Season 2 Episode 8

Agatha Ripp

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Aug 10, 2004 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • good episode but.

    really good episode, I am glad that the "stimata" where exposed as a fraud (because thats what miracles usually are, fraud or lack of education). I wish the abscene of religious believe of the Doctors had been portrait in a more positive way (instead of the constant "uhh, absence of believe is a bad thing"). It's ok not to believe, your life is just as fulfilled.
  • Faith

    El segundo de la trilogía imperdible. Capítulo de los clásicos. Describe el papel de la iglesia (con minúscula) en este mundo. De como ésta se aprovecha de las mentes débiles infundiéndoles falsos ídolos y miedo eterno. De como destruye personas (los stigmata) para sólo sacar provecho y seguir subsistiendo en base, repito, a mentiras. De la mentira que es el confesarse frente a un humano y de lo absurdo que es juzgar de igual a igual un humano a otro.
    Sean se entera de su fatal e infernal destino y desata sus fieras. Nada será igual. El fin de la iglesia, el fin de la familia.
  • Faith Off

    Some of the best Nip/Tuck episodes feature a McNamara/Troy patient whose crisis parallels everybody else's personal crises. This episode is one of the more obvious examples of this, with a central storyline that is mirrored in the actions every member of the main cast commits.

    The Agatha Ripp storyline kept you guessing right until the end. It's unfortunate to say it, but these types of cover-ups and deception happen every day in various religions, with people like Sister Rita-Claire using disturbed and abandoned people like Agatha to reap their own rewards. Sarah Paulson was a great guest star, and genuinely convinced the audience of her character's stigmata, even if it turned out in the end that it was lies all along.

    Faith and believe also bled into everybody else's subplots. I loved how Liz's doctor summed up motherhood and pregnancy as "trusting in the unknowable", which struck parallels with religion as a whole. It takes a strong (or a weak, some may say) person to trust in something that hasn't actually been proved, and I thought Ryan Murphy put that message across in a great way.

    A lot of weight was put on the Bible passage about "false prophets" and how people you trust could be revealed to be nothing but "ferocious wolves", which ended up affecting Sean in a greater way than he originally thought possible. Julia was plagued by something visually similar to stigmata, when her own guilt over Matt's paternity caused wounds and bruising to appear across her stomach. Eventually confessing to Sean that Christian is Matt's father, Sean discovered the passage came true in some ways, with his best friend becoming that "ferocious wolf" of the verse.

    An excellently written episode and one that manages to not patronize the audience, which is something that could easily have occurred in the hands of a lesser writer.

    Director: Michael M Robin
    Writer: Ryan Murphy
    Rating: A
  • Sister Rita Claire: "The pain of the flesh doesn't compare to the pain of the soul Dr. Troy."

    We got an outstanding, thought provoking patient storyline today that related very well to a crisis of faith and lies going on in our characters lives.

    As Sean was discussing how he puts all his faith into his practice and family I could feel myself cringing, as I knew finding out the truth about Matt would obliterate his faith in both items. I never predicted such a heart pounding scene though when Julia finally confessed to Sean. While Sean tried to deny it at first, he didn't even have to ask for proof because deep down inside he knew who Matt acted like. He knew who he looked like. The scene was extremely emotional, and Sean choking Julia was more shocking then any twisted surgery or storyline this show has produced. Excellent job.

    Liz finally got to experience the joy of parenthood, only to find out her child had Down syndrome. Liz also had a crisis of faith in this episode, as she begged in tears for Agatha Ripp to help heal her baby as she needed to believe in something. Roma Maffia did a fantastic job today, and only proved that she is constantly being underused on this show.

    The Agatha Ripp storyline was certainly a unique piece of work from Ryan Murphy (this episode was written by him). First Agatha comes in to the practice saying her case of stigmata was faked, only for the next day to tell the doctors that it's real and from Christ. I was surprised when it turned out to be Sister Rita Claire who was generating the stigmata, as she was very helpful to the doctors and the only member of the church cynical of Agatha's condition (although that could have been a give away). Sean, after everything he believed in crumbles, even turned his faith to religion. Only to be told by Agatha that her stigmata was never real, and faked to gather attendance in the church so it could stay open. Sean is going through a troublesome, crucial moment in his life right now, and I just hope he doesn’t spiral out of control.

    Final Notes and Quotes

    - Practically the whole cast deserves awards for today's episode, but especially Roma Maffia, Dylan Walsh, Joely Richardson, and Julian McMahon.

    - Christian didn't even have to ask what it was about when Sean punched him. He knew what would turn his friend against him like that. I question how their friendship is going to recover from this.

