THE BOOK OF CLARENCE*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
Book I: The 13th Apostle
Jerusalem, AD 33 – A young man named Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) and his best friend Elijah (RJ Cyler) are in a chariot race against Mary Magdalene (Teyana Taylor). They end up going through a bad part of town where a group of gypsy kids led by a boy called Cabbage (Chase Dillon) attack the guys’ chariot and cause them to end up falling off and having the chariot crash, letting Mary win.
Clarence and Elijah owe money to a gangster known as Jedediah The Terrible (Eric Kofi-Abrefa), and the chariot race was supposed to help them win enough money to pay him back since Clarence was the one who took the money from Jedediah. He gives the guys less than eight hours to come up with the money, or he will have them killed. Clarence goes home where he takes care of his mother Amina (Marianne Jean-Baptiste).
While in town, Clarence and Elijah witness the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth (Nicholas Pinnock) and his Twelve Apostles, one of whom happens to be Clarence’s twin brother Thomas. The two have an ongoing rift since Clarence is angry at Thomas for abandoning their mother when she became ill, and Thomas views Clarence as someone who will never get ahead in life. Clarence also doesn’t believe in God and thinks whatever Jesus does is the result of trickery.
In a last-ditch effort to save themselves, Clarence and Elijah try to see John The Baptist (David Oyelowo) so he can baptize them and possibly get Jedediah off their backs. John sees through Clarence’s ruse but tells him that there is a good soul inside him despite his disbelief in their faith. John proceeds to aggressively baptize Clarence.
Clarence later visits Varinia (Anna Diop), Jedediah’s younger sister that Clarence is in love with. He hopes that she can talk her brother into letting him go. Varinia speaks to Clarence’s mother, stating that he is greater than he actually sees himself.
Trying to prove that Jesus is not who he says he is, Clarence goes to visit Mother Mary (Alfre Woodard) and Father Joseph. The two of them stand firm in what they have seen from Jesus, as well as telling Clarence he is dumb for not believing in him or Mary’s conception of him.
Clarence attempts one last chance to save himself by visiting the Apostles and requesting that he join them as the 13th Apostle. Everyone laughs at him, but Judas Iscariot (Micheal Ward) suggests that if he free a group of gladiator slaves, he might have a shot. Clarence and Elijah are guided by a friend named Zeke (Caleb McLaughlin) to the arena where the slaves are being kept. Clarence speaks to the slave owner, Asher (Babs Olusanmokun) and tries to get him to give up all the slaves, but he laughs in Clarence’s face. He does offer Clarence a chance to fight the most powerful gladiator, Barrabas The Immortal (Omar Sy). If Clarence defeats Barrabas, then he may take the man with him.
Clarence is put in the arena to fight Barrabas, who is significantly bigger than him. Clarence manages to get a few good licks in, but Barrabas comes close to overpowering him. In the end, Clarence manages to outsmart Barrabas and defeat him by placing his sword to his neck, but doesn’t kill him. Asher then lets Barrabas go with Clarence and Elijah, but when they return to the Apostles, Clarence is still not allowed to join them. He ends up in an argument with Thomas before leaving with Elijah and Barrabas. After seeing how people give money to Jesus for performing miracles, Clarence declares he will become the new messiah.
Book II: The New Messiah
Clarence brings Elijah and Barrabas with him as he starts going around to other towns to perform fake miracles, by pretending to cure Elijah’s blindness, inability to walk, or bringing him back from the dead. The people around them are easily fooled and proceed to shower Clarence with money.
After another heated discussion with Thomas, Clarence decides to use his earnings to free the rest of the gladiator slaves. He returns to Asher with his money and has them declared free, to which they proceed to cheer and rejoice along with Barrabas.
In the streets, people begin to stone Mary Magdalene after she is accused of engaging Roman soldiers sexually. Elijah sees this and goes to shield her with his own body. Jesus comes upon the scene and uses his power to freeze the stones mid-air to protect Mary and Elijah, then goes to heal Mary’s wounds. This causes Elijah to become a believer.
