From TV Series

Slasher – Season 1, Episode 7: “In the Pride of His Face”

Chiller’s Slasher
Season 1, Episode 7: “In the Pride of His Face”
Directed by Craig David Wallace
Written by Aaron Martin

* For a review of the previous episode, “He Who Sows His Own Flesh” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Soon Your Own Eyes Will See” – click here


The penultimate episode of Slasher‘s first season begins in the aftermath of Captain Iain Vaughn (Dean McDermott) being burned alive in a crematorium.
Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath) is visiting with Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow). She wants to know the full truth, now that they’re being honest with one another.
Flashback to 1988, Halloween night. A young Tom, as The Executioner, murders the pregnant wife and her husband. Whereas the pilot took us up until the door shut, this episode gives us what happened behind the door. Laura’s mother reveals the baby belongs to her and Tom. This stops him in his tracks. Momentarily.
In the present, Tom claims it was to “save” her from their parentage. But he won’t give up anything further.Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 4.24.27 AMRobin (Christopher Jacot) comforts Sarah, as best he can. Meanwhile, at home Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren) is trying to make amends, for being a “bad husband” and not paying her enough attention while lavishing in the bit of praise given to him for his coverage of the killings in Waterbury. Could he still be a suspect? You never know. She wants to leave, she wants him to stop covering the story. He doesn’t necessarily say that’ll happen, only: “I dont wanna lose you.”
A creepy sub-genre moment sees Cam Henry (Steve Byers) sneak in behind behind Officer Sharma (Shawn Ahmed), as they find a room filled with The Executioner’s Seven Deadly Sins drawings. The whole scene is creepy. They find all sorts of things, diaries, lists. Even one that says Sarah and Tom are in the crosshairs for the sin of Pride.
More than ever now Dylan is appearing suspicious. The way he talks with Sarah makes him seem strange. So late in the game, could he be a definite suspect now? It’s easy to be suspicious, though. The red herring game is strong in writer Aaron Martin, following along excellently with the slasher sub-genre trope. Even further than that Sarah catches Dylan in a bit of a lie, making him that much more suspicious. He’s followed The Executioner story since before they met. He did it all for a lead that eventually brought about their marriage. He lied about it all. Sketchy.


Still, Dylan’s out in front of the cameras. All the while, Cam is keeping Sarah safe. And Tom Winston’s being transported elsewhere. That is until he launches an escape, choking out Officer Sharma and then looming over the paramedic. Terrifying.
Lisa Ann Follows (Enuka Okuma) is dangling a book deal in front of Dylan. Could he be guilty of Pride himself? Could this all be a deflection?
Well Winston shows up to take Sarah. Not for anything nefarious, obviously. He wants to protect her, afraid that Cam and the police can’t do the job properly. This is an excellently written series of events because we’re placed in a strange position, at once hating Tom for being a vicious murderer, and at the same time rooting for him because he’s, oddly enough, a caring father at the bottom of it all. The father in him comes out now that we know for sure, and it’s sickly a sweet situation in ways. Again, that’s the sort of paradox writer Martin puts us in; to hate and admire the original Executioner.
Sarah and Tom have a cute little chat about her past, her grandmother, camping, and so on. She again asks why Tom killed her mother and her husband. Then out of nowhere, Tom starts seizing. He manages to smash her phone, but urges her to run – The Executioner could trace the call, if he’s tricky tricky tricky. The police, they catch her phone. Cam and Dylan are both concerned. Even Father Alan Henry (Rob Stewart) offers to help.
Is it coincidence that right after the priest heads out to search The Executioner captures Tom and Sarah?
We find out after that Sarah is guilty of “playing God” when she attempted suicide. That’s why The Executioner has slated her for death. Tom begs for the life of his daughter. But the killer is not interested in that.
Back to 1988. A young Tom Winston preaches in a church. Laura’s mother Rachel shows up and joins the congregation. Tom’s actually talking about Alan Henry, the sins of Waterbury. Cut to him in bed with Rachel. He’s wracked with guilt, and he’s in love with her. The whole situation is tough, especially once things with the married couple devolve. We’re getting a better perspective on why Tom felt so betrayed by everything; he had no idea about being filmed. Such a heavy revelation. I’d not expected this whole angle particularly. The couple blackmailed Tom into leaving their burgeoning enterprise alone. This is what drove him to madness. To murder.


So this is the story of Tom Winston’s Pride.
The Executioner plans to kill Sarah, but instead Tom gives himself up for her. “I love you, Sarah,” he says before going willing into the arms of the killer. He lays down upon the saw, broken on the wheel, and it tears him apart. What a bloody, violent death for Tom! Wow. Very impressed with the horror elements in this episode. Quite vicious.
Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 5.04.16 AM

It is our duty, our burden, to take action against sin wherever we may find it.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 5.06.26 AMSarah’s escaped the grip of The Executioner. Her life keeps getting stranger and stranger, more complex, and not in any sort of good way. Then a mannequin of The Executioner pops up int the middle of town, including a note for Sarah specifically. The plot only thickens.
At home, Father Henry is a little too chipper. Another red herring? Or perhaps his talk of the town being “cleansed” is more than just talk?
There are certainly secrets in the Henry household. In a closet, Cam has a box of mementos. He adds a new one – a piece of bloody shirt, one an awful lot like that which Tom wore. Is this really it? Is Cam truly The Executioner? WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! I had my suspicions, but still. This changes the game.Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 5.09.56 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-09 at 5.11.35 AMStay with me, fellow fans. I love this series. I don’t care what anyone else says, despite the flaws and all. Lots of fun. Next episode, the finale, is titled “Soon Your Own Eyes Will See” and we will get our answers.

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Slasher – Season 1, Episode 5: “Ill-Gotten Gains”

Chiller’s Slasher
Season 1, Episode 5: “Ill-Gotten Gains”
Directed by Craig David Wallace
Written by Aaron Martin

* For a review of the previous episode, “As Water is Corrupted Unless It Moves” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The One Who Sows His Own Flesh” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.12.28 AMAfter June Henry (Jessica Sipos) was taken by The Executioner in the finale of last episode, left in a large open field, her naked body covered in honey, this episode of Chiller’s Slasher continues with two women in that very field discovering June’s body.
This is one of the grisliest murders yet. Amazing practical makeup effects that draw a heavy visceral reaction.

 

 


When Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath) and husband Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren) arrive at the Henry home to give support. Creepily, Father Alan Henry (Rob Stewart) appears jovial, almost happy. Then Captain Iain Vaughn (Dean McDermott) arrives to give Cam Henry (Steve Byers) the bad news – they’ve found June’s body.
At the morgue, Cam breaks down a little, yelling at his father. Clearly his grief is overwhelming, whose wouldn’t be at a time like that?
Meanwhile, Dylan’s on television with his boss Alison Sutherland (Mayko Nguyen) being interviewed by Lisa Ann Follows (Enuka Okuma). It seems as if Dylan is a bit too into it, while his boss isn’t enjoying things at all.
Simultaneously, Father Henry’s back giving supposed religious council to Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow). Their relationship is very, very curious with every passing episode. Then there’s Sarah and Robin (Christopher Jacot) speculating on the possibility of Alan Henry being involved with The Executioner murders. They know Cam’s place, where Alan stays, has been tossed by police, but they wonder about his other house – the church. So they go poking around, naturally, in true slasher horror sub-genre fashion. What come across are a hammer, nails, a “murder kit“, and likely one meant to be used for crucifixion.

