American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is over, and that’s fine. This season was so ambitious, but it had to work with the rough outlines of a true story, and I wonder if that held it back, or at least held back its final episode. The tragic end of Andrew Cunanan’s (Darren Criss) real life may have been violent and graphic, but it wasn’t that dynamic. I know I sound sick, but the manhunt didn’t have any high-speed chases or even that many close calls. For the most part, Cunanan just hung out in an apartment watching his own face on TV and panicking.
While the finale never got all the way to a boil, I did thoroughly relish the supporting characters getting their individual curtain calls. I’m glad Marilyn Miglin (Judith Light) is back because she is a scene-stealing queen. No one dramatically loses their train of thought quite like her. She stirred up more emotion in a single monologue than some of the entire episodes this season. I also thought it was kind of beautiful that the show’s two mothers, Mary Ann Cunanan (Joanna Adler) and Miglin had similar reactions when the FBI came knocking at their door: They immediately asked if their kids are okay.
Lizzie also invoked her kids (and Cunanan’s godchildren) when she spoke to camera asking Cunanan to show the world he still had good in him. She was so sympathetic and angelic, and probably is the person who saw Cunanan at his best moments most often. On the flip side, Ronnie (Max Greenfield) was quick to tell Detective Lori Wieder (Dascha Polanco) that Cunanan was not his friend, but then he kind of sort of had Cunanan’s back later in the interrogation room. I think their non-friendship friendship was one of the more fascinating dynamics of this season. Their accidental comradery may have relied on them not asking too much of each other and a shared interest in drugs, but I think Ronnie respected Cunanan’s chutzpah, or at the very least felt his same anger and struggle to be acknowledged. He has one of the most succinct and sassy lines of the episode when he says, “You couldn’t find a gay, so now you’re gonna blame a gay?”
Which reminds me, could Dascha Polanco’s role have been any smaller? It might have been my mistake to assume her and Ricky Martin’s role as Antonio D'Amico would be bigger based on their celebrity, but I wish we had seen more of both of them. The little we did see of D’Amico felt meaningful, but I don’t think you can say the same for Wieder. It was such a special indignity he was made to suffer. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be the invisible partner, and especially to have a priest swerve on you like that. My only grievance with the funeral scenes is the use of real footage of Princess Diana and Elton John. It gave me the heebie jeebies and felt oddly disrespectful to me, even though I’m sure that wasn’t the intention.
Maybe I was ready for the season to be over, but I found watching Cunanan going crazy in that apartment to be a tiny bit boring. Was throwing up on his own face a bit much to anyone else? I almost feel like they went for that simply because him hiding out without a plan is such bland TV without it. They even resorted to having Cunanan shoot a TV. Sorry to be the nerd with a hard time suspending my disbelief, but gunshots are also loud, and firing guns willy nilly while you’re in hiding is a bad call! Oh and shaving his head and baring his soul was a little extra but I will cop to liking seeing Darren Criss with a new lewk.
The modest surprises for me were that Cunanan called his dad, and Modesto actually managed to come across as a little bit sweet. There’s a darkness there of course, because it almost sounded like his dad proud of him for the awful things he’d done. I thought Cunanan’s dad’s final moments of opportunism might be enough to make him lash out at the police in anger and potentially die by suicide in the process, but he seemed to finally be resigned to his fate.
Maybe I felt deflated after watching this episode simply because this is essentially a show about a man who killed five people and all the watching in the world doesn’t change that, but I actually think it’s something else. I think the show wanted me to feel nourished by the final scene between Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) and Cunanan, and I just didn’t. We see a rejection that is small to Versace and everything to Cunanan, but I don’t know that he visibly looks like he snapped, or that the things they said to each other were any different than I had already filled in with guessing throughout the season. In other words, it didn’t feel like a big reveal, but it had the grand placement in the episode’s pacing as well as with its showy setting that made me feel like it was supposed to mean more, and it just didn’t.
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