Ryan Murphy‘s newest FX anthology series, Feud, started off strong, pitting Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) against Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange).


The show is about the documented animosity between actresses Davis and Crawford while making the 1962 classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, when they were at the time past their Hollywood prime. Joan is broke and can’t even afford to pay her gardeners, though wealthy enough to store vodka and ice in a freezer in her bathroom. Bette is acting in Tennessee Williams’ Broadway show, which sounds impressive, but has just a few lines.

In order to get herself back in the limelight, Joan finds Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? in a pile and decides to make a movie out of it. She dresses seductively to get a director to hop on the project, and next has to beg for Bette to join the cast. “With us together, they can’t say no,” she grovels at Bette’s dressing room. “We need each other, Bette.”

Bette throws in a few harsh remarks, including calling Joan by her real name Lucille, before agreeing to do the picture. We see the differences in the stars’ daily routines – Joan doing anything to stay young, from rubbing lemons on her elbows to immersing her face in a bucket of ice and witch hazel. Bette, on the other hand, just glamorously smokes cigarettes in bed.

The biggest showdown of the episode is when the actresses come to the contract signing. Both want to sit to the left in the photo, so her name shows up first in photo credits. At first it seems Bette won, but grabbing the leftmost seat, but Joan overtakes her simply by standing to the left of Bette and arching over her. Despite this antic, Bette actually earns more than Joan on the film.

Later on, Bette gives Joan some respect on set and sits back while Joan delivers gifts to the whole crew. Bette, however, comes up with Baby Jane’s iconic makeup, despite the look coming from one of Joan’s old wigs. When they see the first take, neither actress can stand to watch her performance. Bette wipes away a tear, but stays, whereas her costar has to leave the room.

See a trailer for next week’s episode below.

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