 

 


Over at the newspaper office, Alison isn’t pleased with Dylan, as she finds his showboating a little much. But, even if it’s sleazy, he is just doing his job, being what’s he supposed to for the role. And Alison, she’s busy hacking into June Henry’s text messages.
Sarah does her best to comfort old pal Cam. Only, she doesn’t comfort much. She has questions about the relationship between Alan and Tom, revealing her thoughts about the latter orchestrating The Executioner murders from prison. She tells Cam about finding the apparent murder kit at the church. The two good friends fall apart, calling each other suspects, going back and forth with accusations – even Cam throwing Dylan’s name in the ring – and really burning their friendship to the ground. Either way, Sarah’s adamant Alan’s hiding something, to which Cam replies: “Dylan is too. Id bet my life on it.
Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.26.19 AMFather Alan arrives at the gallery. He tells a little parable of a woman going to confession, ill-spoken words, feathers, and all sorts of things. Essentially, it parallels with what Sarah’s been talking of, suggesting things to Cam about his father. A chilling, ominous bit of dialogue between Sarah and Alan reveals he may know more, about the past and the present, than he’s revealed so far.
Big break in the newspaper. Texts from June to Trent, vice versa. Alison claims they were “emailed” to them, but we know the truth. Follows is sniffing around for more stories, more publicity, more, more, more. Then the divide goes further between Alison and Dylan, as Lisa wants more focus on one of them. And the topic is sex, so naturally Follows wants him on; she’s obviously into him. Sarah isn’t pleased at all with Dylan and his paper either. Yet there he goes, on television again. Alison turns the tables and tries speaking directly to The Executioner live, which of course pisses of Dylan and Lisa, for different reasons.
Then, in the dark of the evening, Alison walks to her car and hears her name whispered quietly from somewhere nearby, a letter under one of her wipers: an invitation to meet with The Executioner. Uh oh.
Captain Vaughn and Sarah come up against one another. He’s pretty insulting towards her, even while she’s only trying to dig out the truth. But she’ll get things figured out, one way or another. Craft one, that Sarah.
At the foundry, Alison prepares a very official-like setup for her one-on-one with The Executioner. Is she expecting too much? Well, things get underway. The Executioner gives up information that only he would be able to know, in order to satisfy Alison’s curiousity whether it’s actually him (or her). They proceed to have a little chat, about all things Seven Deadly Sins. The killer asks if she has anything “weighing” on her, straining the ole conscience. And she walks away unscathed. For now.
At the office again, the competition between Dylan and Alison now rages, with Ms. Follows hoping to “build a special” around the footage Alison got of her clandestine interview. Lisa’s suddenly much more interested in the bosslady. Because she only cares about ratings, and who can get ’em.Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.37.04 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.41.17 AM

We all sin. Every day of our lives, we sin.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.42.33 AMHoping to circumvent Cpt. Vaughn, off goes Sarah to the Mayor’s office – Ronald Edwards (Booth Savage). She blackmails him to get the tapes found in her parents house after the original murders, even calling him “grandpa” re: the affair he’d had with her grandmother. Amazing little scene, and shows how tenacious Sarah is when it comes to digging for the truth.
We get more about Alison now as a character. Turns out, she precipitated the suicide of Benny Peterson (Michael Vincent Dagostino), husband to Heather (Erin Karpluk), by doing some e-mail hacking, throwing suspicion on Benny for possibly having something to do with their daughter’s disappearance. Wow. Even more, Dylan lurks around the bar where Alison meets Lisa, and there’s even MORE trouble afoot than before. So many layers.
Robin and Sarah continue sleuthing. They follow Father Alan. He meets with a woman, clearly a dominatrix, and she crucifies him to a wooden cross, as he shouts: “Father forgive me!” Holy shit. Alan’s developed a sadomasochistic interest.
In other news, Alison is headed off in a limo. One driven by The Executioner, as it turns out. Back to the foundry once more. No interview this time. Seems she has something weighing on her conscience after all, like we saw in her meeting with Lisa. Bye, bye, Alison.Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.50.52 AMFinally getting her hands on the tapes of her parents, Sarah sits through some their homemade porno, forcing herself, trying to discover something, anything.
Then she sees Tom in a video with her mother.
In a restaurant, a couple hipsters sit chatting. One of them bites into an onion ring; an onion ring that turns out to be an ear. The police later discover her deep fried head in one of the boiling vats. Dylan’s already snooping around, which doesn’t please Cpt. Vaughn. It’s clear there is more to Dylan than we know. I want more of his backstory to come out, and it will soon. I’d like more on Vaughn, too. He isn’t the typical police character, he isn’t dumb.
But quickly, in the finale we get more of Vaughn. He has a locked room in his house. Inside, he keeps Ariel Peterson (Hannah Endicott-Douglas). And a boy, too. His son, apparently. What a whopper of a finale! Very Josef Fritzl-ish. Wow. Can’t wait for more. Vaughn is obviously not at all who he structures himself to be in the outside world. There are far more secrets to Slasher yet to be discovered.Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.54.49 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.56.49 AMThe next episode is titled “The One Who Sows His Own Flesh” and I’m excited. The revelation in this episode was intense, and there were a few amazing scenes that make things even murkier than before. Who is The Executioner? Who are all the citizens of Waterbury, really? Let’s find out together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 4: “Devil’s Night”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 4:
 “Devil’s Night”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Jennifer Salt

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mommy” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Room Service” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-50-54-amOnce more, another night at the Hotel Cortez – “Devil’s Night”, in fact.
In strolls Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) for a stay. Apparently this is his third year back since perishing. Looks as if we’re going to have a savage night, aren’t we? He pops into the room of some guests and bashes in the man’s skull with a lamp. He asks the woman to “swear to Satan” she’ll be quiet, but of course that doesn’t work. A bit of cat-and-mouse until ole James March (Evan Peters) appears at the end of the hallway…
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-52-35-amA nice slick opening sets up an obviously entertaining night ahead, especially for Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) who is still staying at the Cortez. A hotel full of dead serial killers on the move? Should get wild.
When Lowe wakes up for the day he talks with his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks). It seems as if there’s a bit of a divide now starting to creep between John and his family. He’s not quite right. Doesn’t help when he starts seeing a massive pool of blood forming on the ceiling, dripping down his wall.
Better yet, we get a look at the story of Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) – back in 1925, she seems quite the prissy, uptight mother. Her child is dressed up as the typical bedsheet-eye holed ghost. After taking time to blab on with some other woman, a man abducts the little ghost and speeds away. WHOA. That’s already disturbing enough, who knows what happens from there.
Zipping back to the present, Miss Evers has a bunch of bloody sheets in the bathroom trying to get the stains out, as usual. Lowe, bleary eyed and sort of ghostly looking himself, wonders what’s going on around the hotel. She’s only a blubbering mess, but he understands. They’ve both lost children.
The ghost was taken to a ranch and caged up, poor kid. Another snippet of true American Horror – the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders – plays the backdrop for Miss Evers and her personal story. A pretty horrifying story for her. Still I’m super intrigued to see how she actually ended up at the Cortez, as well as how she and Lowe will interact more given their similar loss of young children.


John’s wife, Alex (ChloĂ« Sevigny) has brought little Holden (Lennon Henry) home from the hotel and its weird rooms, the glass coffins. She’s glad to have him. Examining him a little, finding his temperature to be very low, things are definitely in a lull before terror strikes. Holden tells mommy he’s thirsty, but is it juice he wants? Alex pours her son a big glass. I’m pretty sure he’d rather have a nice drink of blood, though. When she goes back in with the orange juice, he’s sinking teeth into the family dog and having a snack. He wants his other mommy, not Alex.
Poor John. Man, oh, man. He is being put through the ringer. His mental state keeps slipping, as he goes back to bring up the police files on Miss Evers’ story, only to discover it happened 85 years prior. I’m just waiting for something harsh to happen with him. I don’t want it to, just have the sneaking suspicion Lowe will fall further down the rabbit hole.
Alex goes back to the Cortez, where Holden giddily climbs into his coffin. The Countess (Lady Gaga) slips in unnoticed, only to invite Alex upstairs for a chat. We get a flashback to Holden’s disappearance – The Countess was standing nearby, watching them. Terrifying moment where we see her walking away with Holden and John screams out for his son. Even more terrifying is a subtle moment: Alex pulls a gun and holds it at the Countess, who only leans back in her chair, without words saying “Fuck you and your gun”. Just a real solid moment.
Love, love, love more Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare)! She serves Lowe a bit of soda, as John decides: “Ill have a double martini.

