Fatal Attraction Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Medial Woman


Oh, what a tangled web Dan has woven.

To say that Alex has done some unconscionable things during Fatal Attraction Season 1 Episode 5 would be disingenuous because as she continues to escalate her behavior, are we all that surprised anymore?

Dan’s world was falling to pieces rapidly, and now we may possibly understand how he ended up in prison for her death.

Daniel truly rued the day he chose to sleep with Alex Forrester, and he’s paying such a heavy price for it. The ramifications of it still linger even 15 years later, particularly with his every interaction with an adult Ellen.

In a chilling opener, we saw all the moments leading up to the death of Beth’s mother, and as Dan suspected, Alex was behind it.

Here is officially where whatever efforts the series has been trying to make toward adding more nuance to Alex start to slip.

After all, there’s little sympathy you can feel when this woman coldly causes a woman to drown, covers it up, and goes about her day as if nothing happened.

Why did I have to be told tonight? Was it a strategy? Pile it all on, see how she reacts?


One minute Alex was bonding with Beth’s mother, who was warm, friendly, honest, and so welcoming to this complete stranger, and the next, Alex was not only watching her die but closing her up in the pool.

As twisted as it sounds, had Alex watched her drown without help, it would’ve given us some pause that maybe her feelings got the best of her, she froze, or it took her a bit to process what was going on, or she panicked.

But she didn’t offer any aid, listened to this woman’s pleas, and then trapped her in the water until she died without batting an eye. She was calculated in so many of her actions that it left very little room to feel anything other than horror and contempt.

And before we could wrap our heads around that, there were a series of detestable events in what felt like rapid succession.

She lobbed a complaint against Daniel so that it would gain traction, he’d get invested, and she could “save” him making him feel indebted to her.

She set Beth and Arthur’s project on fire, trapping Beth inside, and could’ve easily killed her.

She may or may not have been behind Ellen’s brief disappearance, and by the installment’s end, after so many things she instigated, she could’ve possibly set Dan up for her murder.

Because that’s totally what she’s doing, right? Is it her big payback? The timing feels too coincidental.

Do you see a world in which we’re going to be okay, or is it too soon, and you haven’t even thought about it yet?


It’s beyond unfortunate that everyone around Dan is paying the price for his affair, and now he has this woman who is hellbent on destroying his life because he broke her heart, or she can’t let go, or whatever combination of things are motivating Alex at this time.

It was surprising that she didn’t instantly divulge that she was pregnant with his child as some grand attempt at winning him over again and deluding herself into believing they could be some happy family together.

Interestingly, we see all of these terrible things Alex has done, so much in one installment that it’s overwhelming, but then they’re also trying to make us sympathize with her or at least force Dan to be equally culpable.

The balancing that they’re attempting here isn’t exactly working, though.

Two fascinating scenes, one in the past and the other in the present, involved both Mike and Ellen sitting across from Dan and telling him about himself, stripping him bare while calling him out and poking at all the sore spots.

I loved the parallels between those scenes.

In the past, Mike called Dan out on his desire to have people like him because of his issues with his father. And because of that character flaw, he overdoes the charm, devotes himself entirely to a person at that moment, and makes them feel like they’re the only person in the room.

And then, in the case of Alex, he got angry and freaked out that she got wrapped up in everything that he projected to her and believed it.

Daniel was not ready to hear any of that then, but his reaction to Ellen’s on-the-nose read of him as she psychoanalyzed her father in monotone was more muted.

He was both caught off guard that his daughter could assess him so well and hit the nail on the head but resigned to the truth of her words, however biting they were.

I imagine it was to showcase Dan’s growth from 15 years ago to where he is now, but then his inability to let sleeping dogs lie in this case still implies that he’s still not much of one for accountability of his own doing.

But while Dan should take some responsibility for some of his actions, it’s bizarre to present things, as Mike did, as if he invited this chaos.

Ellen: What was it about her?
Dan: I don’t think it was actually about her, which makes me feel sick to my stomach to say, but when I try to remember what I was feeling when all of that was happening, mostly I remember feeling afraid.
Ellen: Of what?
Dan: That life had passed me by and I hadn’t even noticed.

I know the idea is to flip the script a bit and not rely on sexist and misogynistic lenses that traditionally have us directing all of the blame to the woman without ever acknowledging the male’s part in anything.

But we’re not weighing things properly to make that type of point.

In this case, suggesting that Daniel’s unresolved daddy issues make him a chronic charmer who needs people to like him means that he invited someone to ruin his life and that of his family is as offensive as suggesting that a flirty woman invited an assault because she gave her attacker mixed messages.

