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"Stingray" That Terrible Swift Sword (1986)

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Ye Have Little Faith

Author: Jason Daniel Baker from Toronto, Canada
7 March 2016

After six grisly ritualistic slayings of sex workers in each location of a Christian revival tour frustrated and terrified ministry aid Sister Allison McKenzie (Barbara Williams) looks for help to discover the source of the carnage. She turns to mysterious operative Stingray (Nick Mancuso) - a man who is affordable because he trades his services for the favors his clients are in unique position to provide. Those favors seems invariably to be used to help other clients.

In a superficial exploration of spiritual themes we see a Christian woman negotiate with a dark man of mystery (one who has almost certainly killed) over a vague exchange of favors. It bears resemblance to temptation from the devil. For his part Stingray appears to be drawing redemption from past sins an act which if not holy is at very least just.

But the subterfuge they employ together to allow him to infiltrate the revival tour is of a kind a true Christian woman would almost certainly frown upon. Stingray happens to be conspicuously adept at becoming whatever he thinks he needs to be. In this episode he convincingly poses as a preacher with crash preparation and no real religious faith (Secular humanism does NOT count) to lean on. The ruse is of questionable necessity if any to his goal though it costs him a big favor from a past client to pull off.

When the compelling mystery finally unravels it is after resting comfortably within some excellent red herrings. Flawed though it is, this is one of my favourite episodes of the series. Barbara Williams and Nick Mancuso are two of my favourite Canadian actors and among our very best. They worked especially well together.

The episode illustrates an attempt at reconciliation between religious teachings and their application in some very dark corners. The fine line betwixt faith and fanaticism is also explored in a way few if any network TV series would dare to try. This sets it apart from other episodes in the series.

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