Control is an illusion
Tonight I surrender to the illusion

But glory glory hallelujah, Lily Rabe is back at the bar – literally – as Aileen Wuornos. She’s on her thirteenth year at the Cortez, dead since 2002. MY GOD, Rabe is a constantly amazing piece of work! Here, Wuornos sits down with Lowe for a drink. They have a bit of casual chit chat. Rabe is fucking incredible, she doesn’t copy Charlize Theron’s performance, but absolutely embodies Wuornos. For anyone who has ever seen the two documentaries about Eileen by filmmaker Nick Broomfield, you just can’t deny Lily Rabe rocks this role out of the park. The body movements, the look, the inflections in her speech and tiny idiosyncrasies about the way she performs… it’s perfect for this episode! Ruivivar did well with Ramirez, I dug that too. But Rabe is worth the price of admission this week. So great she’s back on American Horror Story. Weird, though, how Lowe ends up heading back to a room with her.
What follows is a bit of intensity that I won’t ruin with any more. See it, dig it.
Loved seeing the Zodiac Killer, dressed in the supposed getup the living victim saw him wearing all those years ago, stroll past Lowe through the lobby. Amazing episode, cramming all these infamous serial killers into the hotel. Perfect addition for the week in which Halloween falls! I’ve got a great t-shirt with this version of the Zodiac on it, very creepy. Such a nice brief shot of him going past Dt. Lowe, the costume design worked so well.
Naturally, John is weirded out by it all. Downstairs he gets an invitation from Liz Taylor for the big Devil’s Night Ball. Should be a grand time, no?


Oh my, the hits just keep on coming! John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch) talks about doing good sub-flooring with Ramirez – such an incredibly subtle way to introduce the story of Gacy, instead of having him immediately dressed as a clown or something. At the dinner table, March introduces the night with a bit of absinthe. Everyone drinks it back excitedly. Although Lowe is certainly confused. Then there’s Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel), too. Zodiac strolls in late, silent, being heckled by the other killers. JUST AN OUTRAGEOUSLY AWESOME FUCKING SCENE! Yes, there’s exposition to give us a bit of the newly introduced serial killers, but I think it comes in proper doses. Plus, Lowe eventually breaks in and starts ragging on everyone, still believing it’s all a Halloween costume party of some sort. I couldn’t get enough of this whole sequence, such a well written episode.

Hes a genius— like Galileo, or Peter Frampton.”

I won’t ruin more of the big dinner scene. There’s an excellently disturbing, grotesque sequence within it after “Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies starts to play, and all the murderers get their toys out, start really enjoying themselves. So terrifying! Detective Lowe has to sit there, handcuffed due to Gacy’s saucy tricks, and watch it all go down right in front of them. Love how March gives short little explanations about how all the serial killers came to him at various periods in their lives; it gives us great context, however, it also shows us how wonderful Evan Peters is as March, he gets time to show off a bit and be “the master.” Loved this sequence with every macabre and morbid bone in my body.

John Wayne Gacy: “Johnny Depp likes my paintings!”

With a little under 10 minutes left to the episode, we see Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) having a smoke outside the hotel. Some Wall Street-looking guy wanders up to her and talks shit for a little. Turns out, he wants “whatever you’re selling“, so he says to Sally. Will this poor fella end up in one of those mattresses like the creepy skin and bones dude from “Checking In” and Gabriel (Max Greenfield), too? We’ll see how things go for this one.
Oh my, we didn’t need to wait long. Sally buys off being left alone at the hotel by bringing up a fresh carcass for the killers’ dessert. Everyone selects a knife, Gacy even gets his makeup on (nice to see Lynch as another clown; this time an arguably more sickening one), and then the fresh bloodletting begins!
Then out of nowhere, Sally seems to wake John up. He’s alone. No killers, nobody else except him in a dusty old room. What is real? What is not? He’ll never know, though, we’ve got a great idea ourselves: scary enough, it’s all too real. Once Sally has the detective out of the room, March and the others go back to business.


“Devil’s Night” finishes off with Countess bringing Alex into the fold – she’ll now be one of those carrying this “ancient virus.” With a sweet kiss, the Countess tells her to allow herself “to be ripped apart” before letting Alex feed on some of her blood. All in the name of being reunited with Holden “for all of eternity.” Or at least that’s the bullshit this particular vampire is selling. Notice how Countess weeps sort of, as we cut out on Alex’s newly opened eyes, the virus no doubt taking hold; interesting to see where this heads.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-01-42-amStay tuned for next week’s “Room Service.” Cannot wait to watch it, this episode was incredible! See you then, fellow horror fans.

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 3: “The Myth of Sisyphus”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 3:
 “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Bob DeLaurentis

* For a review of the previous episode, “Before the Law” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fear and Trembling” – click here

Starting with the last episode, “Before the Law“, Noah Hawley & Co. have been instilling this season with a great bit of existentialism. For those who may not know, “Before the Law” is a story told to K in Kafka’s The Trial. So immediately with the name of that episode came other implications. Now, with this 3rd episode, “The Myth of Sisyphus” moves slightly from strictly existentialism to Albert Camus and absurdism; the name of this episode is one of Camus greatest essays.
Keep thinking back to certain moments. Particularly I’m reminded of the previous episode when Sheriff Larsson (Ted Danson) sits talking with Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), how they talk about the war coming home with them, as if searching for meaning, some reason why violence – terrifying violence – is right at their doorstep. And this is where Camus certainly comes in: there’s an absurd aspect to the human want and need to define life’s meaning, to find something they can point to and say “THIS IS IT!”, because life merely unfolds however it wants and there’s nothing else to change or stop it. Life just happens.
Fargo-Season-2-Episode-3-TV-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-1This episode opens with a strange moment. Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) pets a rabbit while remembering seeing a magician as a young boy, pulling one out of a hat. Then he snaps its neck off-screen, walking back towards the Gerhardt house. “Yama Yama” by Yamasuki begins to play, which is pretty great. Another montage to start things.
Then the Gerhardts have some visitors. They’re “talking about the Kansas City Mafia“, Floyd (Jean Smart) tries to lay things out as the matriarch in charge while her husband sits near catatonic after a stroke. Her son Bear (Angus Sampson) continually backs her up, while constantly eating. Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) wants to go warring, but Floyd does not. Their visitors agree if any trouble comes the Gerhardt way, they’ll “cut the god damn nose off their face“.
At a small restaurant of some sort, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) is late for a meeting with Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett). They have a quirky conversation about hair, soft water, and Agree shampoo. They also talk about whether or not the Gerhardts will be killed, or whether they’ll be offered more money. They’re still looking for Rye (Kieran Culkin). Good luck.

Over in Luverne, Minnesota, trusty Lou Solverson (Wilson) chats over radio with Sheriff Hank Larsson (Danson). Their chemistry is continually awesome. A new dynamic comes into play for Lou in this episode. Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) is working the case on the other end. This fella doesn’t seem quite right. He’s askew in some sort of way. Not sure how yet, but definitely sketchy. Either way, he and Lou end up together for a little while throughout “The Myth of Sisyphus”.

