movie.  All I see is his cult abusing people who were genuinely seeking help.

Edited by Sup wit dat.
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1 minute ago, Sup wit dat said:

What a "coincidence" that golden boy Tom Cruise announced just this week that a new Top Gun movie will be made.  Hmmmm...maybe it's the only damage control card they have to play these days.  

I'm so sickened by Tom Cruise I won't go see the movie.  If reviews are good I might watch it on HBO or something, but now that I know about the sick cult he supports I just can't see him in the same light I did in the first Top Gun movie.  All I see is his cult abusing people who were genuinely seeking help.

I can't agree more. I always knew Scientology was a weird group but I had no idea just how sick, abusive, damaging, and frankly life sucking this group is.. Tom Cruise is at best complacent and at worst actively destroying lives.. no movie of his is worth my time ever again. 

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I can't wait for season 2 either. I love that they really seem to be going after the abuses this coming season. I'm so proud of Leah and Mike. LRH was just plain evil.

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Leah seemed to go at Mike Rinder very hard in this episode, to keep him accountable for the abuses he was responsible for.  I thought it was interesting, maybe a reaction to comments on this board that he wasn't fully owning the things he did, or just seeming very detached at times?

I thought it was odd that Scientology didn't have a specific rebuttal to the gentleman who was an Operation Freakout principal.  He really broke my heart.

On a shallow note, did anybody notice an incredibly soft focus whenever the camera was on Leah?  Vaseline smeared all over the lens.

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I hadn't heard about Masterson's issues.  this will be interesting.

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Kudos @DrivingSideways - those are the three main things I wanted to point out/ask about after I watched last night and you've already done the work for me.  Leah did seem a wee bit airbrushed, didn't she? lol.  

And judging by Mike's facial expressions and reactions to some of her comments, it seemed like he was a little surprised that she was was sort of "going in" on him (in her own Leah way) a few times.  But I wondered the same thing re: whether or not viewer comments/response brought all that about.

I always love the guests they have, but I particularly enjoyed the insights of the Australian journalist.  And I cracked up when he joked about passing the personality test and Leah yelled, "Bullshit!"

Season two is going to be extra intense and I can't wait.

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1 hour ago, DrivingSideways said:

On a shallow note, did anybody notice an incredibly soft focus whenever the camera was on Leah?  Vaseline smeared all over the lens.

YES!  It was driving me crazy and distracting me from an otherwise great episode.  

I'm so excited for Season 2.

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When Leah and Mike were interviewing Janet Reitman, I told my husband, "These are the three bravest people in the world."

I read Janet's book while on a sunny beach in Mexico and my blood was running cold.  It was worse than that time when I was 12 and read "The Amityville Horror House".  I feared for Janet's life.  Heck, I feared that Scientology knew that I was reading this book on a beach in Mexico.

I see that I'm not the only one to notice Leah's flattering lighting!

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1 hour ago, TaraS1 said:

I always love the guests they have, but I particularly enjoyed the insights of the Australian journalist.  

Me too.  I thought all of these guests had incredible insights (and, seriously, I probably could have watched another two hours with them).  Especially the Australian reporter and the discussion of his strategies about how to make CO$ more transparent via legislation (kudos to the legislator in Australia brave enough to give the middle finger to CO$!!!) - and then showing the numbers on how enrollment and donations dropped precipitously after they were forced to make their books public.  Well done. 

I can't remember who the guy in the middle was in the second half, but I again thought his research into the "why" of CO$ adherents was really interesting - breaking down their moral compass in order to fill it with LRH's crazy was just goose-bump inducing.

Also, how did I not hear about Paulette Cooper before??? 

Thank goodness for Season 2 - although, getting the snippets of the interviews during this episode, I know that the stories are going to be even more horrific.

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4 hours ago, jenrising said:

Can we get Janet Reitman to just sit in the corner on every episode? Her reactions are fantastic. 

