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American Gothic - Jack-in-the-Pulpit - Review: "Good Luck with Your Cat!"

I'll be honest. Watching grief is boring. It's difficult to watch characters we don't know yet mourn a man we only spent a few scenes with. American Gothic recognizes this and doesn't try to make Mitchell's funeral about him, but about how his death has changed the dynamics of the Hawthorne siblings and their mother.

Each sibling handles the news of their father's death differently. Cam, guilty for hooking up with Sophie instead of being at his father's bedside, immediately slides back into addiction. The mystery of the silver bells takes a backseat to finding his next fix. Sophie stops him before he can use again, but it's unclear if it's compassion for his situation or just so she can have it all to herself. Maybe both.

Alison judges her younger siblings for not looking sad enough and finds comfort with both her campaign manager, Naomi, and her husband, Tom. Judging from Naomi's seething glare at the end of the episode, this love triangle won't stay secret long.

Garrett is looking forward to taking the opportunity to deliver a scathing eulogy about his late father, but is stopped first by Alison getting him arrested and then by concern over Tessa's emotional state. Garrett may see his interactions with Alison as a game, but he seems to care about Tessa and doesn't want to ruin the funeral for her.

Tessa mourns her father by trying to find out who he actually was. Unlike her siblings, she can't just ignore the silver bells in the shed and she wants definite proof that he father was not a man who would do such a horrible thing.

But what do we learn about Mitchell in this episode? Nothing. He's still an enigma, maybe a serial killer or maybe an innocent true crime fan (ok - no one's believing that story). He's definitely not the dark fairy tale Madeline has spun for her children. After murdering Mitchell, she comes up with a plausible explanation for the silver bells in the shed. Mitchell had bought Silver Bells Killer memorabilia online. He began suffering from dementia and began thinking that he was the Silver Bells Killer all along. Even when Tessa finds evidence that her father was still sharp as a tack until his death, Madeline just doubles down on the lie, claiming that Mitchell was suicidal and begged her to kill him, perhaps sowing the seeds for an assisted suicide confession if anyone finds out what she did.

Unlike Mitchell, we learn a great deal about Madeline in this episode. In the pilot, she is the aloof matriarch, only stepping out of the shadows to deliver the final shock of the episode. Here, we see how she manipulates her family to her advantage and covers up her misdeeds with ease. She doesn't even bother leaving the hospital before calling in a rush order on her husband's cremation. I fully believe Madeline can't be the Silver Bells Killer because she would have hidden that belt a lot better.

But even Madeline can't control everything and things start going off the rails the second Jack stands up to give a eulogy. To me, Jack is the most interesting character on the show and young actor Gabriel Bateman does a great job as Jack tries to process death. In the end, while he is sad that he can't talk to his grandpa or hug him, he's mostly just sad that he can't see his decomposing body. This is a funeral Boston is going to remember for a while.

Meanwhile...This Week in Brady: It's difficult fitting Brady's subplot in the review because it is so divorced from what's happening with the rest of the family. In part, that's because he's being purposefully kept in the dark by Tessa and the others, but it sometimes feels like everyone else is in a dark family drama and Brady's stuck in a wacky procedural with his no-nonsense boss and fruitless quest to get to Mitchell's body before it was cremated.

Top Suspects of the Week

Cam: While last week, the show definitely wanted viewers to think Garrett was the most suspicious member of the family, this week it's Cam's turn to have a shady past. Garrett alludes to Cam having the same problems Jack did at his age, Brady matches the belt found in the bridge to one Cam's wearing in a picture, and now there's ominous talk of a family dog dying.

Tessa: I don't have a lot of evidence to have Tessa here, but I found the scene with Garrett in the church to be interesting. She is so very, very good at manipulating him into doing what she wants (in this case not making a scene during the eulogy) that I find it suspicious.

Gunther the Groundskeeper: Like a shady groundskeeper named Gunther isn't going to end up on the suspect list.

Caramel Watch: Caramel seems to be recovering admirably from tail surgery but did not look happy to be dragged back to the Hawthorne house.

Thanks for the warm welcome last week! I'm really enjoying this show and sharing theories with all of you! Be sure to add any new ideas in the comments! Who's your top suspect of the week?

About the Author - Laurel Weibezahn
Laurel Weibezahn is a freelance writer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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