The episode begins in 1978, with Olivia de Havilland telling us about the Davis-Crawford feud. Now in 1961, Joan is at the Golden Globes when Marilyn Monroe wins, and she's not happy about it. The next day, Hedda Hopper (who's a b**** to Joan, and thus fits right in) comes to Joan's home and threatens to expose her drunken Globes night. She is reminded that she isn't getting parts anymore, and her age isn't helping any. This prompts Joan to go to her agent, Oscar in hand, and demand that she get some parts. She's picky, and doesn't want any of the roles her agent sends her. So she decides to find a role for her own.
Joan looks through a bunch of books for a good potential adaptation, when she discovers What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and she selects it as her next project. She gets Robert Aldrich to direct, and recruits her rival Bette Davis as Baby Jane, after a lot of convincing. Because of her hatred for Joan, Bette calls Joan by her real name, Lucille. Aldrich tries to convince studios to take on the picture, and he goes to a ton before finally finding Jack Warner, who reluctantly agrees. We also find out that Warner despises Bette, calling the the c-word because of a time when Bette sued him.
At a press conference, the women take pictures and pretend to tolerate one another. Unfortunately, when it's time to sign contracts, Joan flips out when she sees that Bette will receive more than her. She storms out and demands $1500, which Aldrich agrees to.
It's now time to begin production, and things are really getting good. Bette starts to craft Baby Jane's look, complete with her white makeup, red lipstick, a terrible wig, and a terrible dress. Her daughter is not impressed with the look, and neither is Joan. Everyone else in the crew loves it (well, they pretend to at least). The episode ends with Bette and Joan joining Hedda for a meal, and we hear some of Hedda's story via a voiceover, and it honestly sounds riveting.
This premiere was absolutely fantastic. It managed to mix some humor in with the drama, and that's almost always a good thing. Susan Sarandon was terrific, but Jessica Lange was marvelous, the true star of the episode. Based on this episode, this will be some of the finest work of her career. I don't want to wait another week for more.
Episode Score: 10/10
Episode Grade: A+