Judging by her reactions, I get the feeling she didn't know half the shit that was going on around her when she originally did the story.  And it was her tour of Gold Base that made her want to dig deeper.  I love how they pointed out that "Church Policy" has turned otherwise indifferent people into active enemies.

Also in the old videos, Hubbard talks out the side of his mouth.  It's creepy.

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Maybe he had a wad of tobacco he was trying to hold in, thus the distortion in his mouth movement.

ETA:  Quote from an old Tony Ortega blog:

"Ackerman also describes Hubbard chewing tobacco and spitting as he drove, and he jokes that Hubbard’s followers would love to find those places in the road where Hubbard spit so they could dig them up to worship them."

Edited by AZChristian.
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I agree that Janet Reitman was stunned at the reality of what was going on within  Scientology. She said a couple of times that she got a thorough tour. At first I thought she was being sarcastic but after watching the rest I think she thought she did get a good tour and now she realizes she really just saw the top layer of icing. 

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Wow. Leah is back, and she's taking no prisoners. Lots going on in this special, and lots of interesting bits to parse. Each guest had a fascinating story, and I actually wish we could've gotten one-on-one interviews with each as well as a roundtable. The former Guardian operative broke my heart a bit, too, but it's so touching that he and Paulette Cooper seemed to have made amends. And I liked Mike's comment at the very end about being happy to see everyone again under better circumstances than the last time he saw many of them.

Like last year, I enjoyed everyone's banter and back-and-forth snark and comments, especially about the "personality test." And the fact that it was the CO$ bullshit tour that made Janet Reitman want to dig deeper. Priceless.

Interviews with two of Danny Masterson's victims coming up? Damn. Those are going to be brutal. Anyone who hasn't heard about this story in the news can check out the High Profile Scientologists thread in this forum - myself and others posted links as the story was developing. If last season was about showing the damage that the CO$ has inflicted on people, this season is is going to take them to task for it.

12 hours ago, GracieK said:

I always knew Scientology was a weird group but I had no idea just how sick, abusive, damaging, and frankly life sucking this group is.

This. This is precisely why this show has caught me the way it has. I always vaguely knew that Scientologists were nuts but never gave much thought past chuckling at their general kookiness. But once I started to find out the horrific abuses that really go on, I realized just how malicious and frankly evil the CO$ is. IMO, chuckling at their kooky antics belittles the pain and suffering so many have endured at the Cherch's hands and I feel guilty for ever dismissing it the way I did. I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for Leah for taking on this massive, volatile project and exposing the truth to the rest of the world.

4 hours ago, DrivingSideways said:

Leah seemed to go at Mike Rinder very hard in this episode, to keep him accountable for the abuses he was responsible for.  I thought it was interesting, maybe a reaction to comments on this board that he wasn't fully owning the things he did, or just seeming very detached at times?

3 hours ago, TaraS1 said:

And judging by Mike's facial expressions and reactions to some of her comments, it seemed like he was a little surprised that she was was sort of "going in" on him (in her own Leah way) a few times.  But I wondered the same thing re: whether or not viewer comments/response brought all that about.

2 hours ago, 3girlsforus said:

Actually that kind of bugged me. We know Mike did bad things. He hasn't denied that. He also can't change it. When he talks to people that he personally was active against most of the time he says 'I' and when he doesn't it's just the way the conversation is going - i.e. It's focused on the policies rather than who did what - rather than an attempt to deny or hide that he did these things. This show is how he's trying to make amends. So I don't think it's helpful or necessary for Leah to keep saying 'You... it was you who did stuff like that' over and over. She can ask if he had first hand knowledge of the actions against a particular guest but the snappy part was over the top to me. Plus it seemed to be a sore spot between them and kind of messed with the chemistry they had going last season which was a favorite part of mine. 

On another topic - I continue to love the little breaks to show the Scientology response. They are just so comical.  

