Every Super-Gross and Super-Gory Thing That Happens in Netflix's 'Ratched'

Ryan Murphy's latest show, Ratched, is not for anyone with a weak stomach. The eight-episode Netflix series tells the origin story of Nurse Mildred Ratched, of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. (The character's perhaps best known for director Miloš Forman's Oscar-winning 1975 film adaptation, in which she's played by Louise Fletcher, who earned her own Academy Award for the performance.) In the show, Ratched's brought to life in the show by star Sarah Paulson; she infiltrates a psychiatric hospital in California in 1947, where patients are subject to misguided, horrifying and downright immoral treatments.

Viewers probably know to expect a lobotomy or two, but graphic violence saturates the entire first season. And to serve those who have a morbid curiosity in the series but who want to know when to avert their eyes, we've assembled a list of every gory and gross development, and when they happen.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Ratched, along with some grisly details that are sure to make your stomach turn.

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Episode 1, "Pilot"

The series opens with an especially grisly flash of violence: the murders of several priests by a sinister killer named Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock). He slits the throat of one and leaves him bleeding out in the bathtub. Another priest's head is bashed into a toilet seat to the point of being unrecognizable. A third is stabbed in a hallway. Edmund then zeroes in on the monsignor, and stabs him on the floor of a bedroom.

After all this violence, at some point offscreen, Edmund's apprehended by police and sent off to California's Lucia State Hospital, where he's placed in a high-security cell. That also happens to be the hospital where Mildred Ratched is determined to work. (Not a coincidence!) Soon after she manages to infiltrate the staff, Ratched convinces a depressed patient, Mr. Salvatore (Daniel Di Tomasso), to commit suicide. We won't get too far into her reasoning because, frankly, the motivations in this show are a mess, but just know that Salvatore's despairing because his brother has just passed away and no one in his family seems interested in ever getting him out of the hospital.

So, Ratched manipulates Salvatore, saying that he wants someone to show him mercy, and that it won't happen to him at the hospital. She also tells him that no one ever wants to see him again. In a sinister whisper, she tells Salvatore about the letter opener in the office of the head doctor, Dr. Hanover's (Jon Jon Briones), and encourages him to end it all. She escorts the patient there, and he slits his throat in the bathroom of the doctor's office.

After we see Ratched at work, we get the episode's last-minute reveal: That she's Edmund's sister, and is working at Lucia State Hospital to try and rescue him.

Episode 2, "Ice Pick"

In this episode, Nurse Ratched witnesses her first lobotomy, a procedure that's considered experimental and revolutionary at the time. Hanover claims that the operation can be performed in minutes and will rid patients of their mental illnesses. He performs the procedure in a surgical theater with an audience, and, in a bit of foreshadowing, we notice that Ratched pays incredibly close attention.

The first lobotomy Hanover performs is done with a hand drill. He makes an incision first, and claims that the patient feels nothing. Next, there's the trapanning, during which you can hear the tools entering the patient's brain tissue. The instrument rotates in the brain, according to Hanover, severing the neural connections. An audience member in the hospital's theater becomes overwhelmed and passes out at the sight of blood and brains—which, can't blame them.

In a follow-up demonstration, Hanover carries out a transorbital lobotomy, which is famously used with an ice pick and thought to be less graphic. It's sort of less graphic, but not exactly pleasant to watch or listen to.

Hanover performs this procedure—which focuses on the frontal lobe—on cadavers. He taps the ice pick above the eye, against the thin layer of bone on top of the eye socket, and into the frontal lobe. The ice pick pivots, cutting outwards and inwards, and then is done again, through the other eye socket.

Viewers don't have to witness a ton of blood in this case, but the sound of the skull cracking is enough to make you wince every time. Nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis) even throws up after hearing the first cut that's made.

Ratched, who's clearly fascinated with lobotomies, decides to stage one of her own near the end of the episode. In an attempt to sabotage any sort of criminal prosecution of her brother Edmund, Ratched performs the ice pick lobotomy on a priest who witnessed Edmund's killing at the monastery in the pilot. She straps him to a motel bed and takes a hammer and ice pick to his head to lobotomize him, erasing the memories of Edmund's crimes (as well as pretty much everything else) from his mind.