Hank: “Over and out… I guess.”
1200Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst) finds herself sweating it out at the salon where she works. Constance (Elizabeth Marvel) is coiffing Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti), as father-in-law Hank walks in with a wanted poster for – you betcha – Rye Gerhardt. Then Betsy reminds Hank of the shoe in the tree at the diner, they talk about a hit-and-run situation after the shooting. But slyly, and maybe a bit too ballsy, Peggy jumps in to say “that just don’t make sense“. Somehow, the do-goody Dudley Do-Right in Hank agrees, assuming no good citizen would just run a man down then drive home “with a Gerhardt in the your windshield and cook dinner“. So darkly, hilariously ironic. The absurdity of it all.
Naturally, Peggy rushes to take husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) home from work. It’s almost nerve wracking to watch her stumble around, so close to getting them caught.

Skip Sprang (Mike Bradecich) – former partner on the down-low of Rye – ends up running into Solverson and Schmidt. He’s more than obvious about being nervous; Lou points out he’s a “squirrelly little fella“. In fact, Lou spied him heading over to the office of the judge who Rye killed at the diner. So, this is another man unaccustomed to crime, just as the Blomquists, who will eventually run himself into trouble all because of his own sloppy nature.
Skip runs straight to Rye’s apartment. Instead of Rye – obviously – he finds Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller), who is a bit of a problem child for her father Dodd. Hanzee looks after her a little, but Mr. Dent is definitely slightly psychotic. He is way too comfortable with blood all over his hands. I love his presence, though. Hanzee is a mysterious type of character.
But it’s bad news for Skip. He ends up getting taken back to Papa Dodd and the clan.
downloadSimone: “Whaddya say, red man – should we have some fun?
Hanzee: “You betcha

Peggy drags out to the woods with their beat up car. She uses a plan one of her uncles came up with after smashing his car while drunk. After the car is taken care of, Rye is already ground up, Peggy believes they’ll be “free“. Nothing goes as planned, but eventually ole Ed gets it right. I feel so bad for him. He’s been pulled into such a mess by Peggy, who continually leads him down the path she thinks is best. Yet at the same time, Ed simply goes along because he loves her. To death.
Lots of other stuff happening at the Gerhardt house. Young Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) wants to have more of a hand in things, but Bear would rather him go back to school and stay out of what’s about to go down. So it isn’t just Dodd who has trouble with his children.
At the same time, Solverson and Schmidt show up at the Gerhardt ranch. This is an amazing scene. Patrick Wilson brings out the inner badass of Lou – “Am I the only here who’s clear on the concept of law enforcement?” But it becomes clear quickly Ben Schmidt knows the Gerhardts a little too well; Floyd comes out and even asks about his mother. After things start to get slightly tense, Lou has to lay down the law and stand his ground. Dodd shows up to toss more fuel on the fire, but Lou does not back down. Not in the slightest. Great, great tension here. I honestly didn’t know how things would turn out! Clearly we all know Solverson doesn’t die – he was already in the first season as an older man. But still, that’s the master strokes of this show and its power: you can already know something, or think you know, and it will find a way to surprise you.

FARGO -- ÒThe Myth of SisyphusÓ -- Episode 203 (Airs October 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r, front-row) Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Keir O'Donnell as Ben Schmidt. CR: Chris Large/FX

But wait – there’s more Lou Solverson badassery.
He goes to check in on Skip, the squirrelly typewriter salesman. Rather than finding him, he comes across Mike Milligan, accompanied by none other than the Kitchen brothers, Gale and Wayne (Brad & Todd Mann). There’s a bit of a stand-off. Except in the Minnesota plain speak style. Another quality scene, almost better than the previous with the Gerhardts. Won’t spoil too much more here. Though obviously, Lou does make it out. A tense scene with lots of style.

Milligan: “So, where’d you say you saw old Skip?
Lou: “At your mother’s house. I think goin’ in the back door.”
FARGO_203_0628_CL_d_hires2_FULL-1024x663A chilling end to this episode, definitely the most disturbing bit since the opening shooting at the diner. Dodd and Hanzee put Skip in a dug out hole, making him lie down. Then they back up a dump truck full of asphalt with which to bury him alive. Although it seems like Dodd’s about to let him live, once Skip reveals Milligan was looking for Rye, there’s no hope ultimately. The asphalt covers him, he’s dead. Now it’s clear Dodd is taking the reigns, ordering Hanzee to kill anyone who gets in their way.
Very excited for the next episode, “Fear and Trembling” – another philosophy title. This time from Soren Kierkegaard’s text of the same name, a great read for anyone interested in philosophical thought.
Stay tuned, Fargo fiends! We’ll be back for more next week.

Scream Queens – Season 1, Episode 6: “Seven Minutes in Hell”

FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 6: 
“Seven Minutes in Hell”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pumpkin Patch” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Beware of Young Girls” – click here
IMG_2175This week’s Scream Queens begins awesomely with a vote for Kappa House presidency, including the 1986 (recorded in ’84) Nu Shooz jam “I Can’t Wait”. Love this opener, especially when Jennifer (Breezy Eslin) goes on her mini rant about the autism spectrum. There are lots of little bits like this in the series, which I’m huge on, as Ryan Murphy & Co. slip in as much commentary on the 21st century as humanly possible.
“Seven Minutes in Hell” starts out strong with the vote hitting a tie between Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) and Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer). At first, we’re led to assume Chanel is pissed about it all. However, pretty damn quick it’s revealed the whole thing is part of her plan; she actually wanted Zayday to win. All in an effort to save her own skin from getting chopped by the Red Devil.
With Zayday in as co-president, she and Grace (Skyler Samuels) are planning a slumber party. This way they may be able to draw out more details about the killings, knowing someone in Kappa House has information, at least SOMETHING, in regards to the Red Devil.
IMG_2177Seems as if Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) is having a change of heart. The frat bros all wonder why he’s spending so much time “porking old people“, after it’s revealed he has been sleeping with Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), so he ends up feeling as if going back to Chanel #1 is the best option. Where will all that lead?
Back at Kappa, the girls are all playing spin the bottle. Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) really wants to have a kiss with Sam (Jeanna Han) a.k.a Predatory Lez, so it comes to pass. They have a bit of romantic sort of moment together alone in the washroom.
Best of all is the explanation for why #3 wears the earmuffs (aside from the fact Lourd’s mother is Princess fucking Leia) – a guy who went to the college was obsessed with her ears, so much so he went mad and threatened to cut them off if he ever saw them again. Therefore: ear muffs, all the time for #3. Such a hilarious god damn scene.
IMG_2181Roger: “What do we do now?
Chad: “Only thing we can do: give him the dignity of watching him die.”
IMG_2178 IMG_2179Chad and the frat bros, including armless Caulfield, head over for a panty raid on the sorority house. Worked out for the Kappa girls, after they’re locked inside; turns out Chanel #1 had the whole place turned into one giant panic room. This ends up with all the guys and girls ready to play a bit of Truth or Dare. Except first, Caulfield gets the rest of his body chopped equally by the Red Devil.
Sadly, Sam isn’t long for this world. After revealing Chanel #3’s father is supposedly Charles Manson, #3 dares Sam to go down in the basement and lie in the bathtub – yes, the old bathtub from when a girl died giving birth a couple decades ago. So, you can be positive something bad will eventually happen. As Sam navigates her way through the darkness, the Devil is lurking. Best part? She asks to see who’s under the mask before dying, to which she reponds: “I knew it was you
Who could it be? Which of the two Red Devils is this one? And who is the other?
IMG_2182So many laugh out loud moments in this episode. One of my favourites is the argument between Jennifer and Chad concerning the logistics of Truth or Dare; he just can’t get his head wrapped around the fact Truth or Dare is not a legally binding agreement, that you could simply pick Truth and lie. I mean, it’s a brief part of the scene, but so, so funny.
Another crack up, also involving Jennifer, is when Wes Gardner (Oliver Hudson) shows up to take his daughter Grace away from danger. Zayday refuses to let him do so, making it known the sisters are sticking together. At that moment Jennifer slides in next to her, almost as if we’re expecting her to agree in solidarity – instead, when Zayday puts an arm around her Jennifer says she only moved because she let a fart rip “over there” and it smelled bad. I actually laughed to tears.