Yeah, Leah's prodding of Mike was… noticeable. I too assumed that it was due to viewer reaction last season about how he came across, but it seemed, I don't know, shoehorned in, unnecessary, take your pick. 3girlsforus has summed up my thoughts perfectly - we all know of Mike's past actions. IMO what he chooses to do now speaks more than any words he could ever say - and his choice to go after CO$, both here and on his own in the blogosphere is doing more to make amends than any words ever could. I suppose I can understand if Leah is trying to clarify whether Mike himself was involved in a particular Fair Game case, but she seemed to dwell on it more than necessary last night. Hopefully that's out of the show's system and they can go back to their normal, snarky interactions.

Also, there were a few times when the guest started to answer and Leah interrupted to repeat the question or interject her own answer. I appreciate that it was set up as a more informal discussion than a formal interview, and we all know Leah has a hard time keeping her mouth shut, but still. Maybe A&E will air some cut scenes from this at some point, as I'm sure there are some real gems lying on the cutting room floor.

Minor nitpicks aside, this was a dynamite episode that I'm going to have to rewatch for sure. Looking forward to season 2 whenever it comes down the pipeline!

Edited by Maelstrom. Reason: link weirdness
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I saw Leah's ribbing of Rindah as sibling affection through sarcastic putdowns. I didn't take it seriously at all.

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I absolutely cannot wait for Season 2 (well, I have to but you get my meaning). I hope that someone in OUR government would have the balls to take on CO$ like they did in Australia.  Any legitimate church or charity should have no trouble releasing their financial records.  Many already do.  Wasn't crazy about Leah's digs at Mike.  I give him full marks for what he is doing now.  The past can't be undone, but he is doing his best to atone.

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1 hour ago, Lord Donia said:

I saw Leah's ribbing of Rindah as sibling affection through sarcastic putdowns. I didn't take it seriously at all.

Ditto. Especially because they were joking about it on twitter when the show aired, and Rinder was saying he was so happy to be back with his sis.  

Based on at least one of those clips for season 2 though I do think they might really ask some hard questions of Rinder and his past actions and mindset this season though.  I think that is a good thing to look at because it could help people see that people aren't necessarily evil or good and often make choices in bad situations that they regret later.  

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"and then showing the numbers on how enrollment and donations dropped precipitously after they were forced to make their books public. Well done."

My cynical self thought “or they started hiding it”.

I’m so glad they are doing another season. Like so many people I had no idea of the abuses going on, all this garbage needs to be brought to light. As the saying goes “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

What baffles me is why criminal charges have not been brought against this “church” (other than the FBI raid during LRH’s day). There’ve been so many stories of people having to escape. To my mind, if an adult willingly goes to one of the prison camps and subjects themselves to the regime there, that’s one thing. However brainwashed the may be, they are giving a form of consent. But once they decide “this is BS” and want to leave, that consent is withdrawn. If they are prevented from leaving when they want, wouldn’t that be a crime that should be prosecuted?

I loved the Australian reporter’s story and how the legislator read the stories in parliament; that was great!

Edited by Absurda. Reason: formatting
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I like that Leah called out Mike on the way he talked about what happened.  There was no 'they' - HE took part in almost everything they talked about it. HE was probably the one leading the charge. He needs to talk of ME or WE, not they.  And I like the guy but I liked that Leah is trying to hold him accountable. 

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The gentleman who was the Guardian made my heart hurt, his guilt still seems to run deep.  I think he is the perfect example of someone who had been so completely indoctrinated, he could no longer see the difference between right and wrong.  I also agree with everyone on the panel, he needs to forgive himself,  Ms. Cooper has.  

I liked everything about the Australian reporter and I am extraordinarily impressed with what he and a single legislator were able to accomplish and that their perseverance and doggedness paid off.  

Edited by LegalParrot81.
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17 hours ago, Sup wit dat said:

What a "coincidence" that golden boy Tom Cruise announced just this week that a new Top Gun movie will be made.  Hmmmm...maybe it's the only damage control card they have to play these days.  

I'm so sickened by Tom Cruise I won't go see the movie.  If reviews are good I might watch it on HBO or something, but now that I know about the sick cult he supports I just can't see him in the same light I did in the first Top Gun movie.  All I see is his cult abusing people who were genuinely seeking help.