    - Liz: "I'm getting my kid baptised."

    Christian: "Over my dead body."

    Liz: "Easily arranged."

    - Our final quote today comes from Agatha Ripp:

    (to Sean) "Don't you get it? There is nothing to believe in anymore."

    Final Rating: Despite the absence of Matt and Ava, this was a series classic. 4 out of 4 stars.

    - Tim Bronx
    Find this and many other reviews at:
  • Testament Written by Ryan Murphy Directed by Michael M. Robin


    Christian: “But they’re creating pain”
    Sister Rita Claire: “The pain of the flesh doesn’t compare to the pain of the soul, Dr Troy”.

    Well if you ask me, they often both go hand in hand. One is no less painful than the other, even if the latter can cause the most devastating of damage and damage is what we overall got in this hour.

    Our main patient of the week is a former drug addled, prostitute named Agatha Ripp who seeks the surgeon’s help in removing her stigmata, given the attention it has generated from religious parishioners. The surgeon’s, mainly Sean are cynical of and resolve to prove that Agatha is inflicting these wounds on herself (the first scene we meet her she says she’s responsible, then twenty minutes into the episode she claims it’s Christ) and Sean’s quest to find her weapon is rather strange. I’m not down on his lack of religious beliefs because they are fairly similar to my own but I did find it slightly out of character for him to constantly dismiss the possibility.

    Like a lot of non-religious people, Sean tends to put his faith in the tangible, namely his family and practise and sadly for him, Father McNally’s prophetic words came all too true when a guilt stricken Julia finally confessed to Matt’s real parentage. Shockingly played out by Dylan Walsh and Joely Richarson. Sean’s world falls apart within seconds and the scene where he almost chokes Julia as a violent response is shocking to say the least. In TV land, it’s always the quiet ones who lose it that really provide the chills and this is no exception and we didn’t have to wait long for Sean to pummel the hell out of Christian either. As viewers, we all knew it was coming and I for one am glad we didn’t have to wait long but that still doesn’t take away the shock factor from proceedings.

    This episode was so loaded with goodies but this ultimately was my favourite, although I hated seeing Sean’s faith in the two people he loves and trusts in the whole world obliterated like that and just when you thought it could get much worse for Sean, Agatha effectively tells him not to bother finding God because herself and Sister Rita Claire orchestrated the entire stigmata in order to stop the church from closing down. Although I probably should’ve seen this one coming, I honestly didn’t. Could this hour be any nastier?

    Yes, actually it can and it did. Remember the whole Liz and Christian baby plot from two episodes ago? Well if you were dreading this was initially go the same way as the Gina arc earlier on, then you’d be wrong. Liz was allowed to be happy for being pregnant for five minutes before a series of bad events happened. Her spotting which Christian told her was normal led to a sonogram that stated her baby could have downs . Then a healing of sorts from Agatha, which stopped her bleeding then lead to an abortion in a particularly upsetting sequence. To me, abortion is always a grey area topic. It’s neither something I condemn or really condone mainly because I believe it’s never an option that is entered into lightly.

    I’m not really sure if I agree with Liz having an abortion though, especially given her reasons did stem from vanity and social acceptance. But this episode did confirm what I already knew and that is that Roma Maffia is an exceptional actress and it’s been high time that she got a chance to prove that. Julian McMahon also deserves applause for Christian’s heartbreak at losing yet another child as well as his best friend within a space of an hour. He knew what exactly was going through Sean’s head when his face was being used as a punching bag. How the hell will he be able to talk himself out of this one?

    Also in “Agatha Ripp”

    Connected POTW: A six-month baby had his tail removed.

    Christian: “Miss Ripp, this is a cosmetics office, not a confession booth”
    Agatha: “Don’t be rude to me”.

    Liz: “I’m getting my kid baptised”
    Christian: “Over my dead body”
    Liz: “Easily arranged”.

    Character bits: Agatha’s been arrested seven times, has had five abortions, three near overdoses and her daughter taken away from her. That was actually a lot to take in.

    Christian: “You’re gonna be okay. You just need to relax. One day we’ll look back at this and laugh”
    Liz: “Yeah. You examining my panty-liner. That’s hilarious”.

    No Matt or Ava in this episode. I assume the two of them are still seeing one another.

    I’m thinking after how Sister Rita Claire snuck into their offices and tampered with Agatha’s blood, Sean and Christian should really look into getting better security. Assuming they’re still on speaking terms that is.

    Liz: “I don’t do the unknowable well, Cynthia”
    Cynthia: “But that’s what being a mother is all about. You spend your life resting in the unknowable”.

    No chronology from last week except from a brief mention of Naomi Gaines.

