American Horror Story 10×02: “Pale”

FX’s American Horror Story
10×02: “Pale”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk

* For a recap & review of the Season 10 premiere, click here.
* For a recap & review of 10×03, click here.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Story - Harry's WritingThe Gardners are in the car when Harry’s beginning to have strange visions. He’s suddenly inspired to write. He frantically claims he can “see it all.” He’s freaking his wife and daughter out. So Doris can only go along with it. Harry sits down at his desk and starts typing furiously, his fingers incapable of keeping up with the speed of his brain. It doesn’t look like the Gardners are leaving that place. Alma mentions to Doris she saw her father take a pill, which makes her mother curious. Doris asks Harry about it, wondering if he’s taking speed. This leads to a big argument, including Harry raging at his daughter for not being able to “play fucking Paganini.” He’s convinced they must stay in Provincetown. He later apologises to his daughter, though it’s a nasty moment that’ll linger with his family. Not to mention he’s starting to have trouble keeping food down. What other side effects could those little black pills have on him?

Harry goes on writing endlessly through the night. He’s just about finished the entire project by the time morning comes around. Doris is amazed, if not slightly concerned. Harry keeps saying he isn’t hungry and it makes his wife sure that he’s been taking speed, or something similar. So he says he’ll go to the market for food. On his way he sees a few of those bald creeps in the street, though pays little attention. Further down the road Harry finds another one of them eating roadkill, hissing and growling at him. He’s soon surrounded by a group of them, yet they quickly back off as if repelled by his smell, and they go off wandering again. Just an average day in Provincetown! Harry continues on about his day. At the store he finds himself drawn to red meat, picking up a cartful. He also runs into Karen, who makes fun of his “softie dick” and chastises him for taking the pills. She knows all about the darker side of that place. Harry’s too busy rushing home to blend up all that meat, making himself a refreshing meatshake, and drinking all the blood. Absolutely normal; nothing to see here.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Story - Harry's Bloody MouthNeither Alma nor Doris want to stay in Provincetown. Mom tries explaining to her daughter that Harry’s just inspired, so they’ve got to supporting his creativity. But Alma’s very upset by dad’s behaviour. Still, mom urges that they give Harry time. Although she has to further make sure her little girl doesn’t think greatness comes from taking drugs. There’s a great theme starting in this season relating to the myth of the intoxicated artist deriving their creativity from drugs and alcohol, using that concept to explore a bit of Gothic horror. As Harry continues writing he’s watched by Austin and Belle, both pleased to see “the Muse” has him in its grip.

Creepy, creepy in the morning when Doris is chopping vegetables and she cuts her finger, only for Harry to ferociously suck at the blood. Good lord, man! Get a grip on yourself. This obviously sends the screenwriter running to see Austin, wondering what those little black pills are doing to him. He asks Austin what’s in the pills. Apparently only the chemist knows. The chemist is a mysterious person who came up with the Muse by accident. We also hear that the drug turns people into a “flesh phantom” if they don’t actually have real creativity; those are the bald-headed creeps in the streets. Austin tells Harry that the drug drains the body’s minerals, which you have to replenish for the drug to work. It’s either dig into human blood or else, eventually, be depleted.
This makes Harry decide Provincetown is not for him. He apologises to Doris and tells her they’ll leave soon. He gets a great call from Ursula, who says Joaquin Phoenix has accepted a role in his project and Netflix is offering an overall deal. A celebration! But it’ll necessitate feeding the beast inside if Harry wants more inspiration. (Nice use of “Teardrop” by Massive Attack here, too.)

Harry goes back to Austin’s place, where Austin and Belle tell him he’ll never be able to live without the Muse. He’s ready to accept things if it means continued success, downing yet another pill. First thing’s first: time to go out to eat. Austin and Belle reveal their eerie teeth, then they take Harry for a drive. Great, hilarious moment in the car when Austin blames “streamers” for creating so much need recently for the Muse; brilliant! The bloodsucking pair of writers explain to Harry how things usually go for them, out on the prowl for “the ones who wont be missed.” More excellent themes here with these bourgeois monsters hunting vulnerable folks—so-called drains on society—in order to feed on them. They also make sure to go outside P-Town, so as not to raise suspicion with the local cops.Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Story - Belle Noir's Vampire TeethPoor Karen’s one of those vulnerable people in Provincetown. She finds little solace where possible, like smoking meth with Mickey and talking about Jaws. Mickey’s a big movie fan; he was a writer, once upon a time. He still writes but never seems to complete anything he starts. He thinks he should take one of the black pills, but Karen urges him not to or else he’ll become a murdering bloodsucker. Karen would rather be in her position than to be like Belle or Austin. We see Karen used to be a painter back in the day, obviously having given up and refusing to take the Muse. Though Mickey tells Karen she’s talented, suggesting she could be great if she took those black pills. The potential for economic power intoxicates Karen, wanting to get back at everybody in Provincetown who looks down on her. Yet she can’t bring herself to take those pills.
Mickey doesn’t feel the same; he swallows one.

The writer trio arrive at a house, meeting someone from Craigslist under the pretence of buying clearly stolen goods. It’s there Belle cuts the guy’s throat and the writers have their feast. Harry joins in, having his share of the suck. Nice needle drop with “Funnel of Love” playing on the radio as the writers head back to P-Town. Belle rationalises their murder of a poor addict as allowing the victim to be part of the greatness Harry will go on to write with his newfound power.
Another good use of music with “Change (In the House of Flies)” by the Deftones playing over shots of foggy Provincetown. Harry goes to see someone named Dr. Leslie Feldman a.k.a Lark (Billie Lourd), a local tattoo artist who gave up dentistry to take little black pills and do gnarly tattoos. It seems the pills are good for any artists, regardless of the medium. Lark’s helping Harry out with his chompers, fixing his mouth for future feedings.

At home, Alma’s becoming increasingly frustrated by her violin practice. She’s starting to think more of the black pills, sneaking into her father’s things to grab herself one. Oh, no. Inevitable, really. And immediately the little girl feels the Muse coursing in her veins, playing Paganini with ease, just like her father continues to write and write without end, and Mickey does the same, too. Probably not good that Alma passes out cold, though she hops back up and starts playing more.
What about Doris? Will her interior decorating stresses push her to the little black pills? Right now she’s dealing with her husband and daughter both being cruel artistic douchebags. Alma now doesn’t want to leave Provincetown and she thinks Doris is trying to take away her and her father’s greatness because of jealousy. So Doris knows it’s time to get out of that place for good. All the while her husband’s out at the local gay cruising spot killing a new victim. Later, she wakes up from a nap and Harry says Alma’s gone out for a walk by herself. This naturally worries Doris, after all the creepy shit that’s happened, yet Harry gets slightly sexist, suggesting it’s just his wife being crazy from the pregnancy. The wife goes out looking around town for her daughter. She sees more of the bald-headed creeps. Then she comes upon Alma eating roadkill in front of a grave.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Story - Alma Eats Roadkill

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