Sarah Paulson Mildred Ratchet Netflix
Still of Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched in the Netflix series "Ratched." Courtesy of Netflix

Episode 3, "Angel of Mercy"

Soon into her time working at Lucia State Hospital, Nurse Ratched is also exposed to hydrotherapy. Two female characters are staying at the hospital to address their sexual orientation; to many of the people in the post-World War II world of Ratched, lesbianism is a mental illness that needs to be treated. After they're caught having sex in one of their hospital rooms, the two women are punished by being assigned hydrotherapy sessions.

The patients are placed in a tub of water and locked in via metal flaps. While they sit there, the water is turned to upwards of 117 degrees and left at that temperature for 20 minutes. Then, the patient is placed into a separate tub filled with ice water for five minutes. It's incredibly uncomfortable to watch the patients be tortured, and even gets to Ratched, which feels like an odd choice considering she's willing to inflict violence on others to achieve her own ends.

Later in the episode, Hanover, the mastermind behind all these psychological treatments, opens up to Nurse Ratched about a psychology experiment that went awry years ago. A patient of Hanover's—Henry Osgood (Brandon Flynn), the son of a wealthy woman named Lenore (Shraron Stone)—was thought to have a sexual disorder because he constantly pricked people with needles, and eventually these impulses became increasingly violent. After Henry stabbed and injured the family's gardener, Lenore enlisted Hanover to cure Henry of his maladies.

Hanover planned on using small doses of lysergic acid (commonly known as LSD) to help free Henry's mind and treat him. When they meet up for the session, though, and Hanover isn't looking, Henry slips an incredibly high dose of the drug to Hanover, sending him on an exponentially worse hallucination trip than the one that Henry embarks upon.

During their shared trip, Henry rambles on about how he believes someone else's arms have been sewed onto his body and that they're the source of his psychosis. While Hanover is slipping in and out of consciousness, Henry murders the gardener, cuts off his arms and asks Hanover to sew them onto him. Henry then saws off one of his arms, and severely breaks the other by wedging it behind a heavy bureau and smashing it at the humerus. (Yes, this is all as gross and unpleasant and bloody as it sounds.)

Hanover tells Ratched that he tried to sew Henry's arms back on, but he was only able to fuse the blood vessels to prevent Henry from dying due to blood loss. Ultimately, Henry's arms had to be cut off. Worse yet, the procedure left Henry with an infection that spread to his legs, and that required both of his legs to be amputated as well. Ever since, Hanover has been on the run from Lenore, who wants him dead for what's happened to her son.

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Episode 4, "Angel of Mercy Part II"

This next scene doesn't compare to that acid-fueled mania, but it's still gross enough to make this list: Louise (Amanda Plummer), the nosy manager of the motel where Ratched is staying, wears leeches on her arms, and tells one of her other customers, Charles Wainwright (Corey Stoll), that they help with her arthritis.

Speaking of Wainwright: He's actually a hitman who's been hired by Lenore to kill Hanover. While searching for the doctor in the hospital, Wainwright's hit over the head by Hanover. Ratched and Hanover then drag the hired gun to the hydrotherapy chamber and lock him in, setting the temperature to a boiling 150 degrees. After spending way too much time trapped in there, Wainwright eventually breaks the lock and stumbles through the hospital's hallway, looking for Hanover. He's blistered, raw and burnt all over. It's pretty graphic, and will definitely make your skin crawl.

Wainwright's then fatally shot in the eyes by a security guard—not between the eyes, mind you, actually in the eyes, as in one bullet per. Once Wainwright's down, his scabby body is put into the incinerator.

Episode 5, "The Dance"

For much of its runtime, this episode looks like it'll spare viewers the sort of bloodshed that its predecessors relish, but don't get too comfortable. In this installment, Ratched becomes head nurse, replacing and demoting Nurse Bucket, by blackmailing Hanover about everything involving the Osgoods. Her first order of business is to throw a dance, allowing the patients and the staff of Lucia State to intermingle. Ratched's not really concerned with anyone's social life, though; she plans the event to give Edmund a prime opportunity to convince patients and staff that he's actually insane, which should keep him from having to testify in court, and help him dodge the death penalty.

Towards the end of the episode, while the dance is underway, Edmund abandons Ratched's scheme and slits the throat of Harold, a security guard (Jermaine Williams), as part of his own escape plan. Edmund's date to the dance, Nurse Dolly (Alice Englert), with whom he's already gotten sexually involved with, shoots another character—Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon), who works for the governor and is herself drawn to Ratched—in the chest before stealing a car and making off with Edmund. Both incidents are proof that this show just can't get through an episode without at least some violence.

