FX’s American Horror Story
11×03: “Smoke Signals”
Directed by John J. Gray
Written by Brad Falchuk & Manny Coto
* For a recap & review of 1×02, click here.
* For a recap & review of 11×04, click here.
Dr. Hannah Wells tells Fran about the big scary man she saw in the park. Then they get talking about Fran’s story. She mentions Operation Paperclip and the Nazi scientists taken in by America to fight the Soviet Union. During Operation Paperclip, there was a virus developed. Fran speaks about the Cold War “heating up,” and there have been further tests with the virus, involving infected ticks that got loose. The doctor worries about conspiracy theories and a fear of science. Fran worries about what destruction could happen due to the virus, and she also worries someone may have her killed because of what she knows, referencing the fate of Karen Silkwood.
Stewart crawls out of his cage in Sam’s lavish apartment, then he makes it past Big Daddy keeping watch by the door. He gets out and runs down the street screaming for help. That was a bit too easy? Perhaps Sam intended for Stewart to get out. Curiouser and curiouser, Alice!
Dt. Read meets with Stewart at the police station. The young man says he was made to perform certain “acts” he doesn’t want anybody to know about, then he explains being outside a leather bar called The Ditch when he received the call from Sam. He gives the detective a description of Sam and tells him where the apartment was, which sends Dt. Read and another cop over to look for sam, who’s busy hosting a party. Dt. Read tells Sam to clear the party out. They get talking, as Sam shows the cops around the place, even the room with the cage. Sam denies doing anything non-consensual with Stewart. But Patrick refuses to let it go, knowing Stewart didn’t want to press charges because he was “worried about his reputation.” Sam says he knows more about Dt. Read than Patrick might care to admit. And that stops things in their tracks.
Of course at home, Gino doesn’t quite believe the story Sam told when he hears it from Patrick. He had someone draw up a sketch, giving it to Patrick, though the detective doesn’t think it’ll be much use. This doesn’t satisfy Gino, neither on a personal relationship level or on the level of Patrick being a cop who’s supposed to help people. They get into an argument over Patrick’s secrets; he admits to going to leather bars. They also talk about the payphone that’s been mentioned by several people; it might be the best lead they have right now.
Dt. Read goes out to The Ditch that night, where he answers the ringing payphone, over and over, getting random calls from random people, whether it’s an older Spanish woman or a homophobe. Then a call comes through: someone’s been watching Patrick stand by the phone for hours. Is the person on the other end Sam, or somebody else? The voice on the phone challenges Patrick’s intentions. He gives Patrick an address and sends the detective on a search. The cop winds up at one of those familiar underground theatre performances. There, someone immediately makes him as a cop, but quietly. He then spies someone potentially suspicious, following the man into the dark corridors of the secretive venue. Patrick finds his way into a labyrinthine corridor, where other men are hooking up in the shadows. He confronts the man, wondering if it’s the man from the phone. Patrick searches the guy, finding a knife in the man’s boot. The guy kisses Patrick, and then things get much sexier rather than confrontational, and Patrick whips his hookup brutally. Whoa.
One of the underground show’s performers heads into the subway, scratching at a rash they have on their wrist. A creepy woman sees him and casually says: “Something is coming for you.” And then she’s gone. So the performer follows her deeper into the subway tunnel.
Gino and Adam are looking over the sketch, which certainly doesn’t look like Big Daddy. They talk about next steps. Gino suggests Adam be careful asking around about “the Mai Tai Killer.” Adam mentions Theo Graves, and Gino says he’s heard about Theo’s powerful lover who’s into some “dark shit.” Meanwhile, Gino goes back to see his friend Alana, who’s busy scrubbing blood off the floor. He shows her the sketch and she says he was definitely there at the bar recently.
Across the city, Adam goes to The Ascension Bar to meet Theo. He asks around about the man in the sketch, as well as Big Daddy, but doesn’t quite get much from the bar’s hostess. When Theo arrives, he seems to be trailed by Big Daddy, who’s casually standing in the streets of NYC wearing fetish gear. Elsewhere, Gino talks with Henry again, who talks of losing many friends and lovers to “men with knives and guns and fists and broken bottles.” Henry says if he tried to find out what happened to all of them he probably wouldn’t be here anymore. Gino talks about last time being there, getting drugged and abducted. Henry insists none of this is connected to him, but Gino highly doubts it.
Great use of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” here with Patrick putting on his aviators and his harness. That’s when he suddenly notices a strange mark on his bicep. Sort of like a rash. And it gives him great pause. Simultaneously, Theo and Adam talk about Big Daddy, and someone sends Adam a Mai Tai. Then everyone discovers someone’s locked the doors from outside with chains. They’re able to get the door open, only to witness Big Daddy light a molotov cocktail and toss it inside, shutting the front door to try and burn everybody alive.
Dr. Wells is trying to push things forward, looking for more evidence about the virus. She’s at the hospital when a bunch of people from The Ascension Bar arrive, including one of her patients with the strange rash. She’s preparing blood kits, hoping this might give her a chance to do more testing. Theo and Adam are being checked on by a doctor when Adam nearly loses his mind, insisting they have to keep on the Mai Tai Killer. So Adam sends Theo to contact Gino and tell the writer about the killer being at Ascension prior to the fire. Eventually Gino and Patrick turn up looking for the man in the sketch, who looks like Dr. Wells’s patient with the glasses, Mr. Whitely. In Adam’s room, Dr. Wells takes some blood, and she also takes blood from Mr. Whitely, as Gino and Patrick search the place.
Mr. Whitely rushes off when Dr. Wells is done taking his blood, but Gino sees him and this sends him running. Gino pursues Whitely through a stairwell, chasing him onto one of the floors. He nearly catches up with Whitely and ends up downstairs in the morgue. The writer finds a scalpel to protect himself just in case. He looks everywhere, including the storage drawers in case Whitely’s hidden amongst the corpses. Whitely soon grabs Gino from behind, knocking him unconscious. Then he ties Gino’s hands and feet, stuffing him into one of the refrigerated morgue drawers to freeze to death. Oh, shit.