Everyone I know that was a Cruise fan is saying the same thing - they will not be going to see his movies in the theater now that they know he is so enmeshed in this group and they do not want to have even the slightest connection with it, even so far as buying a movie ticket.  Between this show, Leah's book and the documentary "Going Clear" on HBO - the word about this organization is getting out.  

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Re: Leah and Mike, one of the things that I picked up on was that for kids raised in Scientology, there really isn't a lot of empathy for people. Its sort of weeded out of them at an early age (which is why its "easy" for people to disconnect). Given this, I don't think that its hard for Mike to *feel* sorry, but I do think its very difficult for him to *express* how sorry he is. He just has this perfectly flat affect, which makes it seem like he doesn't know or care. I think that part of the Leah "well, let's turn to Mike - who was there" act is giving him the space to both acknowledge it and talk about his side knowing that he's never going to look sad or embarrassed or chagrined, because he's had all those emotions exercised from his public face. It's kind of hard to explain, but I actually think Mike needs to have it pointed out that he was the guy doing this stuff so he has a chance to actually say "Yeah, and it was really messed up", because otherwise he just sits there looking unaffected.

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Co$ goes after people by getting them fired from their jobs to really hurt them.  Well, Tommy boy, I hope your Top Gun movie flops.  And the next movie you make, and the next one.  I'd like to see him get a taste of his own medicine.

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I enjoyed this episode a lot and the previews for season 2 look terrific too. I think they are changing direction just a bit because season 1 was very much focused on splitting up families and that sort of thing. But really how many more of those stories can you show? I mean yes there are a lot out there but perhaps a focus on the sexual abuse and so forth might bring about some law enforcement involvement. You never know.

I also appreciated more focus on L Ron Hubbard. Last season I felt like a lot of the folks focused on Miscavage. Now I'm not saying the guy isn't evil, but the thing is Scientology didn't just turn insane and wacky when he became 'the pope.' Those policies are L Ron Hubbard's. The writings are his. He is the builder of this cult.

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I think that part of the Leah "well, let's turn to Mike - who was there" act is giving him the space to both acknowledge it and talk about his side knowing that he's never going to look sad or embarrassed or chagrined, because he's had all those emotions exercised from his public face. It's kind of hard to explain, but I actually think Mike needs to have it pointed out that he was the guy doing this stuff so he has a chance to actually say "Yeah, and it was really messed up", because otherwise he just sits there looking unaffected.

I agree with this.

I loved the Australian journalist. He was terrific. I wish we could see more of him!

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Tony Ortega has a great article on last night's special with more info about each of the guests. Including tidbits about how Aussie journalist Brian Seymour got Nancy Cartwright to admit that she's in Scientology to become a god, and how writer Mark Ebner found Giovanni Ribisi's mother's special CO$ award plaques piled in a trash heap on a sidewalk in LA.

I would love if Leah and Mike were able to somehow interview the Aussie politician who teamed up with Brian Seymour (even though I've forgotten his name). It'd be great to hear from him, and if they could do a joint interview with both men, that'd be even better.

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I loved how the Australia legislator was able to get around not being sued by Scientology and force them to open their books.  To be a fly on the wall when CO$ learned both of those things. No, they couldn't sue him and they'd have to open their books. I liked the one who also after being told what Scientology would go after him decided to start of his article by admitting things he'd done so they'd have nothing. I also liked hearing from the different people. The professor from Albert, his research and thoughts on Hubbard. The one who started researching in early on and the one who worked for the Guardian. I like I think it was Jaime who pointed out how easy it was for her to spot the tails, remarking they should have been more discreet only to learn that was the point. They do it on purpose. Its weird. So was the one who's Dead Agent file was read in front of him to his editor.  Really? Did they really expect the editor to be shocked and fire him then. I know they probably did but its amazing how they don't see their methods create enemies and make them even more determine to publish articles and do more. I agree with the one who posted they would have watched two more hours of this interview. I would have too. 

