Blood On The Dance Floor
American Crime Story explores the fear of rejection, the battle between pride and shame, and a Don't Ask Don't Tell comic book (uch) in this Epic Old-School Recap of S02.E05.
June 1995, Milan. Gianni Versace "casually" informs Donatella that he's "arranged an interview" with The Advocate. When she doesn't react, he mumbles, "For gay readers." "To say what?", she asks challengingly. "That the built-ins on this season of ACS are as envy-making as your stereotypically Versace pink butterfly blazer is hideous," Gianni does not say, although he could,
because these floor-to-ceiling jobs make me want to book a ticket to Italy like now. Mystifyingly, there is no sideways-rolling ladder with which to reach tomes on the higher shelves, but of course this isn't the point of the scene; the point is that Gianni has never said in so many words that he's gay, and that Donatella doesn't think he should do so "to print, to publish." Antonio D'Amico smirks as Donatella picks up her cigarettes and crisply points out that she handles publicity for the company. Gianni shrugs disingenuously that it's not about her, but Donatella isn't going for it: it's about more than him. She's annoyed that he didn't consult her, and now he's annoyed, clanking down his espresso cup and snarking, "What would you advise?" Yes, Antonio echoes, "What would you advise?" Donatella side-eyes him and theorizes aloud that it's Antonio's idea, that he wants to "be famous" as "Versace's lover." For 13 years everyone's mistaken him for Gianni's assistant, he grumbles, and Donatella snorts that apparently his pride is more important than the company. The sniping continues, Antonio saying he's not trying to become a public figure: "I know my place. Unlike you." Donatella cocks her head and asks at four degrees Kelvin, "And what is my place," at which time Gianni bangs a chair and snaps, "Enough!" No more fighting over this: it was his idea.
He asks Donatella to walk with him, and she stalks after him with that weird colicky gait women get who wear too-high heels every day. He wants her support, but she notes that his company supports all the people working around them -- and they have stores opening in countries where homosexuality is illegal. What if he's denied a visa? What if the stores can't open? Gianni is momentarily taken aback, and asks what she really thinks could happen. She says the rock stars, the actors, "the royalty whose endorsements we cherish" might not want to associate with the brand. Gianni shrugs, "Unless we keep Elton," but Donatella doesn't see the humor; he lives "in isolation," and has forgotten what the real world is like. He tries to argue that the women they design for are "fearless," and when Donatella says it's not the same, he asks, "Is the brand Versace braver than the man?" She doesn't have an answer for that, but when he stalks to the other side of the atelier, she follows, asking if he's angry at her, or the world. She goes on to wonder what his "admission" will cost when they take the company public. Gianni says, not terribly forcefully, that she's exaggerating, but she reminds him of Perry Ellis's final show, Ellis dying of AIDS, too weak to walk on his own. "His most important show" in many ways, Gianni murmurs, and certainly it is as far as its value as a reference in this season of ACS -- Ellis, who died in 1986, remained in resolute denial about his illness and that of his longtime lover, whom he had seen into the ground earlier that year; at that point in the life of both the epidemic and the culture, that approach was probably the default, at least for public consumption -- but Donatella's point is that, after that, people stopped buying Ellis's clothes. "Some people," Gianni says. Many people, Donatella retorts. Some, Gianni insists, and walks away from her again.
Why now, she wants to know. "Because I was sick. And I didn't die," Gianni says. It's a miracle. He has a second chance now. Why is he alive -- to be afraid? No. He's here, and he "must use it."
After the title card, we return to 1997 -- four days before Jeffrey Trail's murder. In a crappish motel in San Diego, Andrew Cunanan is seated in grimy underpants on a nubby chair surrounded by trash bags, prepping a needle full of drugs and grandly reassuring an American Express account representative that he just needs enough money to get to Minneapolis.
