Dascha Polanco Shines as a Miami Detective in Finale of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Dascha Polanco as Lori in 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story' Episode 2 "Manhunt." Photo by Ray Mickshaw. Courtesy of FX


The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Recap: Season 2, Episode 9, “Alone”

The season began with a murder and ends with a funeral. After diving deep into the troubled life of one Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss), the final episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story returns us to Miami and the aftermath of the designer’s death. As the FBI organize one of the biggest manhunts to date to try and find the young serial killer, we get to see how the frayed relationship between Donatella and Antonio (Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin) won’t be mended after all, how Lee Miglin’s widow (Judith Light) has coped with the death of her husband, and how even Andrew’s father has turned his son’s murder spree into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

More importantly, it gave Dascha Polanco’s Detective Lori Wieder even more screen time. A non-nonsense Miami cop who understood just how dangerous Cunanan was (even before he had killed Versace), Detective Wieder emerged over her brief appearances as the kind of law enforcement agent who wasn’t about to let cultural prejudices about gay men get in the way of serving justice. In this episode, when she and her partner go back to interrogate Ronnie (Max Greenfield), she gets to hear Cunanan’s former friend talk at length about why he believes the police and the FBI took so long to even care about his serial killings: “Oh, you were looking for him, weren’t you?” he asks her. “The only lass on the force. But other cops weren’t searching so hard, were they? Why is that? Because he killed a bunch of nobody gays.” It wasn’t Versace’s death made headlines that Wieder’s co-workers began papering the streets with the very signs she’d urged the FBI to print and distribute all around South Beach weeks earlier.

One of the joys of watching American Crime Story this season has been witnessing Latino actors the likes of Edgar Ramirez (as Gianni Versace) and Ricky Martin (as his lover, Antonio) getting plum roles in one of cable TV’s hottest show. But right alongside them we should add Polanco. Whether playing Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend in Joy (alongside Ramirez) or showing up in a bit part in the Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler, Polanco is proving there’s more to her than the once-mousy-turned-hardened inmate Daya in Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black. Moreover, it’s always nice to see a stellar Latina actress get a chance to shine in roles that play to their strengths and refuse to merely box them into playing what they’ve played before.

Sadly, even as Wieder and her colleagues try to find a peaceful resolution to the Cunanan ordeal, the explosive final moments of the season finale show how we all know the story ended: with the serial killer shooting himself in the head after being cornered in a house boat by police and FBI alike. “Andrew is not hiding,” Ronnie tells Wieder, when he explains the flashy murders of the young man he still doesn’t feel comfortable calling a friend, “He’s trying to be seen.” His death, which like Versace’s, could’ve been prevented if the homophobic bias of Wieder’s fellow cops wasn’t so pervasive, becomes a final ode to the kind of infamous fame Cunanan sought. It’s a fitting end (which whisks us off to Italy where Gianni’s star-studded funeral took place) to this sun-kissed drenched exposé on 90s homophobia, which brimmed with explorations on the closet, self-hatred, self-delusions, and plenty of Darren Criss’ rocking bod. But before we bid the show goodbye, we wanted to tally up some of our favorite recurring motifs we kept looking forward to week after week. Enjoy!

The Final Counts:

– Times We Saw Ricky Martin in a Speedo (and out of one): ??

– Times Dascha Polanco Side-Eyed Her Co-Workers: ? ? ? ?

– Times Penelope Cruz Exhaled in Exasperation: ? ? ? ? ? ?

– Times Edgar Ramirez Stares at a Design On A Mirror: ? ? ?

– Times Cruz and Martin Had a Melodramatic Quarrel: ? ? ? ?