The second night of NBC's version of Satanist feel-good classic Rosemary's Baby was even more entertaining than the first. The pixie cut! Julie's sparkle-filter cross! Le trahison d'un chat noir, mes amis! And an ending even happier than the original.
NBC's foray into the occult sunsets on a shot of Rosemary strolling along the Seine in head-to-toe Dior looking like a sexy Cruella DeVille with an antique carriage and a baby who has eyes like blue popsicles. Is she even technically damned? She's not doing anything wrong: she's just loving that baby. Nothing wrong with that!
There is a lot about the original Rosemary's Baby that's kind of "aged out" of being as frightening: the prenatal imaging process is now fantastic, from what I hear. But science has given us no advantage over our biology, and everyone who's cranked one out swears that parental love will act on you like a body-snatching alien when you see that baby.
Even if that baby was the Antichrist and was going to reap fire from the fields and bodies from the rivers, you'd take one look at their face and be like "That's my boy, my own sweet little pumpkin waffle. No BPA plastics around him, please."
While that's rationally unsettling, it's still a comforting, even heroic message. Moms are ride or die for their kids. Love is real. Rosemary is like the John McClane of undying maternal love. She didn't ask for this mess but now that she's in it she's going to see it through all the way, Yipee-Ki-Yay-Motherfucker/Non, je ne regrette rien.
I mean, what's more hardcore than finding your baby via following the wet spots from your spontaneous lactation? Just as Toucan Sam follows his nose, Rosemary followed the wet patches on her Brook's Brothers blouse to the Satanist baby shower going on next door and then engaged in some very ecstatic breastfeeding, reacting not unlike a delirious drifter about to topple from a bus stop after a zesty night of meth tasting.
(Also: not showing the baby in the original was way way way more horrific. The baby we got to see for NBC's version was absolutely precious. That baby looked up at the camera and my ovaries burst out into applause.)
Of course the minutes leading up to this fairy tale ending were sort of an endurance run of pathos and human agony. From the moment Julie died in that horrible white Crocs/hot oil Cordon Bleu kitchen accident Zoe ratcheted the feels up to a 10 and stayed there. She. Was. Devastated.
But that left her no where to go in the ensuing 45 or so minutes. I mean she tried to bring it up to an 11, a 12, but at a certain point you have shrieked as hard as you can shriek. Audio levels on editing software eventually top out, my dears. Ultimately she was holding a knife over her baby contemplating righteous infanticide with the same exact expression as when the Paris police commissioner got plowed under by a snazzy French garbage truck.
This isn't an acting issue, this is a directing issue. No one can fault Zoe Saldana, who left it all out on the field and probably went through a flat of Throat Coat tea in this emotionally and physically exhausting role. The director should have been like "Hey, maybe save some of that amazing stuff for after you find the haunted doll shop behind the closet."
Ultimately I went into NBC's Rosemary's Baby wondering how they would compensate for the agency women have attained since the 60's, my blind spot—and perhaps their blind spot—was the current contemporary struggle, which is a financial one. Can we really watch Rosemary bring a baby into a perfect apartment, surrounded by adoring millionaire godparents, her kid's every need taken care of, and feel horror?
Obviously there's an underlying message about the seduction of the Devil and worldly gains, and for the record I'd generally avoid becoming enthralled with Satan or his earthly manifestation, the Whole Foods Hot Bar. But even without the supernatural element the original was a horrifying story. Excise the supernatural from NBC's version and you've got non-stop wish fulfillment: excellent prenatal health care, an apparently painless birth, an adorable healthy baby to bundle up into an antique Parisian stroller. Times are too hard for this to really be frightening, and Satanism is nowhere near as destructive as the actual hijinks some richies get up to.