The thrilling premiere of ‘American Crime Story’ season 2 starts with Gianni Versace’s shocking murder at the hands of Andrew Cunanan. Here’s a recap of the first episode in this saga.
The premiere begins with fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) looking out upon Miami, his own personal kingdom. He has the whole world at his feet, as well as money, praise, and love. He’s worked hard to get where he’s at in his life. Even though he’s already a famous designer, Gianni is still filled with so much potential. Across the way on the beach, Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) is completely alone. He walks out into the water and screams. There’s a rage roaring inside him and spilling from his fingertips. Unlike Gianni, no one notices Andrew. No one hears him. Andrew has nothing and no one.
After having a simple breakfast by his pool, adorned with intricate mosaic designs, Gianni leaves his lavish villa to go get magazines at a nearby cafe. Andrew spots Gianni from a distance. With hesitation, Andrew walks right up and shoots Gianni twice. Gianni’s last word is a simple “no.”
Andrew walks away from Gianni’s body with a smile on his face. Gianni’s lover, Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin), and a friend find Gianni’s body and a dead dove hit by bullet fragments by his side. After pointing a gun at Antonio’s friend who chases him down, Andrew manages to get away. In his car, he screams with a maniacal glee over what’s he done. He just ended the life of one of the most famous people in the world, and now everyone will know his name. The police end up losing Andrew in the frenzy.
Gianni is taken to the hospital barely alive. He’s clinging to life and a bystander takes his photo and immediately goes looking for money. A tourist takes a magazine page and smears it in Gianni’s blood left on the steps of his villa. The lack of humanity and respect is astounding. Andrew isn’t the only person looking for fame and fortune. Unfortunately, this type is behavior still prevalent 20 years later.
Suddenly, we are transported back to October 1990 in San Francisco. Andrew is raving to friends that he has met the Gianni Versace. He says he met Versace at a club, and the designer invited him to the opera. Andrew concocts this absurd story when talking to Gianni about how they met. Gianni, having met so many people, just rolls with Andrew’s story. Andrew tells a totally different story to his friends. You see, Andrew is a great actor and master manipulator. He puts on a polished, posh facade, but he can’t hide his true self forever. One of his friends calls him out for not admitting he’s gay. “I tell people what they need to hear,” Andrew says. He lies to fit different narratives.
Andrew does end up going to the opera, Capriccio, and has champagne afterwards with Gianni. On a whim, Andrew comes up with this insanely detailed story about his parents. He claims he’s writing a book. Andrew tells Gianni that when they make a movie of his book, he wants him to design the clothes. Gianni is nice and open with Andrew, but he never gets too close. “I’m sure you’re going to be someone really special one day,” Gianni says. Andrew doesn’t just want to be special, he wants to be remembered.
Relishing In Tragedy
One FBI agent is sure Andrew is the person who killed Gianni. Andrew’s already killed four people. He’s been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, but no one in the Miami area has really been looking for him. Boxes and boxes of fliers about Andrew fill the trunk of the agent’s car. This tragedy could have been prevented.
With a case like this, the detectives question everything, even Gianni and Antonio’s relationship. A devastated Antonio swears he loved Gianni. Antonio and Gianni had a loving, open relationship, and frequently brought men back from clubs for sex. Rather than pursue the Andrew avenue, the detectives continue to question (and judge) Gianni and Antonio’s life together. The detective thinks one of the men Antonio and Gianni brought back may have killed the designer.
Donatella (Penelope Cruz), Gianni’s younger sister and muse, arrives after hearing the shocking news. She blames Antonio for not taking care of Gianni and keeping him safe. She’s going to stop at nothing to protect the family’s image and Gianni’s legacy. “This company was his life,” she says. Donatella is adamant that Gianni did not know Andrew. The company is supposed to move forward with an IPO, but Donatella stops it in the wake of Gianni’s murder. Life will eventually move forward without him, but not right now. She looks out at Gianni’s villa and tries to come to grips with everything that’s happened.
The Miami police raid the hotel where Andrew was staying. When they bust down the door to what they think is his hotel room, Andrew nowhere to be found. He’s a ghost. He’s walking amongst the people of Miami like a normal citizen, in a crisp outfit and not a care in the world. He sees his crime on the covers of newspapers around the world. He buys them all so he can relish in what he’s done.
My Two Cents
I will say that having read Maureen Orth’s fascinating book, Vulgar Favors, helped when watching the premiere. Telling Andrew’s story in reverse chronological order is an interesting take and knowing what led him to killing Versace made it easier to get invested right away. Even though I knew what was going to happen, the premiere kept me on the edge of my seat. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is going to be a riveting look at the man who destroyed the lives of so many.
The role of Andrew Cunanan is crucial and most important to get right, and Darren owns the role of the crazed killer. From reading Maureen’s book, Andrew lacked the ability to make meaningful, emotional connections with people. He was always too wrapped up in his own web of lies. At his core, he was a desperate man. Darren embodies that and gives a chilling and career-defining performance. Edgar is rock-solid as Gianni, taking on the designer’s quiet strength with ease. Penelope, as always, chews up every scene she’s in. The cold shoulder she gives Ricky’s Antonio is enough to give anyone chills. Ricky really shows he’s more than just a singer. He’s got serious acting chops, transforming into a broken man who’s lost the love of his life. People have already been comparing this show to The People Vs. O.J. since it is the second installment of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story, and I think everyone needs to pause before casting final judgment. Unlike The People Vs. O.J., there are no heroes in this story. This is an entirely different situation, with different motives and different circumstances. For me, Ryan has scored again with his recreation of painful events that could have been prevented, thanks to a stellar cast. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is a must-watch show of 2018. Once you start watching and take in everything this show is trying to say, you’ll be absolutely hooked.
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of the American Crime Story premiere? Let us know!