Sarah Paulson stars as Nurse Mildred Ratched in Ryan Murphy’s latest horror series. Ratched episode 1 introduces her icy, new character.
Ratched episode 1 begins with an opening sequence worthy of a classic horror film. Rain patters against the windows of a 1947 church housing multiple priests sitting down to dinner. Afterward, several of them attend the cinema to watch Miracle on 34th Street, except one man who stays behind for some “alone time,” if you know what I mean.
Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock) knocks on the door in the dead of night, and the foolish priest grants him entry. When the others arrive home, they find his bloody corpse in the bathtub. Edmund then makes quick work of the remaining priests, killing each one until the only one left behind is Monsignor Sullivan (Robert Curtis Brown).
Before fatally stabbing him to death, Edmund explains that the monsignor was his father, and it was because of him that his mom ended up becoming a prostitute. There appears to be a subtle implication that the monsignor might have raped Edmund’s mother, as well. Ultimately, Edmund kills everyone except one lone survivor, Father Andrews (Hunter Parrish), who found refuge underneath a bed.
The massacre stirs up a media frenzy, and Edmund is dubbed the “Clergy Killer.” He will be incarcerated at the Lucia State Hospital, which happens to be the place Nurse Ratched intends to be employed.
Ratched episode 1 (L to R) SARAH PAULSON as MILDRED RATCHED in episode 101 of RATCHED Cr. SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX © 2020
Ratched episode 1 recap: Mildred seeks a job at Lucia State Hospital.
As soon as Mildred arrives in California, she books a motel room under the eccentric and strict owner Louise (Amanda Plummer) and heads to the hospital, demanding an interview with Dr. Richard Hanover (Jon Jon Briones). His righthand Nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis) isn’t thrilled with Mildred’s intensity or refusal to be scared away.
Mildred does get her chance to meet with Hanover and impresses him with her vast experience and passion. But he can’t offer her a job because he has been unable to get more state funding from Governor George Wilburn (Vincent D’Onofrio). The staff is at full capacity.
So, what does Mildred do? She creates an opening. Nurse Ratched is an uncompromising woman who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. In this case, she blackmails a nurse who she caught having an affair at the hospital. Once the vacancy is open, she immediately fills in for her, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Hanover catches the attention of WIlburn’s assistant, Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon). Gwendolyn believes Hanover and Lucia could be an excellent opportunity to get reelected by making him appear like a man who believes in science and helping the mentally ill.
If they provide funding to Hanover for his new “treatment barn,” they think the hospital could become a community wellness project. It also helps that the notorious Clergy Killer will soon be a patient, creating plenty of eye-catching headlines for the facility.
Ratched episode 1 (L to R) EMILY MEST as NURSE AMELIA, SARAH PAULSON as MILDRED RATCHED, ALICE ENGLERT as NURSE DOLLY, CHARLIE CARVER as HUCK FINNIGAN, and JERMAINE WILLIAMS as HAROLD in episode 101 of RATCHED Cr. SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX © 2020
Ratched episode 1 recap: Press day at the hospital.
Press arrive at the hospital alongside the governor to get the lay of the land and take pictures to accompany the articles in the papers. Mildred sees an opportunity to make herself a vital asset to Hanover and the hospital as a whole. She tampers with Father Murphy’s medication resulting in him having a stroke of some kind in the middle of the hospital.
Mildred is the one to come to his rescue, seemingly saving a patient’s life and capturing the governor’s attention. He asks her to be in a photograph alongside him and takes a more profound interest in Mildred, making his obvious attraction known via his wandering hands. Nurse Bucket catches on to Mildred’s tricks and causes Hanover to become suspicious of her.
Next, Mildred makes herself a vital aid to Hanover by coercing a grieving patient into committing suicide. She’s a master manipulator, appealing to him by telling a story of a brother she lost as a child and her lack of connection to her parents. Mildred takes him to Hanover’s office, and he kills himself with the sharp letter opener on the desk.
When Hanover tries to accuse Mildred of tampering with the father’s medicine, he’s distracted by his open office door and the discovery of the corpse in a scene that parallels to the opening moment where another bloody body was found mangled in the bathroom. Hanover starts to panic. How is he supposed to deal with a dead patient, especially while the governor is on the premises?
Mildred promises to take care of everything, assuring Hanover he has no reason to worry — so long as he officially offers her a position on his nursing staff. She escorts the body out of the room just as Nurse Bucket arrives and sniffs around suspiciously.
Ratched episode 1 recap: The connection between Mildred and Edmund.
In the final moments of the episode, Edmund arrives in shackles and is taken to the underground wine cellar that has been reinforced and rebuilt into a maximum-security cell. Mildred visits him there, and the two share an emotional moment.
Edmund tells her he doesn’t want to die, and Mildred promises that he won’t. How is she planning to keep that promise? And is Edmund the brother she was talking about? It would explain why she was so desperate to get a job at this specific hospital!
Odds & Ends from Ratched episode 1
- I’m not sure what to make of Corey Stoll’s character, Charles Wainwright, just yet. He appears in briefly in the scene with Hanover at the bar when trying to get the governor’s attention, and he’s also staying at the same inn as Mildred. The two almost get intimate until Mildred asks him to roleplay as a couple arguing over children.
- It becomes highly clinical and strange how she describes the situation, and Charles leaves before anything can happen between them. The way she talked about parents and their differences with having kids seemed kind of similar to what Edmund said to the monsignor before murdering him, possibly layering in more clues and hints to their sibling bond.
- Reviews are not great for Ratched. Personally, one episode isn’t enough for me to draw a conclusion, but I will say the series is absolutely stunning visually. The art direction is phenomenal.
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What did you think of Ratched episode 1? Are you planning to watch the entire season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
All eight episodes of Ratched season 1 are now streaming on Netflix.