Why Women Kill Season Premiere Review: From Inconsequential to Infamous

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The meek shall inherit the earth is a terrible phrase.

That's one of the many that the have-nots have hidden behind with the hope that their kindness and patience will prevail.

Why Women Kill Season 2 is a study in the haves and have nots, and those distinctions aren't only on a monetary level.

Taking a Chance - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

Alma Philcott isn't hurting for money. She has a lovely husband named Bertram, Bertie, for short, who loves her entirely. As a veterinarian, he makes a decent living, but his spending habits are modest.

Alma lives within those habits happily enough, but she's secretly pining for the day she will meet other women who share her passion for gardening, women who lunch in pretty dresses while chatting about the gardens they love.

Of course, Alma doesn't know that the Elysian Garden Club is a garden club in name only. She's tended her garden for years in the hope that one day a coveted spot on the club would open, and she'd have her chance to prove her value to the women she admires.

With Alma's plight as the frumpy everywoman, Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1 reminds us that for all of the progress women have made since 1949, we are still easily lured into believing we aren't good enough for the best in life.

Coming Clean - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

Years into the future, physical beauty still perpetuates the notion that if you aren't society's idea of the perfect woman, you'd best settle back and enjoy what simple pleasures life delivers because achieving more will take a miracle.

Alma has a personal cheerleader in her daughter, Dee, and just enough gumption stored up to try to make her dreams a reality. She's got confidence in her garden, and without the full scope of the garden club, she made a bold move to approach them at one of their special lunches.

I'd be happy every day of my life if I had a group of elegant friends like that.


That put Alma face to face with the woman she believes has it all -- Rita Castillo. Rita seems like a petty and vindictive woman who finds pleasure in tearing others down while propping herself up from the onset.

She's hardly one to admire, but from outside the window looking in, she's got it all, and Alma wants nothing more than to befriend her.

Mother Daughter Chat - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

As Alma, Allison Tolman perfectly conveys every fervent wish and every devastating setback her character experiences. Tolman herself is proof positive that women succeed without sacrificing their individuality, and banking on talent can move mountains.

She's perfectly cast as Alma, who will experience an awakening that will set her on a course, as the voiceover says at the beginning of the hour, from inconsequential to infamous.

A large part of that journey will come courtesy of her husband, Bertram. Forever known as the woman behind the man -- the veterinarian's wife -- whether she likes it not, her marriage to Bertram defines her.

With a looming secret he's been carrying, that definition will continue as Alma reroutes her course with her new knowledge.

The Secret in the Attic Tall - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

Everything that Alma is has been a lie. She's quietly sat back and allowed Bertram his success while she gratefully catered to his needs so that he could support the family.

When she asked for a special dress for the garden club party, it took a heartfelt confession about her lot in life to earn money for a dress. And even then, the pricing frightened her so that she made her own dress; her inadequate sewing skills be damned.

It's a shame, especially since all that Alma gives of herself for her husband and family wasn't enough to satisfy him. When Alma crushed his desires in her excitement to get her garden club show on the road, he didn't hesitate to take a walk to the Maui Club to see his client, Maisie.

His lust, though, requires a much different type of satisfaction. His compassion for his patients and the soothing way he frees them from this mortal coil isn't enough. His grander scheme is to predate Jack Kevorkian without being asked.

The Woman Behind the Door - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

Poor Bertram is living under the delusion that he's helping people when he's killing them. That is not to say he could help people doing the same thing he does now, but he'd have to be asked.

You know, it's funny. We take such good care of our pets. When a dog or cat is ready to die, we help them. I'm very much of the opinion that we should show a human being the same kindness. The disease you have is awful. The end will come surely, cruelly. You have no family, no one to take care of you. I couldn't just stand idly by and do nothing. [he administers a shot] You are an exceptional woman. You need to know that your life had meaning. You brought joy. You were loved, and you will be remembered.


As it stands, he's acting as the judge, jury, and executioner for a class of people who often just want comfort.

Alma's discovery was like a windfall from heaven that ultimately leads to hell. When she got embarrassed at the lunch, she also received an invitation to the garden club's next party. Kind Mrs. Yost revealed it to be a fundraising event, but with Grace's Aunt Enid's broach, Alma found herself on the fast track to membership.

You're a frump, and there's nothing wrong with that. But they don't let frumps into the Elysian Park Garden Club.

Mrs. Yost

That was hardly the end of it, though. Alma had undercovered her husband's darkness, and it was impossible to let it go. When Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2 found Alma investigating the fan dated the day before, and she couldn't have been prepared for the nightmare that was about to unfold.

Bertram Grins - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

What Women Kill relishes dark comedy and Alma, and Bertram's confrontation was a master class. It has a cascading effect that puts Mrs. Yost into the unenviable position that every neighborhood busybody loves.

Her neighbors appear to be certifiable, and her nebbishness gets the better of her. You could see the future unfurl as she greedily got closer and closer to a situation that she had no business being a part of, and when she moves those gardening sheers, blades up, the writing was on the wall.

Bertram: Did you tell Dee that I cheated on you?
Alma: I told her that I was upset with you. She assumed that was the reason.
Bertram: You let her believe that?
Alma: What was I supposed to say? "Don't worry, dear. Your father would never touch another woman, except to KILL HER!?"

