In Africa a year ago, government soldiers bring out a group of locals and execute them.
Jesuit priest Father Ignatius Loyala goes to the local manor of Marcus Spencer. Marcus and his wife Penelope come in. Penelope talks about their upcoming trip to London, and Loyala says that he’s there to talk about the overtime. Penelope doesn’t know what he means, and Loyala explains that the tobacco harvest has been gathered on time. He reminds Marcus of his promise, and Marcus says that he’ll keep his promise. Penelope assumes that the workers will spend their extra money on alcohol, and Loyala asks when the workers can expect their pay. Marcus says that he’ll deal with it when he returns from England, and Loyala wishes them a good trip before leaving.
Once the priest leaves, Penelope complains that Loyala was threatening Marcus, and worries that the locals have changed since Loyala came there. She worries that Marcus is going to pay the overtime, and he calls the operator to have him place another call to McGill in London.
Later, Marcus arrives in London and meets McGill at a gentleman’s club. Marcus wants McGill to investigate Loyala. He explains that he just sold his latest harvest for a record price, and he wants to share the profits with the workers. However, he doesn’t want to pay them directly. Marcus claims that Loyala would suit him to supervise the funds. The priest has a reputation as a saint, but Marcus says that he wants to be sure that Loyala can be trusted. McGill admits that he doesn’t like the idea of investigating a priest, but Marcus says that he’s doing it to reassure Penelope. After a moment, the ex-agent tells Marcus that it’ll cost him.
McGill goes to the Jesuit mission and speaks with the Father General. The Father has never heard of Loyala and suggests that McGill check with the Vatican.
That night, McGill is dancing at a club and approaches a woman, Alex, who is a reporter for the Globe Vatican correspondent. He finally asks about Loyala, and she confirms that there’s no Father Loyala assigned to Africa. McGill then meets with Marcus and Penelope and reports that there are no church records of Loyala. Marcus asks for a complete dossier and assures McGill that price is no object. He tells Penelope to head to Paris while he goes back to Africa. When Marcus says that he isn’t going to confront Loyala yet, McGill wonders why and Marcus says that he has no proof yet and the Africans love Loyala.
When Marcus returns to his plantation, he invites Loyala to dinner. Loyala brings up the overtime again, and Marcus says that it takes more time. He apologizes for not paying the workers sooner, and Loyala insists that it happen by the end of the week. Marcus jokingly says that it sounds like an ultimatum and says that he’ll settle matters by then. Loyala excuses himself and Marcus asks to borrow his Bible. The priest readily agrees and goes, and Marcus carefully places the Bible in a box and sends it to McGill. McGill lifts Loyala’s fingerprints from it and has his police contact, Detective Inspector Samuels, check them. They meet and Samuels says that there’s a $10,000 reward for Loyala. Loyala’s real name is Alfred Porter, and he’s wanted for numerous crimes, including bank robbery. However, Samuels informs McGill that Porter died a year ago in Africa.
Next, McGill goes to meet Alfred’s father, Alfred Senior, who works as a spirit medium. McGill claims that he’s a friend of Alfred’s and they had a business deal. Porter says that he talks to his son in the spirit world, and explains that Alfred died as a soldier. As McGill goes, Porter insists that he knows things andsays that he sees death walking at McGill’s side. Once McGill leaves, Porter takes out a hidden gun. He then follows McGill to the airport and watches as he boards a plane to Africa.
At the plantation, Marcus discovers that the servants have gone missing. He gets a riding crop and goes to the nearby village to find the servants, Memba and Tchumbu. There’s no sign of them or the field hands, and Marcus goes to Loyala’s home and demands to know where they’ve gone. Loyala explains that they’re on strike until they receive their overpayment, and Marcus threatens to tell them that Loyala is an imposter and a crook. Loyala calls his bluff, figuring that the natives won’t care, and Marcus admits that he hoped Loyala would keep the natives quiet for a few years. He promises to protect his plantation and call in government troops if necessary, and Loyala starts to threaten him with a knife. He controls himself with an effort and Marcus explains that the last time the troops came in, they killed dozens of villagers. When Loyala tells him to pay the overtime, Marcus tells him to call off the strike.
McGill goes to the capital and Alfred follows him. The ex-agent meets with the local commander, Major Anderson, who informs him that Alfred was killed a year ago while working with his mercenary army. Anderson recruited criminals when he had to, and offers to let McGill talk to the batman who was out with Alfred. The batman, Corporal Matthew Silinga, comes in and Anderson has him tell McGill what happened on the patrol. Silinga says that Communists instigated a rebellion against the plantation owners, and they killed the leaders. On the way back to HQ, they ran into an ambush and the soldiers lost 12 men. Silinga insists that Alfred was killed in the attack, and Anderson agrees to give McGill a Photostat of the report.
