Netflix’s Halston hits a snag with its fourth installment, “The Party’s Over,” an episode dedicated to failed friendships, failed business ventures, and a flawed sense of self for its lead character
This recap of Netflix limited series Halston episode 4, “The Party’s Over”, contains spoilers.
The aptly titled fourth episode of Halston, “The Party’s Over,” contains the best non-Liza Minnelli sequence so far in the series: an intercut montage first five minutes depicting the expanded, ritzy, drug-fueled life of Halston and his friends. It’s a flashy, enjoyable, overdramatic display of excess and ego, two aspects intertwined with this depiction of the designer. More of Halston should have followed this model of pushing the dramatics of the story to its limits, pushing its protagonist deeper into a world of surplus and gluttony. The visuals meet the man for one of the first times in the series, and it’s a wicked joy to consume.
Soon, as expected, this overwhelming success comes to a screeching halt, as Halston sees rival Calvin Klein take the reins of the fashion industry. Halston-designed products have stopped selling at a growing rate, and Mahoney asks Eula to intervene in order to convince Halston to design jeans, which he declines. His ego continues spiraling out of control, alienating Elsa, who has begun to have success at Tiffany’s as a jewelry designer, and Eula, who just wants them to succeed together. He believes he’s the only one with talent, or at the very least, the only person in his orbit who’s truly a genius. It’s self-conceit at the highest level, and McGregor plays it to a tee, despite the audience’s diminishing respect, empathy, or interest in the character he’s portraying.
Mahoney attempts to make a play to take Norton Simon private, unfortunately being outbid by a Chicago-based company, ousted as Halston’s caretaker and business boss, replaced by Carl Epstein (Jason Kravits). Everyone is making bets on themselves during “The Party’s Over,” none of which work out for anyone involved.
Episode 4 sees the ever-increasing AIDS epidemic through the lens of Victor, who tests positive for HIV, setting up sexual partners for Halston once he learns of his diagnosis. Liza heads to rehab, and suddenly, not surprisingly, Halston exists in isolation, alone in every sense of the word. He holds on hope about the reopening of Studio 54, a party in which he’s helping host and plan, until he learns that honor has been bestowed upon Calvin Klein instead.
So, in a last-ditch effort to retain relevance, he accepts the role of in-house designer for JCPenney, introducing the Halston III line, before getting the news of an update in management. Halston retains nothing but the grandiose nature of his look and a fair bit of cash, and of course an unlimited supply of cocaine.
The series, slowly, has lost its sense of necessity and purpose. Much like the man it’s following, the Netflix original pushes forward on a story that’s less about a misunderstood genius, and more focused on a self-destructive addict. Certainly, it’s a choice.