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11 hours ago, DrivingSideways said:

On a shallow note, did anybody notice an incredibly soft focus whenever the camera was on Leah?  Vaseline smeared all over the lens.

So I wasn't imagining that!  ha

Leah doesn't need it at all.  And it was distracting.  I hope the whole season isn't being shot that way.

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Did I understand correctly that instead of the millions of members CO$ purports to have it is more like 40,000 worldwide? ( I believe the Australian journalist said it with a bit of a sarcastic laugh)

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Leah is either getting unworldly like CGI on her face or has had a serious face lift.  Look at her face, look very closely at her forehead.  There is no visible contour to her fact other than around it's bone structure.  No lines at all nor any skin texture.  It is possible that she is being seriously airbrushed by CGI but look at how high her hairline is.  That is a hallmark sign of plastic surgery.  There was a woman featured on a 20/20 special that ran a cult out of Australia I think and she had so much plastic surgery that her hair line was on top of her head (at least 3 inches back from where it was when she was younger).

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1 hour ago, andromeda331 said:

I loved how the Australia legislator was able to get around not being sued by Scientology and force them to open their books.  To be a fly on the wall when CO$ learned both of those things. No, they couldn't sue him and they'd have to open their books. I liked the one who also after being told what Scientology would go after him decided to start of his article by admitting things he'd done so they'd have nothing. I also liked hearing from the different people. The professor from Albert, his research and thoughts on Hubbard. The one who started researching in early on and the one who worked for the Guardian. I like I think it was Jaime who pointed out how easy it was for her to spot the tails, remarking they should have been more discreet only to learn that was the point. They do it on purpose. Its weird. So was the one who's Dead Agent file was read in front of him to his editor.  Really? Did they really expect the editor to be shocked and fire him then. I know they probably did but its amazing how they don't see their methods create enemies and make them even more determine to publish articles and do more. I agree with the one who posted they would have watched two more hours of this interview. I would have too. 

This is the reason I found this episode absolutely chilling.  It answered the question of why Co$ doesn't become more crafty and manipulative in their tactics.  They are following Hubbard's policies.  They do not adapt to the circumstances. 

I realize that I'm disturbed that Co$ isn't more canny and manipulative, which will probably help take them down in the long run.

But I've been assuming that there is a measure of "safety" in doing this show because its so high profile.  It doesn't seem now like the show will shield anyone involved from an escalation to the fair gaming tactics.  I'm a bit alarmed at the lengths Co$ may go to faced with a high profile continuing series vs. a vocal ex Scientologist/article/book/South Park episode that is one and done.

I came away from this with an appreciation for how brave both Leah and Rinder are to keep doing this show.

Edited by ParadoxLost.
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6 minutes ago, AngelinaMaria said:

Leah is either getting unworldly like CGI on her face or has had a serious face lift.  Look at her face, look very closely at her forehead.  There is no visible contour to her fact other than around it's bone structure.  No lines at all nor any skin texture.  It is possible that she is being seriously airbrushed by CGI but look at how high her hairline is.  That is a hallmark sign of plastic surgery.  There was a woman featured on a 20/20 special that ran a cult out of Australia I think and she had so much plastic surgery that her hair line was on top of her head (at least 3 inches back from where it was when she was younger).

Serious facelift.  She was a guest on Kevin James' new sitcom about a month ago and could barely move her mouth; I'm glad it's relaxed a bit.

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I see Co$ is still paying for negative attack ads on Leah (and I'm sure Mike). Just look what pops up when you search Leah. They are buying key words, which means every time we search Leah and this ad comes up, it cost them money so I regularly search her name. 😏

IMG_1062.PNG

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Just when I think this show can't get any more fascinating, disturbing and brave, we get an episode like last night! Well done! All the guests were superb! I'm looking forward to season 2!