    Sean (to Julia): “You’re weak, you’ve always been weak and I gave you my whole life to make you strong and I want you out. Get out!”

    Sean: “Please I need to believe in something”
    Agatha: “No, don’t you get it? There’s nothing to believe in anymore”.

    Standout music: Choral music by James S. Levine

    Holy crap. If you all thought Season two had started a little slow, then “Agatha Ripp” has well and truly cranked proceedings to alarming new heights. This was certainly an unforgettable hour and is possibly one of Ryan Murphy’s finest scripts to date.

  • A shifted focus detracts from a pivotal moment. Episode summary in review.

    While it is an interesting exercise to have an episode revolve more around the patient’s story, it didn’t fit at this point. This episode is a critical point in the season and the series. All the major characters, except for Matt, who is inexplicably absent from an episode, are changed and. This story should’ve received more coverage in the episode. However, Agatha’s story of faith, lies and manipulation nails (no pun intended) what the main characters go through, as they find themselves losing the things they believed in.

    We meet Agatha, and learn about her troubled history: prostitution, drug abuse, arrests and multiple abortions among them. Now she has turned to religion, but it’s not as honorable as it sounds. She inflicted stigmata wounds on her wrists so a local church would allow her to stay there. One major problem is that she is being paraded as a genuine source of their faith. She begs them to remove them and tell the church that has taken her in that she is a fraud. Although they are offering her a place to live, she can’t take the pressure of being idolized by the parishioners, knowing that she isn’t for real.

    Agatha’s situation ties into what Julia and Christian have been feeling for the last few episodes. Julia is succumbing to the pressure to keep Matt’s parentage a secret. But it has spilled out to Christian and Matt, so it’s inevitable for Sean to learn the truth soon. However, their lies have made their lives good. Agatha isn’t safe outside the church, and Julia’s entire life has been built on the lie that Sean is Matt’s father.

    It’s more about Agatha, since we’ve seen the pressure growing among Julia and Christian in the last few episodes. Because of Agatha’s visit, parishioners have rallied in front of McNamara/Troy in hopes of having her help them. One couple asks Christian to let them see her so she can heal their son, who was born with a tail. Though they do help the couple, Sean goes to the church to appeal to the father.

    Sean requests that the father admit to his flock that Agatha is a fraud. Sean believes they may have excessive amounts of clients requesting pro bono work on afflictions they believe to be miraculous in origin. Unfortunately, the man of science and the man of faith can’t agree. The Father believes that Agatha has genuine stigmata because she wouldn’t have known the proper way to inflict them. Sean doesn’t believe any of it, dismissing it because it lacks scientific explanation. Sean hubris will provide his downfall when he discovers later in the episode the truth about everything he believed.

    Julia, like Agatha, lied to give herself a better life. However, her guilt is becoming too much for her. This guilt has manifested in painful shingles in her side. When Sean checks her out, he thinks that it is from the betrayal from Ava. Although it is wrong, Ava’s betrayal does add another aspect to the theme of the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” theme several of these characters have. Christian, Ava and the clergy all came in with a benevolent façade, but each had a dark side that ended up warping the lives of those who bought into it.

    Another major aspect of this episode is the lack of faith and disillusionment of the main characters. Sean’s is the most profound, but Liz’s gets the most attention this week. Pregnant and over forty, she is worried about the health of her child. As the mother’s age increases, so do the chances that the child will have a birth defect. It doesn’t make it any easier when Sean and Christian operate on the child with a tail. Later she learns that her child may have Down Syndrome and the doctors are unable to give any definite answer as to those chances. Because of her fears, she has another anesthesiologist take her place during the surgery.

    As they prepare, Sean discusses the “sheep’s clothing” quote Agatha said during her consultation. They did hammer in the point of Sean being unaware of Christian’s deception and Christian’s guilt a little too hard. We get that Sean can’t see the truth in his face and Christian feels horribly against it. However, it does set up for the great musical queue, “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones, during the surgery scene when Liz alerts them that Agatha has been punctured again. Of course, this choice leads us to think a certain way about the “devils”.

    The doctors inform the Sister, who takes on a position more reflective of Sean’s than the Father’s. In a shocking moment, she ponders an atheist stance. Seeing this episode again, this act is merely appealing to the doctor’s view of scientific explanation. Before she leaves, she plants the notion that they test the blood to see if it is Agatha’s. Since the Sister planted blood on Agatha, this would appear to prove that the stigmata are genuine.

