Netflix has yet again bought us another epic-fuelled series with a title that seems perfectly fitting for its elusive protagonist, Mildred Ratched. “Ratched” is intense, jaw-dropping and sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.
Set in 1947, the American psychological thriller is a prequel to Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. The pilot opens with an eerie and unsettling tone setting the scene for what is yet to come. The pathetic fallacy unfolds, serving as a warning for the gruesome images viewers are faced with just moments into the start of the episode. We meet Edmund Tolleson for the first time, who butchers 4 priests to death, which earns him his notorious title of the ‘clergy killer’. Eventually, we learn what triggered the psychotic outburst.
However, we are not here to talk about Edmund, no, it is the enigmatic nature of Mildred Ratched, a character so well executed by Sarah Paulson, that draws in our attention.
Under the pretence that she is a qualified nurse, Mildred purposely seeks out employment at a psychiatric institution, better known as Lucia State Hospital, with the knowledge that Edmund will be admitted there. At first, we are puzzled by Mildred’s pursuit of the unhinged individual; soon realising that Edmund is Mildred’s foster brother, whom she is on a mission to save from the death penalty, following his conviction of murdering the priests.
So who exactly is Mildred Ratched? A character evoking so much poise and control, yet there is a darkness that looms over her, or perhaps a sadness. Mildred can induce feelings of sympathy juxtaposed with emotions of anger and hatred by her heartless and cruel acts.
In several bids to secure her position at the hospital, Mildred blackmails fellow nurse Amelia, forcing her to resign, and her ploy to climb up the ladder doesn’t stop there. Mildred finds herself in the limelight after saving a convulsing patient, in which she secretly administered the wrong medication to cause the incident in the first place.
Her manipulative nature is almost admirable in the way she can control those around her. We see this as she inevitably plants the seeds for patient Dario Salvatore to kill himself, not to mention the hold she possesses over a feeble Dr Hanover. Out of fear, he remains at her beck and call, unable to disobey her commands for she knows too many of his secrets.
Amid the chaos, however, her saviour complex over Edmund divides our thoughts of her. Is she a cold and heartless tyrant or an angel of mercy, lacking love? And as a result, has shut herself off from the world with a wall so high around her. I’ll let you decide…