FX’s American Crime Story
Season 2, Episode 2: “Manhunt”
Directed by Nelson Cragg
Written by Tom Rob Smith
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “A Random Killing” – click here
March of 1994. Miami, Florida.
Gianni Versace (Édgar Ramirez), along with Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin) at his side, go to a hospital. There, Gianni is dealing with an HIV diagnosis. He speaks of a sister, Tina, who became very ill when he was young. She died, though he wasn’t told until he walked in on an “open casket surrounded by white flowers,” and there she was: dead. This shaped his view of illness, forever.
At his side, Antonio is there to comfort him, as is sister Donatella (Penélope Cruz). The relationship between Gianni and Donatella is a close one, she admires and respects her brother. “What is Versace without you?” she asks him through tears. He replies only: “You will find out.”
But behind the scenes, Donatella can’t stand Antonio, believing in part her brother’s illness is his fault, that he brought a parade of young men through that villa. Sadly – and we still haven’t wholly done right in this respect yet – Gianni and Tony were together in a time when they couldn’t be married, easily have children. That just wasn’t an option for them.
July 16th, 1997.
Donatella watches people outside on the street bring flowers to the memorial for her brother. Downstairs, she makes clear her relationship with Tony has changed, she doesn’t have to “pretend anymore.” In the meantime, she has to deal with the media, everywhere, in her face constantly. Just as Gianni spoke of an open casket, now we see him in one, as his sister comes to see him for the first time since his death. She makes sure he is well dressed, one last fashionable send off before their final goodbye. Afterwards, his body is cremated; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
May ’97. South Carolina. Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) heads into a Walmart for supplies; he needs a screwdriver to get himself a new license plate. Then it’s on the road again to Miami. He hears reports of the search for him on the radio, involving one of his other murders, choosing the sounds of “Gloria” by Laura Branigan over such morbid curiosity.
He arrives at Normandy Plaza, where we see an already familiar face from the premiere, Ronnie (Max Greenfield). Andrew’s there to get himself a room, under a fake identity, certainly. So, young Cunanan hits the streets of Miami. He starts by taking pictures of the Versace villa, looking just like a million other tourists traipsing through Florida. Only he’s home obsessing over the pictures, studying them.
Cops are trying to figure out how to find Cunanan, they’re canvassing gay clubs, bars, any known spots for sugar daddies, the like. But it will not be easy, not when the killer’s a chameleon-like entity, able to lie and shift between social circles easily. We see this epitomised in how he practises his identity before going out into public, putting on all those masks necessary to get what he wants.
Soon, Andrew introduces himself to Ronnie. We come to understand that Ronnie’s got HIV, he’s had a hard life in the streets, which becomes very apparent. Luckily, medication saved his life, so he moved to Miami to be by the ocean. Immediately Cunanan starts in on the lies, claiming Versace “proposed” to him, they worked together; he never stops crafting his ideal identity. And in one moment, he goes from talking about the designer semi-negatively to then defending his clothes. What this shows us is more of a highly confused individual.
On the beach, Andy propositions an older man named Steven (Robert Catrini). They go back to the guy’s hotel room for some intense bondage play, to say the least. He wraps Steve’s entire head in duct tape, leaving him on the bed to suffocate a while. At the last moment he pokes a hole in the tape. When they’re done he eats room service then promptly leaves. Ole Steve is lucky to have made it out alive. He almost calls 911, but relents; he’s married, after all. Poignant moment. If he’d called, who knows what would’ve happened.
Skip to July 6th of ’97 with some perfect Soul II Soul. Gianni is busy prepping a show with his sister, he’s simply not happy with the joyless models who look like they’re starving to death and ill. When Donatella arrives she gives her two cents. However, her brother believes the flash comes “second” to the heart and passion behind everything. Everything goes well despite the siblings fighting a bit. Naturally, it’s Gianni in the spotlight.
Life is sketchy for Cunanan already, he and Ronnie are smoking crack together and buying their drugs from real sketchy places. It’s not exactly the high fashion world he envisioned once upon a time. In the bathroom, Andy wraps his own head in duct tape. Only halfway, though. Like a mask. That freaks his new buddy Ron out, real good. When the crack runs out, Andy pawns some stuff, and starts leaving a paper trail.
We watch the life of Gianni and Tony, how the latter plays in bed with a boy toy as his lover works on his designs. Tony says he’d like to marry, start a real life together instead of just living together as lovers, to make it official. Gianni wonders if it’s entirely the truth. Outside on his balcony he has to deal with a Donatella imposter. This is where Andy spots the object of his obsession.
Cunanan rushes to get his gun, he tears down his wall shrine to the designer. He says goodbye to Ronnie, then leaves the motel. He sits outside Versace’s walls, reading The Man Who Was Vogue. He stops for a sub, where a man working recognises him and calls the cops; they arrive too late.
At the club, Gianni and Tony do their usual thing. Eventually, Andrew walks in, just missing the couple on their way out. Again outside, Tony tells Gianni he wants to get married and be done with the party lifestyle. And inside, Andrew meets a pretty young man. He tells the guy he’s a “serial killer,” but also a stock broker, a movie set builder, a million other things. Most of all, he is lost.
The sinister meter has gone way up, plus we’re also getting a look into Gianni’s life with Tony, his sister Donatella, so much more. Excited for “A Random Killing” next week.