From Deirdre Lovejoy

American Gothic – Episode 11: “Freedom From Fear”

CBS’ American Gothic
Episode 11: “Freedom From Fear”
Directed by Jet Wilkinson
Written by Andrew Gettens & Lauren Mackenzie

* For a review of Episode 10, “The Veteran in a New Field” – click here
* For a review of Episode 12, “Madame X” – click here
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The title of this week’s episode comes from a Norman Rockwell series, Four Freedoms; the last of which is titled Freedom From Fear. You can see it here.
We last saw Brady (Elliot Knight) with his gun drawn, Garrett Hawthorne (Antony Starr) in his sights, as he watches him disposing of old human remains in a makeshift grave. Nasty.
So the brothers-in-law find themselves in an interesting predicament. “Tell me whats happened,” Brady quietly pleads with Garrett, lowering his gun.
More interesting still is that simultaneously Alison (Juliet Rylance), Tess (Megan Ketch), and Cam (Justin Chatwin) confront their mother, Madeline Hawthorne (Virginia Madsen). They know something has been hidden from their eyes. She reveals the bells recently dropped in her purse. And Mama gives up the goods.
Flash back to 2002, cleverly given to us through image instead of a date printed across the screen. 14 years ago, the kids are all sitting happy by the tree with mom, even dear ole dad, Mitchell Hawthorne (Jamey Sheridan), who sneaks out with an excuse as his wife eyes suspiciously. Young Alison’s already a campaign loving politician in high school. Cam is getting into drugs. Garrett is dating Molly. Behind closed doors the husband and wife talk of secrets, the accounting files Mitch had supposedly gone out to settle. Later in the night, a man makes his way into the Hawthorne mansion. At the top of the stairs he frightens young Tessa, and she pushes him down. Although as a grown woman she doesn’t remember. “It gets more complicated than that,” says mother. So with a guy dead at the foot of their staircase, Madeline and Mitch find… silver bells? Was Mitch to be framed?
Yeaaah, right. I don’t believe it for a second. How is she expecting to sell this? At the same time, Garrett tells the story to Brady. Another mother-son lie?
One of the better openings of any episode yet.

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So a younger Garrett got a call, from Tess. That’s what he says, anyway. When he went home, SBK is lying dead, or so says mom and dad. They get Garrett wrapped up in the entire thing. “We can dispose of the body. No one needs to know,” Mitch tells his boy. And then the older brother convinces his little sister nothing ever happened; a fever dream mixed with medicine makes for bad dreams. While Tess remembers Garrett being a comfort whenever she’d get sick, she doesn’t remember anything of that specific event. Cam’s memory of that night is then SBK being hauled down the stairs. Problem is he was high on drugs, including a taste of mushrooms. Hallucinogens and dead bodies on the staircase. None of that’s any good for memory.
Garrett went to bury the body. Then the man wakes up, running off into the woods, even slashing Garrett with a knife a few times. This left the young man no choice but to stab the man to death in the dark of the woods. Now we have a supposed explanation for why Madeline found her son in the dark, bloody, holding a knife.
The whole story is quite a yarn. Tough to swallow, not only for the Hawthorne kids themselves, but also for Brady, trying to understand how it all makes any sense.

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Well at least the other kids have some sympathy for Garrett. Or is that yet another brush under the rug for the Hawthornes?
Madeline reels off more to her kids. About those files her husband went to get that night, from none other than David Morales (Yancey Arias). They were incriminating bits that would sink the Hawthorne family and its business. Therefore, Mitch breaks out a belt, some gloves, and a silver bell. A nice way to “silence” Morales, to “save himself” is how Garrett put it: “He made me a killer. Just like him.”
Is Mitch a mere copycat of SBK, all to save the family reputation (and cash)? Still not solved. Still not.
Things went off the rails between Garrett and Mitch, after the father, in his hubris, attempted to justify his murder. When Garrett went to his mother, she played the part; the one she needed to play. Mom essentially blackmails her own son to keep him quiet. Yikes. No wonder Garrett’s got mommy issues. And daddy issues. And all sorts of other issues.
Mama tells her kids the accomplice of the true SBK is out there, and he is back now to torment them all. When Cam steps into the living room, he finds evidence that it may just be the case: there lies a diorama of the Hawthorne mansion with all of them posed as little characters, dead in various rooms with silver bells lying everywhere. So creepy. Almost like something Jack (Gabriel Bateman) would make. Or his mother Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas).


