This is so sweet of Darren. From dcriss-archive:
Episode 8 (second to last episode)
-I thought the episode was really well done. Matt as the director, and the actors all did so well!
-- As Tom Rob Smith and Ryan Murphy said in various interviews, season 2 of ACS really places a focus on the victims, those who were killed by Andrew Cunanan: Jeff Trail, David Madson, Lee Miglin, William Reese, and Gianni Versace. Both Matt Bomer and Ryan Murphy, in interviews, raise how Episode 8 clearly shows that Andrew and his family were also victims--of the male head of their family, Modesto Cunanan. It's very clear that the erratic, temperamental Modesto abuses his wife Mary Anne. He physically assaults her several times and also commits psychological attacks of her self-esteem, calling her mind weak and demonizing her for having had depression. Modesto also is suggested by the show to have sexually abused Andrew when he was a child. It dawns on the audience members that the reason (and i think Ryan addresses this in his interview) that Modesto gave Andrew the master bedroom is so that Modesto can dress and undress in Andrew's room, since Andrew's room presumably has the largest closet, in privacy, away from the rest of the family members. And there's that scene, where Modesto tells Andrew a story, about a time when Andrew burned his foot as toddler, with Modesto claiming baby Andrew made no sound when Modesto kissed the pain away. Then the scene fades to gray as Modesto menacingly looms over young Andrew, laying very still, with Modesto repeating, "not a sound."
--I thought the episode was very sad, showing how this family was destroyed by the overwhelmingly corrupt (and corrupting) and psychologically damaging presence of this domineering father figure, Modesto, who terrorized Andrew's mother, and most likely Andrew and his siblings. He inflicted physical and/or emotional abuse on his family. He also caused the family to become bankrupt and abandoned them, stealing from their own bank accounts and selling the house without the family's knowledge, unconcerned about what hardships this caused his own family, all so that he had the funds to flee to and live in the Philippines.
--In words and in deeds, Modesto also in effect molded the attitudes and philosophies of young Andrew in some warped way, stressing that success was defined as obtaining money. Period. Modesto failed to teach Andrew the importance of attaining money through hard work, versus through illegal means that victimized innocent people. (Later in the episode, when Andrew confronts his father in the Philippines, Andrew does not ask Modesto if he broke the law, or if Modesto stole the money of his clients. Andrew merely wanted to assess whether there was any money, or whether they really were penniless.)
--The word "special" was used often in this episode. Modesto had persistently preached to Andrew that if he felt "special," then success would follow (versus how Gianni Versace was taught by his mother that his dreams must come from his heart, that he must work hard to achieve his dreams, and that this was acceptable because it meant his dreams were "special"). It was suggested that Andrew managed to win admission into a highly sought after and prestigious private school because Andrew answered the administration's question of what was the one wish Andrew really desired, and Andrew stated it was to feel "special." Andrew as a child, at first did try to work hard, to earn any title of "special," by doing his homework carefully and diligently, with his mother's support and urging. His mother believed that gaining admission into the private school was only a beginning, not an ending, that he still must earn success by working hard. But Andrew's father successfully alienated Andrew from his mother. Modesto confides in Andrew in the car that he feels that only Andrew is special, not Andrew's siblings. (We also see Andrew attempting to stand out as special by taking his yearbook picture with his shirt open. He is voted most likely to be remembered. Even the quote he chose in the yearbook is intended by Andrew to make him noticed, something to the effect of, "after me, destruction," (which the audience realizes later turns out to be true when Andrew conducts a killing spree). Modesto fails to sell stock at Merrill Lynch, because he persists on using a pitch to sell risky stocks that potential clients reject, which is whether they (the clients) rather be comfortable or "exceptional" in what stocks they choose.
