Feud Episode 5: And The Winner Is…

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Susan Sarandon, left, and Jessica Lange in “Feud: Bette and Joan.” Credit Suzanne Tenner/FX

… not Bette Davis…

This week, fresh off her Academy Award snub, Joan Crawford took aim at her Baby Jane co-star Bette Davis. Her strategy? 1) Actively campaign against Davis, with the help of Hedda Hopper; and 2) accept the Academy Award for best actress, even if it isn’t hers. Crawford spends half the episode approaching each of the nominees (Davis excluded) offering to accept on their behalf. A few of them agree, including Geraldine Page (played by the divine Sarah Paulson) and the eventual winner Anne Bancroft. She also approaches the Academy and demands that she be a presenter. They arrange for her to present the Best Director award. Really, who can say no to Joan?

Elsewhere, Bette’s friend (and show narrator) Olivia de Havilland flies in from Paris to be Bette’s Oscar guest and confidante. De Havilland has her own feud with her sister Joan Fontaine, so she knows a little bit about what Bette is going through.

On Oscar day, Mamacita enlists a glam squad to prepare Joan for her for the big night. Joan has a vision of herself as a silver contrast to the little gold statue, and she pulls it off with a fabulous silver gown, jewelry, nails and even a dusting of silver powder in her hair. At the awards she takes over the greenroom, against the protest of the Academy staff, and turns it into her own party. Joan is determined to make this her night, and no one can stop her.

Bette is also determined that it will be her night. On her way out the door she kisses her first two Oscars goodnight and promises to bring them home  a “baby brother”, but on arrival, it’s clear that this Academy Awards is about Joan. She’s holding court in the greenroom, ushering the Best Director winner around like she owns the place, and finally, when Anne Bancroft defeats Bette for Best Actress, she ceremoniously takes the stage to accept the Oscar as if it’s her own. Bette is forced to look on as Joan gleefully poses for photos with the other “winners.”

Yet, at the end of the night, the award is not Joan’s. Sure, the night was fun and defeating Bette felt good in the moment, but at the end of the night, as she goes to sleep, it’s defeat, not happiness, that crosses her face.

Did you know that there was supposed to be a follow-up to Baby Jane starring Bette and Joan? We will be live tweeting episode 6 tonight, as Murphy tells the story of Hush…Hush… Sweet Charlotte and how the feud between Joan and Bette ruined any chance of the two actresses joining forces a second time. And don’t forget to check in with us next week for the recap!

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