CBS’ American Gothic
Episode 7: “The Gross Clinic”
Directed by Steph Green
Written by Aaron Fullerton
* For a review of Episode 6, “The Chess Players” – click here
* For a review of Episode 8, “Kindred Spirits” – click here
To start, this episode is named after the painting by Thomas Eakins from 1875.
Last we saw Garrett (Antony Starr), he was not doing so well. Christina Morales (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is telling her side of the story, given the news that Garrett’s father was a match for The Silver Bells Killer. Supposedly.
The Hawthorne matriarch, Madeline (Virginia Madsen), is dealing with the fallout of the revelation that her husband was Silver Bells. Did she know? Well, for now we’re not sure. But then Garrett reveals that 14 years ago he found rope, bells, in his father’s things. He didn’t know what to believe. The day after, Christina’s father was killed. This made for a confrontation between father and son. He promised to come back if ever there were another Silver Bells murder. While Tess (Megan Ketch) isn’t impressed he didn’t tell them their father was a murderer, Alison (Juliet Rylance) isn’t so much shocked as she is at least relieved to know her brother isn’t the killer. Doesn’t make it any better.
Oh, and Garrett tells Cam (Justin Chatwin) he needs a little favour. Hmm.
Brady (Elliot Knight) apologises to his wife for jumping the gun on Garrett. He tries his best to assure her, about their marriage and so on. At the same time, she’s struggling to cope with the fact her father was a serial killer. Hard to reconcile. Although she tries. By smashing an ornament he once gave her; it’s a start.
Something sparks in Brady, though. He feels something isn’t quite right. Not yet.
This is confirmed more once we know there’s more to Garrett and his revelation. “It‘s best to let your father take the fall for everything,” his mother comforts him. I always knew there was more to Madeline and her part in this than any of what we know already.
Tess: “Was my dad real? Was Mitchell Hawthorne just a character that he played to seem normal so people wouldn‘t suspect he was a killer? Or was he just a normal guy with this desire?”
The comment about hot air ballooning from Tess, about her father taking her out for her birthday, leads Brady to believe maybe Mitchell could not have killed his victim and made it back in time to the Hawthorne mansion. It all doesn’t make sense. And Detective Linda Cutter (Deirdre Lovejoy) is on to his doubts, she knows there needs to be a “Scully” to his “Mulder” so he stays on the rails.
A growing rift is cracking open between Tom (Dylan Bruce) and Alison. He wonders if there’s any reason to hold onto their marriage if she and Naomi (Maureen Sebastian) are actually in love. Tom doesn’t like their former arrangement. Not that there’s major feelings involved at this point. Either she ends it, or he isn’t going to be able to stick around much longer.
Cam goes to see Christina, to let her know Garrett wants to explain what happened. That’s not so easy. She doesn’t want anything to do with their tainted family. Can’t say I blame her, either. Plus, Cam is still wrestling with his addiction, and being out in the streets away from his closed in family protection only tempts. Most troubling is Tess, who’s still dealing with mental issues. She looks on the verge of a panic attack. With everything happening, it’ll only get worse.
Falling off the wagon, Cam is found out by Tess right as he’s ready to get high. This prompts another round of rehab. Their boy Jack (Gabriel Bateman) was stranded at school while they were blasting to the moon. So this time Cam knows he fucked up. He even wants Tess to look after his boy instead of Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas). She is one absolute mess of a person.
Over at the first SBK murder house, Brady and Cutter are starting to work on their recreation of the scene, to see if there’s any reason they ought to be suspicious of Mitchell being named the killer. Meanwhile, Garrett tries explaining to Tess why he did what he did; only we know he’s lying. Every bit if made up. So what’s the real truth? Who killed those people? Was it Garrett, or was it dear ole mom? Let’s wait to see more of the mystery trickle down. Me, I’m starting to really, really worry about young Jack. He’s a twisted little bastard. Doesn’t help that he has a sick uncle.
Note: our interpretation of Eakins’ The Gross Clinic comes when Garrett takes Jack to see a corpse in the hospital; the picture is recreated with a doctor giving a lecture, as medical students look through the inside of a body.
Brady and Cutter figure out the timeline is close, but possible. Just too close. The new owner of the house gives them a bit of information about a security system installed in the house due to a “Feng Shui bandit” back during that era. What Cutter believes is that it could’ve been SBK’s first attempt before going full-on murderer.
When Alison decides to concede defeat in her campaign, mom slaps her face. However, I believe Madeline is more concerned with her image, the family, not Alison in particular. She wants her dead husband to take the fall, once and for all, and to put the SBK saga behind them. “You will not squander this, for either of us,” she tells her daughter sternly. So rather than give up, Alison fights her family’s newly uncovered history.
In the hospital, Garrett gets a visit from Christina. We can’t be so sure exactly why he’s been stalking her. Is it guilt? Seems to me like maybe part of it has to do with guilt, in some way, shape, or form. She wants to know more, but there’s no guaranteeing that even if he decides to say anything further that it will be the truth. Luckily, Christina gauges his pulse from the monitors, as he reels off lies. “Last chance,” she tells him. To this, no response. He isn’t ready to tell any truths.
And scary little Jack, he’s luring his cousins out onto a pool that’s covered. This is just great. Another sicko in the family. The way he watches one of the cousins flail in the pool is downright evil. He’s got that nasty family gene. When Tess asks why Jack didn’t call for help, he simply replies: “It was science. I wanted to see how oxygen deprivation affected her brain.” Holy flip. That’s seriously muffed up. This all makes Tess try to get her brother to consider getting Jack serious help. Like any sane, caring sister would do.
Later, Tess gets a little good news: she’s pregnant. No guarantee the child won’t come out a budding serial killer, by the looks of the current progeny. Rolling the dice on that one, and it’s exactly what she’s thinking, too.
Mommy and Garrett have another bedside chat. “I‘m done, mom,” he explains. “Can‘t keep starin‘ people I love in the eye and lying to them.” Except Madeline doesn’t agree. There’s something breaking through in Garrett. He’s curious if maybe his father started wanting to get the truth out, and she killed him off. We know what she did. Now, her son knows, as well. And there’s no coming back from it. The secrets come out, then they’re never able to be crammed back in.
What will Madeline do to further ensure her own secrets are kept locked up tight?
When Brady and Cutter track down surveillance footage of a break-in across the street from SBK’s first murder scene, they discover there were two people in the car that night. Somebody else was driving for Mitchell.
…and then there were two.
So excited to see the next episode. This was one of my personal favourites because of the switch up on how I thought things were going. Still some unexpected surprises. Next episode is titled “Kindred Spirits” after a painting by Asher Brown Duran from 1849, which depicts a painter and a poet together in the Catskill Mountains.