The Breakdown

A woman is crying and desperately scrambling around in a room. She writes in a book that “its an anagram”. Her husband comes along and she locks him out of the bedroom. She yells that he sold her and her unborn child. She takes a necklace charm off her neck and jumps out the window as her husband breaks down the door.

Rosemary is already four months pregnant and getting an ultrasound. The doctor suddenly gets concerned and excuses himself from the room. Rosemary gets nervous and her husband, Guy, tries to comfort her. Another doctor comes in to check the ultrasound. She can’t find a heartbeat. The couple leaves heartbroken. A man watches them leave from a shadowy corner. Three months later Rosemary is in Paris and meets her friend Julie for lunch, who got Guy a job at the Sorbonne.

Rosemary has her purse stolen and when she catches up with the thief she finds another woman’s wallet among the debris. She goes to return the wallet to Margaux Castevet. She finds out that Margaux’s husband, Roman, also works for the Sorbonne on the Faculty Honorary Board. Margot invites Guy and Rosemary to join them for dinner. They are brought to Margaux’s fancy dress party by private chauffeur and they immediately start networking for Guy. The Commissioner of police expresses admiration for Rosemary’s bravery in chasing down a thief and gives her his card in case she ever needs anything. Later she accidentally walks in on some strange sexy business involving the millionaire Steven Marcato and feels strangely compelled. When her husband comes to find her and she looks again, the room is empty. She is confused and distraught, but also compulsively aroused, and asks to go home.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby / NBC

Before they go home Margaux and Roman give them a black cat as a gift. Later they wake up and discover that their apartment is on fire. Guy catches aflame and ends up at the hospital. The Castevets show up at the hospital to support Rosemary. Guy is fine except for some second degree burns. The Castevets offer up their empty apartment for a song to the now homeless couple. When they move in they find a brand new wardrobe has been bought for them, which makes Rosemary uncomfortable but makes Guy excited. Rosemary has a dream about jumping out the window like the woman before her did.

Julie and Rosemary meet up for lunch where Julie tells her that she put Guy up for a new job as head of the English Lit department. Rosemary sees Guy talking to Roman, and then Guy’s main competition for the position drops some books that Roman picks up for her. When Rosemary arrives home she gets frightened by a mute handyman that Margaux has hired to fix the fireplace. Rosemary gets a headache from the scare and Margaux cures it with some Tibetan technique and kisses Rosemary. Rosemary realizes that they don’t have a fireplace. She searches the apartment for tampering.

Guy and Roman go to a dark sexy club where they talk about Guy’s desire to give Rosemary the life she wants. Roman offers Guy the chance to achieve all his dreams. When Guy gets home Rosemary is still searching the apartment. He helps her move an secretary that’s hiding a closet. She asks Guy what she was talking to Roman about at the school and he calls her paranoid. Rosemary finds a picture of the couple who lived in the apartment before. Guy tells her that his publisher called and cancelled his contract for his novel. Even though Rosemary tries to encourage him, Guy is discouraged and goes to interview for the English Lit job, wearing one of the suits the Castevets bought for him.

Rosemary sees a group of people chanting and laughing across the street. Meanwhile, Guy’s competition starts sweating and having hallucinations during her interview. She stabs her interviewer and then slits her own throat. Rosemary goes to see the Commissioner about the couple who lived in their apartment, unable to explain why she gets a bad feeling about what happened to them. She finds out that the woman is named Nana and that she committed suicide and that her husband Jacques is missing. The chief tells her that she should always listen to her instincts.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby / NBC

When Rosemary gets home, Guy surprises her with a party to celebrate his appointment to head of English Lit. Guy tries to convince Rosemary to try again for a baby, but she feels its too soon. Guy presses her and she agrees. Margaux gives her a necklace charm filled with protection herbs. Later, Rosemary has a dream that Guy pushes her out of the window and finds the bed next to her empty. Guy is writing like a storm in the other room, having broken his writing block. Rosemary talks to Julie the next day about her dream and tells her about the couple from her apartment. Julie looks at the picture and recognizes a tattoo of a symbol for Coptic Christians and tells her that there is only one Coptic church in Paris and that she should go talk to their friends.