Daniel should only be responsible for what he said and did. He shouldn’t ever be held accountable for what Alex perceived. No one can control that, nor should they have to pay the price for it.

By now, he’s firmly made his point about their relationship and its end, but she’s only escalated her behavior. It’s not a “both sides” situation in murder, arson, and kidnapping territory.

Unfortunately, even with the context we have up until this point about Alex and how she’s sympathetic, it’s not excusing or justifying her extreme behavior.

It’s undoubtedly not preventing anyone from writing her off as a “psychotic bitch” here, either, so it’s hard to say what we’re supposed to glean anymore.

Alex is our medial woman, as Ellen discussed. And she’s only hurt herself in the process.

But Mike wasn’t entirely wrong in his rant about Dan. And if Dan had heard him at all, he would’ve avoided threatening Alex as he did.

I’m going to the Feds. You think I can’t because you brought her back? That I won’t because it will burn me too? I do not fucking care anymore! I’m going to call in every favor from anyone who has ever owed me anything to make you go away. So if you want to die, you better hurry up. You don’t have much time, and you’ll have to do it yourself.


Then again, maybe Dan heard what Mike was saying, and that’s why he threatened Alex, promised to bring in the FBI and use all of his power and clout (and he had in abundance, which feels like its very own form of commentary on the imbalance of their relationship) to bring down on her.

And maybe when he essentially told her to kill herself, it was more than a dig at her fake attempt for attention but a genuine suggestion on his part.

He could’ve very well expected that she heard his words, believed them, and acted on them.

But what he couldn’t have seen coming was that she’d take him down with her.

Dan was running high on emotions, but it was incredibly dumb, especially from a prosecutor, to storm angrily into her apartment, shouting, carrying on, assaulting her, and making threats before leaving.

I’m sure that was used against him during the murder trial, and he handed that to the prosecutor on a silver platter.

But that’s not to say that the case was airtight. Interestingly, in the present, he reconnected with Benny, who outright said that he never believed Dan killed Alex.

The more information about Alex, the crazier it is that Daniel ended up in prison for 15 years over her death. Was his defense attorney a newbie? Was he paid off? Downright incompetent? What gives?!

It makes no sense that no one looked into Paul, nor the other fingerprints they found in Alex’s apartment, new leads that Daniel and Mike now have to work with while attempting to clear Dan’s name.

And then there’s Gabriel. Even if it was an unofficial complaint, it had legs and revealed a pattern of harassment by Alex. I get that the idea was not to put the victim on trial for her own murder, but there’s also a simple matter of following the evidence wherever it leads.

What is interesting is how people react to Daniel now. He was on top of the world at one point in his career. But when you’re at the top, plenty of people will revel in your fall.

It makes you wonder how much of an asshole Dan was that there are people with such a strong opinion about him that they could look the other way while he went down for murder?

The polarizing viewpoints of Dan are intriguing.

You don’t matter in this building anymore, you entitled motherfucker. You want my help? Subpoena it.


Even now, Gabriel can help Daniel but simply refuses because he doesn’t like him. But he’s also smart enough to see past Daniel’s charms and get that Daniel could easily cast aspersions and suspicions on him with this development.

And even if he wouldn’t be tossing himself into the suspect pool by assisting, he wouldn’t bother anyway.

And that suspect pool is large. You can’t say Mike isn’t decent at what he does. They’ve made some incredible headway investigating this go around than they did a decade and a half prior.

It’s with Mike that Dan feels the most at ease and comfortable, and I could watch those two for hours.

Additional Notes:

  • Amanda Peet does some strong work in this installment.
  • Beth’s reaction to the affair felt so real. I loved how one of her first questions was if that was the best time to tell her. It felt so selfish on his part that he chose hours after her mother’s death to drop this bomb on her too.
  • Beth and Arthur’s friendship is so grounding that I almost hate that they ended up romantically together. There are too few solid platonic friendships with a deep bond. It was a missed opportunity to leave them as friends.
  • Did anyone else think there was romantic chemistry brewing between Ellen and Stella?
  • Is Ellen’s curse being surrounded by inappropriate relationships? It still didn’t feel like her place to approach her advisor like that.
  • Earl is a bit of a scene-stealer, yes?

Over to you, Fatal Attraction Fanatics. Which of Alex’s actions shocked you the most? Do you think she set Dan up? Sound off below!

Fatal Attraction airs Sundays on Paramount+.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.

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