Chad: “Is there any like Crisco or cooking oil here? Just like, dry handies really bum me out.”

This episode also brings even more confusion to the question: who are the Red Devils?
First there’s Hester (Lea Michele) who finds Sam dead in the bathtub downstairs. Suspicious, considering she is a tad bit messed up in the head after her previous graveyard encounter with Chad a couple episodes ago.
Then not long after, Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) and Roger (Aaron Rhodes) go for their Seven Minutes in Heaven. And that ends up with more nasty murder. Roger is nail-gunned to death by the Red Devil, who then disappears into thin air once more. Is #5 in cahoots? She seemed awful terrified. Who knows.
Most intense scene comes when Chanel #1 and Zayday head into the labyrinthine passages below Kappa House. You can just almost feel a death coming. Sure enough, Zayday finds herself trapped with the Devil, wielding a dual axes, and I thought she was finished! But Chanel #1 comes back to save her, smashing the Devil in his (or her) head. This was super surprising, I honestly was expecting this would be the last we see of Zayday. Although, Chanel does admit it was selfish: “I’m gonna need the numbers.” I don’t care, though, Zayday is awesome and I didn’t want to see her go so soon – Palmer is great in her role.
IMG_2185Chanel #3: “You and I are going to outlive Chanel. Deal?
Chanel #5: “Deal
IMG_2186With this episode, there seems to be a solidarity among the Kappa House sisters. Best of all there is at least a tenuous partnership between Chanel #1 and Zayday, which may spell survival for them both. Who knows, though. It’s hard to tell who may live and who may die. So far, a lot of the murder has been focused mostly on people around the girls. Will next week see someone major die? Who’s next? Will we get more clues about who the Red Devils are, or more muddying of the waters?
IMG_2187 IMG_2188 IMG_2189Stay tuned and we’ll find out together. The next episode is titled “Beware of Young Girls”. Sadly we have to wait until November 3rd for it to air, which is strange. You’d think they would want to have an episode airing the week of Halloween!? Then again, we’ve already had bits and pieces of Devil’s Night on Scream Queens. Until then, head over to my American Horror Story reviews, maybe.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 2: “JSS”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 2:
 “JSS”
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by Seth Hoffman

* For a review of the previous episode, “First Time Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Thank You” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.00.00 PMAfter the terrifying ending of “First Time Again”, The Walking Dead‘s 6th season moves into its second episode with a devastating bang. A young girl named Enid (Katelyn Nacon) in a van with her parents ends up alone out in the forest and wandering the roads after her parents are obviously taken by the walkers. She continually writes JSS in the dirt on the ground and in dusty car windows. Pretty gnarly scene when she finds a tortoise crossing the road, then smash cut to her ripping it open, feeding on its bloody corpse like a walker would a human. Then, once more, she puts the leftover bones on the ground in front of her – spelling out JSS. Finally coming upon the suburb of Alexandria, she hesitates before approaching the gates and writes JSS once more on the dirt all over the back of her hand.
Honestly, this is one of my favourite openings to an episode in a long while.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.01.33 PMBack to present day, Carol (Melissa McBride) is doing more of her cooking. She talks about her old life: Ed, her “spring cleaning casserole“. I love her character, what a woman in every sense of the word – tough, caring, motherly, and so much more. She offers a sense of stability, especially to some of the women in the neighbourhood. She tells them they’re going to learn how to make pasta by hand. Everything she does, even her tough love side is out of a caring place in her heart.
Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) is trying best she can to keep her home in one piece after the death of her husband. Things with her son Ron (Austin Abrams) aren’t going so well. She’s finding it tough and for good reason.
Furthermore, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) is also having a rough go of things. Her partner is gone now, things have slightly shifted in beloved Alexandria, so no wonder. But Maggie (Lauren Cohan) lends a comforting shoulder, telling her the people in their town were there because of her. I also love Maggie because she’s another badass female character in the show who is well-rounded – strong, vulnerable at times, caring, and ultimately tough as hell after dealing with so much, the death of Hershel then only just awhile ago Beth; she’s got a hard edge with a sweet heart. Cohan is an excellent actress who really exemplifies all the important aspects of her character.
Panic strikes as an attack comes down on Alexandria!
First, Carol watches as the woman she told not to smoke gets machete’d while smoking on her front lawn. Then, Deanna and Maggie see molotov cocktails start to fly, a watcher on their wall gets burned to death. Absolute and utter chaos has struck. Are these the Wolves? You bet your ass.
Everyone is on high alert. Carol goes to start defending the neighbourhood, as Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Enid lockdown the house with little Judith alongside.
All the while, people are being hacked to bits, stabbed to death. The Wolves mark Ws on their foreheads in blood – same as the zombies were carved up a ways back, starting episodes and episodes ago, remember? Well, either way things are devolving into complete madness.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.02.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.02.52 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.03.13 PMThe horn from “First Time Again”, which leads all the walkers back from the quarry and away from where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Co. were funnelling them – starts to sound after a transport truck flies in towards Alexandria’s gate and smashes up against the wall.
Morgan (Lennie James) shows up back in town. Confronting a big Wolf (Lance Tafelski), about to showdown, Carol flies in disguised like a sheep in wolves’ clothing – literally – and stabs the man. Great little scene! Continually I am amazed by Carol, but she is a survivor, has been from the start. Dressed as one of the Wolves, she goes on to do some major killing. What a god damn ass kicker.
Jessie gets her chance to really protect her family when a female Wolf breaks inside their home, attacks her. An incredibly savage stabbing, which her son Ron walks in on, is a favourite out of this episode. Even amongst so much bloodshed, it’s a tense and wild scene.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.03.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.03.32 PMMorgan has a confrontation with several Wolves. Strangely enough, though, it’s almost like they know Morgan. Have they met before? Was he with the at some point before coming back in contact with Rick? The few Wolves leave and Morgan shuts the gate to Alexandria, a distant look in his eyes. This is intriguing to me. Scary, too. He has another encounter briefly with a Wolf inside his neighbourhood house – the Wolf and Morgan talk for a moment suggesting some kind of former relationship. Did he go back to Rick for devious reasons unknown? We’ll have to wait and see.
Additionally, Aaron (Ross Marquand) finds a satchel while stabbing the dead in the street through the head, to prevent more walkers. Inside the bag there are photos – they shot all the inside workings of Alexandria, the solar panels, the wall, et cetera. Creepy stuff.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.05.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.05.19 PMThis is easily one of the most, if not the top bloodiest sequence in The Walking Dead‘s entire history as a series. Even more than that it was intense. On top of everything, the people in Alexandria aren’t used to this sort of action. They’re not experienced in the real world outside their (relatively) safe walls, not in the way Maggie, Rick, Carol and Morgan have become hardened through their trials and tribulations. Hell, Carl’s turning into a true bad ass, which I thought would never happen (I used to hate him now he’s growing on me). So it’s interesting to see how the different pockets within the major group are reacting to everything that’s happening, it makes for good writing and a nice contrast as opposed to the good vs. evil we had happening most of the time between Rick/his group and The Governor/his group. I’m enjoying where this sixth season is starting to head, even only two episodes in so far. Starting to cook with gas now.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.05.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.06.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.05.53 PMStay tuned. I’ll be back to review next week’s episode again – titled “Thank You”, directed by Michael Slovis and written by Angela Kang.