Rosemary goes to investigate and is told that Nana had been consorting with Satanists. The priest tells her about the Satanic history of the building and the people who live there, and that Steven Marcato once ate the heart of a prostitute. Rosemary is warned to leave before its too late. She flees the church and is watched by the mute workman. When Rosemary gets home she reads Guy’s finished novel and tells him its magical. Guy wants to celebrate and calls the Castavets. Meanwhile, as one priest closes down the church, he finds the priest Rosemary talked to is hanging from the belltower by his neck.

Rosemary sees Steven Marcato get into the elevator and chases him down the stairs to talk to him, but when she reaches the bottom there’s no one in the elevator. At the college, Guy is stopped by Jacques, who warns him about the addictive dangers of success and that he might find himself doing anything to stay on top. Roman shows up and tells Guy that the publishers loved his novel. The Commissioner comes to see Rosemary about the death of the priest. She tells him everything he said to her at the church and the Commissioner warns her that she’s gotten in too deep.

Margaux makes a soup for Rosemary that will make her ready to have a baby. Rosemary asks Margaux about Nana and she tells her that she had begged her to Jacques, but that it was no use. Rosemary apologizes for doubting the Castavets, saying that she thought they were too good to be true. She promises that she will eat Margaux’s soup. Guy comes home and tells Rosemary that he sold his book. They go out with the Castavets to celebrate. As they walk home they are followed by Jacques. He tells Roman that he wants what he was promised and shoots him. In turn, the chauffeur shoots Jacques. Roman goes in for surgery and the Commissioner comes by to ask questions about the incident.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby / NBC

Margaux goes home to pray and Jacques wakes up in the middle of surgery and dies. Meanwhile, Roman makes it through surgery fine. On the way back to the apartment Margaux tells Rosemary that she smells different and that she’s ready to have a baby. They rush home where Rosemary takes a shower while Margaux prepares some kind of concoction that drugs Rosemary. Guy cries softly as he lets her drift off. Rosemary has strange and benign dreams until she starts dreaming of being undressed, then touched and kissed by Margaux, then raped in front of a crowd by Steven Marcato who turns out to be a monster. She realizes that its not a dream and that its all real.

The Analysis

There is something far too obvious and not at all sinister about this whole first episode. Maybe it’s having seen the original Roman Polanski version and the gift of 20/20 foresight that keeps it from being as affecting as it should be, but I doubt it. When I watch the 1968 Rosemary’s Baby, I still feel deeply uncomfortable – like some invisible force is gripping my intestines for an hour and a half, like Polanski has access to an instinctual fear I didn’t know existed. There’s something about how sexy and smooth everyone and everything is in this version that makes it all seem bland and non-threatening. I do not feel fear for Zoe Saldana’s Rosemary, and I feel like part of that derives from the fact that I simply do not buy that her character is naive enough to be placated with simple lies. There is something deeply childlike and naive about Mia Farrow’s Rosemary that makes you really fear for her everywhere she turns. Saldana, on the other hand, exudes a sense of strength, intelligence, and worldliness. I’m not sure yet that her kind of character works in this story.

To be fair, though, the horror has hardly begun. We have yet to see how she deals with the multiple subterfuges surrounding the truth of her pregnancy and the increasingly sinister people in her life. We will also have to see how her husband reacts to his deal with the devil and the hell he puts Rosemary through. There is something so deeply affecting about how douchey, twitchy, selfish, and guilty John Cassevetes’ Guy Woodhouse was in Polanski’s Rosemary, the betrayal of the bland and loving husband in this version seems so unlikely and so boring.

Basically what I’m saying is that this first half was pretty bland all around. The villains are bland, the husband is bland, his relationship with Rosemary is bland, and the very fact that they tried to spice things up with graphic violence and blood makes it that much more bland than Polanski’s bloodless film. The only thing that wasn’t bland was Rosemary, which incidentally works against her so far. Perhaps it will all come together in the next episode, especially since mini-series are difficult to judge by single episode. We can only see if these two episodes end up working together as a cohesive whole. For the moment, though, I am thoroughly whelmed by the first installment.