He's going to visit his "two best friends," one of whom owes him more than ten grand; then he can go back to being the best customer ever. As the Amex rep skeptically repeats that he's asking them to extend his credit so that he can…repair his credit, the camera lingers pointedly on an expensive watch on the floor. Cunanan distractedly taps the needle to rid it of bubbles as the rep verbally eye-rolls that she has to consult her supervisor. Cunanan chirps that he'll hold, and injects himself between his toes. I assume this is included to show both his alleged drug involvement and his much-ballyhooed ability to charm all and sundry, but I ran into some American Express credit trouble in college and was on the line with their reps almost daily, assuring them that my latest low-double-digit payment from my pizza-delivery job was winging its way towards them and please don't make me declare bankruptcy as a 20-year-old. Like, if I convinced them to let me chip down my balance 13 bucks at a time? I'm...not that charming. This is eminently doable by civilians.
Cunanan gets up, surveys his closet, and starts taking down armfuls of suits and shirts, still on their hangers. Do people actually do this? It seems like an only-onscreen thing. In any case, the removal of the last armload of blazers reveals a mini-crazy wall consisting of the very Advocate article the Versaces were arguing about before.
That pic at the top left, that looks like IRL Cunanan, should maybe have been cut, no?
In a warehouse, Jeff Trail is hoisting heavy canisters onto shelves. Later, he's not laughing alone without salad at a picnic table above the work floor when a co-worker joins him. Jeff notices the guy's tattoo as an armed-forces design; the guy notices him noticing and asks if he served. He did, in the navy, and kind of overshares about the USS Gridley and how he's sort of sad she got decommissioned. So he misses it? Every day. Why'd he leave? "I dunno," Jeff grits, and admits he regrets it, but when the guy begins to say he was never going to become an officer, it gets awk in a hurry with Jeff interrupting that he was an officer, and adding that his brother and sister are both in the armed forces. "You married?", the guy asks, probably concluding that it was Jeff's spouse who wanted him to leave the service, then. Jeff parries that, but the guy asks again why he left, especially to work "in a place like this." This place is okay, Jeff glares, but the guy's like, but for an Annapolis grad?
Jeff, icily: "I made the decision." The guy tries to smooth it over by saying his wife always tells him he asks too many questions, but Jeff just repeats over him, "I made the decision -- okay?" The guy apologizes for offending him and offers to "leave it there," but Jeff can't, leaping to his feet and shouting again that he made the decision, loud enough for other co-workers to look up from their lunches.
After lunch, Jeff is loading canisters, zoned out, when he's told "an Andrew called" -- he says he'll see Jeff at the airport.
That's where we see him next, as he greets David Madson with a fond arm-squeeze. David didn't think Jeff would come. Neither did Jeff, Jeff says disgustedly. David doesn't get why Cunanan's coming there, but Jeff's like, he has nothing and no one and everything he's told you is a lie. David gets that, right? David: "Do you even like him?"
Jeff sighs that Cunanan was "there for" him once, and he owes Cunanan, but it's not the same. David feels "kinda sorry" for him. "Don't." He's lonely. "For a reason," Jeff says, adding that after this "for old times' sake" weekend, he's done with Cunanan. David's like, he's here for three nights, ugh, and Jeff says Cunanan can have his apartment, Jeff will stay with his sister, and not to victim-blame here, but if you don't want to deal with Cunanan because he's a grifter, you put him up in a hotel, not at your house when you can't keep an eye on him and/or your belongings. Cut to Cunanan emerging from the crowd with a step almost Michigan J. Frog in its peppiness as Jeff asks David not to tell Cunanan where he is: "He's so crazy, he might just show up."
Asterisking this point is Cunanan's desperately cheerful sing-songing of "The three amigooooos!" and overly handsy hug of David. He hugs Jeff next, choosing to ignore Jeff's stiff reaction, and burbles about how much fun they'll have this weekend: "It'll be just like old times." Jeff's all, nah, and says he can't hang out with them. Cunanan asks why not. "Aside from everything you've done?" David looks down as Cunanan feigns ignorance.
