Is anyone else’s face still frozen in shock from that ending? Oh, Garrett. We hardly knew ye! This episode involved a lot of DNA, a secret affair, and what appears to be a pretty brutal stabbing of a beloved (and feared) main character. Let’s recap episode 6 of American Gothic.
One aspect of “The Chess Players” I greatly enjoyed was how much time the Hawthornes actually spent together. In most episodes, their storylines have taken them all over the greater Boston area, but this week we see Madeline, Cam, Tessa, and Alison spending a lot of time with each other on the Hawthorne estate.
The sort-of major information we learned last week — that Cam’s DNA proved a familial match to the SBK belt — is made public during one of Alison’s debates. Alison is shocked and mortified, and the family reconvenes to figure out how exactly this could have happened. They quickly learn it was Brady, and at the same time Tessa, who handed over Cam’s DNA. Madeline is furious and convinced this will be a frame job, where the cops will fit the evidence to any narrative they want (now we know she’s seen Making a Murderer).
It’s not long before the police (and our good buddy Dana!) barge in to swab the hell out of any Hawthorne they come across — with the exception of Garrett, because of course he’s not there. As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, he’s on a road trip/campout/pseudo-kidnapping? with Christina. The police are suspicious and try to find something of Garrett’s to test.
After DNA Fest 2016, Madeline makes a rather grotesque-looking dinner (that nobody eats) for Cam, Jack, Alison, and Tessa. All they can think about is who among them is a killer. Alison is first to point out all the reasons it has to be Garrett — the timing, his disappearance, etc. Tessa, of course, is staunchly defensive of him. Cam says his money is on Mitch, and he can’t see how the figure dragging a body down the stairs could have been anyone other than his father. Madeline is quick to refute any suspicions of Mitch, and Alison makes the very valid point that Mitch’s “favorite book was Wuthering Heights,” making him an innocent man if there ever was one. Madeline says the cops will try to get to the family and break them apart, but they have to stay strong together. Then she demands they all go to their rooms.
If you’re especially observant of the Hawthorne mansion, you may have noticed, like Jack, that there’s a lot of predatory birds around. Decorative ones, stuffed ones, photos of ones. Jack is deep in his research on vultures (because why wouldn’t he be?) when Cam starts to realize he’s correct — why are there so many birds in the house?
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Alison opens a copy of Wuthering Heights in the office of the Hawthorne home, perhaps hoping it will reveal something more about her father’s innocence. But the opposite actually happens — she finds some sexy photos of a young Madeline, along with a police report revealing that Mitch had brutally beat someone unconscious.
NEXT: “She seems to have an answer for everything.”
Alison, Tessa, and Cam consult Madeline about the finding. As per usual, Madeline has an explanation: She confesses she had an extramarital affair many years ago. She and Mitch didn’t divorce, but one night her paramour showed up at the house and Mitch beat him to a pulp, then dragged him down the stairs and left him on the front step. The kids buy it, generally, and are once again shocked by their mother’s multitude of secrets.
Tessa finds a bottle of prescription drugs in the house that belong to Garrett, prescribed by Christina. Once Brady hears the name “Christina Morales,” he’s hot on her trail, assuming that since she’s the daughter of the last SBK victim, Garrett must be holding her against her will.
Well — he’s half right. Garrett and Christina are hanging out in a cold, dark, wooded area, and have brought what seems like one blanket, no food, and maybe some alcohol. Are they camping? Are they midnight picnicking? Are they on some sort of retreat? That’s how Garrett describes it, at least, when he reminds her of their “no cellphones” agreement. Apparently, the entertainment on this outing will come from Garrett’s wit and Garrett’s wit alone.
Garrett decides he’s going to tell Christina his whole story, but just at that moment, he has to go get something (maybe one of the 100 camping items he forgot). Suddenly, Christina is approached by a boisterous group of young men, whom she basically tells to move it along. Garrett approaches them with a knife, threatening them to leave Christina alone. Christina is bothered by this, and decides to leave the escalating horror-movie scenario she finds herself in.
While this is going on, Brady and Tessa are heading to Christina’s apartment. Her dog walker tells them Christina is on a romantic(?) trip in the dark, cold, scary woods with her new boyfriend. Tessa insists on going with Brady, once again taking the lead on defending/protecting Garrett. Brady says yes at first, but then pulls the biggest fake out in history and essentially speeds away in his car when she’s not looking.
Now there’s an all-out manhunt for Garrett. It’s on TV news, and there are helicopters and cops all searching the woods. The Hawthornes are watching from home when cops casually drop in. The police chief delivers the Hawthornes some big news: Apparently, the blood on the SBK does have a clear Hawthorne match — Mitch.
Meanwhile, Christina is trying to walk back to the truck when she realizes she has a message on her cell phone from Brady, warning her about Garrett. The message lets her know Garrett’s an SBK suspect. Garrett comes up behind her and tries to win her back, but she yells at him and accuses him of killing her father. They brawl, and he grabs her close while she has a knife in her hand. The next time we see Christina, she’s getting out of Garrett’s truck and has blood all over her jacket — and we see Garrett back in the woods with multiple stab wounds.
I’ll be the first to say, this was a twist I was not expecting! But now what? Will we ever learn Garrett’s big “why I disappeared” story? Will Tessa divorce Brady after another betrayal? And what’s with all the birds? Stay tuned, folks!
Ep. 6 Honorable Mentions
Who Actually Dun It?
I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of Tessa. Everyone seems to drive home the point that “she was a baby when the murders happened.” It’s been said at least three times so far. But why is she so adamant about handling Garrett’s situation, when he’s the brother she barely knows after not seeing him for 14 years? She has question marks all over her, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m also starting to think the narrative we’ve been fed about finding the belt — and the blood on it — might also be wrong. We’ve been operating under the assumption this belt was the murder weapon, and the blood belonged to the murderer… But what if it wasn’t, and it doesn’t?
So, who’s your guess for SBK after this episode? Let us know!