Out in that field, Garrett tries to explain to Brady he wants to start a new life, to get away from everything. However, Garrett does not want to go back to jail, and Brady doesn’t have much to offer other than his word. I wonder if it’s enough to keep them together on this one.
More and more, we come to find Madeline – if you didn’t already understand – pulled all the strings. Even if this is all true, what we’ve seen throughout the episode, Madeline and Mitchell are still awful people. What they did was orchestrate the death of Morales, both Madeline and Mitchell, as SBK’s final victim, out of pure greed and ego.
And it was Madeline who put the final touch on Morales, once and for all. She literally did the deed. You sly mama! She won’t tell her kids that, though.
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How will the last two episodes play out? What does “Madame X” hold for us? For one thing, its title comes from the John Singer Sargent painting of the same name, also known as Portrait of Madame X. So stay tuned with me. Let’s see what we’ll get for excitement, and maybe explanation, next week.

American Gothic – Episode 8: “Kindred Spirits”

CBS’ American Gothic
Episode 8: “Kindred Spirits”
Directed by Lexi Alexander
Written by Deidre Shaw

* For a review of Episode 7, “The Gross Clinic” – click here
* For a review of Episode 9,”The Oxbow” – click here
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Who are the titular “Kindred Spirits” and where will we find the influence of Asher Brown Durand’s 1849 painting in this episode? You can find the painting here, so look out for where the painting might be recreated or referenced.
So is Madeline Hawthorne (Virginia Madsen) accomplice to her husband’s crimes?
Garrett (Antony starr) is trying to get a lump sum of money out of his mother. Says it’s “in the familys best interest” to be paid. At the Boston Eastside Clinic, he gives them a bunch of it. He gives it all away. Perhaps a way for him to assuage his guilt.
Cam (Justin Chatwin) is headed into rehab. All over the news, too. In fact, the Hawthornes are being targeted quite fierce in the media by a young reporter named Jennifer Windham (Sarah Power). Certainly doesn’t help things. And Cam, he’s trying his best to kick that habit; he winds up meeting a fan of his comic Roger’s Cube, a nurse  named April (Bethany Joy Lenz).
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Detectives Linda Cutter (Deirdre Lovejoy) and Brady Ross (Elliot Knight) continue trying to figure out who was the second hand in the Silver Bells murders. A hit and run accident may hold the key.
Aunt Tessa (Megan Ketch) is looking after crazy little Jack (Gabriel Bateman), as well as meeting with her doctor. I feel awful for her in a lot of ways. She’s been swept up in a whirlwind of different emotions, which are all crashing up against one another. Tess is at least trying to do something for the kid. She takes him to a camp for… strange kids. I don’t know. Regardless, Jack doesn’t seem totally adverse to the idea.
Ms. Windham gets a visit from mother-daughter team, Alison (Juliet Rylance) and Madeline. They might’ve pushed too hard in the wrong direction. Not only that, she has lots of information on the Hawthorne family. Even knowing that Jack’s out at the creepy kid camp meeting an equally creepy young lady named Sadie (Aviv Cohen); she might harbour some of the tendencies.
Well, Garrett and the rest of the clan are now determined to dig up the “source” of all their troubles.
Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas) goes to visit Cam. She seems on the outside of her little family, as her husband is in there cleaning up, trying hard, just like her son, too. Maybe there’s hope after all. If only she weren’t totally full of shit most of the time.
Out on their search, Dts. Cutter and Ross come across a house in the woods. There, they meet an old woman named Ramona Canby (Clare Coulter). They’re looking for her husband, James. Except he’s dead now nearly three decades. And the car the detectives were tracking got stolen twenty years back.
Problem for Tess now is that she’s scared of passing on the horrific Hawthorne gene to her child. Infecting it with the want for violence and murder, like her father. Most likely the same with young Jack. Speaking of the boy, he and Sadie are getting closer; he mentions Garrett having a cabin near the camp. Also that he was suspected of being a serial killer, which interests twisted Miss Sady.
Alison and Garrett sit on Jennifer’s place, waiting to follow her, figure out to whom she’s been talking. The brother and sister reconnect slightly, but then they find out it’s Tom (Dylan Bruce), her husband. He is the source. Yikes. Their marriage is rough.
When Brady suggests there’s something bigger at play, Cutter shuts him down. However, you can see that he’s not willing to let that go totally. Better than that his keen eye discovers that old widow Canby lied. She had a program from Mitchell’s funeral in her home.