--It's interesting that Modesto had managed to cause Andrew to feel alienated from his mother and Andrew's siblings (by putting Andrew alone in the large master bedroom, by making Andrew's siblings resent Andrew, by convincing Andrew his mother failed Andrew as a baby and often insulting Andrew's mother as having a weak mind). In other episodes, we often hear how Andrew prefers the company of older people. As a young child, Andrew did not feel accepted by his siblings, and that feeling of alienation continued throughout his life. I like the scene in high school, where after Andrew is dumped by his older "boyfriend," Andrew dances alone at a party, in a frenzied way, with Andrew growing distressed when he sees everyone continuing to stand away from him and stare at him dancing alone. Lizzie, an older, married woman, feels compassion and joins Andrew, and they make a connection as two lonely and rebellious spirits. (Creepy foreshadowing when Lizzie asks Andrew what he wants to do after graduating from high school, and Andrew answers that he wants to seek out his idols, mentioning Versace.)
-- Modesto spoiled Andrew by treating him like a little prince, as his siblings derisively called Andrew, with Andrew--unlike his siblings-- not required to help pack or unpack when the family moved, with Andrew receiving a car before he could even drive (when his older siblings who were driving age didn't have a car), as well as Andrew receiving the master bedroom, having his father kneel down on the floor and kiss Andrew's feet when Andrew was accepted into the exclusive private school, with his father worshiping Andrew in an unnatural and unhealthy manner. By spoiling Andrew, and not encouraging Andrew to attain achievement through hard work, Andrew grew up feeling entitled to success, which included feeling entitled to wealth and status.
--It's so creepy how Modesto treated Andrew, when Andrew was only a child, almost like a substitute spouse of and a best friend for Modesto, with Modesto confiding in Andrew, being affectionate with Andrew, lavishing his attention on Andrew, praising Andrew, worshiping Andrew, partially sharing a master bedroom with Andrew, feeling supported by and understood by Andrew, as if Andrew was a mature adult in a close emotional relationship with Modesto, instead of just a child who was his son. The pressure Modesto placed on Andrew was inappropriate, psychologically harmful and damaging to Andrew's mental state of mind (not to mention the psychological damage that resulted from Andrew growing up where his father's physical and emotional abuse of his wife was just an accepted way of life). Instead of comforting Andrew that he would be loved unconditionally, even if he was not accepted by that exclusive private school, Modesto exclaims that the family relocated so that Andrew could be closer to that school. Not surprisingly, Andrew cried with great relief when he was accepted into the school, with Modesto kissing the feet of young Andrew. (So dysfunctional, scary and creepy.)
--The acting was wonderful. Count me in as a new fan of Jon Jon Briones, who inhabited the role of Modesto Cunanan so seamlessly, so skillfully. He became Modesto Cunanan. Jon Jon was so good at being incredibly scary, creepy, and sleazy. He was so good at demonstrating how easily Modesto could turn on the charm in his interview with Merrill Lynch, but you also saw what a corrupt snake he was, as well as how unempathetic, inhumane, and unethical he was in defrauding elderly people of their only savings. Jon Jon also was so good at showing how scary Modesto was, when he played mind games with Mary Anne, by first pretending that he sadly didn't get the Merrill Lynch job, then snarling in rage when Mary Anne believed him. The audience understood why Andrew could quickly switch between extreme moods, based on the fact that Andrew had years of witnessing the erratic, terrifying behavior of his father. And we also could guess who taught Andrew to be cruel psychologically, how to manipulate other people using the tools of fear and humiliation (the threat of "disgrace," which was used by Andrew against both David Madson and Lee Miglin), as well as ingraining in Andrew that it was acceptable to be violent to others who were perceived to disobey you or wrong you.
--Darren has this skill of using his facial expressions, his body language, and the way he delivers his lines to change his age. He believably portrayed Andrew as a teenager. I felt bad for Andrew in so many ways, the pressure that was unreasonably placed on him as a child, the sexual abuse that was suggested that he suffered from his father (and as an altar boy?), the abuse of his mother that he grew up with, the alienation that he felt within his own family in his own home, and how being gay contributed to that alienation in his high school, the disgrace (an important word in this show) of his family becoming suddenly destitute and of his father being a fugitive from the law, with Andrew left alone to suddenly provide for his dependent mother, who was afflicted with some type of mental illness.
