Friday, September 18, 2020

REVIEW: 'Ratched' - Hanover Makes a Brutal Confession About His Past That Reveals Even More Monstrosity in 'Angel of Mercy'

Netflix's Ratched - Episode 1.03 "Angel of Mercy"

When a woman from his past puts a price on his head, Hanover reveals a dark secret to Ratched. Nurse Bucket administers a brutal treatment.

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 next episode of Netflix's Ratched.

"Angel of Mercy" was written by Ian Brennan and directed by Nelson Cragg

Nurse Mildred Ratched is an iconic character. Her presence allows One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to work in whatever genre it is produced. This show hopes to expand that world. It tells the story of how Ratched became in charge of this hospital with her twisted ways. However, it also aspires to tell an overarching story about the time period and just how twisted the medical profession actually was. Ratched looks at Dr. Hanover with great admiration. She views him as the man who is saving humanity. He can alter a person's identity in an instant. That is a great luxury that they can now afford people who are desperate to curb their worst impulses. It's a revolutionary act. And yet, there are pedestrian qualities to it as well. The science isn't that advanced at all. The necessary tools can be found around one's home. Ratched could even perform a lobotomy in a hotel room. She did that. The entire system is set up to abuse those in most desperate need of help. It's not a profession that comes from a place of compassion. Huck may have a job at this facility. However, people constantly talk about how his appearance will always condemn him to a life of unsavory choices. He doesn't approve of the therapy done onto Mrs. Cartwright. Ratched is taken aback by it as well. She has a big reaction to it. Nurse Bucket forges ahead because she sees it as doing what Hanover deems necessary. This world views him with great respect. And yet, he remains haunted by a decision he made in the past. One of his former patients was forever maimed because of him. His expertise was brought in to treat a psychological condition that was escalating. Henry Osgood was quickly developing the impulse to stab everyone. It was a thrill that needed to occur no matter who would be on the receiving end. This show highlights the violence in an over-the-top and campy way. That runs the risk of making the audience less engaged and willing to deal with the difficult subject matter. Instead, it's all about the performance of Hanover being on LSD and unable to stop Henry from sawing off the gardener's arms and hoping to attach them to his body. It's a horrifying experiment. It's a solution concocted in a drug altered state. Hanover's profession is one that loves putting forward a pill that can magically cure even the worst impulses and actions. And now, a surgery has been developed to offer the same miracle cure for everything. And yet, it still seemingly always ends in despair. And now, Henry's mother Lenore wants the doctor killed for what he did. In her eyes, he is the monster. It's a rational impulse as well. Hanover is haunted by what he did. The show basically positions emotions as haunting the lives of individuals. The screen glows vibrant and green whenever passion or desire fills the soul of whomever is leading the story. These emotions are haunting because they seem inescapable even when the individuals don't want to acknowledge or accept these feelings. Gwendolyn is in love with Ratched and willing to end her sham marriage in order to explore it. Trevor knows just how bad an idea that is. And yet, Gwendolyn is unable to see those warning signs because she sees this pure emotion of love as more valid. Rage and fear can similarly drive these haunting sensations. Hanover can act quickly when the hitman arrives to kill him. He lets all of these emotions out as he confesses to Ratched. But it's also such an elaborate and performative thing. It's the story going to a grand and expressive place in order to entertain. It makes the story about the monstrosity present across a wide swath of humanity much more reductive. It outlines a number of core impulses that all of this heinous behavior ultimately boils down to. Those actions are never truly a choice. Instead, they are inevitabilities that were always going to occur because nothing prevented them from developing further previously. And so, Edmund and Dolly have a sexual moment where no one is able to stop them. Wainwright demeans Ratched after having sex with her because he sees it as a confident power trip. Meanwhile, Ratched quietly stews as she thinks of plans for her vengeance while acknowledging that Hanover's traumatic life is spiraling out. She has to nurture that in order to continue to bend his power to her will. All of these dynamics can occur. It's just starting to feel less special and nuanced than the early story beats made it all seem. But that's how power can corrode the world. It doesn't have to be fancy or extreme in order to make that impact. Some heinous actions are universal no matter what the psychology at the heart of it is. That makes an active choice in those who want better for their lives. But it makes it much more inevitable that everyone will eventually be tempted by these murderous tendencies. The more it happens the more the visceral image will lose its power which could be destructive for a series that wishes to deconstruct the idea of how power is held and used in the world.