Ryan Murphy returns to Netflix for the much anticipated prequel series to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. While few people would have actually been requesting this, the four season plan seems to be taking shape. Even this early it seems obvious that the set-up packs enough of a punch to keep this one intriguing.
Episode 1 of Ratched begins in 1947 as a priest gives a sermon at a church. After congregating with the other priests, this man heads upstairs for some alone time. Only, a figure outside lurks in the shadows.
Claiming that his car has broken down, he’s invited inside. Only, he murders the man and – shortly thereafter – the rest of the priests too. Only, one priest survives and hides under the bed. As we find out later in the series, this man is called Father Andrews.
6 Months Later Mildred Ratched drives up toward Lucia. The prior murder is big news but she doesn’t seem phased. This quaint little town has a population of 985 (well, 986 now that Mildred is there). She shows up at the motel and prepares to head in to Lucia State Psychiatric Hospital.
Mildred immediately becomes acquainted with the staff including head nurse, Mrs Bucket. The letter she has confirms her appointment but neither she nor Dr Hanover seem to have any prior knowledge of this.
As Mildred sits and waits, Dr Hanover heads to a local restaurant to speak to the Governor. He wants to try and get funding for the psychiatric hospital but unfortunately hits a brick wall.
Back at Lucia State, Dr Hanover invites Mildred in for her interview. As they discuss the human brain and cures, Mildred confirms she wants to cure people too. Unfortunately there’s not an open position for her right now.
After her meeting, she heads back out and follows up on a nurse called Amelia Emerson. Mildred decides to play dirty and intends to kick this girl out and take the position she has instead.
After some convincing, Amelia leaves and Ratched heads in and takes up her position at Lucia State. While she does the rounds, outside Dr Hanover starts showing the Governor around and his plans for building this extension to the facility.
Back inside, an emergency sees Mildred in the spotlight but mostly thanks to her quick thinking. Mrs Bucket however, believes this was an intentional stunt given the convulsing Father Murphy had the wrong medication.
Mildred continues her pursuit and speaks to one of the patients, Dario Salvatore. She confirms the harsh truth. He’s never getting out the psychiatric hospital alone. Instead, she brings him into Dr Hanover’s office. Once there, he slits his own throat. All of this seems to be a big ploy by Mildred to work her way up the ladder.
In the midst of this chaos, Edmund Tolleson arrives at the hospital. Mildred heads in to see him and promises not to let him die. The pair clearly know each other but for now that relationship remains a mystery.
The Episode Review
Already you can see the typical Ryan Murphy style bleeding through. The bright vivid colours and the stylistic cues combine with a simple but effective story to keep this one engaging.
The music seems very Hitchcockian and the scene composition has definite nods toward The Shining. Whether it be the establishing shots of Mildred’s car driving or the hallway scenes, this is definitely a visually pleasing series.
For now we’ll have to wait and see if this one can expand and grow on what’s been built. Thus far though this one gets off to a good start.