FX’s American Horror Story
11×02: “Thank You for Your Service”
Directed by Max Winkler
Written by Manny Coto, Charlie Carver, & Ned Martel
* For a recap & review of the season premiere, click here.
* For a recap & review of 11×03, click here.
A clip from The Robin Byrd Show plays on a television set as Gino starts to come to while his captor starts to dig a syringe under his fingernails. The captor says he’s going to apply some pressure learned from the Viet Cong; obviously an army veteran. “There‘s a lot of pain in us,” he says. He’s looking to “make it legible.” He talks about a coming war that’ll “fix some things.” (This guy almost sounds a bit like Sam, Zachary Quinto’s character, but that could be done purposefully to throw us off, too. Hmm…). Then the captor notices a tattoo from the Marine Corps on Gino’s chest. He doesn’t want to kill a fellow soldier, so he drugs Gino up and drops him off someplace, allowing the writer to live and tell the story. A lucky encounter.
Sam is meeting with Dr. Hannah Wells. He isn’t feeling. She says he has an amoeba that’s likely sexually transmitted and very rare. She’s seen four cases over the past month. She prescribes him pills and bedrest. She further tells him to keep away from sexual activity, too. Will that stop a guy like Sam? In the waiting room, a woman has a mysterious rash, as does another guy. Neither of them can get rid of it.
At the office, Gino gets a visit from Adam. The writer explains his abduction, drugging, and torture through the piece he’s writing. He’s hoping to use the story he’s written to draw awareness amongst the gay community at least while the cops continue to do nothing. He tells Adam that Sully is probably dead. Adam suggests a tip line for gay men to share what they know or have potentially seen: “I want to start a fire.”
More great soundtrack with “Call Me” by Blondie.
Adam and Gino get to work plastering posters everywhere about the lack of cop involvement in the murders of gay men. And people start calling the line they setup. But soon the cops grab Adam off the street while he’s putting up posters. Simultaneously, Fran and her lesbian friends are back to fight for more coverage from The Native, hoping lesbians and other folks in the queer community will receive ink. VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT HERE when Gino looks through photos and there’s one of Marsha P. Johnson, a hugely important figure in the queer community. While Gino may be oblivious or ignorant to lesbian/women’s issues as a gay man, which is an issue, this moment also points to lesbians who are oblivious, or ignorant, to trans women; great writing here to include this piece of the scene. In the end, Gino gives Fran and her friends a desk at the office to give them a chance to use their voice.
At the police station, Adam’s being interrogated by angry, homophobic police. Dt. Read attempts to stop the homophobia but he doesn’t help Adam any, whatsoever. Nobody wants to hear anything about what Adam is saying. Then they open up the door to let a tall Black man in a cowboy hat come in, who slaps Adam across the face; a direct homage to Friedkin’s Cruising where the same surreal scene occurs. Later, Dt. Read brings Adam a drink and tells him to call if he finds out anything else. The gay cop says he’s doing a hush-hush investigation of his own.
On the street, Gino’s confronted by Patrick’s ex Barbara. She wants to know whether Patrick is into freaky stuff, producing a box with handkerchiefs inside, as well as poppers and bondage gear. She says Patrick is a great liar and that he may even be lying to Gino, but Gino only treats it as the ranting of a hetero ex rather than a potential red flag.
At home, Gino’s angry about his treatment at the police station, not being believed by the cop who took his statement. He transfers that anger onto Patrick. He wants something done. He says somebody should question The Brownstone staff, or do anything other than nothing at all. More than that, Gino wants to know when Patrick is going to come out to his coworkers. Clearly the detective’s not ready for that. Gino at least wants them to do some investigating around the city if the cops won’t lift a finger.
A young man named Stewart is at a gay bar where he’s sent a drink from a man who disappears out of the bar. Outside, he picks up a payphone and on the other line is Sam, inviting him to a party for two. Sam says he has “everything we need to have the time of our lives.” He gives Stewart the address and directions to the place they’ll meet.
Adam and his artist friend Morris go to an underground party complete with drinks, drugs, and artistry of all sorts, not to mention a bunch of cats roaming everywhere. The party host recites and recites until he looks right at Adam, speaking words that a crazy woman already spoke earlier on the subway: “Something‘s coming for you.” When Adam rushes out of their unsettled, he runs into Theo, who’s with yet another random guy. They might just have a little connection.
In a gay bar, Gino and Patrick are preparing to do some investigating. There’s a fence full of handkerchiefs that Patrick looks up and down. Gino talks with a friend named Alana, telling her he’s writing about the murders, all the while men keep checking Patrick out as they walk past. Alana may have some worthy info for Gino. After the chat’s over, Gino gets pissy with Patrick, believing his partner has been lying. He brings up Barbara and the box full of party items. At the same time, across the bar, the mysterious murderer buys a drink for a beefy leather guy before sinking a knife into his neck. The killer slips away into the darkness as Patrick and others rush to help the victim bleeding out on the bar’s floor.
Dr. Well is doing more work on the mysterious rash she’s seen on various patients when she gets a call from someone who claims they know about what’s going on with the patients and the deer on Fire Island. She plans a meet with the person on the other end, who’s actually Fran, and they nearly run into a terrifying figure swinging a chain. Dr. Wells hears more about the “vulnerable people” of NYC under attack by the United States government.
Sam arrives back at his gigantic home, guarded by Big Daddy. What a strange place! Downstairs, Sam has Stewart locked in a cage. So, is he the murderer everyone’s looking for? Or is Sam just another psychopath among many? After all, the 1970s and 1980s were the Golden Age of Serial Killers, unfortunately. Sam taunts Stewart in the cage: “You‘re fuckin‘ hot when you‘re scared.” Oh, my.
Back home, Gino and Patrick talk again, the former worried about the silence and the potential secrets in their relationship. They’re interrupted when Patrick has to go to work because something new’s been found. What is it? The “faggot killer” has left a bunch of hands dangling from hooks and a chain; this is eerily similar to the Bag murders, which impacted the queer community during the late 1970s and partly inspired Cruising.