What a thought-provoking and masterful hour of television. I’m in awe.
Although I loved the Feud pilot, something was missing this season. I enjoyed every single episode tremendously, but I always felt like the show fell short of greatness. Thankfully this was rectified with this season finale, which was absolutely mindblowing in every way. In fact, it infused the entire season with a real thematic resonance.
The key to this finale is the emotional gut-punch it delivers, particularly in Joan’s extended hallucination as she converses with Jack Warner, Hedda Hopper, and of course Bette Davis. Not only does she receive closure with regards to Warner and Hopper’s vile treatment of her, but she and Bette finally apologize to one another and put their differences aside. It’s a real shame that this never really happened in real life, but creator Ryan Murphy gives us all the wish-fulfillment we could hope for, and it is absolutely glorious. Both actresses bring their A-game to this scene (like they’ve done all season), and imbue their characters with so many layers and emotions. It’s so devastatingly tragic and complex.
And then there’s that glorious final scene with the flashback we never saw of Joan and Bette on their first day of work. The beauty of this scene is the fact that it’s both hopeful – as the ladies are still naive about how the people in their lives (especially the men) will turn them on each other – and also so immensely depressing knowing the hurt and pain that will follow. It’s the rare show that makes me reflect so insightfully, but this final scene coupled with the above hallucination of the gang discussing life’s suffering did a shockingly good job of cutting through me like a knife. Suddenly, the entire show adopted a whole new meaning. Kudos to everyone who brought this engrossing journey about aging and pain to life!
– So now it’s Pauline’s turn to get interviewed! I really enjoyed this character this year. She always spoke her mind.
– From the terribly small apartment to scrubbing the floor and finally finding happiness with a small puppy and a part-time Mamacita, Joan’s circumstances in New York were pretty sad.
– Such a fascinating scene with Joan at the dentist who is shocked by her horrible teeth and the lengths she went to as a young actress to stay beautiful.
– Trog! Enough said!
– Absolutely loved Joan recording for her lifestyle book. The diet tips? Priceless.
– The most depressing visual of the year: Joan in her nightgown putting on the Trog mask in the cave. Ouch.
– The book signing with Joan snapping at a fan was just insane wasn’t it? I particularly love that she basically berates a guy who made peace with his sexuality and made herself out to be the “survivor”. Talk about narcissism.
– Kiernan Shipka didn’t get much to do this year, but she had her best scene when B.D. basically blew off her mom in the restaurant for her atrocious parenting skills. Side note: I love that our characters always had meals in this place.
– The regret game was just so satisfying wasn’t it? I so wish these two women had actually bonded in the end.
– My heart broke to a million pieces when Mamacita found Joan and put an end to the uplifting dream.
– Mamacita getting interviewed! Woohoo! Still as stoic as ever.
– Bette getting the call about Joan’s death and saying the “good” line was a beautifully played moment by Sarandon. You could see the pain on her face as she predictably resorted to her zinger.
– The In Memoriam moment was oh so raw. Loved seeing the gang toast Joan.
– I actually didn’t make the connection at first, but Bette refuses the director who wants to interview her for the same documentary we’ve been watching all season. Yes I’m a dumb blonde sometimes.
– Wow they really recreated that Joan/Bette shot perfectly at the end huh?
– Next year’s Feud will cover Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I for one, can not wait!
– It’s also worth noting that Ryan Murphy made sure over 50% of the show’s crew consisted of women. Isn’t that just so empowering in its own right?
Joan: People ask me if I turn up at board meetings wearing tailored costumes and muted colors. Oh, no. I wear shocking pink and lovely hats. No man ever did a poor job because he had an attractive woman to look at.
Joan: Every intelligent woman has her own method of turning it down without wounding a sensitive male ego. An even cleverer woman knows how to prevent the pass in the first place. If you can’t control your cleavage, your perfume, your walk and your eyelashes, you’d better stay out of the business.
Victor: She snatched up every offer that came her way, and she lost that special something that I considered her signature.
Interviewer: What was that?
Victor: Her high standards.
Better: Cancer isn’t going to kill Joan. She’s a cockroach, just like me.
Hedda: I had plenty of talent, Mr. Warner. I just had the foresight not to be the talent forever.
Joan: Well, now, what is wrong with being the talent?
Hedda: Well, everyone thinks you have the world on a string, but it’s the other way around. It’s much better to be the one pulling the string, darling.
Warner: It all works out in the end, Joanie. You know, we showbiz folks, you know, all that anger that we feel from not being loved which is the reason we’re in this business in the first place all the tears and the screaming and the-the rage, it all disappears. And the public, what they remember, for the most part, is the good stuff. The work. And all the joy that we brought them. Trust me, all the suffering will have been worth it.
A downright brilliant finale that’s both affecting and poignant. This brought everything together in a remarkable manner. Phenomenal TV!