The bucket list
Photo: Courtesy of NETFLIX
After such a promising start, it’s the first season of Ratched limps to an end, almost feeling like it’s putting its endgame together over time. It’s time to admit it was a season of failed potential. Showdowns that took place between characters like Lenore Osgood and Dr. Hanover were promised simply had no chance of paying off in any way. Instead, two of the most interesting people of this season are posted by relatively strangers in the penultimate episode. Is Ratched say something about the violent unpredictability of life? That could do him too much credit.
Petunia the monkey steals an episode that was recorded by Dr. Banaga’s divorce negotiations begin. The man who would become Hanover worked for family treatment during Japanese internment (which feels like another cheap take on part of this country’s dark history, completely unnecessary and undeserved by this show) but his heartache over the loss of his daughter feels real to Jon Briones’ heavy lifting as an actor thanks to Jon. Hanover is difficult to decipher in terms of audience loyalty. He’s dangerously inconsiderate and cocky, but it also feels like he’s really tried to do good in his life but was just very bad at it.
Sweet Huck asks Mildred and she comes up to him and tells him that he will “find love”. Huck walks away saying that he just has to find his purpose, which means that he will almost certainly die in this episode or the next.
Using a recorder found under Ratched’s bed by the curious Louise, Betsy Bucket learns the truth about her rival nurse in Lucia. Mildred tells her Edmund is her brother, which strangely seems to make the fact that Betsy now heard a lobotomy on the recording. Ryan Murphy shows rarely make logical sense, but wouldn’t Betsy follow the sound of an ice pick going into Father Andrew’s eye socket? No time for that, because Betsy comforts an emotional ratched who reveals her backstory: she was never a nurse. She just wanted to help the people in WWII and somehow ended up in a medic uniform in a battle arena. She claims she killed people who just wanted to die, but Betsy calls out that nonsense. Nurses save up People who want to die. But Mildred was nice to Betsy during the dance, so it’s cool. Mildred confessed to multiple murders during the war and Betsy heard her perform a lobotomy, but Mildred gave her a handkerchief when Betsy was sad so everything is fine now. Again, logic doesn’t have to be a strength, but there should be something from that.
Mildred and Betsy decide to team up to create Dr. Overthrow Hanover. Betsy goes to the doctor and tells him he’s been discharged. They know all about his background and the police have been made aware of his identity. They push him out even though Betsy always loved him and he felt he was helping so many people. Charlotte Wells, the shiny, distracting toy of the second half of the season, accompanies Dr. Hanover, the only person who actually helped her.
Hanover and Charlotte are out and about eating in a diner before they find their way to a fateful motel room. When the cops knock on the door, Hannover pushes Charlotte into the closet and triggers an episode. Charlotte goes in, but the angry Ondine comes out and hits Hanover. She then changes again, calls Hanover Adolf Hitler and stabs him again and again. After murdering Hanover, she calls Ratched for help and the nurse amazingly puts her on a bus outside of town. Ratched then brings Hanover’s head to Osgood and pays the bounty for the man who destroyed Henry Osgood. Moments later, a man named Diego Lenore Osgood stabbed Osgood in the back with a pitchfork, apparently at Henry’s behest. What a sad ending for the only character on this show who seemed to know about this whole matter had to be campier.
Hannover and Osgood are dead, whatever should move forward Ratched in action for the end of this episode and the next, but the writers are pulling back the pace for more backstory. The caseworker, who played Rosanna Arquette in flashbacks in the last episode, finally gets a few lines when she tells Mildred why Edmund killed these priests and that the murder of her parents was classified as a justified murder. The gist of the scene is that Mildred finally realizes that she may not be able to save Edmund. He cannot be saved.
Knowing that at this point in a season, relationship drama is required, the writers saddle up Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon with a terribly written fight scene just to have a fight scene. After a flat scene in which Briggs’ husband admits he has been happy as a gay man since she left him (Echoes of topics explored on Murphy’s last Netflix show, Hollywood) Yells at Briggs Ratched for holding back the truth about Edmund. Ratched says, “I love you” and Briggs doesn’t know what to say to that (and it almost sounds like Nixon is breaking the character because the scene doesn’t make sense in many ways). The melodrama is turned up with the completely inexperienced twist that Briggs has a walnut-sized tumor in his chest. That relationship, which was the center of the show, so to speak, was never believable, and now there’s a subplot about cancer. They say they love each other. Nixon and Paulson are such good actors and it would be great if they did a drama about two women who find unexpected love, but it feels compelled here.
In the final scenes, Henry Osgood learns that Petunia the monkey has received his inheritance and will go to Lucia for the rest of his life. The funny thing is that there are no more doctors in Lucia, just dozens of nurses, and they are now run by Huck – poor, cute, doomed Huck.
• Line of the episode: “You love your monkey more than you love me.” Can you blame her?
• Jennifer Lynch directed this episode, and it’s hard not to associate the limp Henry Osgood with the title character on her breakthrough debut Boxing Helena, the twisted story of a man who amputated a woman’s arms and legs and kept them in a box under her bed. It’s worth a look, and I like the idea that the writers probably shared the connection between Henry and this controversial film and then thought no one was better than Lynch.
• Sharon Stone was great at every scene, but was someone else hoping she would really light up an episode before pulling a pitchfork backwards? I honestly hope Murphy brings her to this AHS World and gives her something really juicy to sink her teeth into. Something better than Ratched.