‘American Crime Story’ travels back in time to when Andrew Cunanan murdered real estate mogul Lee Miglin and later William Reese.
Before Andrew Cunanan killed Gianni Versace, he murdered four other innocent people in cruel, vicious ways. His third and fourth victims, Lee Miglin and William Reese, are the subject of the Jan. 31 episode. The episode opens in May 1997. Marilyn Miglin (played by the incredible Judith Light) returns to her Chicago mansion from a work trip to find her house empty. Her husband, Lee, is nowhere to be found. She notices a half-eaten ice cream carton and a liter of Coke sitting on the counter. She immediately knows something is wrong. A half-eaten ham and bloody clothes are found after searching the house.
When a police officer asks if anyone has looked in the garage, her friend opts to go and help. They find Lee’s Lexus is missing. Suddenly, the friend’s piercing scream fills the house. The stoic Marilyn whispers to herself, “I knew it.”
The episode then flashes back to one week earlier to when Lee and Marilyn are attending a special dinner. Marilyn gives a speech about Lee and practically bursts with pride about him. She’s so proud of how far he’s come — from being a coal miner’s son to one of the most successful real estate moguls in the midwest. He’s a self-made man to a tee. Lee also helped Marilyn achieve her dreams of running a beauty line. “He is my partner in every sense of the word,” Marilyn says. But is there a secret side to the great Lee Miglin?
Marilyn interrupts a secret phone call Lee is having with Andrew, and Lee keeps mum about who he was talking to. The next day, Marilyn heads off on a business trip. Lee seems overwhelmed with something, and Marilyn asks Lee to come along. He stays behind. Alone in the house, Lee’s free to wander. He sits at the same vanity Marilyn takes off all her makeup every night. He goes to pray and cries, “I try. I try.” Is Lee itching to reveal his true self?
‘This Is Me’
Andrew arrives at the house, and Lee ushers him in. They clearly know each other. Andrew stumbles around the house, and Lee asks him if he can stay the night. While Lee is trying to show Andrew a drawing of his beloved Skyneedle, a proposed building that would have become the tallest building in the world, Andrew points a gun directly at Lee. He puts it away before Lee notices it.
Andrew is stunned that Lee doesn’t want to name the Skyneedle after himself. It’s not about the fame for Lee, but for Andrew, that’s everything. Andrew plays right into Lee’s vulnerability: his desire for men. Andrew and Lee passionately kiss, and Lee admits that he finally feels “alive.” Lee notes that Andrew is not like most escorts. Andrew takes it a step further. “I am not like most anybody,” he says. Lee replies, “You make it seem so real.” Andrew’s been a star on his own stage for his entire life, so this is child’s play for him.
Andrew takes Lee out to the garage to “make a mess.” Andrew is in complete control. He tapes up Lee’s face and ties his legs together. He punches Lee in the face, drawing blood. “I’ve killed two people, Lee,” Andrew says. “Two people that were very close to me. I know it’s hard to believe. The intellectual Andrew. Well read, well spoken Andrew. Well dressed. But here I am. This is me.”
Andrew tells Lee exactly how he’s going to humiliate him. When they find Lee’s body, he’ll be wearing ladies panties and be surrounded by gay porn. “I want the world to see the great Lee Miglin is a sissy,” Andrew seethes. Andrew knows that Lee is terrified of being disgraced, and that’s exactly what he plans to do. Andrew doesn’t waste any time hitting Lee over the head with a heavy bag of concrete. He retreats back into the house with blood all over himself after killing Lee. He rips up Lee’s Skyneedle drawing and watches it burn.
A Good Name
The superintendent in charge of the case doesn’t want any details leaked. Marilyn reveals that $2000 has been stolen, as well as jewelry, gold coins, and clothes. The superintendent wants to talk privately with Marilyn about the gay porn found near Lee’s body. Marilyn refuses to see any other motive other than a random killing. “He won’t steal my good name,” Marilyn says, talking about Andrew. “Our good name. We worked too hard making that name.” Lee and Marilyn’s son, Duke, is an aspiring actor and will be seen in Harrison Ford’s Air Force One. Superintendent Rodriguez brings up Andrew’s name to Marilyn and Duke. Marilyn and Duke claim they don’t know him at all.
An officer notices a red jeep near Lee’s house. The car is quickly connected to the homicide of Andrew’s first victim, Jeff Trail. There’s a phone in Lee’s car, the one Andrew stole, so the police can track him. Andrew is already in New York. He steps inside Versace’s store and envisions the life of luxury he’s always wanted. He picks up a book about South Beach. Is this the moment he decides to go to Miami?
Marilyn has yet to openly grieve Lee’s death, and she knows people are judging her. Marilyn doesn’t want anyone to think her marriage to Lee was a sham. She loved him, and he loved her. She finally does break down to Lee’s business partner. “We had a fairy tale life,” she says. “We didn’t even fight.” Marilyn promises that she will fight to make sure Lee is not disgraced.
Andrew discovers that the police are tracking his phone and tries to get rid of it. When he realizes he can’t, he pulls into a national cemetery in New Jersey. He waits for everyone to leave and comes across the caretaker, William Reese. Andrew draws his gun and says he’s here to steal William’s truck. He takes William down to the basement. William begs for his life, but Andrew kills him anyway. He steals William’s truck and drives away without even blinking.
Marilyn finally does show her grief publicly on HSN. “He believed in me,” Marilyn says through tears. “We were a team for 38 years. And I miss him very much.” Marilyn knows that Lee would not have wanted her to wallow in grief. He would want her to push forward with her dreams, and that’s exactly what she’s going to do.
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