First, SPOILERS! Do not continue if you haven't watched it yet, this will ruin it.
"Lizzie Borden took an axe, she gave her mother forty whacks. When he saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one."
Lifetime's newest TV event, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, begins on a very creepy note: three little girls, jumping rope and chanting a rhyme about how Lizzie Borden murdered her family. Clearly the town of Fall River, MA isn't quite ready to move the horrific events. Though it becomes blatantly obvious that Lizzie revels in attention, nobody to somebody with one swing of the axe.
Due to high popularity, which wasn't surprising because it's basically grown-up Wednesday Addams, Lifetime decided to continue Lizzie Borden Took an Axe with a mini-series event depicting what happened after Lizzie was acquitted of the murder charges. Text in the first scene tells the audience that it actually is set 4 months after the acquittal. For those who never saw the movie, or just don't remember, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe ends with Lizzie's sister, Emma (Clea Duvall), leaving for greener pastures on New Year's Day. And what prompted the leaving? Lizzie confessed to Emma that she did in fact kill their parents. (Insert big, fat DUH! here.)
Though I will say that the sisters seem to act more "sisterly" towards each other than before.
The episode continues with a meeting between the Borden sisters, a lawyer, and William Almy (John Heard). Almy claims that their father was deep in debt and now he wishes to collect. Collection would mean that the Borden sisters would lose their home and every penny of their inheritance, but Almy doesn't care. This is the main issue of the first episode, Lizzie and Emma trying to find a way to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustom. Basically Almy is a stone cold di**.
Cut to a bloody shoot out in the woods!
And thus ends Michael Ironside's role on the show. Which really sucks, because I LOVE Michael Ironside. He's is brilliant at playing villains, so my hopes are dashed. And no, this isn't a fake out - his head ends up in a saddle bag.
Though the loss sucks, it is a great way to introduce Pinkerton Charlie Siringo (Cole Hauser) into the show. I am a fan of Cole Hauser, I think he's a really underrated actor. Loved him in The Family that Preys. I am excited to see what his character, an investigator hired to look into the Borden murders, will bring to the show.
Upon inspection it seems that, at least so far, Lizzie and Emma are the only characters to carry over from the movie. (I was hoping to see more Billy Campbell, but whatcha gonna do?) But this means that we've got the opportunity to meet new ones, if only briefly. Like William Borden (Andrew Howard), the disowned bastard brother, who's first scene is in a jail cell. His sister's bail him out and take him home, where we are quickly shown that he is no more than an obnoxious gold digger. Most of his interactions in the episode are of him screaming about getting some of his sisters' money.
William also claims that his father hid some "treasure" somewhere on the property, leading him to search high and low. But does he find the treasure? Well, if you consider finding a dead baby in the basement as treasure then....sure. Though I'm not sure who would.
But, leave it to Big Bro to see the potential profit in such a horrifying discovery. He gets the idea to try and blackmail the sisters into keeping the secret quiet. So the implication is that the baby belongs to one of the sisters, my money's on Emma though we may never no. Lizzie defiantly looks him in the eye and, in not so many words, tells him to f*** off. She may be tiny, but crazy intimidating (emphasis on the crazy).
When extortion doesn't work, William ineptly attacks Almy in the middle of the street, screaming at him for trying to take his father's money. Enter the police, now on a town wide manhunt for the Borden brother. And guess what? They don't find him. After searching the sisters' house and the barn, they leave wit their tails between their legs. What they don't now, but sister Lizzie does, is that Billy is hiding in the loft.
Cut to Lizzie reassuring Emma that they'll probably never see William again. Whew, load off their back.
Then we're treated to seeing Lizzie, in a very fancy dress, sneak out to the barn carrying a tray with a huge bottle of booze and two glasses. Ominous, much! She plies her brother with liquor and reassures that she will not tell the police where he's hiding. Jump to Almy's house.
In walks Lizzie, actually she climbed through the cellar window, surprising a silk robe encased Almy. He says she should leave, which is then countered by Lizzie batting her eyelashes and letting down her hair. Commencing to seduce him, while holding an insanely long hair pin, Almy buckles. I mean, who wouldn't be attracted to Christina Ricci? Even when playing a woman suspected of being an axe murderer.
Though before anything salacious happens, she quickly drives the hair pin into his brain stem. Should've seen this death coming after she bought the extravagant house, just didn't expect it to happen so soon. You'd think that would be that, but you'd be wrong. After the body collapses to the floor, Lizzie pulls out what I can only assume is a sock full of nickles and proceeds to beat the body. Confused yet? Well that's a riddle quickly answered when Emma finds brother Billy hanging from the rafters in the barn. So I think it's safe to conclude that Lizzie hopes to frame William for Almy's death. But who's going to buy that? I guess we'll find out next week.
And where is Siringo during all this? Discovering a hidden room full of dead cats!
The Pinkerton wasted no time diving into the Borden investigation, while flirting with the hotel owner's wife, upon arriving to Fall River. His first lead led him to Lizzie's ex-teacher, who was supposed to testify at the trial but mysteriously pulled out. There is a brief implication that Lizzie did something to her to keep her from testifying, something that also led to her quitting her job, but the old woman seems to have some kind of degenerative mental affliction (Alzheimer's?). Though before zonking out she did say that Lizzie was a sweet child, when it suited her. Leading watchers to believe that Lizzie has always been psycho, instead of just snapping all of sudden.
Siringo then decides to check the old school building and track down Borden's records. He finds some paperwork with Lizzie's name on it, but this is quickly laid aside when Charlie discovers a hidden door. Cue the creepy dark hallway accompanied by the buzzing of flies.
Love his hat, though.
So....Lizzie drove the old woman to crazy town by killing her cats?! Someone's quickly checking of the serial killer criteria list.
And thus the first episode ends with a bunch of dead cats, two dead guys, and a close up creepy smile from Lizzie.
Judging by the premiere, I have high hopes for this show (even if it's only a one off). I thought Christina Ricci was amazing in it, scary how well she can pull off psycho (what else do you expect from the woman famous for playing homicidal Wednesday Addams?). I'm looking forward to seeing more of Cole Hauser, hopefully his role will pick up speed. Definitely worth adding to your Sunday lineup. And for those who didn't see the movie, I would suggest tracking it down. It definitely enhances the show.
I would like to close with what, in my opinion, was the best scene of the episode: Lizzie scares off a group of children who suffer from morbid curiosity. As they follow her and Emma down the street, silently chanting, she borrows a hatchet from a nearby Indian statue. All but one girl runs away screaming at the sight of Lizzie wielding an axe. The blonde girl defiantly declares, "I'm not scared of you." Lizzie brilliantly counters with, "Then you haven't been paying attention."
This show has the potential for greatness, so fingers crossed, and I will continue to tune in each week.
Thanks for taking the time to read.