Who’s Gonna Tell You When It’s Too Late: American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,’The House by the Lake’

Going into episode four of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, we again find ourselves jumping backwards in time, this time to a week before the events of episode three. Last hour, we saw Andrew’s (Darren Criss) murder of Lee Miglin (Mike Farrell), and the dynamic there was of the older man taken by the younger, filled with the thrill of being alive that Andrew’s presence brought into his life. Episode four flips this situation, Andrew now the one enamoured with someone he can’t have.

We begin the episode inside the apartment of David (Cody Fern), a young architect entering the prime of his life and career. Andrew looks on as David takes a phone call, giving him the go-ahead to present a major new project. Andrew says he is happy for David, and for once it doesn’t seem to come from a place of naked jealousy. His buzzer ringing, David wonders who it could be. Andrew informs him that it is their mutual friend Jeff (Finn Wittrock). In fact, Jeff is more than a friend to David, and Jeff is someone Andrew considers a rival for the object of his affection. Bringing Jeff up from the lobby, David tells him that Andrew “knows about them”. Wondering how this could be possible, David tells his friend that Andrew has this “feline intuition”. As soon as Jeff enters the apartment, Andrew brutally murders him. We see Andrew Cunanan again exercising and manipulating control: he has invited Jeff here to murder him — to bind David to him, to destroy his life so the object of his affection has no other choice but to join with him or die. Andrew never makes this stark choice a verbal thing, it is simply obvious. When David, clearly in shock, asks Andrew why he did this thing, Andrew responds, “I lost control”. This, in itself, is a lie. Andrew knew exactly what he was going to do — he constructed this scenario for his own ends, and always had a plan. When David pushes Andrew to call the police, Andrew outlines the cold facts, “This is your apartment, you let him in. I’ll get thirty years — but you’ll get ten.” Cunanan then produces a gun, telling David that he can’t “allow” his life to be ruined over something he had no part in. Andrew has constructed a situation where the only outcomes David can see are death or imprisonment, and so he must go with Andrew. Slowly, surely, Andrew makes it clear that David is in a different world now — his world. David feels he has no choice other than to go with Andrew, wherever that might lead.

The discovery of the body in David’s apartment does not take long. A worried co-worker has the building super let her in, and the police are quickly informed. They look about the apartment, find the evidence of murder, the body wrapped in a rug, know that David is gay, and quickly construct a scenario — David met a man, something went wrong and David is the body wrapped in the rug. This falls apart when a detective notices the body does not have David’s blonde hair. The co-worker tells the police that there was a friend staying with David, a man named Andrew who seemed to be telling tall tales about himself. The police then assume Andrew the victim, David the murderer. As such, they have to seal the scene and return with a warrant. This leaves David in an ever-more precarious, dire situation. The police aren’t looking to save him, they aren’t looking for the murderer, Andrew Cunanan. David is left in the clutches of a dangerous man, isolated and at his mercy.

This bleeds into a scene of the young David, bird hunting with his father (John Lacy). After his father shoots a goose, David gently holds its limp, lifeless head in his hands and runs. He asks his father if he is mad at him for fleeing, for not being a hunter. His father simply responds that it doesn’t matter, that they can still spend time together, and that the only thing he wants for his son is to never be sad. David is a sensitive child, getting nothing from killing, and his father understands this. He won’t bond his son to himself with things that he isn’t comfortable with, he simply wants his son to be happy and enjoy their time together.

As the police perform their investigation on the body in the apartment, they find out his real identity and, hence, David and Andrew are both missing. The police talk to David’s parents, outlining their belief that he is a suspect, and we cut between that  scenario, and David and Andrew. David talks about his lifelong fear of being outed, questioning what he has really been running from. As Andrew and David arrive at a bar, David makes his choice to try and escape from David. He smashes the bathroom window and looks out onto the dark street outside. At the same moment, Andrew is alone and listening to a a bar room performer singing The Cars’ Drive. Andrew breaks down in tears, trying to repress it, but cannot. This is the second time in the show we have seen Andrew find some kind of emotional release through music — the first being at an opera in episode one. The song deals with the absence of the familiar in the wake of a relationship breakdown, the hole left when someone is suddenly gone from one’s life. To Andrew, it seems that this song is also a clear, puncturing instrument of his own warped, mutated vision of “love”. Perhaps, in this moment, Andrew understands that he can never have a normal relationship with another human being — only ones predicated on his compulsive need for control and acceptance. He realises the only way he can tie someone to himself is through actions like those he has undertaken with David, through force and coercion. David returns, having decided he has nowhere to run to, and Andrew grasps his hands across the table.

Eating in a diner, Andrew and David talk about the night they met — how Andrew was throwing money around, and they went back to Andrew’s thousand-dollar-a-night hotel room. They laugh and reminisce, and then David lays bare Andrew’s fakery. Just as Andrew often obtains power from reveling in other people’s pretensions, now he is on the other side. As they drive along a lonesome road, David continues breaking down Andrew’s motivations — the killing of Jeff, the plan to force David to be by his side. Eventually Andrew breaks, holding his gun to David’s chest and asking, “Why are you always talking about the past? We had a future, David.” Andrew doesn’t like talking about the past, his actions then, because they show that he is a false person, someone always operating in the moment and leaving the past behind, someone looking ahead to an impossible future. Standing beside a lake, Andrew asserts that this — David and Andrew’s future — could have been real. David finally tells him that it simply cannot be. In that moment, Andrew makes the decision to kill David, to destroy any illusion of a happy future. As he runs for his life, David has a final vision of his father, the two of them sitting together in their homely cabin, drinking coffee in serene, comforting silence. David is in the place of his childhood again, where everything was simple, uncomplicated pleasures, where the expanse of life before him was limitless in its possibilities. Then we snap to reality and David falls down, shot from behind. Andrew kills him and lies by his side for a while, before taking off once more and tumbling further down into the horror of his own creation.

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