Jeff says he's away 'til Sunday at a sales conference, but he'll be sure to send Cunanan a postcard. Cunanan lamely asks if Jeff's "still annoyed" about the postcard he "accidentally" sent to Jeff's dad signed "Drew, kiss kiss." "I made a mistake!" David rolls not just his eyes but his entire head as Jeff brings out his keys, saying Cunanan can stay there tomorrow night. Cunanan doesn't get why he's not staying with David; David says without much conviction that he's busy "seeing a friend." "Wh-who, what friend?" Cunanan presses, but despite this inability or unwillingness to take a hint re: David wanting to get it in with, y'know, not him -- or, more to the point, David's obvious trepidation at drawing that line brightly, or at all -- Jeff still hands Cunanan his keys, then walks off without another word. Again, I don't mean to cast aspersions on Jeff Trail; nothing he did either doomed him or could have saved him, or any of the others. I've found myself in similar situations, feeling like it's easier to just go along this one last time and then get down to the ghosting once s/he's left town -- especially when s/he's presenting as a dishonest but not noticeably dangerous asshole. I have the benefit of a hindsight of which Jeff was deprived by Cunanan, as well. That's the frustration: that it can't be undone, couldn't have been undone. Or that maybe it could have gone differently -- if Cunanan weren't so easily able to leverage the doors of the closet against his targets.
Sometimes they swing back and hit him, though, as we're about to see when he and David return to David's loft. David snuggles with Prints for a minute, and Cunanan takes the opportunity to fish that expensive watch out of the top of his duffel and make a big show of having "gotten" (read: stolen, we'll no doubt see in a future ep) David something. "Open it!" he says with an antsy body twitch that is almost endearing, except that he's horrid. David seems to know that it contains an emotional bomb as well as whatever's literally inside, and is initially speechless at the sight of the watch. Cunanan has assumed that awkward stiff-armed stance again
as David struggles for words. I'll note here Orth's Vanity Fair piece's assertion that, "though Madson was at least two boyfriends away from Cunanan by the end of April, he continued to accept gifts from" Cunanan. I still haven't read Orth's book, and perhaps she's more nuanced therein, but I'm finding implied judgment in that locution, to the effect that David "shouldn't" have taken gifts from a man he wasn't involved with, because it sent mixed signals -- or meant that David wasn't a quote-unquote perfect victim, the saint the newsmagazines are always looking for. Well, it probably did send mixed signals, and David probably wasn't perfect, because none of us is -- but here again we see Cunanan's victims a) not knowing what we know, because it's not what anyone tends to assume, and/or b) accepting overly generous gestures from Cunanan because it's less uncomfortable than rejecting him or questioning the gifts' provenance. The scene we're watching/cringing at here perfectly illuminates not only why Cunanan's victims might have had over-the-top "presents" from the killer among their possessions, but why Cunanan for the most part continued to skate on outrageous behavior.
Behavior like…refusing to read the room, because when David snaps the watch box closed and pulls a nauseated face, then goes to refill Prints's water bowl, Cunanan bustles over, picks up the box, and goes into cheesy-proposal mode. David's response is a glorious "ehh-whennnnhhhh?!" look from Cody Fern
at which Cunanan has the presence of mind to stammer that he doesn't have to answer right now, he can think about it "for the next few days." David's like, it's against the law, so. Cunanan shrugs: "Who cares about that?" "Everyone," David exasps. "Well, I…don't!" Cunanan says, and Darren Criss throws in a tiny shoulder shimmy here that is so eloquent vis-à-vis Cunanan thinking this damn-the-homophobia-torpedeos declaration will win him his case. David's like, again: no, "it's insane," and Fern's unwittingly Australian inflection of "in-sein" is rather winning. Cunanan is hell-bent on ordering a sweet roll, however, and babbles that they can call it a commitment ceremony, then. David tries to explain that "it's not -- the term" as Cunanan Manson-lampses at him and blares, "Then what is it." "The idea of you and me," David finally is able to say. His expression unchanging, Cunanan pauses, then tells David to keep thinking about it over the weekend, and then "if for whatever reason it's a no," he can keep the watch as a thanks. ..."Whatever reason," indeed. Thanks for what, David asks, exhausted. For turning Cunanan's life around, Cunanan duhs, then shares that he got a new job, a claim David doesn't believe; as Cunanan keeps lying about his new condo in San Francisco, David wearily closes his eyes and nods to himself. "I'm a whole new person!" Cunanan desperates, fastening the watch onto David's wrist. "And all I need -- is someone to be a new person for."