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 1: “Waiting for Dutch”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 1:
 “Waiting for Dutch”
Directed by Randall Einhorn & Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley * For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Morton’s Fork” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Before the Law” – click hereScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.20.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.21.07 PMAnother show I loved in its first season, I’ve decided to review Fargo going forward (I’ll retroactively go back and do Season 1 soon). All new characters – some of them, anyways. All new situations, locations, and more!
Season 2 opens with the old school MGM lion and logo. Furthermore, there’s a black-and-white clip from Massacre at Sioux Falls, and an awkward exchange between actor and director of the picture. Awesome beginning – “Look I’m a Jew, so believe me, I know tribulation.” – I was laughing so god damn hard. Plus mentions of Reagan (his nickname = Dutch), as well. Dig it, and I’m super curious where this Reagan stuff is going to head. Perhaps we’re going to see some parallels with Reaganism and crime, some kind of other similar comparison, I don’t know. Either way, the writing is pulling me in right from the start.
Now we move into an old clip of President Jimmy Carter giving a speech from the Oval Office, mixed with cuts of some new characters and even other news pieces on John Wayne Gacy and Jim Jones. There’s not only great selection of news pieces and shots of a few new characters – including those played by Kieran Culkin, Jeffrey Donova, Bokeem Woodbine and more – the editing here is downright stellar. Gives things a chaotic tone from the start.
Heading off from there, Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan) and his associate Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) meet in an alley with Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin), putting the fear of violence in him. Rye is under the thumb of his brother meant to be collecting money. Obviously the Gerhardt clan is into nefarious shit, though, poor little Rye feels left out of the race for the throne. They’ve got another brother, Bear (Angus Sampson), but I guess Rye is the one wearing “the short pants” until he proves he’s a man and can handle the family’s business properly. Seems like the young brother might be an underachiever, in terms of organized crime.
Back at the Gerhardt house, mama Floyd (Jean Smart) alerts papa Otto (Michael Hogan) there’s a little money short at the moment. But during their talk, Otto has what looks to be a stroke, gripping the table before falling to the floor.
Out on a run for collections, Rye obviously has things going on the side. Apparently he’s going in on IBM electric typewriters with a business partner. All it involves is forgetting debt owed to Rye’s family and tailing a judge (Ann Cusack).
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.21.31 PMThere’s a great use of the split-screen in this episode with lots of nice cuts between Rye and his family, all doing their own thing. Over that Billy Thorpe’s “Children of the Sun” plays. Then we’re right back with Rye alone, he’s followed the judge into a diner after taking a bump of coke in his car. Slick, Rye. He slides into the table across from her. He tries convincing her to change her mind about a case, to which she reels off a big story about Satan and the Biblical Job. Bit ridiculous, but no in terms of writing – I think it shows how cocky a woman this judge is. Then she sprays bug spray in Rye’s eyes, so he blasts her away. Whoa. He kills a cook and a waitress afterwards simply out of fear and surprise. The judge isn’t all dead yet, she stabs him in the back before getting another bullet. I’ve ruined enough, so I won’t fully spoil the rest… this sequence is a rough doozy.
Safe to say there’ll be a bit of nasty trouble gearing up for the Gerhardt family?
Game changer comes quick when Rye wanders into the snow packed road looking at lights in the sky and gets smashed by it car. It only drives away with him adorning the hood like an ornament.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.21.52 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.22.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.22.14 PMNow we’re back with a young Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) – previously played in Season 1 by Keith Carradine – and his wife Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) tucking their child into bed. Lou gets called into work, naturally because of the shooting at the small diner. This is one of the immediate things – aside from this series’ amazing overall aesthetic – I love starting into Season 2, how we’re getting a link to the first with Solverson and this crime. Not just that, Patrick Wilson is a solid actor in my book, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does with this character.
Added to Wilson, he gets to play off Ted Danson who features as another police officer, from the state, Hank Larsson. They each do great Minnesota accents and their chemistry is actually incredible. Would never have imagined these two together. Their relationship actually, for whatever reason, reminds me of the cops from the Fargo film. Such non-chalance and oddly humorous chemistry.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.22.39 PMHank: “That’s a shoe, all right.”
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.22.55 PMLou heads down to Bingo with a couple of his buddies, including Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman). I loved this bit because Offerman is usually a certain type of character, here he’s a sort of anti-government conspiracy theorist yet not totally mad or anything just super serious really. Lou’s wife Betsy recently started chemotherapy, so it’s even worse now with this recent shooting – guaranteed he’ll be away a bit working while she’s trying to deal with her illness. Or is Lou the solid type he seems? Will he put aside work and be there as much as she needs? We’ll see, it’s a tough situation for them both, a devastating disease for Betsy to fight.
Meanwhile we’re also introduced to Ed Blomquist (Jesse Plemons) and his wife Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst) who have a fairly regular life. Ed works down at a butcher shop, bringing home some meat that was paid for but not picked up. Peggy cooks up a nice meal in their cute little kitchen, then they sit down together for a bite. Only there’s a little tension between husband and wife – babies, sex, all that stuff.
The kicker being Peggy was the one driving the car that hit Rye after his shooting. She tries to explain it away the accident by saying it was a deer. Except it might’ve worked if Rye weren’t still alive in the garage, barely, and trying to stab Ed. Luckily, Ed fends him off but ends up stabbing him to death. His wife really did him bad on this one. A nasty chain of events is about to start unfolding and I can only imagine all its repercussions. The Gerhardt family, regardless of their disappointment with Rye, are going to be pretty torn up about this when it comes to light, which obviously means Ed and Peggy Blomquist are going to find themselves in a sticky situation. In addition, the cops make this a vicious triangle. So many things that can, and no doubt will, go terribly wrong.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.23.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.23.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.24.28 PMEnd of the episode was good with a cut from the Gerhardts all surrounding Otto, now lying quite still in bed and the sounds of when he first stroked, to a shot of Ed and Peggy tossing Rye into their deep freeze.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.24.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.24.59 PMNice quick intro to Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) who briefs a team of people on the Gerhardt family’s business. Apparently the family is poised to be absorbed by a larger corporation. This whole thing is pretty shady and ominous in ways, love the very last couple shots and the music kicking in, solid finisher.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.25.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.25.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.25.49 PMStay tuned for the next episode with me – “Before the Law”. Loving this season already, I hope many of you are, as well!