    As Liz collects a blood sample, she tells Agatha about her worries. In her desperate need, she turned to a fraud for something to believe in, which is a bad sign for what will happen next. Liz is more likely to believe someone like Agatha, especially when Agatha reassures her. Agatha’s confidence proves to be very effective, especially when she declares the baby is a boy.

    To the frustration of the doctors, the blood from Agatha’s wounds is found not to be hers, so the church allows her to stay with them longer. Despite this discovery, Sean refuses to give them the results as evidence that it is genuine. The Father reminds him that science isn’t everything, and that beliefs are important too, further setting up the revelation later.

    Liz decides to have the abortion after recently having her faith restored. Murphy here didn’t do a good enough job establishing Liz’s realization that her faith was placed in a false prophet. Of course, it has a lot to do with the central theme, but with that, Liz’s disillusionment needed to be further explored for this to be effective.

    Julia’s scabs have healed over, but after her ordeal, she feels that it is time for her to be honest to Sean. It probably was an even worse decision to tell him this after the day he had. Many wondered why Julia even needed to know, much less let others who didn’t have a clue know either. However, this needed to happen to culminate all the actions of the first half of the season. It’s unfortunate that so much of this episode dealt with Agatha considering how potent the scene where Sean finds out the truth is. It’s terrifically acted, but the emphasis on Agatha detracted from the importance of this episode.

    At the office, Christian asks about the baby, and is devastated to learn what Liz did without his knowledge. Only a few weeks earlier did he lose his son Wilbur to the biological father. Despite the reassurance she got from Agatha, she still doubted Christian’s commitment to the child if it came out with a birth defect. He isn’t given a moment to take it in before Sean enters, punchin him several times in the face. After losing another child, his betrayal has been found out by his best friend, who “loved him the most”.

    Now without anything to believe in, he finds himself at the church where Agatha is staying. She sees him, and she admits to being a fraud. She did it because the church was in danger of closing and as we know, she desperately needed a place to live. Like Liz earlier, Sean turns to her for some kind of hope, only to be told that there is nothing to believe in. Now everyone is demoralized enough to allow the story to get even more interesting.

    Despite the pivotal moment of Sean learning that he isn’t Matt’s father, it is bogged down in Agatha’s storyline. While it helped to have the patient tie in to this week’s themes of faith, lies and belief, the shifted focus hurt the impact. And where the hell is Matt in the middle of this? Considering he’s the offspring involved in this conflict, it’s not as if he’d have nothing to do. Still, it’s a bit of a let down for what should’ve been a major moment. At least the remainder of the season makes up for it.
  • A slow episode with something of a complicated, dull, patient storyline. Thankfully the episode picks up later when Sean find out the truth about his status as a "father"...

    We all knew that when Sean found out the truth about Matt not being his son, we were to expect huge arguments, a lot of shouting, and the possible breakup of both a marriage and a business partnership. In Agatha Ripp, we experience the start of these outcomes...

    The episode starts with a woman visiting the surgery by the name of Agatha Ripp. She claims to have a stigmata on both her wrists, and shows both Christian and Sean. We soon learn that they were self induced all along for acceptance into the Church, and merely for attention. After seeing the miracle, people's faith is restored in religion, and soon turn to her for blessing, despite her secret truth of being a fake. By the end of the episode however, it emerges that the blood from the "stigmata"'s wounds is not Agatha's, and rather, something or someone, elses.

    Despite having very strong feelings towards religion and personal beliefs, I found the scenes and story of Agatha Ripp challenging, and difficult to watch. Her plot as a whole was certainly ambitious, but felt out of place, and a little bit too "unique" for Nip/Tuck. It was totally different from everything I've come expect from Nip/Tuck as a fan, but sadly, in a negative way.

    Compared to the previous episode, Agatha Ripp was also a far slower more thought-provoking episode. Many of the storylines from the prior episode had been forgotten and abandoned completely, not leaving much left within the episode if you weren't absorbed by the main story of the patient. Adrian and Ava had no scenes whatsoever, and Matt didnt get much either. Making this episode for the most part, unprogressive.

    Thankfully, the ending scenes of the episode were a return to form, and more "traditional". In something of a random outburst Julia revealed to Sean how he wasn't Matt's father, and instead, it had been Christian. Unsurprisingly, Sean got angry, before being violent to Julia and then throwing her out of the house, shortly before going to the surgery and flooring Christian.

    While Sean has frequently been uptight and tense in a few episodes, aside from the Escobar Gallardo story last season, we havent seen him violent as such. This episode of course changed everything, and seeing an angry Sean played brilliantly by Dylan Walsh was without a doubt refreshing, and perhaps, alone, manages to save this episode from being completely weak and unnecessary.

    The next episode of course, carries on, from what has just begun...
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