At his sister Laura's gorgeously porched house, Jeff surveys the family pictures (including one of Laura in uniform) in the hall, then takes the linens he'll be sleeping on from his pregnant sister; he doesn't want to be any trouble. "It's no trouble, I love that you're here. Why are you here?" his sister asks, easing herself onto a sofa. Jeff admits he's avoiding Cunanan. She snarks on Cunanan's postcard "mistake" trying to out Jeff to their dad. Jeff says grimly that he's not going to hang out with Cunanan, but Laura has Cunanan's number and Jeff's, telling Jeff he shouldn't let Cunanan have "that kind of control" over him and that Cunanan "was threatening" Jeff with the postcard. Why doesn't Jeff just tell their parents he's gay himself? Jeff knows what they're going to think. "They love you," Laura snorts, which, no doubt, but also: easy for the het sibling who's furnished grandchildren to say, even if she's correct. Jeff changes tacks, saying it's not the right time: they're so happy about the baby. It's her baby, Laura says, so as his superior officer she's ordering him to do it. "I'll think about it," Jeff says. "You've thought about it enough," Laura grumbles. Again: yeah, probably, and she's not a bad guy here, but…you know. Your loved ones' coming out is not about you. Jeff rolls his eyes, then tells Laura's belly, "I'm looking forward to being an uncle, so. Much." He smooches the belly -- aw -- and rests his head on it, listening…
…which makes the overlapping cut to the polka palace in the next scene pretty hilare and cuts the sadness nicely. Too bad we're about to be marinating in uncomf. David and Cunanan climb the stairs into the joint, Cunanan babbling that it's such an original idea, and it feels "special -- memorable." David quashes that line of thinking ASAP, saying it wasn't his choice -- his friend picked it. Said friend is his co-worker Melinda, who appears out of the crowd to greet David, and he introduces Cunanan as his "friend, Andrew." "'Friend,'" Cunanan repeats with a full "this guy, amirite" head-and-shoulders eye-roll, and says he's more than a friend. Everyone's "…k" faces do not deter him from grabbing David's wrist, still with the watch on it, and raising it to eye level to brag that he got it for David "to show how much he means to me." He adds quote casually, "It's worth ten thousand dollars." Melinda says, "Wow," and shoots David a quick, merry "by which I mean 'wow, you're gauche'" look. The silence in which nobody knows how to respond to Cunanan goes on for quite some time…
…and then we mercifully cut to David and Melinda polka-ing amateurishly and laughing a lot. Then it's into slo-mo, and the distorting of the soundtrack, as Cunanan tries to arrange his face into a "isn't this a hoot" shape but ends up Starmanning, as usual.
Later, David orders more beer and speculatively watches Cunanan from the bar as Melinda heroically tries to make conversation: "So what do you do?" Almost daring her to call him on it, Cunanan lies that he makes movie sets; he's working on Titanic down in Mexico. "And you're here for David?" "There's no one I love more," Cunanan confides, which at least is in the same area code as true. David returns with three steins, and Melinda fills him in, giving gorgeous "pfft" tone to "We were just talking about movie sets in Mexico!" "Mexico?" David says, glaring at Cunanan, who thinks for a second before grabbing David's hands: "Let's go dance!" Melinda watches them carefully as David gets free of Cunanan's grasp and says he doesn't need the whole weekend to think about it. "I can't hear you, the music's too loud!" Cunanan says through a desperately fake chuckle. David tries to repeat himself, but Cunanan's sticking with the can't-hear-you bit, bobbing frantically and shouting, "Let's just dance!" They can't get married, David says. "Even if we could -- we can't." The smile drains off Cunanan's face as David says he's really sorry, he doesn't know what else to say. He leaves Cunanan standing on the dance floor, other couples whirling around him. Oof.
At the loft the next morning, Cunanan is sitting, staring into space, still wearing the same clothes from the previous night. David comes out in a tee and boxers and asks if he couldn't sleep. "No." David half-rolls his eyes and goes into the bedroom to fish the watch out of his top drawer; the camera pans up to find Cunanan in the doorway, having Nosferatu'd his way into frame once again. David startles, then murmurs that "there's something great" about Cunanan; he's always thought that. He's generous. But it's not right to keep the watch, he says, handing the box to Cunanan. "I know money is tight." Cunanan badly lies that it isn't. David says it's okay to ask for help instead of telling "all these crazy stories," but Cunanan isn't going to admit to anything, asking through another super-fake chuckle, "What crazy stories?" David girds his loins and runs down the list: he's not making movie sets, he doesn't have a condo in San Fran…he's unhappy. He should let David help him the way Cunanan has helped other people. Cunanan looks genuinely baffled and fearful at this idea as David clarifies that he doesn't mean by marrying Cunanan -- that's not possible, it's not real. It's not what, Cunanan prompts, giving him the Manson lamps. "Another crazy story," David says reluctantly, and holds the box out for Cunanan to take.
