Friday, September 18, 2020

REVIEW: 'Ratched' - Nurse Mildred Ratched Arrives at Lucia State Hospital Prepared to Be Hired as a Nurse in 'Pilot'

Netflix's Ratched - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Nurse Mildred Ratched seeks employment at Lucia State Hospital as it prepares to admit a new psychiatric patient: notorious killer Edmund Tolleson.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Ratched.

"Pilot" was written by Evan Romansky and directed by Ryan Murphy

Nurse Mildred Ratched wishes that she was never made to feel hopeful. She thinks it's a blessing to give the truth to a patient instead of trying to paint a rosy picture of what his life will forever be. However, that is not her extending a kindness to a man that was never extended to her. It's her putting on a performance in order to influence events. She walks around this world with a quiet confidence. She is determined to infiltrate Lucia State Hospital. She won't let anyone stand in her way. People in power certainly see the manipulation that she is contorting. However, she is never rattled by any of their reactions. She acknowledges the emotions that drive so many people in this world. She stares at it. And yet, it is never distracting to her. She is on a mission. She won't let anything compromise that. It's only in the end that she lets out a true display of emotion that hints at what her true motivation has been all along. People are right to suspect that there is a correlation between Ratched and serial killer Edmund Tolleson arriving at the hospital at the same time. And yet, people are too often distracted by their own vices and pursuits to analyze those concerns further. Ratched sees everything that the rest of society doesn't. She doesn't have the same visceral reactions either. On one hand, she is a prude put off by the constant displays of romance or the gossip about one's sexual imagination. On the other hand though, she welcomes that information because it allows her to get exactly what she wants despite the obstacles in her way. She needs to be hired as a nurse at this hospital. She arranges for a meeting with the head doctor. Nurse Bucket knows that this meeting isn't legitimate. But Ratched persists. She pursues this goal and makes herself seem indispensable. She does so by manipulating the secrets of others. She is constantly listening and observing the world around her. She knows this staff may not be hiring. It doesn't take much for her to blackmail a nurse into leaving either. She has no real concern for the damage her actions will cause. She will bring up a child and the destruction her threat could have on her as a way to prove just how serious she is. She believes herself to be damaged because of her past. She lives out that fantasy as well. That prevents her from experiencing the world in the same way as others despite her feeling the same impulses. She calls out a man when he is constantly leering at her. When they engage in a physical way, Ratched does so looking at the overall narrative of what this all could signal. It's not just a moment of passion for her. She knows that relationships end disastrously because people fundamentally want different things. Children are hurt in the process. As such, it's more important to be upfront and honest about one's expectations. Ratched asserts that she will get this job. She does. She hands out medication that creates an emergency where she gets to be the heroic savior. She tells a patient that he has no hope and leads him to the blade he can use to commit suicide. She wields this power and no one can question her because every detail is absolutely perfect. That's the starting point for this character. She is in control. That will only become more absolute and damning to the patients in this facility. As such, it's curious how the show plans to make a meaningful character arc out of her particular journey. It will all be deeply rooted in her connection with Edmund. In the opening minutes, he is the killer who slays several priests. He does it because of his own inner sense of vengeance for actions taken against his mother. That fuels him in his rage. And now, his presence uproots this community as they question whether he belongs here. Hanover argues he can change the human mind for the better. The Governor finances that plan after some careful nudging by Gwendolyn. Edmund is locked away but Ratched has the keys. They are together again. This story can begin anew for them. It's one that highlights their individual monstrosity while acknowledging they are two fundamentally different outlets for it. That's fascinating for the conversation and character study started here. Sometimes the world allows these actions to occur without anyone noticing or challenging it. People make their concerns known about Edmund. Hanover and the Governor don't want that to distract from their promising partnership. But it will all be twisted together in the end because that's what Ratched hopes to achieve. Her ambitions drive the story forward while everyone else will probably suffer for it. That may not make for the best structure in a television show. However, it creates a strong and compelling central performance from Sarah Paulson.