Jesus continues walking down the street and comes across a homeless beggar, Benjamin (Benedict Cumberbatch). He asks for help, and Jesus gives him the ability to produce coins from the palm of his hand. Benjamin goes somewhere to pay for a bath and to be trimmed and dressed up, his skin going from pitch black due to being covered in filth to being cleaned up and looking fresh (and looking like a traditionally Westernized version of Jesus). His coin-producing ability has people view Benjamin as a messiah.
Clarence and his friends attend a party with Varinia. They drink and dance, and Clarence and Varinia share their first kiss. However, Varinia betrays Clarence and sells him out to Jedediah. He is waiting outside for his money, while Roman soldiers Decimus (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Antoninus (Tom Vaughn-Lawlor) arrive to bring in the suspected messiah. Jedediah then turns his ire toward the Romans, accusing them of racism, before they turn their attention to Barrabas. He runs away, but Decimus orders one of the other soldiers to spear him. Barrabas takes three spears to his body, seemingly killing him. The soldier goes to confirm he is dead until Barrabas rises and grabs the soldier, declaring, “Wrong heel, motherfucker!” before spearing him. Barrabas runs away. Jedediah makes peace with Clarence, but he is taken by the Romans, along with Benjamin.
In Rome, Clarence meets Pontius Pilate (James McAvoy), who tries to give him a way to save himself by giving up Jesus. Clarence tries to sell out Judas, but he is already working with the Romans. Pilate gives Clarence another shot at an out by proving he is a messiah by walking on water over a shallow pool. To everyone’s surprise, including Clarence himself, he does indeed walk across the surface of the water, while the other soldiers fall through the water. Unfortunately, this is still enough grounds for Clarence to be executed.
Book III: The Crucifixion
Clarence is imprisoned and tortured leading up to his crucifixion. He is visited in prison by Varinia, who kisses him again, and later by Thomas, reconciling with his brother.
A crowd gathers as Clarence and Benjamin, along with a few other men, are forced to take their crosses up a hill to their crucifixions. Everyone close to Clarence – Thomas, Amina, Varinia, Elijah, Zeke, Barrabas, and Cabbage – all watch as he is nailed to the cross. Benjamin is put up alongside Clarence, cursing the Romans with his dying breaths, as well as someone drawing him in the commonly used image of Jesus. Everyone watches and weeps as Clarence passes away. Meanwhile, Jesus speaks with his disciples, as he knows one of them (Judas) will soon betray him.
Three days later, Jesus goes to the cave where Clarence was laid to rest, shattering the rock blocking the entrance. Jesus uses his abilities to bring Clarence back to life and heals his wounds, now that he has seen the truth and become a believer. Clarence rises and smiles at the viewers.
Clarence is a young black man living in biblical times, hoping to break away from the impoverished life that he has grown up in. He and his best friend Elijah find themselves indebted to a gangster, Jedediah The Terrible. Clarence attempts to join the Twelve Apostles to become their 13th member, but he is laughed off. After freeing a slave named Barrabas after dueling him, Clarence decides to become the new messiah, believing he can win people over the same as Jesus of Nazareth because he thinks that the messiah is getting away with pure trickery.
Clarence succeeds in earning money for his own tricks, but after speaking to his estranged twin brother Thomas, who is an Apostle, he gives his earnings to free Barrabas's fellow slaves. The acts of the alleged messiahs draw the attention of the Romans and their governor, Pontius Pilate. After being betrayed by Jedediah's sister Varinia, whom Clarence was in love with, the Romans capture Clarence and bring him in, along with a homeless man named Benjamin (who appears as the common portrayals of Jesus) who was granted the ability by Jesus to produce coins from the palm of his hand.
Clarence refuses to give up Jesus's name, so he and Benjamin, along with a few other men, are set to be crucified. Days after Clarence dies, Jesus goes to his tomb and revives him now that he has become a believer.