CBS’ American Gothic
Episode 4: “Christina’s World”
Directed by P.J. Pesce
Written by Lawrence Broch

* For a review of Episode 3, “Nighthawks” – click here
* For a review of Episode 5, “The Artist in His Museum” – click here
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This episode is titled after the painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth from 1948, one of the most recognised images in American art from the 20th century. How will it play in? We’ll see.
Alison (Juliet Rylance) is busy with her campaign manager, Naomi Flynn (Maureen Sebastian). In bed. Meanwhile, Mama Madeline (Virginia Madsen) calls to let her know about Gunther’s suicide. This propels all the Hawthornes back to home base.
Then there’s Brady Ross (Elliot Knight), caught between his wife’s family and his duty. He’s doing his best and claiming the Silver Bells Killer is indeed Gunther. Oh, the little he knows. His wife Tess (Megan Ketch) is busy trying to convince her mother to tell the cops about the bells, seeing as how Gunther is the supposed culprit now. But mother and Alison don’t think that’s any good. I can’t help feeling Madeline is most certainly hiding much deeper, darker secrets. And now she’s got her youngest daughter Tess mixed up in the whole lot.
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Cam (Justin Chatwin) is with his estranged wife Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas), and glad to not be a “suspected serial killer” like anybody would. These two are bad news together. No wonder little Jack (Gabriel Bateman) is a bit of a psychopath. His parents are degenerates, through and through.
Every married couple in this family has their trouble. Not least of which is the Ross arm of the clan. Brady tries apologising, admitting that everything is over at this point. Except Tess is getting sucker further into her family’s madness. That can’t be good at all for them going forward. The doubt about Brady, where his loyalties lie, is planted in her head. Mother exerts a strong influence.
More of Madeline’s deception comes out. A woman injured in the tunnel collapse is making things difficult for them. Of course mom makes it seem like the concern is for Alison and her campaign, but it’s more for the skeletons poking out of her closet. Doesn’t help now that Alison’s husband Tom Price (Dylan Bruce), hanging on by a thread in their relationship, owns Hawthorne Concrete. So he’s also got be involved. The whole thing isn’t going to go over easy. The woman agrees to drop her lawsuit for $15-million. Yiiiikes.


There’s a bit more trouble brewing on Cam’s front. His equally junkie wife has racked up a $4K drug debt with her tough-looking dealer, who happens to come poking around while she isn’t home. Cam gets a good punch in the face and a warning to pass on. And down at the station Cam’s family is getting bitched about by their neighbour, the owner of Caramel the cat. Will the macabre interests of young Jack bring more scrutiny on the Hawthornes? I’m just waiting for that to happen. In the meantime, Dt. Linda Cutter (Deirdre Lovejoy) thinks it’s possible Gunther just may be innocent.
Then who IS the Silver Bells Killer? We knew it couldn’t be as easy as the gardener, nor Colonel Mustard in the library.
Tom and Alison are busy trying to work their magic. They find some interesting little bits of information against Mayor Bill Conley (Enrico Colantoni). The sort of info they can use to get rid of their lawsuit problem.
Over at the Hawthorne mansion, Tess and her mother talk about life. Tess isn’t so sure about having a child anymore, not with Brady. At least things have changed for the moment. Getting pulled into the family is not a good thing, especially seeing as how there’s some ugly secret lurking in the background of the Hawthorne family. For her part, Madeline doesn’t totally go against Brady, but there isn’t anything righteous about her. Not truthfully so, anyway. She is a snake and I can only imagine what it is she’s sheltering from the world.


Finally, we find Garrett (Antony Starr) again, sitting in a bar. He’s watching the nurse again – Christina Morales (Catalina Sandino Moreno). Instead of being inconspicuous, she easily finds him out. They talk a bit, flirt around one another slightly. He’s still a complete enigma to most. What is most interesting comes when Garrett finds out she believes her father’s killer – Silver Bells – has been found, he’s dead. But the look in Garrett’s eyes, man… it speaks louder than any words in his vocabulary could manage. There is something else he knows. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop him from getting close to her. I just feel there’s going to be no good come of it, as Garrett is also hiding something.
Dts. Cutter and Ross figure out that Gunther could not have been the Silver Bells Killer. Not only was he laid up in a body cast during one of the murders, he was also ill, only a few weeks left to live. Cutter starts wondering if Gunther took the fall for somebody. Or maybe it’s the fact he knew of SBK’s identity and didn’t tell anyone that weighed him down full of guilt.
Big brother Garrett does his younger brother Cam a solid and asks Madeline for $4K. Hmm. Will Garrett use this as some kind of leverage over Cam later? Nah, he just hands it directly over to him in front of his mother telling him: “Be smart.” In other family news, Tess and Brady make up, which is a surprise to her husband. Even better they’re planning on having lots of sex. Y’know, for baby making purposes. And for good old fashioned fun.
The relationship between Garrett and Christina deepens. They picnic together, getting to know each other better. Yet each time Garrett hears her talk about her father, his eyes change and he makes comments about the killer likely not realising the “collateral damage” of the deaths he caused. Jesus. I’m just waiting for more of that backstory to drop. Did Garrett witness a kill? Did he find out about someone in the family doing some killing? Or maybe he did it. We’ll have to keep on waiting/sweating it out.


Mayor Conley and Alison take a run at their mutual opponent. Although the woman is not at all willing to work with them. Until they’ve got some video evidence of her breaking probation on a DUI charge. Ahh, this puts a chip in the lady’s plan. However, she still gets $1-million. With stipulations. The lawsuit has to be dropped, as well as Alison and Conley being pumped up on live television as real do-gooders.
At the same time, Madeline gets an odd note in the mail. It tells her COME SEE ME OR I’LL COME SEE YOU.
Cutter finds problems with the DNA that Brady brought in, supposedly from his wife. Turns out the DNA is from a Hispanic woman. Everything is spinning slightly out of control for ole Dt. Ross. He worries about Tess and what her family is involved in, what she may be involved in, whether directly or not. When he confronts Tess, he discovers that she planted the hair. A test for him, she says. The fire’s been lit under Brady and he is out for blood. He’ll figure out SBK, one way or another. Or die trying.
And Cam, he goes to meet Sophie’s dealer to give him the money owed. But the dealer says they’ve settled up. Not with any cash. She banged her dealer to pay off the debt, and that really bothers her husband. Worst of all, Cam is now beginning to figure out he and his wife are causing their son plenty of grief, likely why he’s completely messed up.
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Garrett goes to see Christina at her place, bottle of wine in hand. They spend a nice romantic evening together. Until the ghostly look on his face gives way to him taking off his shirt, undoing his belt, and brandishing it, the look in his eyes spelling murder.
Could this be what we’re seeing? Is Garrett the Silver Bells Killer, or is this him hoping to clean up a loose end and keep his family out from under scrutiny? Very, very hard to tell. Amazing ending.
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Loved this episode. The mini-series isn’t perfect, nor do I expect that. But it is enjoyable, it has enough edge to be fun. The next episode is titled “The Artist in His Museum” and I hope to find more secrets bulging from the seams.

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