Cut to both men heading for the elevator. As the door is closing on Cunanan, David stops it with his arm and guiltily says he can cancel on his "friend" for that night, if Cunanan needs to talk, "about anything." Cunanan tries for cheery, but ends up sounding robotic as he says again that he's starting a new life in San Francisco. "I need someone to share it with." David pulls a "yeah, still a hard pass" face and says he'll see Cunanan Sunday. Now it's Cunanan's turn to stop the door with his arm, and his face has darkened to one of Dawsonian accusation: "Is it Jeff? That friend you're seeing?" David waits a beat too long before denying it. Andrew releases the door silently. David turns away from the elevator all "Fuuuuuu."
It isn't Jeff, but whoever it is, he's cozy with David That Way when they return to David's building -- as Cunanan can see from his creeper stakeout spot across the street. When the other two head inside, he marches robotically across the street for a closer view.
From there, he heads to Jeff's apartment. It takes him a second to get the lights working, but alas, almost no time after that to come across the photo of Jeff and David, Prints nestled between them, tucked into the frame of another photo on Jeff's bureau.
The picture looks merely friendly, to my eye, but Cunanan is already paranoid about the possibility of a…"Tradson," I guess, and starts rifling through Jeff's drawers. It's not totally clear what he's looking for -- proof of a relationship; blackmail fodder a la what he unearthed at David's in the previous episode -- but when he pulls out Jeff's Navy uniform box from the closet, it seems like it's maybe both. Disrespectfully donning Jeff's hat, he digs under the dress whites and finds an unmarked VHS cassette. It's a news broadcast, interviewing active-duty servicemen about gays in the military, and the interviewee onscreen drops a few f-bombs as Cunanan keeps going through Jeff's stuff, eventually finding the gun. He's quite expertly loading a clip into the gun when he hears Jeff's voice coming from the TV; it's Jeff, in an identity-masking shadow, telling an interviewer that any gays in the military must serve in the closet. Cunanan kneels in front of the set and strokes Jeff's darkened face as Jeff says his career is probably over anyway, because he saved a gay fellow sailor from getting beaten to death by his peers, which tipped off said peers that Jeff too is gay. Cunanan sights the gun at the TV. Jeff, near tears, confesses that he's dreamt of taking that "good thing" he did back, letting the other guy die, so that the others wouldn't "suspect" him. (This interview did take place, around the time Jeff met Cunanan; the segment of it I found doesn't contain any mention of this incident.)
After the break, we're in 1995 in San Diego, aboard the Gridley. Jeff heads below decks, and comes upon a fight, or rather one seaman punching another repeatedly in the face. Jeff pulls the puncher off, and the puncher says that "that f***** brushed against" him. Jeff helps the punchee, Williams, to his feet, and as the puncher is threatening Williams if he ever touches the puncher again, Williams knocks him down with a right cross and sneers, "I'm sorry -- did I touch you?" Jeff scatters the combatants and their audience.
That night, a hand puts a bar of soap in a sock (we don't see the item, but per my father, this is how barracks justice was handed down as of the sixties, so let's assume), and Jeff awakens to hear the sounds of a blanket party already in progress. It's Williams, no surprise, and the gag they've put on him is no match for his wails of agony. Jeff rushes over to break this up too, telling the participants to scatter or they'll get written up, and helps Williams into the shower to clean up -- and to convince him to go to a doctor, which Williams doesn't want, because he'll have to write a report and make a complaint. "You're hurt, you need a doctor," Jeff says patiently, but Williams hollers, "I need out! …Get me out. Get me reassigned. Please!" He's near tears, and panting from the pain. Jeff cups his cheek. Williams meets his eye, then grabs his arm and pulls Jeff down onto the shower bench with him and cries on Jeff's shoulder. Jeff nurturingly busses Williams's head, and the generous comfort Jeff offers Williams is painful to watch, because you know no good deed goes unpunished, on earth as it is in American Crime Story, so of course Jeff glances up to see a NASCAR-looking dude giving them a disgusted glare from the doorway, then flip-flopping away.
