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Ratched Season 1 Episode 2 Recap/Explained

September 18, 2020
4 min read

After the shocking revelations at the end of ‘Ratched’s pilot episode, it is only fair for the audience to expect that the story will become even more unhinged and weird as the series progresses. Ryan Murphy and the other creators of the series don’t disappoint as episode two, titled ‘Ice Pick’, expands on the world established in the pilot. It is becoming increasingly clear that while ‘Ratched’ is supposed to serve as a prequel to ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, it has very little in common with the Oscar-winning film. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Ratched Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

In the pilot episode, one of the characters that we meet is Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon), the press secretary of Governor Milburn (Vincent D’Onofrio). It is essentially her idea to use the Lucia facility to showcase Milburn’s progressive side and use it for his re-election campaign. As episode 2 opens, she welcomes a few members of the press and high-ranking government officials to witness a state-of-the-art procedure, which turns out to be lobotomy. After one of the guests faints during the demonstration, Hanover (Jon Jon Briones) decides that they should try something that he considers to be more humane, transorbital lobotomy, a procedure in which the doctor gains access to the frontal lobes through the eye sockets and not through drilled holes in the skulls. During this procedure, which Hanover performs on cadavers, a young nurse named Dolly continues to complain and Bucket throws up, prompting Hanover to lash out at both of them. On the contrary, Ratched (Sarah Paulson) shows both steely resolve and admiration for Hanover’s work.

Later, she and Briggs have dinner together, but when they drive to a hole-in-the-wall business and she discovers that it has a significant number of lesbian patrons, she becomes confused and angry at Briggs and leaves. In the last part of the episode, she performs a transorbital lobotomy on Father Andrews, the sole survivor of the priest massacre, so he will not be able to testify against Edmund.

Ratched Season 1 Episode 2 Explained

The title of episode 2 denotes the utensil that first Hanover and later Ratched use to perform the transorbital lobotomies. The traditional lobotomies that Hanover does at the start of the episode are on four patients with four different issues. One of these patients, Mrs. Lily Cartwright, has been admitted because she likes other women. The fact that she is getting lobotomized deeply distresses Briggs. During this period, homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and people had to endure extreme procedures like lobotomy in the name of treatment. Thousands of lives were destroyed because of such ignorance.

Due to the episode’s focus on lobotomy, ‘Ice Pick’ serves as a homage to the film and the book. R.P. McMurphy, the protagonist of both of them, is ultimately lobotomized after he attacks the older Ratched, which leaves him in a near-vegetative state. One of his fellow patients at the institution kills him as an act of mercy before making his escape from there.

A Budding Relationship

In a show oversaturated with morally grey characters, Nixon’s Briggs is a breath of fresh air. Optimistic, idealistic, and fearless, she genuinely wants to help people and has no ulterior motives. After meeting Ratched, she is quickly attracted to her, but realizes that Ratched is not yet ready to embrace her inner self yet. In an incredibly suggestive scene, Briggs teaches Ratched how to eat oysters. Although her advances are rejected by the other woman, we as the audience feel that there is a lot of potential there that will likely be explored in the upcoming episodes.

Efforts to Prevent Edmund’s Execution Continues

The series’ overarching plot is about Ratched’s plans of stopping Edmund’s execution. By showing her resolve and admiration for Hanover’s work, she becomes the nurse on whom he relies the most. This brings her in direct confrontation with Bucket, who is clearly in love with Hanover. There is a hilarious scene involving a peach between the two, which starts when Ratched sees that Bucket is eating her food. The peach can be seen as a metaphor for Hanover, though the roles have to be reversed if that were the case.

After Ratched lobotomizes Father Andrews, the only witness to the murders that Edmund committed, the two real obstacles remain between her and her objective are Hanover and Governor Milburn. Hanover is already in her control, and though she doesn’t have direct access to the governor, she decides to influence him through Briggs.

Read More: Where is Ratched Filmed?

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