Feud: Bette & Joan episode 5 review: The winner is all of us

Feud: Bette & Joan episode 5 review

We wondered precisely how Feud: Bette & Joan would operate after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? finished production, and Sunday night’s new episode took all of our worries away.

“And the Winner is… (The Oscars of 1963)” is by far the best episode of the show to date, and one of the best episodes of 2017. It told a story that was very singular, didn’t waste any time, and paced it in such a way that it blew by in what felt like seconds. Also, the drama at the center of it was all sorts of delicious.

At the center of everything was of course the 1963 Oscars, one that saw Bette Davis lose in the Best Actress category to none other than Anne Bancroft, but that wasn’t the part of it that was notorious — instead, it was watching Joan Crawford strut up on stage and accept Bancroft’s award on her behalf. She specifically went off and courted the opportunity, just so that she could have this moment of glory on the Oscar stage, and also so that she could rub it in Bette’s face in the process. She did everything possible to sabotage her co-star, pouring the praise elsewhere and claiming even on the red carpet that she voted for “the winner.” She even set up her own personal party in the green room. She didn’t have a nomination, but Joan made the night her own personal Oscars. We lived for every second of it, even if it was incredibly petty and she was warned it could destroy her career completely.

The performance from Jessica Lange during this hour was magnificent, from every facial expression to her masterful reading of “I’m not.” After she was told “you’re better than this” over her choice to go and steal Bette’s big moment in front of millions of viewers. For one night, she got most of what she wanted. Seeing characters like Bancroft and Geraldine Page respond to some of Joan’s antics also made for some entertaining moments, as you could see the difference of opinion about the awards across two generations. Also, some of that may have been due to the younger actresses’ age, and realization that they would have the time for many more awards in the future.

Bette, of course, was incensed by Joan’s antics, and she was pretty keenly aware of all of it by the end of the night. Feud: Bette & Joan is a series of battles and wars. Joan won the first battle in getting Bette on board Baby Jane, given that she knew this could be a perfect comeback. However, Bette won in getting the meatier performance and the awards-show love. Then, Joan won on this night … but it’s pretty clear to us that Bette could win the next battle given that she’s going to want revenge over all of this.

Maybe you can say that both actresses win the war given that they’re each a part of Hollywood immortality. Yet, we would say that Joan is the one who comes across more desperate and power-hungry here. She’s clinging to fame and serving as a wrecking-ball for any in her path.

This episode was straightforward, emotional, and above all, sensational. We could watch it again and again for some of its big moments. Grade: A.

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