The next day, Jeff goes through the lunch line and into the mess, and the shot follows him as he looks for a spot to sit, then locks eyes with NASCAR mustache guy from the night before. (The actor's name is Ric Maddox, and I'd like to note that he has also played the Joker in a short film called Gay Batman. The sort of dialogue he has here can't be an enjoyable day at the office, and Maddox is good, doesn't sell it out with ham like he might want to.) Finn Wittrock gives us a flicker of "let's get this over with" as he walks over and sits firmly down at the last empty seat at Mustache's table. Mustache can't wait to launch into a story about a guy getting caught at a "hook-up place for f**s," asking if Jeff knows it. Jeff's like, um, no, and Mustache goes on that the MPs went in undercover and busted the spot. Great use of your budget there, y'all. Jeff asks if the guy got discharged; Mustache says no, not if he agrees to name "every f** he's ever blown," but the guy doesn't know names -- so he's going to provide a list of tattoos. Cut to a super-tight close-up on Mustache's beady eyes as he asks with subtle relish, "Got any tattoos, Jeff?" Jeff glances around the table and chuckles all "FOH with that," but…
…the next scene is Jeff in the showers again, this time with an exacto knife, his issued Zippo, bandages, and a Costco bottle of rubbing alcohol. This is painful to watch, but I have to wonder what kind of clandestine blowjobs everyone else is giving that they'd see, much less take note of, a tattoo on the calf. I mean, don't the pants stay pretty far up in that instance? -- unless that's the point, that Jeff's paranoia is that far-reaching (and perhaps justified). Anyway, he takes the blade to the Martian and starts carving, but only gets about a third of the way around before he has to stop.
The next day, we're in a handheld shot of Jeff supervising other seamen, including the puncher from earlier, who glares at him. He's told the captain wants to see him, and as he's heading for the captain's quarters through a warren of hallways, it seems like everyone he passes -- and needs must nearly brush up against in these tight quarters -- along the way is eyeing him suspiciously. He takes a quick breath and reports in to the captain, and maybe this got fixed for the air version, but we probably shouldn't see what looks like a Studio City parking lot out the porthole.
Jeff is told to have a seat, and does, at which time he spots blood seeping through his pantleg from the tattoo wound -- also apparently added in post, as it doesn't move when Jeff's leg does, so I assume they fixed that too. He tries not to freak out, but then the captain hands him a booklet entitled Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide On Homosexual Conduct Policy.
This comic book -- yes, "comic book" -- also existed, which might seem hard to believe if you haven't served or don't have family members in the service but is all too credible if you have/do. Like, the parachutist at the top right…"irony-free up-fuckery," is what my vet uncle would call this. Jeff too-quickly asks if there's some reason the captain's giving it to him. It's being circulated to all officers; does Jeff not think it's important? Jeff's like, of…course, sure. Does Jeff have any questions? "No sir!" Jeff gulps. "You haven't looked at it." Jeff then grimly recites the section of the…Uniform Code? Not sure if that applies here, actually, but it's the regulation that prohibits engaging in or even admitting to "homosexual acts." The captain stares at Jeff, then asks if he knows all the regulations by heart. "Most, sir," Jeff says, which tracks. "Open the book," he's told, so he does, staring dully at a page that overexplains what "Don't Ask" means. The captain asks again if he has questions, and when Jeff answers again that he doesn't, the captain goes on about a code of conduct, without which they're "nothing." "Nothing," Jeff repeats. So they're understood? "Yes, sir."
Nighttime. Jeff's in the shower again, this time poring over the comic. He pauses when he thinks he hears footsteps, then resumes, this time at the Don't Tell portion of the book.
Daytime. He's dressing in his whites, buffing his cap, shining his white shoes. I didn't even write a note about the visual reference to Lt. Col. Markinson in A Few Good Men, because that character's about to shoot himself, but maybe I was onto something, because then we're back in the shower, Jeff standing in his whites on the bench and contemplating the belt he's looped over a ceiling pipe.
