Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

We need to talk about "The Golden Arm" episode of Quibi's 50 States Of Fright

Illustration for article titled We need to talk about The Golden Arm episode of Quibis i50 States Of Fright/i
Photo: Quibi

Sam Raimi’s 50 States Of Fright had yet to debut on Quibi when we did our initial roundup of reviews, but you can be damn sure we’d have discussed “The Golden Arm” if it had. The episode of Raimi’s horror anthology, which brings to life folk tales native to the United States, is currently cracking up folks online thanks to an isolated clip shared by writer Zach Raffio that shows what happens when you try to turn a campfire story into high drama.

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In the above clip, which spans little more than a minute, Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) occupies a pastoral setting with what looks like the damn Infinity Gauntlet on her arm before a concerned doctor tells her with a straight face that “the tests have come in” and she has “pulmonary gold disease.” (Serious The Room/breast cancer vibes here.)

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“You’ve got to take off that prosthetic,” he says, to which she offers a curt “no, I can’t take off my golden arm, ever.” Cut to her literally dying in a hospital bed as her husband grips her flesh hand, begging him to bury her with her golden arm. She makes him repeat it—“I will bury you with your golden arm,” he says through gritted teeth. Every utterance of “golden arm” is funnier than the last.  

The clip feels absurdly relevant in a vacuum, as if this were a satiric take on how the 1% would rather die than give up their unnecessary extravagances. And the dramatic score, leaden dialogue, and soapy acting only elevate the comedy, leading many online to wonder just how much the creators were in on the joke.

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But, having just watched all three parts of “The Golden Arm,it is abundantly clear that Raimi, who co-wrote and directed the episode, didn’t set out to make a comedy. What he did was turn the old folk tale—the original is about a man who covets his wife’s golden arm and steals it from her after she dies, only to be visited by her vengeful spirit—into something a bit more complex. Here, the woman is the covetous one; after losing her arm in an accident, she rejects any prosthetic that isn’t made of gold. He goes broke making it and, after she dies, he digs up her grave and steals it to recoup his losses. Enter: vengeful spirit, this time with axe.

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As an adaptation of a folk tale, the likes of which tend to unfold in big, broad strokes with archetypal characters, it works. That, however, doesn’t stop “The Golden Arm” from being a fucking riot. Yes, the straight-faced brooding over the arm itself is hilarious, but the full episode’s got even more laughs, like the moment when a child asks Brosnahan if her gold arm makes her “a princess.” There’s also the scene when, after a tree falls on Brosnahan’s arm, her husband tries to save it by yanking it like it was a bedsheet stuck beneath a boulder.

You can watch the full episode for yourself on Quibi, which is offering a 90-day free trial to new users (they could use the downloads). You could also not watch it, as “The Golden Arm” is perhaps best enjoyed in the clip shared above, with no context whatsoever provided as to why this woman is so damn protective of her golden arm.

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See a list of everything that’s coming to the streamer here.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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