Slasher S4E4 Review: Upstairs Downstairs
The call is very much coming from inside the house. But not from the person you might think.
First things first: Seamus is dead (and strung up like an unfortunate Hannibal extra), and the Quivering Finger of Accusation is on the rove again. Like I mentioned last week, I really enjoy these parts of the show, and adding in the claustrophobic and immediate setting of the house, they take on a very different feel. The pressure is on and the clock is ticking – to save their own hides, people have to start making firm choices on who they think is responsible for the killings, and act on them. Fast.
Which suits quite a few of these characters down to the ground; Florence (the best) seems happiest when she’s in the midst of a high-stress situation, perhaps because it requires the people around her to make the kind of snap decisions that she seems to run her life off of. Oh, and because it means that nobody is looking at her too closely for tossing the unfortunate doctor into a wood-chipper about three hours ago in TV-time. Along with her newly-recovered son, she’s able to wrangle the situation to her benefit to turf out some of those in the family that she’s never cared for in the first place.
When it comes to villains in Slasher, we quite often have to wait till the end (or near to it) to see them in full flight, so it makes it all the more of a treat to see someone like Florence working on her machinations in real (ish) time. Though this episode is about Birgit in terms of flashbacks (and unfortunate deaths), it really serves as an interesting double-header between Birgit and Florence; both mothers to Galloway children, both having taken deeply different approaches to that motherhood, and both placing the blame for the hardships faced by their children on each other’s backs.
Which, ostensibly, is actually the first reasonable thing that Flo has done all season; this episode reveals that Birgit and her family were the ones to kidnap Vincent back when he was a child, in an attempt to shake loose some money from the withholding Spencer Galloway to raise her daughter, Liv. Spencer informed Birgit before she had so much passed the placenta that Liv could either be raised as a Galloway and never as her daughter, or vice versa – Birgit chose the latter, and faced a lifetime of struggle to give her daughter the life she wanted. The kidnapping plot failed, though, because Spencer refused to pay up – instead, kidnapping Vince right back and dumping him with another family altogether, for reasons not yet entirely clear.
But for Flo, this is the proof she needs that Birgit is the true villain here. Birgit holds, not unreasonably, a great deal of dislike to the Galloways, for the way that they treated her daughter and her even as she served to make their lives easier, and that’s all that it takes to convince the art school demon herself that she’s the one who should be at the end of this particular quivering finger of accusation. With her returned son, Vincent, she leads a charge against Liv and Birgit, ostensibly to save what remains of her family.
And, of course, Birgit is doing the same thing with her’s. In fact, Birgit has been doing what she can to protect her daughter from the Galloways – both in influence and in literal, one-of-them-tried-to-burn-her-alive-as-a-child sense – her entire life. While Birgit is scapegoated as the villain of the Vince story, it’s a culmination of everything that Spencer and the family at large put her through, years of dismissal and rudeness and belittling, an attempt to give Liv something Birgit so clearly aches to give her. Even in kidnapping Vincent, she sings him a lullaby to send him to sleep – that kindness the very reason that she gets exposed, actually. Even doing the worst thing she’s ever done, she’s not entirely, or even mostly, evil.
And arguably, on the other side of that, this is Florence at her best – most protective, most proactive – and she’s still pretty much entirely awful. Turning on the son that tries to stop her committing actual murder, taunting Paula Brancati in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s gory murder, leaping to lead her returned twin to a slaughter the first chance she gets.
She doesn’t see herself as the villain of this story, but it’s only a matter of time before everyone else figures it out. Or until someone steps in a pile of freshly-woodchipped good doctor and puts the pieces, however minced, back together.
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(header image via The Televixen)