Slasher S5E5: Everybody’s Darling
I love a bit of Valentine’s Day themed- horror.
It’s an underused holiday in the genre of all things nasty, I think, but it’s an incredibly effective one: that subversion of love turned into something obsessive and destructive, the red and pink turned from candy hearts into viscera, the entirety of the third season of the TV show Hannibal: love and lust, when they’re fucked up, is my favourite kind. To watch, that is. Please don’t go sending me miscellaneous organ meats next Valentine’s Day.
But it’s for this reason that I instantly knew I was going to enjoy Everybody’s Darling, the latest Slasher episode. A Valentine’s Day special revolving around Salome (Salvatore Antonio), it’s a collection of twisted love stories all wrapped up in the delightfully gory wrapping of signature Slasher excellence.
Salome is our character du jour this week, as the show takes a dive into their past and their relationship with Terrence (Christopher Jacot). Set against the backdrop of Salome’s lair, all soft-focus silks and vaselined camera lenses, it feels like a softcore Valentine’s Day gift gone perfectly wrong.
Terrence’s blossoming relationship with my beloved Georges has started to show cracks in their partnership, despite their long and storied history together, and it winds up with Terrence getting a knife to the chest and a dramatic head reveal on the main stage of his own club – but I’m getting ahead of myself. The love story between Terrence and Salome is unpicked slowly over the course of the episode, from the beginning of their relationship to the breaking point.
One of the running themes throughout this season of Slasher is the idea of people who do not see their own badness: people who hide behind plausible deniability and do what they can to shield themselves from the reality of what they’re doing. Both Salome and Terrence get this treatment this week, and it’s a particularly fascinating version of this theme – Terrence, for all he rescued Salome in their time of need and has provided care and partnership for them since, is still a pimp, still exploiting his employee’s sexual agency to line his own pockets, and his seeming gentleness only exists within those parameters. He’s the best of a bad lot, but he’s managed to convince himself that bad lot absolves him of what he’s done.
I love Christopher Jacot and have since day one of the Slasher series, but this character is one of his richest and most interesting – to the point where I was sad to see him go, even though I couldn’t exactly feel dreadful about it.
And Salome, for their part, has somewhat escaped their own abuse and oppression by becoming complicit in the same exploitation of others – this week, their helping flog the spare Boticelli sister for cold hard cash (Paula Brancati’s exclamation of “We need to sell her IMMEDIATLEY!” was almost a perfect recreation of my response when I discovered my cat had done a little poo in my fresh laundry. By the way, if anyone wants a horrible tabby, hit me up).
It’s a complex idea, and one that’s contrasted really interestingly with Terrence’s actions – Salome, due to their gender presentation and sexuality, was never given the chance to succeed in the way Terrence did. What they’re doing is undeniably wrong, but their options were undeniably limited, whereas Terrence made a more direct choice to exploit the people around him to his own benefit. The show makes a point not to absolve either of them, which I appreciate, but the nuance in the paths that brought them to this point are really compelling. It helps that Salvatore Antonio is one of the better actors in the Slasher stable, and turns Salome’s showy, campy exterior into something shattered and profound beneath.
Salome’s complicity in the death of Margaret is probably the most sympathetic depiction we’ve seen of any of the perpetrators yet (maybe apart from Eddie), but it’s complicity nonetheless. I appreciate the way the show delineates between the amount of responsibility and choice people had in their actions – what they could have done to stop it, and how far they were actually able to.
Ripper is swiftly turning into one of my favourite seasons of this show so far – delving in to these characters who seem to be mostly camp decoration and wind up containing multitudes is incredibly rewarding, and the kills (especially this week’s – the way my face folded in on itself with cringe at the dismemberment was something to behold) are suitably brutal to match. I still don’t have a great guess at the killer right now, but I’m happy to sit back and let the show take me where it wants to go, as long as we keep getting these great character studies in the process.
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(header image via The Televixen)