Finn Wittrock Edmund Tolleson Ratched
Finn Wittrock as Edmund Tolleson in Ryan Murphy's Netflix series "Ratched." Courtesy of Netflix

Episode 6, "Got No Strings"

Following their escape, Dolly and Edmund hide out in a barn while police search for them. While biding their time, she kills a chicken by breaking its neck, so she and Edmund can eat. We can hear the neck snap, and it's brutal enough to make a cold-blooded killer like Edmund wince at the sound.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Gwendolyn recovers from being shot in the chest. She and Ratched decide to go see a puppet show as an escape for the afternoon.

During the puppet show scene, we see Ratched re-live her childhood, growing up alongside Edmund, through flashbacks. Both of them were abused as children, and finally escaped their final set of foster parents after a pretty intense outburst of violence. In one particularly horrifying moment, Ratched remembers Edmund gouging out the eyes of their guardians before running away.

Later in this episode and back on the farm, Dolly is killed—she's shot multiple times by the police. Edmund remains unscathed and returns to the hospital.

Episode 7, "The Bucket List"

Throughout the show's first season, we see other flashbacks, of Ratched serving as an army nurse in WWII. In the show's seventh episode, we figure out why she was discharged: Ratched confesses to Nurse Bucket that she put her patients out of their misery by smothering them with their pillows, ultimately killing them of asphyxiation. She also reveals that she doesn't have any formal training as a nurse, and lied about her background to join the army and then to get her job at Lucia State Hospital. Even though Bucket says she won't expose Ratched, Ratched steps down as head nurse.

There are other staffing shakeups: Hanover gets dismissed from his position at Lucia State after his drug abuse is exposed. (It also doesn't help that his credentials were also forged.) This allows Bucket to become the interim head of the hospital. When Hanover leaves, Hanover takes Charlotte Wells (Sophie Okenedo), a patient thought to be cured of multiple personality disorder, with him. She believes Hanover is the only doctor who can cure her, and Ratched gives them both permission to leave. While staying at a motel and hiding from authorities, Charlotte suffers a mental breakdown and brutally murders Hanover by bashing his head into a bureau and stabbing him with what appears to be a knife.

Once she realizes what she's done, Charlotte calls Ratched to the motel room, to help clean up the scene and assist Charlotte with her escape. While doing all that, Ratched also decides to bring Lenore Osgood the disgraced doctor's head, per an earlier request.

So, Ratched goes to a hardware store first thing in the morning and purchases a saw to decapitate Hanover—thankfully, the saw's used offscreen, in a rare bit of discretion from the show's creative team. And when Ratched presents Lenore with the head in a hatbox, we don't actually see Hanover's head; we just see that Lenore's clearly satisfied.

Lenore's son, though, is less impressed with the severed head—he knows that Hanover's death doesn't fix anything. Still, the death doesn't stop there. Moments after she talks with her son about Hanover, Lenore's stabbed by a worker at their house and falls dead on top of Henry. Presumably, it's revenge for his mother keeping him cooped up after his accident. How this bit of revenge is more thirst-quenching than Hanover's murder is... unclear.

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Episode 8, "Mildred and Edmund"

Finally! We're up to the season's last episode, which is filled with plenty of gore, almost as if the show's makers have some sort of quota to hit. In this hour, Edmund is sentenced to death via lethal injection, and we see a dramatization of what would happen in that scenario. However, the governor of California, George Wilburn (Vincent D'Onofrio), has other plans.

During the live execution of a different criminal that's attended by press, the governor encourages the use of an electric chair, which he enthusiastically calls "Big Sparky." The criminal, who is being executed for the murder of a young boy, is strapped into the chair and his face is covered with a mask. After the chair is turned on and the voltage is cranked up, he struggles and the mask flies off his face, which lets everyone see the effects of the electricity. It's a disturbing scene, especially considering that the governor prevents the chair operator from turning the power down, even when the criminal's feet light on fire. The prisoner burns to death, and the body is unrecognizable when the machine turns off.

Later, Charlotte returns to Lucia State Hospital, taking on the personality of Dr. Hanover. Believing she has the authority as the former head of the hospital, Charlotte rescues Edmund from his cell and shoots the newly appointed head nurse, Huck (Charlie Carver), while the pair make yet another escape. Whether or not Ratched will reunite with Edmund remains to be seen. Whatever happens moving forward, we're sure it'll be messy.

The first season of Ratched is available to stream on Netflix.