Slasher S5E7/8: Divine Secrets/Vengeance

by thethreepennyguignol

You know, coming into this finale, I realized something: I haven’t thought a huge amount about the actual murder mystery this season.

And I think that’s a compliment, even if it is a strange thing to say about a show that is driven by the engine of the whodunnit at it’s heart: but Ripper has just been such a spectacularly fun and compelling set of character studies for me, and every week, I’ve found myself genuinely absorbed by the person or people we’re watching get fed into a printing press or whatever. This has probably been my favourite season of Slasher in terms of the character work – aside from Sabrina Grdevich’s iconic turn last season, which, no, I will not stop talking about, Ripper has been filled with character-driven stories, shaded with moral grey, and I love the overarching themes of culpability, complicity, and survival in a city and a time that doesn’t want you around.

Anyway, on to this final two-parter, Divine Secrets and Vengeance. And, honestly, I think this finale might have cemented this as my favourite season of Slasher to date.

Let’s, first off, talk about the killer’s reveal: the Widow Simcoe (Clare McConnell) has been the woman behind the murders this season, and I am obsessed with McConnell’s performance in these last two episodes. As the truth of her involvement with the murders slowly unravels, she goes from this swooning victim of circumstance to a playful, daring, and downright ballsy anti-hero – teasing Kenneth at the gates to her house, pushing her luck right to the breaking point before the reveal finally hits. The slyness in her performance is something I know will be really rewarding on a rewatch – I can’t wait to go back and pick out the details in her turn that hint towards this conclusion. She’s been right under our nose the whole time, widowed in the first episode, and I was so happy to see her shift into full public scalping mode by the episode’s end. It’s the glow-up every woman dreams of – from delicate flower to Oldboy revenge thriller, otherwise known as just going through your mid-twenties.

But I would be remiss (imagine me saying that in a sonorous stage murmur while shimmering with eight layers of duochrome eyeshadow) not to mention my beloved Georges, who gets his send-off in the second-last episode here. Thom Allison’s performance has been one of the absolute highlights of Ripper for me, a pure commitment to the bit as the world’s most unlikeable magician (and that’s really saying something). His descent into madness, the very camera itself shaking with distress, is a joy to watch, especially his climactic final performance – there’s a showmanship here that works both in Georges and in Thom Allison’s performance of him, and I have honestly loved every moment he’s been on screen. A performance this camp and daft isn’t going to be for everyone, but as a proud drama queen myself, it worked gloriously well for me.

And what a final performance he had. His plot dovetails with the Boticelli sisters, as Venetia steps up to take over the role of magician’s assistant, much to the chagrin of Viviana. Now, watching Sabrina Grdvech and Paula Brancati take metaphorical and literal chunks out of each other in a busy street was delightful enough, but seeing Chekov’s Lady-Sawn-In-Half Trick turn into an actual murder was even better. It’s a deliciously twisted end for the Boticelli sisters, one dead, one banged up for her sister’s murder, while the third, responsible for the lot, gets away with it.

Speaking of, this is a great finale for Verdi (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) too – much like Regina, she comes into her murderous fullness this week, taking on everyone who’s bought and sold her – murdering her eldest sister in public is just the beginning, as she agrees to marry Basil only to turn on him on the day of their wedding. Watching Eric McCormack embody the very essence of a raging erection the moment he heard Verdi had murdered her sister might have been one of my single favourite moments of acting this year, but Verdi still owns this plot, finally wresting back control from the powerful people around her who’ve used her to their own ends.

Like so much of this season, this finale is about class struggle, and taking down the person at the top of that pyramid makes for a satisfying finale – Basil gets it in this final episode, in a supremely satisfying ending to the show (and not just because Eric McCormack has played just a brilliantly contemptible douchebag for the last eight episodes). Ultimately, this has been a story about those who are beyond justice, a revenge fantasy for the disenfranchised about getting back at those who hurt the kinds of people nobody cares about, and watching Basil getting his head ripped apart by people he wouldn’t even have considered worthy of not offending is a perfect capper to that. Even if he’ll never be wearing any caps again.

And this finale is dripping with gorgeous gothic sensibilities that really help it stand out against Slasher’s previous seasons in terms of visuals – the stylistic choices here are consistently striking, from Venetia in the Widow’s robes silhouetted against a stage light, to Margaret’s exhumed corpse draped in a wedding dress in the church, it’s dripping with this over-the-top style that helps paper over the cracks of some of the inherent ridiculousness of this plot. I do appreciate that the show walked back the supernatural elements, just because I think it would open up a whole different side to this show that might muddy the waters of the straight murder mystery we’ve had for the last five season.

This finale is a perfect end to this wonderful season; gruesome, gothic, grotesque, and just a little bit glamorous to boot. What did you think of the finale, and this season as a whole? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you to everyone who’s joined me for this season of Slasher reviews! I’ve loved writing about it, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, too. If you’d like to deep-dive the whole season (and the one before it, too) with me again, check out my Slasher series here!

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(header image via Reddit)