FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 2: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”
Directed by Liza Johnson
Written by Tim Minear
* For a recap & review of the Season 7 premiere, “Election Night” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Neighbors from the Hell” – click here
Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) wakes to the terrifying clown with dick noses on its face in her bed. She rushes to her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) who wants to call the police, but convinces her to grab a knife instead. Anyone wonder if perhaps the wife’s in on the psychological torment? Crossed my mind. Right now, Ivy’s right alongside Ally as they check upstairs, finding no evidence of any clowns. Further making her look insane to everyone else. Worse, Ally’s continually questioning her own mental health, spiralling into a deep, dark place.
But those clowns are most certainly real. Young Oz (Cooper Dodson) knows this all too well. Having seen the clowns kill the people across the street. And now he’s being taunted by them in his own home. Or is he? Twisty (John Carroll Lynch) appears in his bedroom. Then the creepy clown from mom’s bed arrives. Not only are Ally and Oz kept in the dark as to what’s genuinely real, as is the viewer.
The moms find their boy having a nightmare. Although we know at least part of the nightmare is influenced by the real clown he saw. A terrifying mix of the comic he’s reading and the eeriness Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) let him witness. Poor kid. Poor mom, too.
Now we’re seeing that video of Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) being used out of context, without his racist singing and piss balloon. Used for political purposes. A press conference sees Kai talking about the “PC police” who were trying to hold down President Trump before his election. Furthermore, Mr. Chang who was murdered recently leaves a vacant seat on the city council. A spot Mr. Anderson is running for, hoping to win.
Meanwhile, across the way from Ally a couple having things delivered in large, blue barrels, stored in the garage. This house belongs to the Wiltons now, formerly that of the Changs before they were slaughtered – Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow (Leslie Grossman), concerned citizens we also see in clips on the news re: Kai. Plus, turns out they’re only married on paper. Harrison’s gay, he gets a bit of free time now and then to go bang guys.
At the Butchery on Main, Ally has to deal with her own immigration issues. One of the staff, Roger (Zack Ward), takes issue with an employee named Pedro, who speaks Spanish when he wants everyone speaking English. Everywhere, even at her own business, she finds you can never go too far in American without tripping over a xenophobe or a racist.
Back at home, Oz is being manipulated further by Ms. Winnie. She plays the pinky game with the kid, just as Kai did with her. While this is an expected scene, nothing out of the ordinary for where this plot seems headed, there’s more to it: this is how cults work. The leader – such as Kai – doesn’t have to go out and pull people into the fear he craves, he indoctrinates one, who indoctrinates the next, so on, and so on.
Moreover, Winnie’s using anything she can from Oz to turn the family’s life into a living hell: “You‘re going to give me your fear, Oz. I‘m going to keep it for you.”
When Winnie leaves Oz at the neighbors’ place this freaks his parents out. They rush over, to find him in glee watching Harrison do a bit of beekeeping. Once Ally sees the honeycomb, the holes in it making her phobia throb, she nearly passes out. But it’s only a passing moment. You can imagine what sort of madness THAT is going to involve Ally in eventually.
And Harrison’s into bees because “every single member of the hive is completely committed 100% to a singular task.” Just the same as a cult. A wonderful, morbid visual metaphor.
An alarm goes off at the Butchery. Oz would rather be home alone with Ivy, so Ally heads down to shut it off and check the place out. Yeah, that’s smart. She’s trying to pull her weight, though; makes sense. Still, as the place goes quiet, the darkness stretching out, we can already feel terror coming. What does she see in the meat locker? A dead Roger on a meathook.
Naturally traumatic. Ally gets a visit from Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson). She’s missing appointments. We also see the full events of the meat locker: Roger was still alive, but when tried helping he only sank further onto the hook. Nasty. When Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) turns up, he’s only concerned with the “usual suspects” like Pedro, wanting to know about immigration status, et cetera. He also appears to have contempt for the lesbian couple.
After all this, the Wiltons insist a gun is the only way Ally will feel safe again. Even throws in the ‘Obama was going to steal our guns’ line crazy right-wingers use, that we now know (and many of us knew then) was utter horse shit. No offence to her, it’s just not a hot idea for Ally to have a gun. Something bad can and will likely happen.
Suddenly, Kai turns up on the Mayfair-Richards doorstep. Ally comes to the door, listening to his nonsense about hoping to get elected. “You need to give a humiliated man some way to redeem himself in his own eyes or else he‘s at risk of being drawn into darkness,” he tells her. Before pontificating more that this was how things were before the Nazis took over. As if to excuse their actions. Much like a lot of shitposting right-wing dummies on the internet do in arguments when they have nothing in their heads. He keeps playing on fear, trying to terrorise her subtly. At least for now.
“It‘s so easy until it‘s you they‘re coming for“
Winnie keeps worming into the Mayfair-Richards’ inner workings, manipulating not only Oz but Ally, as well. She draws the mother a nice bath, suggesting a glass of red wine to relax. Ah, what a perfect nanny, right? She’s already playing a bit of the seduction game, maybe setting up a hopeful moment of infidelity to further drive a wedge between the wives. Things get… touchy, in the tub.
Before anything gets too sensual, the lights go out. A clown enters Oz’s room, though tells him it’s only a dream. Harrison runs over claiming the power outage is across several states, that it’s terrorism, saying there’ll be riots and who knows what else. Real? Or the perfect way to send a multi-phobic woman into a fit of madness?
Sure enough, the clown-mobile pulls up. Quickly, they’re in the house, the power’s been cut from inside. Ally gets to her gun, then to Oz. They move for the back door. When she opens it, she sees somebody and fires out of fright. Is it Pedro? Who is it?
No matter. They’re definitely dead.
Oh, SHIT! Really loved the follow-up, especially considering they didn’t do more weird, sexual clown stuff like the first. While that was super creepy, American Horror Story can be better than that. And they are in this episode. Dig it. Starting to get very eerie, can’t wait for more Kai.
“Neighbors from the Hell” is next week.