'The Beast Must Die' Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

Maeve Dermody as Violet - The Beast Must Die
Photo Credit: Gareth Gatrell/AMC

The thing about The Beast Must Die is that you know the beast will eventually die. It took almost the entire season, but there it finally was. The beast is dead. Long live the beast.

But it took a while, and for a long, long moment, it seemed as if the beast might not die. George Rattery is a man not to be trifled with, as they say, and Frances, as much as one wanted to root for her, she was triflin'. As I noted in an earlier recap, Frances was coming up with a real problem. Firearm training, tough talk, sailboat prepping, you do you, girl. But in the end, you must have the stones to go through with the murder. And Frances is not a killer. She's a grieving mother, a woman out of her mind with emotional pain and sorrow, But she's also a sensitive, intelligent person. Honestly, if she didn't even have it in her to do the crime of passion push off the cliff, she was never going to have it.

And that's the brick wall France ran right into this week, standing on that sailboat, thinking she was going to cold-bloodedly confront George with his crime and play judge jury and executioner on that water. There was no cold blood other than in George's veins; there was no winning this fight. The moment she told him the truth, he showed her the beast inside, and he ran her over just as sure as his car ran over her son. She was left a sniveling, sobbing mess, obediently piloting his boat back to shore with him alive as he sneered at her pathetic failures.

And then it was over. Frances was out of the house, out of their lives, and George ruled his kingdom once more. And he lorded his win over that family, rubbing their noses in her traitorous feelings, reducing Phil into a quivering mass of sexually humiliated Jello and Lena into a helpless, sobbing, impotent, terrified rage. It was almost hard to be sure of how much his accusations were genuine and how many were just him stating their desires aloud. Did Phil actually fantasize about Frances? Did Lena actually sleep with him to get back at her sister? And most importantly, was it Lena behind the wheel of that Mercedes when it hit Marty, or was it George?

Cush Jumbo as Frances - The Beast Must Die
Photo Credit: Gareth Gatrell/AMC

While George's humiliation of Phil was quiet, done poolside, with no one else to see, the knockdown drag-out scream fest with Lena was loud enough to be heard all over the house. They all heard George's accusation of her sleeping with "her sister's husband" (a.k.a. him) though the camera mainly focused on Phil's horrified reaction. But don't discount that Vi heard it too, and Joy besides. Heck, even poor Marta probably heard it. The horrorshow of that house was on full display in the wake of Frances' exit, as the beast rampaged free.

In light of this tour de force exhibit of upper-class misery, Strangeway's little fact-finding fest seemed almost quaint. Here the poor man thought he was building a watertight case against George, methodically tracking cell phone pings to an abandoned construction project where George hid the car, checking and rechecking alibis and witness statements. Meanwhile, George is lawyering up, five steps ahead of you, buddy, alerted to possible threats by Frances' foolish belief she could be as hard as any killer, just because she got a new hairdo and cute sporty pants. Sad really.

One step ahead indeed. When Strangeways and company finally rolled up, ready to make their arrest, triumphantly arriving in a motorcade, sirens blaring, George was already gone. Dead, in his office. He had eluded justice for a final time, and now those who had suffered under him would rue the day they made the mistake of picking this morning to mete out his sentence. 

Geraldine James as Joy - The Beast Must Die
Photo Credit: Gareth Gatrell/AMC

Joy did attempt, as best she could, to try and put a stop to everything. She insisted Strangeways explain himself and attempted to lord over everyone, demanding her rights as a wealthy white person of vaguely upper-class breeding not to be annoyed by such indignities as policemen. But from the moment Vi piped up, it was like she suddenly deflated. She wasn't in charge, not without George here to back her. Vi stood up; she sat down. And a room full of suspects suddenly found themselves staring back at each other as Joy sobbed that one of them did this.

Strangeways hit Lena up first; she is the weakest link, and obviously so. Her story about Marty puts George in the driver's seat, her drunkenly asleep in the passenger side after a fight with him. She admits they were involved, so George's accusations were true. But she insists upon learning the truth about Frances yesterday she had planned to come to the police. Convenient that. 

As for the rest, they agree. George went out with Frances on his boat, and after that, no one saw her again while he stayed home. It looks like there's one more visit Strangeways will have to make. The beast may be dead, but there's still truth to be found.