This is the first episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace in which the titular Mr. Versace does not appear — in human form, at least; Andrew Cunanan does waft through one of his stores, caressing the bomber jackets and reading the coffee table books with either prurient or murderous interest (or, more likely, both). Instead, we travel farther back in time to two of Andrew’s earlier murders: that of a man the New York Times called a “wealthy Chicago developer” in this honestly slightly chilling article about his murder, written before any hint of Cunanan’s involvement had leaked to the press (the kicker, in particular, possibly haunts the woman whose quote it is), and that of a man whose truck Andrew needed to steal once he realized that the FBI was using early cell-phone technology to track his movements via the car phone installed in the Lexus he stole from Ed Miglin.

As ever, I have thoughts:

– Obviously, I didn’t go into this program thinking, “that Andrew Cunanan, so misunderstood!” But because I did start watching this not particularly knowledgeable about him beyond knowing that he shot Versace, I’d say that I was…open to feeling some kind of sympathy for him, and whatever circumstances of his life brought him to that place.  The show has done a great job of unfurling Cunanan’s truly monstrous behavior; the pathological liar, bad houseguest, and thief who seemingly stalked and killed Versace in what you could have perhaps argued (if you didn’t know better) was a crime of passion in the first episode has become the absolute sociopath that he presumably was.

– In addition to being a sociopath, Cunanan was not a very savvy murderer and it truly does seem like he should have been apprehended before he got to Versace — he certainly could have been caught before he killed William Reese for his truck, had the local radio not gone on air and said, “oooh, we heard the police are tracking Andrew Cunanan using his car phone! Andrew, if you’re out there, JUST FYI!!!!” Obviously, the story of EVERY serial killer involves a few close calls before they’re finally caught — if they are ever caught; from what I hear, the Zodiac killer is currently representing the great state of Texas in the US senate — but for someone who believes himself to be a genius, Andrew is not very good at the murder game. All I know about getting away with murder comes from watching TV, but it doesn’t seem very savvy to drive around in your victim’s flashy car. If you’re gonna steal someone else’s vehicle, obviously you do it in the dead of night so you don’t add to your body count (I found Cunanan’s murder of Reese particularly chilling; all of these are obviously very very very bad murders, and Cunanan is a very VERY very bad person, but he was truly just in the wrong place at the wrong time). When you’re swapping license plates, dude, steal the plate AT NIGHT in a parking lot and then place it onto your own vehicle somewhere more secluded, because switching around license plates in the middle of the day at, like, Target is very obvious!

– I continue to be impressed by Darren Criss in this part. This season of American Crime Story isn’t get the buzz that the OJ Simpson season did, but (a) the first season of an accomplished program always gets the most buzz, (b) the OJ trial itself was more firmly affixed to more people’s memories, and more a part of pop culture in general, (c) that season was truly, truly exceptional on basically all fronts, and impossible to top. But this season is also very well done, and he is EXCELLENT.

– I look forward to Judith Light’s Emmy speech. Vanity Fair’s coverage of this continues to be excellent, and their most recent piece about this episode indicates that Marilyn Miglin (whose products are still sold on HSN) has never admitted that her husband was gay, and that Cunanan’s relationship with him is a matter of supposition on the parts of, well, many many many people. It does seem unlikely that they were not known to each other. There seems to be some speculation that perhaps Andrew knew the Miglin’s son, Duke. Either way, I can understand that a family traumatized by a terrible murder would not want to indulge public speculation about their private lives.

What did you think?