As for Mike Rindah, I think he says "they" when referring to his involvement because he has mentally disconnected himself from who he used to be. It's a coping mechanism. He's going to need years of therapy before he can "own" that part of his life. Look at the Guardian man...he has accepted what he did, but can't forgive himself even though the people he harmed have. I think Mike seeing Guardian guy (sorry that I can't remember his name) breaking down because he is still riddled with so much guilt will set Mike back even more on coming to terms with his past actions with the Co$. 

Leah does look a lot better than she did a few weeks ago when she guest starred on the KoQ 2.0. But she really needs to lay off the fillers, botox, etc. 

Loved the quip from the Australian journalist who said he was the only one who passed the personality test!  

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Guys, I must have missed the preview that talked about the Masterson situation. They will be interviewing women who call him out by name for rape?

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9 hours ago, hypnotoad said:

I enjoyed this episode a lot and the previews for season 2 look terrific too. I think they are changing direction just a bit because season 1 was very much focused on splitting up families and that sort of thing. But really how many more of those stories can you show? I mean yes there are a lot out there but perhaps a focus on the sexual abuse and so forth might bring about some law enforcement involvement. You never know.

I also appreciated more focus on L Ron Hubbard. Last season I felt like a lot of the folks focused on Miscavage. Now I'm not saying the guy isn't evil, but the thing is Scientology didn't just turn insane and wacky when he became 'the pope.' Those policies are L Ron Hubbard's. The writings are his. He is the builder of this cult.

I agree with this.

I loved the Australian journalist. He was terrific. I wish we could see more of him!

I was thinking the same thing.  Last season it seemed that many that are leaving now think Miscavage perverted the "religion", so it is good to see them saying these are LRH's policies.

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4 hours ago, bref said:

Guys, I must have missed the preview that talked about the Masterson situation. They will be interviewing women who call him out by name for rape?

That is the assumption.  I don't know if they will call him out by name.  But there were a few clips with women whose faces were obscured describing rape and Leah talking to them and Rinder about subsequent events that sounded like the media reports around the Masterson situation. 

Given that Masterson is lawyered up, they will likely be careful in how they edit those pieces

Leah was very reluctant to go after celebrities last year.  I do wonder if there is going to be an episode more focused on celebrity recruiting this year between the Masterson situation and Haggis sounding really pissed off at his friends (who I presume are mostly celebrities) that are still willfully ignorant and in Co$ while he and others have gotten out.

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Last season it seemed that many that are leaving now think Miscavage perverted the "religion", so it is good to see them saying these are LRH's policies.

Exactly. That is really one of the main things I noticed about this special. It brought that focus where it should be. At the end of the day, Miscavage is following LRH's blueprint. Scientology didn't suddenly become a cult and start attacking 'enemies' when LRH died and Miscavage took over. The cult was doing this all along.

I also like Leah basically saying that it's easy to make fun of Scientologists beliefs about Xenu and all the rest but that isn't what we should be focusing on either. I really agree with that because if you think about it logically, religions do require followers to believe some pretty unbelievable things. I don't have an issue with someone who actually finds some comfort in the Xenu story - that's what faith is about. I think it's ridiculous but then again I think it's silly to believe Mary was a virgin.

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17 hours ago, LegalParrot81 said:

The gentleman who was the Guardian made my heart hurt, his guilt still seems to run deep.  I think he is the perfect example of someone who had been so completely indoctrinated, he could no longer see the difference between right and wrong.  I also agree with everyone on the panel, he needs to forgive himself,  Ms. Cooper has.  

I liked everything about the Australian reporter and I am extraordinarily impressed with what he and a single legislator were able to accomplish and that their perseverance and doggedness paid off.  

Leah and Mike have probably gotten counsel from the Aussie and working on doing the same thing here.  We last saw them walk into a Lawyers office at the end of season one.  They cannot divulge what transpired, of course.  I have hope that some wheels are turning.  

I read that Leah did not want to do a second season, claiming it took a toll on her.   I am not sure this is true as she seems driven to expose them.  

I don't think the horrors of COS has reached enough people to stop Top Gun 2 from being a box office success, unfortunately. 

Leah is not going to go after individuals, she will stick to the the organization itself.  

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