The best-directed episodes of television in 2018 (so far)

Westworld Season 2 Episode 8. Acquired via HBO Media Site.
Westworld Season 2 Episode 8. Acquired via HBO Media Site. /
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American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, “Alone”

Developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Written by Tim Ron Smith
Directed by Daniel Minahan

Daniel Minahan directorial work on the finale of The Assassination of Gianni Versace so exceptional, it’s almost unwatchable. The episode spends most of its runtime with Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) in the aftermath of his killing of Gianni Versace (Édgar Ramírez). Initially, Cunanan is ecstatic, drunk on champagne and his newfound notoriety. But Cunanan’s joy curdles as his food supplies run out, the manhunt intensifies, and the inevitability of his situation becomes clear. Spending so much time in the presence of a captive and despairing spree killer is profoundly draining.

And when “Alone” movies away from Cunanan’s perspective, things are no less depressing. The episode details how the families of Cunanan’s victims are coping with the losses they’ve suffered. There’s anger and numbness followed by a tidal wave of sorrow. And there’s a weight and seamlessness to everything on screen that makes the episode feel suffocating. You simultaneously want to look away, but also desperate to find out how a 21-year old story wraps up.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace is a true achievement in direction but also one that is easier to admire than enjoy.