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 1: “Ten Knots”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 1:
 “Ten Knots”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the next episode, “You’re No Rose” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.30.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.30.58 PMI’ve only just now decided to start reviews for The Knick‘s second season. Being a huge fan of the first, I thought it’d be fun to get in on the action.
So, after the wild events of the first season in New York – in particular the gutpunch of the final episode as Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) finds himself being weened off one drug, only to be weened onto the dreaded heroin – Season 2’s opener “Ten Knots” begins with a nice fade in on ole Thack’s eyes; fitting shot to start. But first it’s a blurry image turning into a little girl… then the watery eyes of Thackery emerge.
Then we’re back with Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). She’s dictating a letter in narration to Thackery. Apparently Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) is “bearing up” according to her while Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is still kicking about, naturally, as well as young Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and the steadfast Dr. Algernon Edwards (AndrĂ© Holland). They’re all getting by best they can. Though, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) hasn’t returned as of yet, even with his suspension lifted.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.32.15 PMMost interesting, as usual, is Dr. Thackery. In a tiny room he works on a woman’s nose. Very gruesome little bit, not to mention Thack looks like something ragged and worn out. Worse, it appears he’s working for vials of drugs. Sad state of affairs.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.32.27 PMAnother suffering soul, Sister Harriet gets a visit in jail from her Mother Superior (Maryann Plunkett). Mother asks Harriet if the charges against her are true, to which the latter does admit clearly. It’s a sad scene once again, as even the non-religious (like myself) will feel bad for Harriet; she only wanted to do the right thing and help women in need, but this of course turned her against her faith in confrontation. Mother Superior pretty much rubs salt in the wound.
Another actually gruesome scene – at the home of Dr. Gallinger, his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) is helping to size up her sister Dorothy (Annabelle Attanasio) for some new teeth… teeth which came out of her own face. Eleanor has a grim smile now with sharp and stumpy gums in her mouth. What an image.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.11 PMDr. Edwards has a problem with the retina in his left eye. This is obviously troubling regarding Algernon’s abilities as a surgeon, difficulties with his vision would mean even worse things for his career. At the same time, Edwards hopes to become the permanent chief surgeon at The Knickerbocker Hospital while Thack is not around. What I love is that Edwards works well with those who wish to give him a chance. For instance, his relationship with the youthful Dr. Chickering seems pretty great; he gives Bertie the chance to have a hand at doing a surgery, encouraging him not to simply watch and rather get his hands on the work himself.
Only problem is, as always, Edwards is constantly the underdog to everyone at the top – simply because he’s African-American. Foolish nonsense, though, we are at the dawn of the 20th century in this series. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.
But the scene where Dr. Edwards is being completely dismissed by the hospital’s board was downright brutish! Wonderfully acted and written scene. Still nasty, though. He’s clearly an amazing doctor, we as more modern men and women can see this, yet those racist old white men just can’t get it through their heads.
One of my favourite moments in this Season 2 opener is near the end when Dr. Edwards is let in on the photo-op for The Knickerbocker, to the dismay of a few old white men. Such a classic moment! Loved the look on all the faces of the others involved in the photo, actually made me laugh aloud. Also fist pumped a little for Algie, he’s fucking classy.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.25 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.32 PMWe watch Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) still continually trying to do good in the world – she carts a load of green vegetables into an obviously poor neighbourhood, Chinatown, and finds herself overrun with people trying to get their hands on a bit of food; pretty dire, no?
Inspecter Jacob Speight (David Fierro) is still kicking around the hospital, up in Barrow’s office, investigating patients records. Certainly we’ll see more about the outbreak of plague, the dirty Black Death, more and more as the episodes get going this season.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.23 PMDr. Gallinger heads over to Cromartie Hospital where Thack, under the name Dr. Crutchfield, is wasting away. Turns out Thackery doesn’t want to leave, he’d rather not go back to The Knick. The drugs have taken hold and I doubt they’ll ever let go. He actually tries to convince Everett to infiltrate one of the doctors offices in order to get some cocaine and other drugs for him – a true addict, through and through. Naturally, Gallinger is only there to try and bring Thackery back to the hospital so Dr. Edwards can’t become chief of surgery; therefore Everett could gladly go back and work under him. It’s amazing Everett is willing to work under a drug-adled headcase like Thackery and not Edwards, all because of race. This whole hypocrisy really shows off the idiocy of racists.
Then in a scene later, Thack wakes tied at the wrists. He’s in the belly of a small sailboat, which is headed out on the ocean. Is Dr. Gallinger going to try detoxing Thack?
Way out on the Atlantic, Gallinger tells Thackery about his plans saying he’s going to “fix the mess” Thack drummed up. Only two options Everett says: “Either get well, or jump off.” Everett also gives Thack some rope to tie, saying he’ll know the naughty doctor is back in control if he can tie the ten knots on a wall chart nearby. I thought this was a great touch.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.36 PMTom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) shows up down at the jail where he sits with Sister Harriet. He gives a sort-of-apology. Funny, though, how Harriet shows off her sense of humour in the face of so-called justice. She jokes around with Cleary quite a bit here, and even Cleary acts the serious part of the pair. He’s worried about her, clearly. Even with the weak apology (that wasn’t even really an apology), you can tell Tom wants to help Harriet and plans on doing just that. Can’t wait to see how their subplot plays out because I like these two characters, ever since the beginning of the first season. Even further, both Sullivan and Seymour are great actors playing off one another.
Over in Chinatown, Barrow is meeting with Ping Wu (Perry Yung). Wu is negotiating terms with ole Herman – he needs his women, the prostitutes, to be clean. Barrow’s hoping to whittle down his debt from Season 1 by providing discount services for Wu’s stable of ladies; $2 reduction with each service. The money man at The Knickerbocker is no better than a gangster when it comes down to it.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.56 PMSo happy the continuity of the aesthetic in The Knick overall is being preserved. With Soderbergh as D.P and Cliff Martinez still rocking out his unique, beautiful score in every episode, there’s no way to deny the power of so many scenes. There’s one sequence which begins with an old school boxing match – in a padded ring with no ropes and a big Masonic-like eye/pyramid on it (similar to the American dollar bill) –  then leads back out to the boat with Thack/Gallinger… such an amazing piece of filmmaking. Soderbergh gives the grim plot such a distinctive look and feel with his camerawork, on top of that there’s a relentlessly percussive score happening which almost keeps you in a frenzy for the two or three solid minutes of the entire sequence. It does not get any better. More and more of this as the episode heads to a close in the last 20 minutes, proving why this Cinemax series is one of the best to ever grace television. Period.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.35.20 PMWhen the episode’s finale comes, Thack has managed to tie the ten knots for Gallinger. However, at the edge of the boat he sees a sickly looking girl – the one from the beginning of the episode – and starts at her with his wide, bloodshot eyes. It’s clear he is not at all back in full control, nor should we have ever thought so – Everett may be too gullible compared to the addiction that rages inside Thack.
Could the girl be Thack’s daughter, one who may have died? There’s a pain inside him he tries to drown in drugs. Take a look at the girl’s eyes – they look very much similar to those bulging out of Thack. Either way, we’ll figure out more about the force driving him towards drugging himself into a stupor, this season will bring us more characterization. Owen does a fantastic job with the role and I’m always itching for more after an episode finishes.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.30 PMCan’t wait for the second episode. This is one of my favourite series’ ever, plus it’s one of the best on television right now. Stay tuned for my review of the next episode, “You’re No Rose”, coming again this Friday, October 23rd. Cheers!

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 5: “Pink Cupcakes”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 5:
 “Pink Cupcakes”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Jessica Sharzer

* For a review of the previous episode, “Edward Mordrake Part 2” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Bullseye” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-1-36-19-amAt the top of “Pink Cupcakes”, we’re privy to a scene back at the Morbidity Museum with owner Lillian Hemmings (Celia Weston). In the audience, Stanley (Denis O’Hare) and Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) fume over not being top in the game, or at least Stanley does for his part. A new exhibit is shown – Paul (Mat Fraser) the Seal. Or is it?
Just a fantasy in Stanley’s head, ruminating on what can be done at the Jupiter freak show. The pair scheme back at Stanley’s motel room. He drops a few gay magazines and Maggie tells him the only thing people in Florida hate worse than freaks are “poofs.” She also negotiates a bit of a pay raise, having to be the one in amongst the crowd at the show. There’s plenty sinister brewing with the both of them working together. But will Maggie/Esmerelda the Mystic follow her heart and get more involved with Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), will she not want to do what Stanley wishes later on? We’ll see.
Jimmy definitely has feelings for her, as well as vice versa. She offers to read his future, all in an attempt to warn him away from the danger Stanley (and her) are bringing. She foreshadows the liar coming – Stanley – that he will make false promises, she says “go north, to New York.” But when he moves in to kiss her, Esmerelda shies away and wounds his pride. Dammit, Maggie! Almost worked.screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-1-38-07-amAt the Mott residence, Gloria (Frances Conroy) discovers a dead Dora (Patti LaBelle) on the floor in their dining room. Dandy (Finn Wittrock) pretends to have known nothing about it all, yet Ms. Mott knows better. She chastises Dandy, who leaves with a smirk on his face behind her back. Such a nasty, nasty, spoiled little boy. Later, it seems as if Gloria is fine with helping Dandy, her little boy – his father was similarly afflicted with the need to murder. She reminds him that it’s 1952 and he can’t just go around killing anybody.
Meanwhile Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) gets together in her tent with Stanley, still posing as a big California agent in town scouting for talent. He’s shining a whole lot of rainbows up poor Elsa’s ass. Although, I can’t say she might not deserve a bit of bullshit for all the trouble she begins to bring on Bette & Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson), jealous of their budding supposed fame.
Either way, Elsa hates television. She makes it clear that it is “the death of art and civilisation,” but simultaneously there’s a part of her which only wants to be famous, she wants to glamour and the limelight. There’s a weird paradox in Elsa: she wants stardom, would do so much for it almost anything and at that same time scoffs at opportunity all because of her trumped up pride.
Looking for strongman Dell (Michael Chiklis), Jimmy finds only Desiree (Angela Bassett) at the trailer. Turns out, Dell is missing, she doesn’t know where he is or when he’s coming back. So they start to bond a little, albeit slightly passive aggressively at times. This leads to a very tense, awkward and sort of sexy moment between Jimmy and Desiree, as they’re both feeling reject – him from Esmerelda, her from Dell. Furthermore, it leads to a discovery by Desiree.
When he puts his lobster claw between her legs, she begins to bleed profusely. Ethel (Kathy Bates) takes Desiree to the nice doctor who gave her the diagnosis on her liver. Doctor Bonham (Jerry Leggio) explains Desiree’s own body to her, that she was officially born a woman and that her penis is actually an enlarged clitoris due to massive estrogen uptake in her body. She also discovers a pregnancy, now miscarried, but the doc lets her know she can try to have another baby again soon. Good news, right? If only Dell weren’t Dell.


