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Versace Killer Andrew Cunanan's Suicide Depicted In 'American Crime Story' Season Finale

The depiction of Cunanan and his victims as sympathetic people in dire situations due to the cruelty of homophobia elevates what might have been a schlocky massacre to higher levels.

By Eric Shorey

Andrew Cunanan's story ends in Miami in 1997. Police cars roar through the night while Andrew hides in plain sight. Andrew breaks into an empty houseboat and drinks some champagne. On TV, newscasters mourn Gianni Versace. Andrew seems shocked by his own deeds when they anounce that he's the prime suspect in the killing. Helicopters stalk the sky.

The wife of Lee Miglin, Andrew's wealthiest victim, is interviewed by police. They tell her Versace's death is connected to her husband's. She furiously wonders what the police have been doing in the time between Lee's murder and Versace's. They attempt to evacuate her from Florida for her safety, but she refuses and demands security instead. She heads to work on her broadcast at a home shopping network.

The next day, Andrew steals a car. Police establish a perimeter and are checking all cars in the area. Andrew somehow manages to avoid the checks but ditches the stolen vehicle. He screams and screams and screams.

Andrew's mother is also interviewed by police. She wonders aloud when they'll kill Andrew. As day passes into night, a media circus swarms around her house. She's taken by police for interrogation.

A drug dealer that Andrew had stayed with is taken into police custody. Police aggressively question him about Andrew's whereabouts but he dodges questions and sasses the detectives.

"The other cops weren't searching so hard, were they? Why is that? Because he killed a bunch of nobody gays?" he asks.

"You think this is a joke?" asks a cop.

"Is he a joke to you? The truth is you were disgusted by him long before he became disgusting," the dealer retorts, assuring them that Andrew is not hiding. "He's trying to be seen."

Andrew attempts to steal a boat to get off the island. On TV, Lizzie (Andrew's best friend) pleads for Andrew to turn himself in. Later, David Madson's father, interviewed by some news network, wonders why his son wound up with such a heinous person.

In the Philippines, Pete Cunanan gets a call from Andrew. He says he's coming to America to help his son. Pete reassures Andrew that everything will be OK.

"I'm out of time..." says Andrew as the payphone disconnects the two.

On TV, Pete denies that Andrew is a homosexual. He says that he's been "manipulated" by older men. Pete bizarrely explains to newscasters that Andrew and he discussed a movie deal about their life stories. He tells the anchor he can not travel due to his own criminal record. Filled with rage, Andrew shoots the TV with his gun.

At Versace's funeral, Donatella wonders what Versace's boyfriend Antonio D'Amico will do now. She subtly tells Antonio that he will not be welcome at Versace's homes. He begs Donatella to shelter him.

"I loved him, Donatella. He was my life. And suddenly I don't matter. I don't have a home. I have no rights. I have nothing," he pleads. She does not demure.

Andrew watches the funeral on television. He drops to his knees and prays with the mourning family.

The next day, the owner of the houseboat arrives home. Andrew fires warning shots as he opens the door. SWAT teams gather around the houseboat. The walls literally begin shaking as helicopters circle the shelter. Police cut the power to the home and fire smoke bombs in an attempt to get Cunanan out.

Seeing a vision of himself as a child, Andrew reclines on a bed. He puts the gun in his mouth and fires. As the shot reverberates through the home, a memory plays: Cunanan is at the opera with Versace.

"It feels like destiny," Andrew tells him as he leans in for a kiss.

"Another night, another stage," says Versace as he dodges.

Andrew's body is hauled off by police. Miglin's wife, finally able to rest, discusses letters she receives from Lee's proteges. She wonders why she never knew about his secret lives.

In Italy, Donatella admits that on the morning Gianni was killed she ignored a call from her brother. D'Amico swallows a pile of pills while Donatella lights candles for her deceased brother. A maid finds him unconscious while Donatella silently mourns.

The final shot is Andrew's tomb, in a barely-marked mausoleum.

Creator/producer Ryan Murphy could have told the story of Andrew Cunanan, a plucky and drug-addicted gigolo, as comedy. But by portraying Andrew's sordid tale as the cosmic interplay of ill-fated destinies, Murphy's story ended like most tragedies do: in death and mourning. The seriousness of the series, which had been a matter of speculation for months before the show debuted, has been cemented with operatic gravity in the final episode.

Murphy also seals his series with some last statements on gay identity, tying up the through line of his anthology. D'Amico is left with nothing, as his marriage to Gianni was never legal. Pete's denial of Andrew's homosexuality only proves that Andrew's life of lies was — in a way — necessary for his own survival. Miglin's lost charities —which he needed to keep hidden from his wife — are left without their benefactor. Madson's father wonders what troubles brewed beneath his murdered son's perfect veneer.

Again, it would have been easy to portray Cunanan as some kind of grotesque joke, but Murphy's depiction of both Andrew and his victims as sympathetic people in dire situations due to the cruelty of homophobia elevates what might have been a schlocky, neon-drenched massacre to higher levels. While we were promised a vampy story of the Versace family's downfall, Murphy's bait-and-switch allowed the auteur to explore uncharted territories of the gay zeitgeist.

[Photo: Screenshots via FX]

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