Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"

Written by Gina Welch
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Joan: "I hope I made a new friend."
Bette: "Me too."

And here it is, the very end. Eight episodes into the Feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and aside from a brief interaction via a dream sequence with the former, the last few years of both women's respective lives were them dealing with their own disappointments and so on.

Joan herself had moved into an apartment, adopted a cute little Shih Tzu and was basically becoming a recluse, although Mamacita had managed to come back into her life on a part time basis. The first half of this episode dealt with Joan's final movie - the critically panned Trog and a disastrous book signing that resulted in her retirement from acting for good and becoming a recluse until her death.

Cynically, this episode felt like the 'Jessica Lange for an Emmy' hour, a familiar experience given that Murphy sometimes favoured her during her time on American Horror Story too but credit given where it's due, the episode is easily Lange's strongest one to date as Joan became more and more tragic throughout the whole thing.

Of course before Joan did succumb to death, the episode gave us a rather illuminating dream sequence between herself, Bette, Hedda and Jack L. Warner as the four of them all voice what went right and wrong with Joan's career. While it's a scene that arguably wasn't needed for the episode, it is however the best scene from the episode itself.

As for Joan's death itself, it's depicted off screen and we see that the crew who have been interviewing everyone throughout the series (including Pauline, Mamacita and Victor Buono this week) were doing so during the 1978 Oscars. The moment where everyone reacted to the In Memorium bit was rather telling. Joan might have been a polarising personality but there was no denying that she did garner some respect within Hollywood itself, despite the treatment stars like her endured at the time and still do to an extent.

As for Bette, things weren't going so swimmingly for her either. Not only had her relationship with BD completely tanked at this point but she also was failing in her own health and had suffered through a string of failed television pilots as well. Like Crawford herself, Bette's days were also coming to a close, even if she had lived over a decade longer and had a few more hits before her death in 1989.

The series itself has explored the feud between Davis and Crawford at a reasonable length and the final episode did make an attempt to see Bette try to connect to Joan but ultimately she couldn't. I did like the flashback to their first day on Whatever Happened To Baby Jane where both women mused the idea of striking up a friendship. Maybe in another life, that's what would've happened between the stars.

- The episode's title comes from the last line of the movie that inspired this whole series.
- The show delved into Christina releasing her Mommie Dearest novel and made the comment of Faye Dunaway wanting to play Crawford in a picture. Oh, the irony there.
- I'm surprised the episode also didn't delve into BD's scathing memoir as well.#, especially given that the episode was longer than usual.
- Chronology: From 1969 to 1978. I'm surprised we didn't get to see Bette's death, though the end credits talked about what happened with all the significant players in the show.

You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends? provided a satisfying and emotional conclusion to the series. While creative liberties were taken with both Crawford and Davis's real lives, I do think that Ryan Murphy and company gave a fairly balanced look into both actresses with both Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon doing their best to bring them to life as well. I have to admit that I'm not especially looking forward to the next installment though the casting might change my mind on that one.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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