Feud: Bette & Joan episode 4 review: Nothing lasts forever

Feud: Bette & Joan episode 4 reviewActually, a better title for this Feud: Bette & Joan episode 4 review would “nothing lasts at all,” given just how quickly over the course of this latest installment we start to see things fall apart for the likes of our main characters.

Let’s start the hour with a bit of good news for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a smash success! It defied all expectations and fears, becoming both a commercial favorite and generating all sorts of Oscar buzz. Unfortunately, there were also problems. For one, Bette was the one getting the majority of the adoration and the Oscar talk, and that didn’t sit well with Joan. As a result of that, she found herself refusing to promote the movie or engage in any conversation. She took her ball and went home, potentially squandering the one opportunity for career momentum that she had.

To make matters worse, she was also in a situation where nobody was really jumping at her with some further offers even in spite of the success of the movie. She fired her agents, and the one prominent offer coming in was from Robert’s assistant Pauline for a film that she was writing, one that she also wanted to directed. Joan had no interest in it, and not supposedly because she was a woman (something that many other people had objections to). Instead, she was not into it because she was a “nobody” and working with her would effectively get her career going nowhere fast.

The biggest critique you can offer for this episode is that it drifted rather far from the story of Bette and Joan, given that there was a good bit of time spent on the story of Pauline and how this movie could someday get made and that the world was changing. The script didn’t need to emphasize this as much because the proof is in the pudding. While it is still clear women directors are not commonplace enough, we do live in a world with a female Best Director after all of these years. Aside from Pauline, we also spent a good bit of time with Robert as the studios made him realize more and more that he was as washed-up in some ways as Bette and Joan were. He was never going to be a true visionary in their mind, and he would continue to have problems with the cast.

Bette certainly came off as better within this episode than Joan, at least in terms of her doing what she felt she needed to in order to continue her career, going on Perry Mason and getting out there to promote the film. Susan Sarandon remains fantastic, but we do hope that the next episode does give you more of Bette and Joan together as opposed to the two floating around in different spaces, occasionally interacting but also focusing on their own futures.

Overall take

Feud: Bette & Joan remains a fantastic series, but did it rush the production of Baby Jane too much? We’re four episodes in and we’re already past filming, and at a point when the two stars are not spending as much time together. This was probably the weakest of the bunch in the series, largely because it drifted the furthest from what we feel is the show’s calling card. Still, it feels petty to hit it too hard over it when the performances and the Hollywood flair are so consistently stellar. Grade: B.

Be sure to share your personal Feud: Bette & Joan episode 4 review now in the comments.

Meanwhile, head over here to retrieve some further news right now on the series, including a further preview for what’s ahead. (Photo: FX.)

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