The second season of American Crime Story ends where it began, with the titular assassination of Gianni Versace. After going back in time throughout Andrew’s life, the finale returns to Florida with Andrew on the run from the FBI, stuck watching his own life’s story play out on the news.
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In many ways, this season can be split into three parts. There are the first two episodes and this finale, all about Versace in Florida and the manhunt for Andrew Cuanan. Then we had the third, fourth and fifth episodes, all about the start of the killing spree with Jeff Trail, David Madson and Lee Miglin. Then we had the past three episodes, all about Andrew’s psychology from his childhood to his rise and fall.
Andrew on the Run
After a seven-episode detour in time, from Chicago and Minneapolis to California and the Philippines, the finale takes us back to July 15, 1997 in Miami Beach, the day of the assassination of Gianni Versace. We see the murder again, then at night Andrew breaks into a houseboat and watches the news reports where he has been identified as the prime suspect. Andrew seems pleased with himself and laughs at the speculation that the murder was a hit ordered by the Italian mob.
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The next morning he steals a car and tries to flee, but there are police checkpoints everywhere so he’s stuck on the houseboat, reduced to digging through the trash for scraps and even attempting to eat dog food.
Meanwhile, the FBI questions Ronnie (Max Greenfield), who gets snarky with the police about how they didn’t care about Andrew’s killing spree until he murdered a celebrity. He claims that society was disgusted by Andrew because he’s gay long before he started killing anyone and now Andrew isn’t hiding, he’s trying to be seen.
Andrew Cunanan, This Is Your Life
Most of the episode focuses on Andrew watching the news, offering a glimpse at his own life and what his story will be. He seems happy to have his name linked with Versace’s, but less pleased by the rest. His mom is being questioned by police and harassed by reporters. His best friend Lizzie begs Andrew to turn himself in because she knows how much he cares about what other people think of him.
A report about David Madson’s father defending his son as a victim seems to enrage Andrew, a reminder of the life he dreamed about having that ended in tragedy.
Andrew also sees Marilyn Miglin, marking the return of the best part of this series, Judith Light. She is in Tampa for an appearance on the home shopping channel, talking about her father dying when she was young and how that impacted her, forcing her to get a job and work hard. She talks about wanting to go back in time and tell her younger self how special she was. This seems to resonate with Andrew and he resents the fact that Marilyn is now successful but he isn’t.
Andrew has an emotional breakdown and calls his dad in the Philippines. Pete is profiting from the interviews he’s doing because his son is in the news. Andrew cries and begs his dad for help. Pete asks where he is and promises that he’ll fly right over to help him.
The next night Andrew sees his dad on the news, saying that his son is not gay. He adds that they talk regularly and Andrew is too smart to get caught by the cops, saying that he’s talking to Hollywood about selling the movie rights to Andrew’s life story. Andrew is furious that is dad is selling him out like this and he shoots the TV.
The show jumps to Italy a week after the murder. Antonio and Donatella are preparing for Gianni’s funeral. He wants to spend his days at one of Gianni’s Italian homes to stay close to him, but Donetlla informs him that the homes are all owned by the company, effectively leaving him with nothing. He also gets snubbed by the priest at the service.
The only purpose is to highlight the difference between the two major figures in the series. While Gianni’s funeral is ornate in an Italian cathedral, with Princess Diana and Elton John in attendance, Andrew is stuck watching it on a houseboat while eating dog food and seeing cockroaches crawl along the floor.
I also wonder if this is a little Easter Egg for the second season of Ryan Murphy’s Feud, which will center on Diana and Charles, because Gianni’s funeral takes place a little over one month before her death. It would be kind of cool if FX connected the two shows and included Diana attending Gianni’s funeral in Feud season 2.
The End of Andrew Cunanan
Eventually, the owner of the houseboat shows up and sees that it’s been broken into. He enters with a gun, but Andrew fires a warning shot. The man runs away and calls the police, who swam the scene. Andrew sees the whole thing play out on the news, knowing that he’s surrounded. The police try to contact him, but he refuses. The police storm the houseboat. Andrew sits on a bed, puts his gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger.
In a beautiful piece of symmetry, the show immediately cuts back to Andrew’s meeting with Gianni at the opera. You may remember this scene from the premiere, when the show abruptly cut away from it to the moment when Andrew shot Versace. This time it picks up right where the scene left off last time.
Andrew talks about fearing that no one will think he’s special. Gianni tells him that it’s not about persuading people, he should just go out and do it. Andrew desperately wants to work with him because Versace is the only man who believes that Andrew is special. Andrew tries to kiss him, but gets rejected. Gianni just wants him to be inspired.
Following Andrew’s suicide, Marilyn is informed and she’s glad it’s done. She also reveals that she’s received letters about the charitable things her husband did that he never told her about.
In Italy, Donatella tells Antonio that the morning Gianni died he called her to talk about a runway show she was doing. She was annoyed that he was micromanaging her so when he called back 30 minutes later, she ignored the call. The show ends with Donatella visiting her brother’s tomb, cut with Andrew’s meager tomb as well as Antonio making a failed suicide attempt.
It’s all a little rushed, perhaps because Penelope Crruz and Ricky Martin were underused and their characters were underdeveloped throughout the series. The finale tries to make it seem like Versace was an important part of this story, even though he was largely absent from most of it.
In th end, the show offers a brief disclaimer, saying that while the series was inspired by a true story, “Some events are combined or imagined for dramatic and interpretive purposes.” In other words, some of it was kind of true, but they made up some stuff. That feels like the kind of warning that should have appeared at the beginning of the series, not after it’s all over.
What did you think of the second season of American Crime Story? For more TV news, like BuddyTV’s Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of FX)