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« Claire Foy Goes Positively "Unsane"| Main| A First Trailer for "Disobedience"»
Thursday
Feb 01 2018

ACS: Gianni Versace - "A Random Killing"

by Jorge Molina

The third episode ofAmerican Crime Storyopens with Judith Light selling perfume in a home shopping commercial.

And what initially seems like a campy an even playful image,slowly devolves into one of the most chilling and disturbing episodes of television (and the best one in this season so far),anchored by outstanding guest performances,strong thematic elements,and as yet another reminder that Darren Criss is miles away from the gelled Warbler ofGlee...

Episode 3: "A Random Killing"

Judith Light plays Marilyn Miglin,a Chicago perfume entrepreneur.She's coming back home from a business trip,and she immediately senses something is wrong in her house.A series of shots show the empty,immaculate white rooms,and a sense of dread and disconcert that will not leave for the rest of the episode crawls under our skins,until her greatest fear is revealed: her husband has been murdered.

Continuing the backtracking format of the season,this episode takes us to the events that happened right before the previous one.That is,the week right before Andrew Cunanan first arrived to Miami.It revolves around the killing of his third victim thus far,Lee Miglin,and as such the episode feels stand-alone in nature.It doesn't really do much to the overall narrative of the story (other than showing us another step in Cunanan's killing spree),and it has almost zero to do with the Versaces.In fact,they're completely absent from this episode,their presence only conjured by a storefront in New York.

"A Random Killing"puts the victim front and center,and forces us to remember that while we sometimes may consider victims of a serial killer part of a statistic,each of them were complex,human,and (in Lee Miglin's case) deeply pained living beings.

We learned in previous episodes that Cunanan's victims tended to be older and closeted,and we see the embodiment of this in Lee Miglin,an architecture magnate who lives a comfortable life with his wife Marilyn.But they are both unhappy and unsatisfied,and Lee cannot help to fill his void as soon as Marilyn leaves town,and hires Cunanan as an escort in an evening that goes terribly awry.

One of the themes that the show has been teasing is the pain and isolation that comes with being in the closet.This episode dives in with a rawness that is at many times incredibly hard to watch.Not only is this man projecting his deepest desires and insecurities onto a young boy who we knows is a monster,but Andrew is fully taking advantage of his fears and exploiting them for his sick mind games.

In a conversation he has with Lee about his plans for building the tallest tower in the world,Cunanan's pathological desire for recognition and acknowledgement by the outside world is evidenced once again.And just minutes later,as he is torturing Lee with duct tape,makes sure to let him know that disgrace is a fate worse than death.

Darren Criss continues to expertly balance the charming and psychopathic sides of Cunanan,though this episode showcased the latter,as he was mostly shown in isolation or in hunting mode.There was a point where his eyes involuntarily expanded with pain,desperation and child-like eagerness that was truly disturbing.

Judith Light is,however,the highlight of the episode.While this role is thematically similar to the one she plays inTransparent,her Marilyn is a woman that will not allow herself to be broken and vulnerable (until the weight of the situation falls on and crumbles her).She has built an empire based on appearances and she will keep it that way until the very end.Disgrace is fate worse than death.

Additionally,in this episode we narratively understand why the police and the national manhunt went through so many obstacles to find Cunanan.The victims and their circumstances of death (which Cunanan made sure exposed their sexual identity) tended to complicate the process.

"A Random Killing"was not an enjoyable hour of television.There were moments that exposed both the inhumanity of the killings and the humanity of the people affected that were truly bone-chilling,just devastating to watch.But the acting continues to be masterful.The narrative is still scattered and struggling to find a balance of plot and theme,but it finds moments when it soars.

The sick irony of all this is that,as much as the show is portraying Cunanan as a messed up character and the path of devastation he left behind him,a TV show about him is probably giving him what he most desired in the world.

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Reader Comments (5)

It was a disturbing and depressing,but well done,episode.I work with a lot of Filipinos,and they really emphasize the bonds of Family in their lives.What damage did Cunanan's parents and family and environment do to him that created such a monster?

And for God's sakes,fellow humans,don't get yourself duct taped on your first hook up date.Hold in the kink until you know someone.My claustrophobia has been screaming during those scenes.

February 2,2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

nic

February 2,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRakesh Kumar

let's give me mike farrell some love - he was so good as lee [but oh so old...then i realized MASH went off the air thirty.five.years.ago.- jeez]

February 2,2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Forever1267 - I would NEVER let myself duct taped no matter how much I knew the other party.You just never know.Most bone-chilling,horrific episode I've seen.I barely slept thinking about it.

February 2,2018 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

Judith Light=queen

February 2,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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