“The Unguarded Moment” brings its two main characters full circle as they finally trade places.
This recap of Why Women Kill season 2, episode 9, “The Unguarded Moment”, contains spoilers.
All throughout Why Women Kill Season 2, Alma Fillcott has wanted to be Rita Castillo. She wanted her money and dresses and social standing; her influence over the Garden Club’s chittering coven. But, at the start, it didn’t seem like Alma also wanted Rita’s moral flexibility. She envied Rita’s popularity and status because she felt like she was more deserving of it – she was a better, nicer person. In “The Unguarded Moment”, Alma has finally supplanted her rival, but she has become a worse version of her; someone even more unscrupulous and conniving.
The warning signs were there. Alma filling her living room with a dead woman’s belongings should have been a clue that she didn’t know where to stop. Stealing Mrs. Yost’s furnishings – after burying her body, no less – was the first time Alma realized she could take something without having earned it. She evidently got a taste for doing so. Once you start thinking that way, you begin to see things differently. To Alma, membership of the Garden Club didn’t just seem attainable, but something she was owed and entitled to. Here, we see that membership isn’t enough. A petty rivalry with Joan is a good excuse to seek the top spot, but it’s exactly that – an excuse. Even unopposed, Alma would have likely sought to elevate herself further, drunk on the high of having already gotten away with it thus far.
Alma’s downfall is deliberately juxtaposed with Rita’s awakening in Why Women Kill season 2, episode 9. Thanks to her stint in jail, the death of Isabel, the loss of Scooter to her arch-nemesis, and her complete financial ruination, Rita has realized not just that she has nobody but that her losses are nobody’s fault but her own. She gloated to Carlo about her relationship with Scooter, who she also mistreated. She sought to disinherit Catherine. She treated Alma like dirt. But we’ve come to learn over the last few episodes that Rita’s persona was largely a fiction. She came from nothing, escaped the grip of abuse, and was forced to reinvent herself. For the first time in her life, she was a woman of means, not a woman who had to sell herself just to get by.
You can see how that drastic change in circumstance might go to someone’s head enough that they’d employ their cousin as their maid for a decade and belittle those they perceived to be lesser. Of course, Rita knew that someone like Alma wasn’t truly lesser; only a few years ago, she would have seen her modest lifestyle as something to covet. Her cruel treatment of Alma was her lashing out at her old self, mocking the things she never had because deep down she knows that she doesn’t truly deserve the things she has now. This all makes her a more complex and sympathetic character than the spiraling Alma, who at this point is becoming more and more irredeemable simply because she can.
But tragedy strikes in Why Women Kill episode 9. Desperate for help, Rita turns to Scooter, who clandestinely offers to give her money, even if he doesn’t want to step out on Catherine. But Catherine reads the situation wrong. She follows Scooter and sees his brief, titular unguarded moment with Rita as him returning to his old ways. He tries to defend himself, and Rita tries to defend him, but Catherine isn’t having any of it. She pulls a gun, aims at Rita, and fires. The first bullet hits Scooter, who throws himself in the way of it. The second misses Rita and hits Bertram, who happens to be out on the street nearby.
In some ways, Bertram being a not-so-innocent bystander in Catherine’s moment of madness lets him off the hook. He had already taken to drinking and communing with a dead woman. Vern had discovered that the unique combination of chemicals used to kill Carlo was frequently purchased by the veterinarian. Alma had confessed to Dee, who had discovered Mrs. Yost’s body in the garden, that Bertram was an adulterer and a murderer. The net was closing around him. Now, it has nobody else to close around but his widow, who is arguably more deserving of his fate than he was. Time will tell quite what the finale has in store for her.
What did you think of Why Women Kill season 2, episode 9? Let us know in the comments.