The promise returns with a second season of six episodes, promising a rare glimpse into the inner circle of NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, including co-founder Nancy Salzman.
“My entire company was destroyed and my whole life was shattered,” said Saltzman, NXIVM’s president and co-founder of Raniere, in the trailer (below), which also includes Raniere speaking from prison. “When I went into this, I thought Keith was innocent. I was wrong,” Saltzman told the filmmakers.
The Vow, Part Two begins at the beginning of Raniere’s trial, with the finale establishing the verdict. The sequel, directed by Jehane Noujaim, debuts October 17 with weekly episodes on HBO and HBO Max.
A lot has happened in the two years since The promise NXIVM exposed to a mainstream audience for the first time.
NXIVM, the company masquerading as a self-help group that actually ran a secret sex cult, and its leader Raniere were the subject of HBO’s nine-part documentary that aired in the fall of 2020. acclaim, provided extensive access to insiders and former members of the NXIVM cult and became a hit for the cabler.
The series ran alongside the federal trial of Raniere and, in October 2020, the week after The promise’s finale aired, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison after being convicted of seven offenses related to what prosecutors described as a sex cult within NXIVM.
The promise helped expose the sex cult subgroup, a division called DOS (“Dominus Obsequious Sororium”), in which female NXIVM members were physically branded with Raniere’s initials, brainwashed, and forced into sexual slavery, among other abusive circumstances.
Raniere’s co-defendants included former actress Allison Mack, a DOS “master” who was sentenced to three years in prison for racketeering and conspiracy in connection with her involvement with NXIVM; and Salzman’s daughter, Lauren Salzman, who was sentenced to five years’ probation and 300 hours of community service for her role in the group.
Nancy Salzman was sentenced to 42 months in prison and had to pay a $150,000 fine. Her crimes include stealing the identities of the group’s critics and hacking into their email accounts, as well as conspiring to make doctor videos in which she taught NXIVM classes.
The second season of The promise offers exclusive access to both Raniere and Nancy Saltzman, with exclusive phone interviews with Raniere from prison and “extended access” to Salzman as she explores her role in the rise of NXIVM, her relationship with Raniere, and “ultimately struggles with her involvement in the growing from an organization accused of encouraging predatory behavior and criminal activity,” the description reads.
The first season ended with a nod to season two when it teased interviews with Salzman and Raniere, the latter from his prison cell. He can now be seen in the Part two trailer from behind bars, as his voiceover wonders how the branding should take place: “Do you think the person being branded should be completely naked and kept at the table for a bit, almost like a sacrifice?”
But the trailer focuses more on Saltzman, the main Reniere player who finally gets to sit down with the filmmakers in Part two. “I wonder if she’s really waking up, or just trying to save herself,” asks NXIVM whistleblower and filmmaker Mark Vicente, who was mostly featured in the first documentary.
Set against the backdrop of the federal trial of The United States v. Keith Raniere, the second season will follow the legal and emotional journeys of the group’s founders, supporters and defectors as new evidence and stunning revelations come to light as federal prosecutors and defense attorneys are pursuing a lawsuit in the national spotlight.
The log line reads: “The Vow, Part Two reveals the many ways in which Raniere and a trusted inner circle of acolytes conspired to introduce women into a female cult called DOS, a name derived from a Latin acronym meaning “Master of Obedient Women.” Including illuminating footage from NXIVM and chilling testimonials from the trial, The Vow, Part Two goes beyond the headlines to delve deeply into the nature of psychological manipulation. The series also hears from ardent defenders of the work Raniere and Salzman led with their Executive Success programs.”
Other participants include former members who appeared in the first documentary Vicente, Bonnie Piesse, Sarah Edmondson, Vero Jaspeado, Karen Unterreiner; Raniere supporters Marc Elliot, Nicki Clyne (Mack’s ex-wife), Michele Hatchette, Eduardo Asunsolo; New York Post trial reporter Emily Saul; lawyer Marc Agnifilo; Chief Prosecutor Moira Penza; and psychological manipulation expert Diane Benscoter.
The Vow, Part Two is an HBO Documentary Films production directed by Noujaim; produced by Mona Eldaief, Dan Hacker, Richard Hankin, John Miller-Monzon and Claire Reade; co-produced by Marina Nieto Ritger and Hana Wuerker; executive produced by Karim Amer, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Nina Fialkow, Lyn Davis Lear, Mike Lerner and Jehane Noujaim. Rosadel Varela is series producer and Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller and Sara Rodriguez produce for HBO.