Speaking about the 1940s devil horns hairdo that her character sports throughout the 1975 Oscar-winning film, Louise Fletcher once stated that it is “a symbol that life had stopped for her [Ratched] a long time ago”. Ryan Murphy’s stylish and violent melodrama offers us a look at what kind of a person the Ratched was during that period. Episode 4, titled ‘Angel of Mercy: Part Two’, is a continuation of the main themes introduced in the previous episode and focuses on the radical changes that are happening to the protagonist because of her experiences at Lucia State Hospital. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Ratched Season 1 Episode 4 Recap
Episode 4 picks up right where episode 3 left off. In the previous episode, two patients, Mrs. Cartwright and Miss Blix, were caught in a compromising position together, making Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones) realize that the lobotomization on Mrs. Cartwright did not work. He now has two patients with “Sapphic” tendencies, while he had only one before the procedure. He subsequently orders hot and cold treatment for both women. Mrs. Cartwright was placed in the hot and cold chambers in episode 3. And now, it’s Miss Blix’s turn.
Wainwright (Corey Stoll) lets Osgood (Sharon Stone) know that his first attempt on Hanover’s life has been unsuccessful. She warns him of severe consequences if he fails to do his job again. Ratched (Sarah Paulson) tells him that she knows why he is in town and offers her help. Suspicious at first, he eventually accepts her offer. Unbeknownst to him, Ratched has spoken to Hanover as well, convincing him that she can help him in dealing with the assassin. As Ratched and Wainwright set out for the hospital, neither of them knows that they are being followed by Briggs (Cynthia Nixon).
Ratched Season 1 Episode 4 Explained
After seeing what has happened to Mrs. Cartwright during the hot and cold treatment, Huck (Charlie Carver), one of the orderlies at the hospital, refuses to take part in similar treatments in the future and tells Ratched. It is possibly him who cuts the line to the machine before Miss Blix’s treatment, as Ratched’s acts of insubordinations, both against Nurse Bucket and Hanover, tend to be more direct and forceful.
In the pilot episode itself, Wainwright is introduced as an enigmatic guest at the seaside motel. Even after his disastrous sexual escapades with Ratched, he comes off as a bemused and practical man than anything else. His apprehension of Ratched’s proposal is understandable, and, as it later turns out, accurate. But he has no choice but to accept her offer because Osgood has warned him of monitory and life-threatening consequences if he fails to kill Hanover. He knows that his current employer is someone whose ire must be avoided at all costs. After all, this is the woman who wants the head of the last man that has wronged her.
Between him and Hanover, Ratched needs the latter more to save Edmund from his execution, so his demise becomes an impromptu addition to her elaborate plan. Wainwright is killed in a gruesome manner. First, he is boiled in the hot chamber by Ratched and Hanover. And when he somehow manages to escape, he is shot in the face by the guard Harold while trying to protect a young patient. Ratched arrives at the scene with Briggs and Hanover and quickly takes control of the situation. When Briggs says that they should call the police, Ratched implicates her in Wainwright’s death. Now, as with Hanover, she has leverage on Briggs. There is a scene here that focuses on Ratched’s silhouette, wiping Wainwright’s blood off the floor. Her nurse’s cap makes it seem like her hair is styled like the devil’s horns.
Angel of Mercy
When she reaches the hospital with Wainwright, Huck informs her the machine has been fixed, and Miss Blix will soon be put through the treatment. Continuing with the personal development of the previous episode, she again does something that doesn’t serve her ultimate purpose of saving Edmund. She executes a plan with Huck’s help that ensures Mrs. Cartwright and Miss Blix’s escape from the hospital. Later, Huck calls her an “Angel of Mercy”, prompting an emotional Ratched to say that no one has ever called her that before.
This is when we are given another glimpse of her time in the military as well as an explanation for her peculiar demands while she was being intimate with Wainwright. The roleplay that she asks him to do with her involves Ratched, as a nurse, saving the life of a marine. In reality, that marine was in excruciating pain, and she smothered him to death as an act of mercy. In this scene, the source material, especially the manner of McMurphy’s death, is heavily referenced.
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