C.O.G.

David (Jonathan Groff) travels by bus, enduring days of discomfort and annoying people. While reading On the Origin of Species, David is interrupted by a man who asks him if he has opened his heart to Jesus. David replies that he does not believe in religion. David arrives at his destination and calls home to leave a message for his mother, asking her not to bother apologizing to him. He tells her not to call him and that he’ll be going off the radar for a while. He arrives at an apple farm for a job and speaks to elderly farm owner Hobbs (Dean Stockwell), and lies about his name being Samuel instead of David. He also states that a girl named Jennifer will be joining him the following week. Hobbs gives David a position in the orchard and then takes David to his living quarters, a barn with mostly Spanish speaking workers already living there. He is introduced to Pedro (Eloy Méndez) who will train him. Later, David tells Pedro that Jennifer did not travel with him because she wanted to travel with some guy she just met who did not have room for David in the car. Hobbs catches David slacking off and tells him take a tank and bring it into town to have it filled with gas. After carrying the tank to town on foot, he is approached by Jon (Denis O’Hare) who tries to give him a “C.O.G.” brochure then asks if David has let Jesus into his heart. David responds, “I’m an atheist.” Jon continuously offers to help him with the tank of gas, but David refuses and laboriously drags the tank back. At dinner that night, Pedro and David attempt to converse despite the language barrier. Pedro points to David’s Yale sweater and asks if there are many “mujeres” (women) there, then asks if David has a girlfriend. David misunderstands, stating he does not have a daughter. Pedro tries to clarify using his hands to mime breasts and sex, which confuses and flusters David who adamantly says, “Definitely no mujeres.”

While talking to Pedro the next day, he looks up and sees Jennifer (Troian Bellisario) standing in front of him. After a brief excited reunion, Jennifer questions why he is wearing a Yale sweater and why everyone thinks his name is Samuel. David is excited and can’t wait to work with her, then notices her travel partner, Rob, standing by the car. At the local diner, Jennifer tells David she will not be staying to work with him on the farm. David is angry at her for abandoning him and then calls her a slut for having sex with Rob in his car. She tells David that the people in Oregon are trash and tries to convince him to go to San Francisco with them but David remains stubborn, telling her that he fits in just fine. Jennifer says she knows what this is really about, implying that something happened back home and saying, “Just because you avoid them, doesn’t mean they are going to miss you.” After she tells him to get over it, David tells her that her relationship with Rob will end, and she will come running to him in tears because she will never find anyone as good as him. “I know,” she says. The two then hug and Jennifer leaves in Rob’s car.

The next day, Pedro leaves for Los Angeles to find better work. Hobbs thinks that David won’t stay much longer now that Jennifer has left. But he tells Hobbs that he wants to stay a bit longer, so Hobbs assigns him to the apple sorting factory down the road. David attempts to call his family again, leaving another message for his mom and makes it sound like he’s having a great time. At the factory, his co-worker Debbie (Dale Dickey) refuses to chat with him. David and Curly (Corey Stoll), the forklift operator, notice each other from across the room. Eventually Curly befriends David after witnessing coworkers making fun of David at lunch. David and Curly grow closer, and David asks Curly to get a drink. Afterwards, Curly invites David over to his mother’s house where David reveals that he is not on speaking terms with his own mother. The conversation becomes flirty and Curly brings David to his bedroom to reveal an extensive collection of anal sex toys. Curly tries to initiate sex but David panics and goes to the bathroom where he crawls out the window. The next day, he lies to Hobbs that he got a new job offer back in Connecticut and then discovers that the money he saved up has been stolen. He finds the C.O.G. brochure and calls Jon, who takes David under his wing, offering an apprenticeship. Jon makes him go to church and allows him to stay with him in the garage of Martha (Casey Wilson) and Paul, who allow Jon to live there. He trains David in the art of jade clock sculpting. After David accidentally breaks a clock, Jon has an aggressive outburst. Martha and Paul tell Jon that he and David need to find someplace else to live and they recommend an abandoned beauty salon where they can sleep and continue their clock work.

Jon continues to try converting David and tells him to ask God for happiness. They continue to go to church together. After leaving church one day, Martha tells David that his mother called and was worried about him. That evening, Jon goes to an A.A. meeting and leaves David to experiment with his tools. Later that night, Curly arrives and confronts him about running away. After David tries to apologize, Curly tries to sexually assault David. Staring at the crucifix and sobbing, David begs Jesus to help him. Curly stops his attempts and leaves, confused and angry. The next day, Jon takes an exhausted David and to church where David kneels in front of everyone and is told to ask God for happiness, as well as for children and a woman to marry. He cries and appears genuinely happy. Touched by this, Jon takes David outside and declares him a C.O.G., or “Child of God.” Later, Jon and David pack up their jade clocks to sell at the fair. David shows Jon some small jade boxes he made to also sell at the fair. Jon dismisses it as a bad idea, ridiculing him and insulting his intelligence. When they go to the fair, they fail to sell the clocks. Jon is enraged after a customer dismisses the clocks and chooses to buy one of David’s boxes instead, and he later insults a woman who does not seem interested in buying a clock.

On the way home, Jon pulls his truck over, angry that they only sold David’s boxes. Jon tells David a story about his time in the war when a member of his squad was attacked and dying. Jon says that when he asked the dying man if he had any last requests, the man asked to be held. Rather than seeing this as a scared man asking for comfort during his final moments, Jon appears to think it was a homosexual come on, stating that instead of comforting the man he kicked him repeatedly. He tells David that there are a lot of sick people in the world to watch out for. Jon then accuses him of being the same way, asking David if he is sick like that man. David replies, “I’m as sick as they come.” Jon then disparages him and implies that David cannot be Christian because Christians “certainly aren’t faggots.” Jon makes David leave the vehicle right there. David asks Jon where he’s supposed to go but Jon tells him that he doesn’t care and that there’s a bus station back the way they came. David walks off as Jon’s truck fades away.