Wittrock looks about twelve years old in this shot and it is buh-rutal. Jeff puts his head through and leans on the belt, but he can't go through with this either, although it's a harrowing couple minutes, and the mood isn't lifted by his despair as he sags, crying, onto the shower bench.
He's only slightly happier about the prospect of visiting a gay bar called Flicks, but he does it, albeit with baseball hat pulled fairly far down and a body language suggesting deep conflict. Company B's "Fascination" blares in the bar as he hesitantly orders a beer and looks around at the men smiling, the men smoking, the go-go boy with the American-flag briefs smizing at him. Beside him is Cunanan, who spots him as a rookie immediately. "Was it that obvious?" "There were a few clues," Cunanan smirks, and introduces himself.
Later, they're yukking it up at a table with a few empties as Jeff reveals that he's never gone to any gay bar before. Cunanan's shaggy-dog joke about the bartender setting off fireworks that make the shape of Jeff's name to mark the occasion wigs Jeff out momentarily, but Jeff sincerely thanks him for making the night un-humiliating. Cunanan preens that it's his honor, and he feels like he's part of Jeff's history. He asks if Jeff is military, and murmurs that it must be hard. Jeff agrees that it is. Cunanan switches gears, saying rules require him to buy Jeff drinks for the rest of the night and insisting Jeff put his money away. Jeff smiles to himself. At the bar, Cunanan watches him fondly.
Another time, at the same bar, Cunanan asks how it happens that CBS wants to interview Jeff. They came to the base and canvassed the straight soldiers, Jeff says; his part is sharing "the other side." Cunanan sputters that Jeff is crazy, they'll kick him out, but Jeff says they'll keep him in shadow so he can't be identified. "How humiliating," Cunanan breathes. Jeff doesn't get it, so Cunanan notes that the bigots get to stand in the light, uniforms on, proudly; Jeff gets to stay in the shadows with his voice distorted, "like a criminal." "Yep," Jeff says grimly. Of course this is how Cunanan thinks of it, and that the Navy will witch-hunt Jeff, that nobody cares what he has to say and it's not worth it, but it's something Jeff needs to do. He can't explain it.
He pulls up to a motel in his Jeep and gathers himself, then approaches one of the rooms.
Gianni and Antonio do the same, at a different hotel.
Jeff listens at the hotel-room door.
Gianni breathes, "My heart," and puts Antonio's hand on his chest to feel the hammering. "Mine too," Antonio laughs. Gianni wonders how many interviews he's done. Antonio puts Gianni's hand over his heart and says he can't count. "None like this," Gianni says. They kiss. Gianni knocks.
Jeff shakes hands with his interviewer.
Gianni shakes hands with his interviewer. As he's posing for pictures, Antonio stares into the middle distance; he's snapped out of the reverie by Gianni coming over for help zhuzhing his shirt.
Jeff's reassured that viewers will only see his silhouette, and that the MPs can't make the interviewer reveal his sources.
Gianni's interviewer confirms that Gianni understands he's on the record.
Jeff explains that the military is his life; it's all he ever wanted to do. Asked if anyone serving is out, Jeff says the majority are closeted, "and will always be closeted."
Gianni interrupts his interview to introduce Antonio in so many words as his partner, and to ask if they can do the interview together. The interviewer smiles warmly, knowing what he's witnessing, and says absolutely.
Jeff, meanwhile, isn't so optimistic, saying that he thinks talking to CBS is probably the end of his career. But at the same time, his career probably died a long time ago, he says, choking up. They know. They've never promoted him, even though he's a good sailor. "How do they know?" Jeff tells the story of saving Williams's life. It's slightly different from what we heard before in the phrasing, but we're still seeing these two men, both struggling to do the right thing, and the hopeful version of the right thing. Both killed by a guy who couldn't see any way to get love except to never tell the truth and to trade in shame instead of pride.
