‘American Gigolo’ Episode 1: Recap And Ending – Did Julian Kaye Kill Janet Holmes?

“American Gigolo” (2022) is adapted from the 1980’s classic American crime film “American Gigolo,” starring Richard Gere as Julian Kay and Lauren Hutton as Michelle Stratton. In the show, we have John Bernthal playing Julian and Gretchen Mol playing Michelle. Julian works as a male escort in Los Angeles but is wrongfully convicted of murder. He was released after spending 15 years in prison. But now, he has to dig up his past to clear his name.


Spoilers Ahead

‘American Gigolo’ Episode 1: Recap

Julian Kaye is a male escort in Los Angeles who is convicted of the murder of Janet Holmes, something he doesn’t have any memory of. He has two options. Either he can say that he doesn’t remember anything and that will land him up with lifetime imprisonment, or he can accept the charges against him, help the police in their investigation, and he will serve no more than 25 years.


15 years have passed. Julian wakes up in his cell. He has made friends with his co-inmates and works at the prison canteen. One day, he is called to the warden’s office, where he finds an officer waiting for him. It is the detective officer Sunday who first questioned him about the murder 15 years ago. As Julian sees her, he has a flashback of the horrific moments when he found himself covered in blood with Janet Holmes dead beside him. The cops had already arrived at the front gates, and before Julian could escape, they broke in and arrested him. The lady shows Julian a picture of killer-for-hire Kevin Finnegan. On his deathbed, he confessed to his murders, the last one being that of Janet Holmes. Julian was wrongfully convicted. He is now a free man.

Julian, whose real name is Johnny, returns home. As he approaches his neighborhood, he cannot help but think of the times when his neighbor Mrs. Davis would physically exploit him when he was young. It happened in front of his mother, Maryanne, but she never protested. As Julian walks up to the door of his house, he observes Mrs. Davis looking at him. She may or may not have recognized him, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Julian’s mother, now old and wretched, answers the knock but isn’t really glad to see Julian back home. She apparently has no sense of reality anymore. At home, all the memories keep coming back to Johnny. How day after day Mrs. Davis called him over, how his mother sent him away with a woman named Olga who runs an escort service, all for money, and the woman, Michelle, at the beach who made an impression on him. One night, while his mother is asleep, Johnny leaves his house.


Past: Olga brings teen Johnny to her mansion, and Julian is dumbfounded by the explicit atmosphere; men and women in swimwear, to say the least. Olga introduces him to a young man, Lorenzo. He also meets Olga’s niece, Isabelle, who tells him that Olga is the queen of the place and that after her, she will be. Later on, Olga gives Johnny new clothes and gives her a new name, Julian. Thus begins a new phase of his life as an escort. Years later, we see a grown-up Julian sitting with an elderly woman at a posh restaurant ordering drink. This is when he notices a woman looking at him from another table. It is the same woman whom he met at the beach, Michelle. A few moments later, they find themselves talking to each other on the dance floor, away from the people they had arrived with. They are clearly attracted to one another.

Present: In the morning’s paper, Michelle finds out that Julian has been exonerated. Meanwhile, her son Colin has developed a relationship with his 32-year-old teacher, something that is completely unacceptable for his father, i.e., Michelle’s husband. The teacher, who is sorry and ashamed, is brought to their house, made to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and forced to leave the state. Julian arrives at Lorenzo’s place, where he welcomes him back wholeheartedly. They go to a bar in Julian’s old car, which Lorenzo has kept safe all these years. As Julian sits all by himself, Lorenzo having excused himself for some business of his own, he thinks about Michelle and their intimate moments. Both had opened themselves up to each other. Julian owned up to her about how what he does as Julian, not Johnny, is something that allows him to not get hurt. Julian is someone who “can take anything.” And all Julian has to do is “jump in the water” and “wash him off” and become Johnny again. Julian and Michelle had decided to be together. Lorenzo lets Julian stay at his place for the time being. It is nighttime. After everything he has been through, the fact that Julian doesn’t remember what happened on that fateful night 15 years ago makes him wonder if he really did kill Janet Holmes. He shares this with Lorenzo, who, on the other hand, believes that Julian can never kill anyone. Detective Officer Sunday arrives at the hospital where Janet Holmes’s murderer, Kevin Finnegan, is breathing his last (pancreatic cancer that has reached his brain). She asks him who had hired him to kill. All that she gets out of him is the word “keen.”


‘American Gigolo’ Episode 1: Ending – What is “Keen”?

Michelle wakes up from sleep to hear her husband, Stratton, talk about their son and the teacher again. She comes down and finds out that Colin has run off with the teacher. Stratton sends one of his men, Mr. McGregor, in search of Colin, something Michelle is totally against. It seems that McGregor’s methods aren’t likable. She decides to look for Colin herself. As the entrance gate opens and she is about to get inside her car, she spots Julian waiting outside.

Julian has come to confirm to Michelle something that she had told him long ago, i.e. He was always innocent. As glad as Michelle seems to see Julian, she tells him that he has to leave. She has a son now, and he is in a lot of trouble. Julian’s presence in her life will only make it worse. “Okay,” says Julian, and as he is about to leave, Michelle calls out his real name, Johnny, and rushes to hug him, only to push him away. She tells him to “stay away” and goes inside the house. The gate closes behind her. Julian is left alone.


Julian meets Detective Officer Sunday, who tells him about the name Kevin Finnegan mentioned. The word “Keen” rings a bell, one that has a sharp tune. Julian realizes that Kevin was trying to say “Queen.” And the only person connected to the case and addressed as the “Queen” is Olga. He doesn’t tell Sunday anything and leaves. He goes to Lorenzo and tells him that he wants to get back to work as an escort and needs to talk to “Queen” Olga. Lorenzo, who is very happy with Julian’s decision, takes him to Olga’s mansion. There Julian meets Isabelle, Olga’s niece, who is a grown woman now. She entices him to spend the night with her. “American Gigolo” Episode 1 ends with Julian “going to work” on Isabelle.

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Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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