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Crime News

'American Crime Story' Episode 4 Spotlights The Loneliness Of Andrew Cunanan's Victims

Ryan Murphy continues exploring the internalized self-hatred that led Andrew Cunanan's victims to the killer.

By Eric Shorey
The Gianni Versace Case, Explained

Episode four opens in Minneapolis, 1997, one week before the events of last week's episode. A young architect, David Madson, probes Cunanan about an argument that occurred a few days ago. Cunanan suggests he has no regrets about the words he spoke.

Another young man, Jeffrey Trail, comes over, and the two whisper about Cunanan asking for David's hand in marriage before re-entering the apartment. The conversation between Trail and Madson indicates a deep amount of pity for Andrew, but it also hints at the secret affair they were having behind Andrew's back.

As soon as the door opens, Andrew attacks Trail with a hammer, killing him. In shock, David demands that Andrew call the police. Manipulatively, Andrew claims that Madson will be implicated in the killing and will probably wind up in jail himself.

"They hate us. They've always hated us," says Andrew of the police.

Andrew manages to convince Madson to refrain from contacting his family as well. Andrew starts preparing for the body's disposal. He's eerily calm.

Madson, slowly, begins to help.

"I promise you, no one else will get hurt. As long as you're by my side," says Cunanan.

A building manager and a concerned co-worker swing by David's apartment after he fails to show up at work. Cunanan and David have already fled, leaving behind David's dog. The co-worker discovers blood-stained floors and walls.

The co-worker mistakes the body she discovers for David's. When police arrive to investigate, they reach for gloves when they find out David is gay. Police start hypothesizing about what went down.

"All this extreme stuff, it goes wrong," one says upon finding gay porn and a paddle. They assume the murder pertains to an anonymous sexual encounter.

Upon interviewing the co-worker more, they learn David had a guest this past weekend. After further inspection, they realize the body is not David's, but then mistakenly assume that it's Andrew's. They leave to obtain a search warrant and assert that David was likely the murderer.

A flashback: David as a child. His father is taking him on a hunting trip. David is horrified by the sight of a dead animal. His father reproaches him for his terror, but seems understanding of his disgust.

"I never want you to be sad," says his father.

Back in '97, Andrew tells David he's going to find Lee Miglin to get some funds for an escape to Mexico.

"We make such a great team, and the truth is we have no one else," says Andrew. David stares off into the distance, somewhat dissociated.

At a rest stop, David thinks a woman is looking at them with disdain. Andrew threatens to run her off the road, but David begs him not to. Later, David tells Andrew about his fear of being discovered and of all the secrets the police will tell his family.

"Was I really afraid, when I got in this car with you, that you were going to kill me?" David asks. "Or was I afraid of the disgrace, the shame of it all? Is that what I'm running from?"

David and Andrew stop at a bar for something to eat. David goes to the bathroom and contemplates escaping through a window, but doesn't.

Another flashback: David's father congratulates him for perfect grades. David says that he's gay. 

"You know what I believe," his father replies. "What I can say is that I love you more than my own life."

In '97 again, David recalls the night he met Andrew and describes his envy over Andrew's riches — until he realized that Andrew's whole life was a lie.

"You can't do it, can you?"

"Do what?"


In the car, David accuses Andrew of planning the killing. David tries to get Andrew to pull over, and Andrew pulls a gun.

"It's not real."

"It could have been."

Fleeing from gunfire, David is shot in the back by Cunanan. In his last breaths, he has visions of his father's kindness. Andrew drives away.

For two episodes now, "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace" has not shown the Versace family. Instead, Murphy has chosen to create a melancholic diptych on the hideous power of gay shame and loneliness. Andrew's victims (at least in Murphy's imagination) were not salacious interlocutors, nor were they complicit in Cunanan's bloody rampage.

Instead, they were unwitting participants in the psychodrama of a deeply disturbed man — victimized as much by Cunanan himself as by the homophobic society that forced them to bury their desires. His victims' internalized self-hatred, fortified and created by the intolerance of the world they occupied, are what bound them to Cunanan. 

[Photo: FX]