Thank you to Netflix for allowing me to watch and review this show!
This is a running review, as after each episode I will write about that episode until I finish the series. Each “Episode Review” will be my immediate thoughts following the episode, and the “Series Review” at the bottom will be my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Creators: Evan Romansky, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Sarah Paulson, Alfred Rubin Thompson, Judy Davis
Synopsis: A young nurse at a mental institution becomes jaded, bitter and a downright monster to her patients.
A very solid pilot. We got a small bit of backstory of Nurse Ratched, and we were able to see some of the tendencies that were brought over into the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Sarah Paulson really does this role justice with the same cold stare and heart.
E2: Ice Pick
More backstory available that really made you understand the decisions that Ratched made in E1. Just an incredibly tense and menacing episode with a very strong score. Wait till you find out what the Ice Pick really is. Disclaimer, do not watch this while eating.
E4: Angel of Mercy
There is a perfect blend of gross-out horror and psychological manipulation that really is intriguing in this. I am starting to believe this could really stand on its own aside from being tied into One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and I think that is a great sign when it comes to a sequel-like project.
E5: Angel of Mercy Part II
Another wonderfully paced episode that really keeps you on your toes. A moment with Corey Stoll’s character is one of the scariest things I have seen on TV.
E5: The Dance
Maybe the slowest episode, aside of the last few moments. The episode is a ton of set up, and while it does pay off, it just is slow for most of it.
E6: Mildred and Edmund
So, I have gone back and forth on this one a lot. It was… a lot. Maybe too much at times, but the tense nature and sheer darkness were haunting. It worked, and the clever delivery method worked. It is a fantastic episode, but I just can’t help but think it might have gone too far.
E7: The Bucket List
E8: Got No Strings
Sadly, this was the worst episode of the show. We started getting away from “Nurse Ratched” and into some pretty bizarre storylines. I am not sure where the story will go this next season, but hopefully it will be more grounded than this.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest just so happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. From the characters to the story, we are enthralled in one of the best overall acted movies of all time. Whether it was Jack Nicholson’s eccentric R.P. McMurphy, Brad Dourif’s shy and stuttering Billy Bibbit, or Louise Fletcher’s menacing and monstrous Nurse Ratched, there was not a single bad performance in this movie. The sheer battle between R.P. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched is one of the best in cinema history.
Unsurprisingly enough, the person that people found most interesting from the film was Nurse Ratched. Highly regarded as one of the all-time greatest movie villains, her brevity and her sheer coldness was something that people, for years, have been trying to understand. How did she get to the position of becoming a heinous nurse in a mental hospital?
One thing right off the bat that I enjoyed about the beginning of the show, was getting to see Nurse Ratched as an already villainous person. She begins to delve more and more into the role she has already made for herself. You begin to figure out some of the methods and ways of going about “healing” that Nurse Ratched picked up along the way by episode 2. When this show starts off, it doesn’t beat around the bush and gets you right into the shoes of the “Nurse Ratched” we know.
But then it does start to go somewhere I didn’t think the show was going to go, and that was in showing the softer side of Mildred Ratched. The caring side, that we never really saw in the movie. The show never gave us an apologetic side of “she wasn’t always this way”, but they did show the turmoils she had to grow up and come to know along the course of her life. And at times those turmoils were telling, and at other times the show might’ve gone too far in trying to really dive into how disturb and broken Nurse Ratched was.
While I really enjoyed this show and got a ton of entertainment out of it, I couldn’t help but think this started to get so far away from “Nurse Ratched”. At points, it weaved in and out through storylines that I could find realistic, but towards the end of the season, it started getting in this worldwide game of cat and mouse that seemed way too far fetched to have happened prior to the movie.
The performances in this show are what really stood out above everything else. You will come for Nurse Ratched, and stay for Sarah Paulson. She delivers the role with undeniable brevity and is likely the only person I could see in that role. Judy Davis as Nurse Bucket is another figure that strikes fear when on screen. You can tell where Nurse Ratched was able to get her cold stare and heartless attitude from her.
But just as I called Jeremy Pope getting an Emmy nom for Hollywood, Sophie Okonedo is the one who will stand out from these amazing performances. I am not going to give her character away, but her screen presence and demand of attention if incredible, no matter her who character might be.
Ratched at times fits beautifully into the world that was created with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and at time dwindles down to a cat and mouse chase that seems way too far fetched for an already established property. I think the show works well no matter how you swing it, but I feel like this would have been even better had it not been about Nurse Ratched, and inspired by Nurse Ratched. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining and at times horrifying show that should keep people tuned in.
on netflix september 18
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.