The day of Jeff's death. He comes home to find his apartment in bad-guest disarray and Cunanan performatively eating Froot Loops, four of which he probably left in the box, because: dickhead. Jeff sees his uniform hat on the table, stares at Cunanan, and heads into the bedroom without a word as Cunanan scrambles to his feet. Jeff finds his uniform on the bed and stalks back into the living room: "You went through my stuff?" Cunanan non-answers that he was going to tidy up, but Jeff interrupts that he touched Jeff's uniform. Cunanan was going to put it back: "So what?" "'So what'?" Jeff snarls. Cunanan's eyes narrow as he says he doesn't get why Jeff keeps it. Cunanan didn't serve his country; he'll never get it. No, Cunanan doesn't, not after how the Navy treated him. "You've never believed in anything except yourself," Jeff says, but Cunanan protests that he believed in Jeff, "didn't I," when the Navy didn't? "Everything you gave me, the bars, the meals, the men, it means nothing -- I want my life back!" Jeff says. He means his real life, as a soldier. Cunanan croons in an oh-honey tone that they never wanted him -- Cunanan wanted him! Jeff's like, pass, and says he doesn't know who Cunanan is; he doesn't stand for anything. He isn't anything, he's just a liar. "You have no honor," Jeff finishes, heading back into the bedroom.
Now Cunanan's pissed, and tries to take control of the situation/Jeff, sneering that Jeff's not in the Navy anymore, "sweetie" -- he's a washed-up [slur] with a shitty job, in a shitty condo, "bitching about how you could have been someone." This is Cunanan, really, not Jeff, but Jeff says he's right about that. Cunanan attempts to pull rank by announcing grandly that, when Jeff walked into "that bar," he saved Jeff. Jeff: "You destroyed me!" He wishes he'd never gone into that bar; he wishes he'd never met Cunanan. Cunanan switches gears, saying Jeff's confused and can't see it, but Jeff can see it: "I see it, I feel it, I hate it." I think he means that what he sees and feels keep him from what he truly loves, serving in the Navy, but I'd hear arguments. In any case, Cunanan is still trying to work the tractor beam, putting his hands up to Jeff's face and starting to say he loved Jeff so much, but Jeff swats Cunanan's hands away, knocking him back a step: "No one! Wants! Your love!"
Cunanan Starmans out of the room, gathering his bag (with Jeff's gun on top) and leaving without a word.
David is opening the door to let his "friend" out and finds Cunanan just standing there. Cunanan brushes in, in between David and the friend, without being invited in. "Andrew!" Cunanan parks it on the coffee table: "Yes?" David didn't hear the buzzer. Cunanan didn't want to bother (read: alert) David, so he "just slipped in behind someone else." The friend's like, yikes, and David has to whisper that he'll call. He fastens his bathrobe tightly, and is about to get into it when Cunanan fake-haltingly mentions what David said "about needing help." Can they talk tonight? "Sure," David this-fucking-guys, and goes into the bedroom. Cunanan schemes.
Jeff irons his uniform and folds it neatly away.
While David showers, Cunanan calls Jeff to neener that he has Jeff's gun; he borrowed it to protect David from a stalker who's back in town. As Jeff is bitching at him about having a license and how the gun never leaves the apartment, Cunanan smiles smugly at the trap he's going to spring. Jeff says he'll come over and retrieve it, but he's done with Cunanan -- done. Cunanan tries to grade-school that Jeff said that already, but Jeff hangs up on him. Cunanan wanders into the area of David's loft that's under construction and eyes the hammer.
Jeff's downstairs now, banging on the broken buzzer. Cunanan asks if David's going to get the door, but this time, David asks if he's joking, and Cunanan grumps that Jeff is "very hostile at the moment" and he'd rather not get into it with him in the foyer. As David's letting Jeff in, Cunanan is selecting the hammer and taking up his lurking post. We see him hear Jeff say he never wants to see Cunanan again, and again here the dialogue is somewhat shuffled from what we saw last week, but it may air differently -- or be a "what Cunanan 'hears' and what's actually happening aren't the same" thing. It doesn't change the ending, unfortunately, and we cut from the door swinging shut and Cunanan rushing Jeff…
…to Jeff's sister getting wheeled into labor, hollering in pain. Slow pan across Jeff's empty apartment as his parents leave various messages about the labor and delivery; fade out on Jeff's hat, neatly atop the uniform box, as Jeff's parents inform him that he has a niece, and everyone's healthy.