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The 1849 Durand painting is given literal homage when the two kindred spirits in Jack and Sadie emulate the men in the picture, standing out in the woods above the forest, as if lords of the world. Dark lords, but still. They soon find Garrett’s cabin out there. Sadie fires a small crossbow nearly taking Jack’s head off. Then their bright idea is to play a bit of William Tell. Only Jack can’t bring himself to do it proving he may not be as sick as we thought. Definitely a tad too curious, though.
Sophie unsuccessfully tries getting April fired. This probably only drives Cam closer to the sweet nurse. She helps the guy, quite a bit. Further aiding him in realising that “Cam is to heroin as Cam is to Sophie” – a hate/love, burning bright and hanging low type of love. Nasty. Yet necessary.
When more personal Hawthorne details, including Tess’ pregnancy, make it out into the news, Garrett locates a bug transmitting from the dining room. That’s why Jennifer bumped into Tom at the house, where he had sex with her, after which she planted the device. Oh, man. Tom is one real dimwitted man. Nevertheless, Tess and Brady are at odds now because of the big pregnancy news, and she isn’t even too happy about bringing a child into a “horrific family legacy.” Their argument leads to him telling her Papa Hawthorne was working with an accomplice.
Meanwhile, the detectives go back to the Canby place at night. Front door wide open. Ramona lying dead on the floor. More victims of The Silver Bells Killer.
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Alison confronts Jennifer with the bug, plus the truth about her and Tom. She’s a pretty intimidating lady when she wants to be, just like mother. She does a good psychological job on the young reporter. This rolls into Jennifer being pressured to do positive spins for the Hawthorne family. Along with a little humiliation. What a scene, wow!
In rehab, Cam tells Sophie they’re finished. “This is not what I want anymore, you are not what I want anymore,” he confesses coldly. That’s what true rehabilitation often means for those with friends or loved ones who are also addicts, or enablers. Sad, yet true. I know all too well.
Things with Tess are smoothing out. She’s feeling more confident about the baby, the family and life with Brady. Calm before the storm, I imagine.
At home, Alison, Madeline, and Garrett toast their latest success. Everybody’s friends, everyone is happy. Only Alison doesn’t know everything about her mother, or her brother. Most interesting is when Jack gets sent home from camp to Tess – he’s found with the knife he lifted from Garrett’s cabin. Just so happens Brady sees the chip in it, the missing piece, literally, to his puzzle. At least partly. The chip is in evidence, photographed clearly. Once Jack tells Brady the knife is from the cabin, things changed. Quickly.
So is Garrett the true accomplice? Or are we being led astray once more?

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Great, great episode. One of my favourites. This was creepy, some new things came to light, and we’re consistently thrown off in regards to Garrett. Next up is “The Oxbow” and it’s named for the 1836 oil canvas by Thomas Cole – the actual name of the painting is View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm, but The Oxbow is the common name.