--I loved Darren's and Jon Jon's acting in a scene where Andrew and Modesto were arguing by a table in Modesto's house in the Philippines. Andrew accuses his father of lying about being in a book of 500 top investors (or was it bankers? I forget the title of the book that Modesto claimed to be in, but which Andrew discovers does not exist). In that scene, Andrew--full of anger at and disgust of his father--confronts Modesto that Andrew's father is a liar. Andrew starts quietly crying. Modesto starts his mental attacks, striking at Andrew psychologically, calling Andrew weak, like Andrew's mother. Modesto is angry, that Andrew would judge him, Modesto. Modesto screams that he (Modesto) is the one who is ashamed--of Andrew, of his "sissy" boy with a "sissy" mind (a reference to Andrew being gay), and spits at Andrew's face, calling Andrew his "special sissy boy" (there's that word again, "special"). After Modesto slaps Andrews face, Andrew grabs the knife in anger, but is unable to hurt his father. Modesto taunts him by saying to Andrew, to be a man for once, that Andrew doesn't have it in him, while Andrew cowers (in fear of his father's violence? In Andrew's fear of the possible escalation of violence? ). (Again, Modesto is ingraining in Andrew that being a "man" means being able to assert one's dominance through violence. Modesto's words, that Andrew doesn't have it in him to be violent, is ironic, since the audience knows that Andrew later does kill five men.) Because of the heightened emotions he is feeling from this confrontation with his father, finally realizing that there are no funds, that he's on his own, that his father betrayed him through Modesto's lies and stealing, and because of his father's psychological attacks of Andrew being gay, Andrew bursts into tears. Andrew exclaims, "I'll never be like you" (alluding to an earlier statement by Andrew, that his father is a liar and a thief). This scene at the table in Modesto's house in the Philippines was so well acted by both Darren and Jon Jon. Darren portrayed so many different emotions that Andrew felt: Anger, hurt, despair, and Andrew's final acceptance of his state of being destitute and of his father's betrayal. And Jon Jon is just so good at again portraying Modesto as smart, but cruel, vicious, violent, and never accepting responsibility for his own actions.
--Another example of institutionalized homophobia was presented in this episode. In this episode, we saw instances of homophobic insults hurled at both Gianni and Andrew in their respective schools. In Gianni's case, as a young boy, another student called him a "pansy," with the teacher appearing to be silently agreeing, not reprimanding the student who made the homophobic insult. In Andrew's case, as a teenager in high school, another student calls him a "fag" during the taking of profile pics for the yearbook at the school, where I would presume there would be present at least a teacher, although it is not entirely clear if a teacher was present.
--I like that the writer and the director also refer to the American Dream (hence Modesto raising the American flag, while Andrew watches). The American Dream symbolizes the possibilities of achieving success through equal opportunities offered to all, and through hard work. Modesto faced unfair odds as an immigrant who came to the U.S. with little educational pedigree, with little wealth, as a person of color competing against highly educated white men from Ivy League colleges, who clearly appeared to fit in better than Modesto. Modesto further had hit road blocks because prospective clients sensed how misleading and financially dangerous were the risky stocks pitched by Modesto. To Modesto, the American Dream meant attaining wealth without hard work. Modesto sought to achieve the American Dream by lying and stealing his way to success. Andrew followed his father's example, by lying and using his charm--not by working hard--in his attempt to achieve the American Dream. Modesto also tried to ingrain in Andrew the need to succeed in America by fitting in, by assimilating (forcing Andrew to read a large book about appropriate American behavior). It's interesting that Modesto served in the Navy, like Jeff Trail, but unlike Jeff, Modesto does not believe in serving his country with integrity and honesty, with the code of honor that Jeff Trail lived his life. In a scene that took place with Modesto in the Philippines, Modesto stated that the American Dream is a myth, that the American Dream of immigrants coming to America from nothing and achieving success is a lie.
Last edited by Poppy on Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:53 pm; edited 2 times in total