Next, McGill goes to the local bar where the soldiers are fraternizing with the locals. Silinga is there and the corporal warns McGill that it’s not safe there for a white man. He reluctantly sits down with McGill when the newcomer says that he is there to get the truth. McGill tells him that Alfred is still alive and posing as a Jesuit priest. When McGill says that Alfred is a criminal using the locals, Silinga says that Alfred ruthlessly gunned down rebels, and insists that he saw Alfred’s corpse after the rebels decapitated him. McGill insists that Alfred is still alive but realizes that he’s getting nowhere and leaves.
Outside, McGill gets into his jeep and Porter puts a gun to his head and orders him to drive. The older man has him drive out of the village and then tells McGill that the old Alfred is dead. He begs McGill to let the dead lie in peace. When McGill doesn’t answer, Porter orders him out of the jeep. McGill runs off into the jungle and Porter chases after him. The ex-agent hides, ambushes him, and grabs the gun. Porter says that he failed Alfred… by trying to kill McGill.
Later, Penelope and McGill arrive at the village by helicopter. Marcus greets them and explains about the strike, and Penelope insists that they can’t strike. Meanwhile, Loyala hears the helicopter and has a local boy, Masekela, confirm that McGill isn’t in uniform. Once the boy leaves, Loyala prays to God.
McGill reports what he’s discovered to Marcus and Penelope, and Marcus worries that Loyala won’t leave when they confront him with the truth. Penelope figures that the locals will tear Loyala apart for what he did against them when he was a mercenary, but Marcus worries that if they kill one white man, they could kill others. He wants McGill to fly Loyala to England and collect the reward, but McGill isn’t so sure. McGill wonders why Loyala came to the plantation, and why he hasn’t run when Marcus knows who he was. Marcus impatiently tells McGill to get Loyala out of the village, or the next morning he’ll break the strike... one way or another.
That night, Penelope approaches McGill and appeals to him to get rid of Loyala quietly. McGill still wants to know who Loyala is now, and says that he’ll do what he can.
Loyala is in his home praying. He remembers killing the rebels a year ago, and drops his crucifix as he hears McGill come in behind him. Loyala figures that McGill has come for him, and Masekela arrives to tell Loyala that a dying woman has requested him. McGill calls Loyala “Porter” and says that he knows about Loyala’s past. The ex-agent confirms that he isn’t police, and Loyala promises that he will come back once he tends to the dying woman. He asks McGill to wait up at the Spencer plantation if he wants, and McGill steps aside to let Loyala go.
The next morning, Loyola goes to the plantation and apologizes for arriving late. McGill is there and admits that he followed Loyola to the woman’s hut. He wonders why Loyola came back, and says that he isn’t after the reward money. Loyola says that he’s after salvation, but can’t put into words how he’s changed. When McGill warns that Marcus will tell the locals that Loyola is the man who slaughtered them a year ago, Loyola admits that he shot the rebels one at a time and enjoyed it. One corpse stared at him and asked Loyola why he did it, and Loyola figured that it was God. God told him that he had to try and help the people that he had nearly destroyed. One of the soldiers was killed in the ambush and decapitated, and Loyola switched identification papers with him. He came back because God wanted him to, and posed as a priest because he felt like he had become one. As drums beat in the distance, Loyola says that he has to carry on with God’s work.
As the locals gather in the village, Loyola explains that the drums signal a tribal council. Marcus and Penelope come in, and Marcus explains that the elders are gathering to pass judgment on Loyola... based on the documents that McGill provided. When the drums stop, they’ll have reached their judgment. Loyola says that he knows what they’ll do to him, and Marcus suggests that he run while he can. The man refuses just as the drums stop, and McGill says that Loyola’s blood will be on the Spencers’ heads as well. He angrily says that Marcus lied to him in London, and they were willing to let the locals butcher Loyola. Marcus tells McGill that he can leave, and tells Loyola to do the same.
Tchumbu and Memba arrive and explain that they were sent to ask Loyola if what they’ve heard of his past is true. Loyola says that he killed the villagers during the uprising, and agrees to go with the men to the elders. The servants go outside to wait, and Loyola puts his crucifix, rosary, and Bible on the table. McGill tells him not to go. When Loyola insists, McGill says that he’ll fight to make him stay. The former mercenary warns that he’s just as good at violence as McGill is, and says that his business is with the people he wronged. Marcus tells McGill to let him go, and McGill punches him. When he tries to stop Loyola, Loyola knocks him out and goes with the servants.
Later, McGill wakes up and sees the vultures over the village. He runs there and finds Loyola alive but unconscious on the road. When Loyola wakes up, he says that the villagers forgave him. However, they banished him from the village because they don’t want him there anymore. Loyola figures that he might as well go back to London with McGill.
At the plantation, Marcus prepares his rifle. Penelope wonders what happened to Loyola, and why McGill took his side. She doesn’t understand why McGill came to detest them, and Marcus tells his wife not to think about it. Memba comes in and says that he’s there to collect the overtime.
Masekela runs up to the helicopter as McGill and Loyola prepares to leave. Loyola tells the boy that he can’t come with them and promises to see him again.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 26, 2015