Now, Alma and Bertram have another secret, and this one will keep them together.

But what about the other half of Why Women Kill? Oh, Rita Castillo is a shining diamond with the world at her fingertips. Little does anyone know that her wealthy husband plucked her off the streets and that her entire persona has been created as a result.

Rita Castillo at the Garden Party - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

That secret is Rita's cross to bear. It impacts everything she does, from lunching with the ladies to carrying on with the hunky wannabe actor, Scooter Polarksi.

My lover's name is, God help me, Scooter Polarski.


Lana Parilla is so good at playing the bad girl, teetering on the edge between keeping up pretenses and succumbing to what truly lies in a woman's heart. She ensures that Rita gives bad a good name.

Rita's marriage is a sham, but she's tethered to Carlo by his knowledge of her past and his wealth. Her greatest flaw is that she's gotten too comfortable in her position, and her unsavory behavior, which wows the ladies, has gone to her head.

Rita treats everyone poorly, whether friend or foe. You'd think that with so much at stake, she'd be a little more forgiving. Her assurance otherwise threatens to be her downfall.

Unexpected Problems - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

Rita thinks she's smarter than everyone around her, and she does a decent job of proving herself to be right. When Carlo thinks she's got a lover, she uses his love of whiskey against him, goading him into drinking more by promising to cut him off.

He falls too easily to her wiles, but he's not the only one. Scooter falls over and over for Rita for some of the same reasons Rita fell for Carlo. She looks the part, and she's got cash to back it up. As a struggling actor without any talent, his options are limited.

Still, they both take more chances than they ought to. Discovered naked in her living room could have been an utter disaster, and even Carlo's stroke led to more bad news for Rita.

At first, eager to be rid of her husband, Rita was in a state of euphoria.

Catherine Makes a Fuss - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 2

But the news was swinging wildly, from Carlo's impending death to a life without mobility to excitement that Catherine would take him away to the excruciating realization that Catherine was sticking around to keep her leash short and ruin her chance at happiness.

Oh, she's taking you out of my life. Whatever shall I do? Besides cartwheels, I mean.


It's a lot for any woman to handle. But Rita's journey runs parallel to Alma's beautifully. As Alma's bad news propels her upward, Rita's threatens to tank the life she loves so much.

And there is a lot more than the garden club tying them together.

Unbeknownst to either one of them, Dee has landed herself a catch, or so she thought. Her mother's daughter, Dee's confidence is tightly interwoven with society's expectations, and given her weight, society expects very little from Dee.

Hostess with the Mostess - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

Dee's a wild success at the diner where she works. She's personable and witty, easily a favorite with the customers.

That's probably where she and Scooter met. Scooter knows a good thing when he meets it, and while he has a cash cow in Rita, Dee attends to his soul.

If Scooter is having an affair, it's not with that fat old thing.


As the secrets in this show circle around, though, Dee is in over her head thanks to Rita's insane jealousy, and their worlds collide with Vern's detective work.

Vern: Listen, you don't owe me an explanation. Whatever's goin' on between you and that guy? It's none of my business.
Dee: Why do you think there's a guy?
Vern: Well, for starters, you were in a disguise, and it ain't Halloween.

For a minute, it seemed like Scooter might be a nice guy after all. When Rita asked him to move in and insulted the fat cleaning lady, he pulled away until she enticed him again by promising to finance him a movie with Carlo's money.

Drowning His Sorrows - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

But when Alma asked Dee to steer clear for the night so that she could address something with Bertram, Scooter wouldn't let Dee in from the rain. That hurt.

Vern is an interesting outlier in this story. He's associated only through his profession for now, but his conversation with Dee proves him to be the sanity the story needs so badly.

Sure, he has a job that finds him working with jealous women and cheating men, but he sees beyond their petty foibles. He sees through their shifty demeanors for the people they really are.

Vern: Maybe I'm dumb, but I'll never understand what you see in him.
Dee: He looks like a movie star! Girls like me never end up with guys who look like him. Yeah, yeah, I put up with a lot, but for an hour twice a week, I own his beauty. During that 60 minutes, I forget about all the guys that I had crushes on, all those jerks, that never gave me the time of day, and I forgive 'em, just a little.

He also sees through Dee's tough side, knowing she deserves more than someone like Scooter will ever give her. Still, Dee's explanation as to why she's involved with Scooter is understandable, too.

Getting Private with Vern - Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1

It's not pleasant, and it's frustrating that we're still playing into such behavior from a historical standpoint and as viewers, but Why Women Kill shows that for every action, there is an explanation, and it often cuts deeper and more personally than we'd ever imagined.

While it's a struggle to adequately review a two-episode premiere with the depth it requires, I can promise you that as the series progresses, the reviews will tap into the humor and emotions that Why Women Kill does so well.

Hopefully, those of you who have realized the benefits of subscribing to Paramount+ will be along for the ride.

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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Why Women Kill Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

You're a frump, and there's nothing wrong with that. But they don't let frumps into the Elysian Park Garden Club.

Mrs. Yost

My lover's name is, God help me, Scooter Polarski.