Elsa’s latest show, the Bowie song, goes pretty badly this time around. People in the audience are suddenly disaffected, uninterested in her singing, everyone talking between themselves. She’s suddenly aware of how little her ‘fame’ really exists. Then people start to pelt food and other things at her. A tragic, teary moment really. As much as Elsa is sort of horrible in her way, it’s sad to see such a bright woman feel defeated. She crawls back to Stanley, now ready to make a deal, to try out television.
But as it happens, Stanley is more interested in the Tattler Twins Hour, a nice new television show like he’d promised Elsa. Tricky tricky, Stan. He serves them up beautiful pink cupcakes, ones he injected a bit of poison into. We’re seeing bits and pieces of present and future – present, cupcake is eaten by Bette, future we see the museum owner Ms. Hemmings accepting the dead upper torso of the Tattler girls. What’s really happening? All of a sudden, Bette is dying from the cupcake while Dot looks on in shock. Fast forward to Dot alive, Bette dead next to her, Stanley kneeling on her chest and ready to smother: “You should’ve ate a cupcake.”
But it’s only a fake out. We’re back to reality, and neither of them eat a cupcake. Thankfully. Only there’s still Elsa: she’s threatened by their possible bigger draw for a television show. Dot is smart enough not to trust her, Bette is still too naive for her own good despite all they’ve seen so far.

I will be the U.S. Steel of murder

We’re seeing the becoming of Dandy. He’s narrating his new life, he’s destined to speak the “sweet language of murder” and he is out for blood. This is now where he decides to head out, to an underground gay bar no less, in search of a victim.
Funny enough, he runs into Dell almost knocking his beers over. Whaat? Dell obviously liked more of one particular half of Desiree’s genitals more than the other. He’s sitting down at a table with some pretty young artist named Andy (Matt Bomer). Clearly they’ve been very involved, in some way, for a long time now. Andy isn’t only an artist, he’s a working boy. But Dell is in love with him, he wants to go wherever Andy goes. Still, there’s Desiree back waiting for him at home. Andy knows there’s nothing actually going to happen, they’re not going anywhere together.

Pain dont define me. But I still feel it.”


Unfortunately for Andy, when Dell storms off after their argument, Dandy appears at the table willing and ready to spend some time with the young artist. Though, it isn’t any sex in which Dandy is interested.
They return together to the old bus, Twisty’s previous stomping ground. Dandy asks if they can turn backs, get undressed, then turn for the action. Only when Andy faces Dandy, the creepy, spoiled brat is wearing his new clown mask – the unsettling evil one he took from Twisty. He proceeds to stab Andy, over and over. His first ‘proper’ kill, I guess you could say. Afterwards, he starts to saw away, ripping and tearing into Andy as the poor guy screams at Dandy: “Kill me.”
Uh oh. Gloria Mott receives a surprise call from Dora’s daughter Regina Ross (Gabourey Sidibe), who is away studying at school. But she hasn’t heard from Dora, they have weekly calls and she is obviously worried. At first the conversation proves troubling, then Gloria turns this into an opportunity to ask about how she was as a mother, Regina having been around a lot when Dandy grew up. Regina isn’t much comfort really, only telling Gloria she doesn’t remember her being around a lot. When Dandy shows up covered with blood in his underwear, she has worse things to worry about.
Even bigger uh oh for Dr. Bonham when Dell goes to see him at his office. Wonder why, hey? Ole Dell has a problem with Desiree being changed, he doesn’t want her to leave, he wants to be her only option in the world, or at least he wants to TRY to be that to her. So he smashes the doctor’s poor hands into crumbled, bloody bits. Fixed the problem of Desiree’s surgery awful quick. He further threatens Bonham’s family aside from the physical torture he inflicts on the doctor and his fingers. Nasty, nasty stuff. For a moment in time I actually felt sort of sorry for Dell – a closeted gay strongman in a very very different era – but more and more, he shows me why I ought not care at all about his troubles.


At the end of the episode, Elsa shows up at the Mott residence – she’s brought along the Tattler girls. Cut to black. Shit!
Next episode is titled “Bullseye”, directed by Howard Deutch.

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 4: “Edward Mordrake Part 2”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 4:
 “Edward Mordrake Part 2”
Directed by Howard Deutch (The Strain, Pretty in Pink)
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Edward Mordrake Part 1” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pink Cupcakes” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-29-13-pmBack to it with Part 2 of the double bill for Halloween, Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) moves on to the other freaks – Paul (Mat Fraser), Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins), and so on – who each tell him and the devilish face their respectively sad, depressing stories. Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and Salty (Christopher Neiman) are deemed to have “no shame” by Edward.
Suzi ended up on the streets, no work for someone with no legs and lower half at all. She confesses the crime of stabbing a man in his legs, simply for spite, which actually killed the man. Though, Suzi went into performing afterwards because she had no other options and Edward deems this inspiration.
Paul meanwhile had to turn himself into a freak because he says he could “never make the world love me.” He only decided not to tattoo his face because it was the only part of him left normal, handsome, and therefore ought to stay natural.
Mordrake does not accept any of them and so moves on through the campgrounds.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-29-42-pmFinally, Mr. Mordrake finds himself in the tent of Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange). She’s more than happy to see him, still not under the correct impression about who he is; still thinking he’s there to make her famous, to pluck her from the obscurity of Jupiter, Florida and its muggy swamps.
Soon enough, though, Edward reveals himself and stakes his claim. He wants to hear all about Elsa Mars, her deepest fear, her darkest shame, everything and anything at all.
Turns out Elsa, during 1932 in the Weimar Republic, was doling out lots of nasty fetishism – apparently before Hitler turned it into war, the Germans were working it all out “with their cocks.” She never had sex, but worked as a dominatrix catering to plenty of rotten men. One of the more brutal moments in the entire series comes when she makes a man sit down on a toilet; its seat full of upturned nails. She did lots of shows for men she called The Watchers, becoming quite popular among the perverts of Brandenburg.
Eventually she found herself lured into a truly terrifying situation, which led to the removal of her legs – The Watchers got her nice and drunk, drugged up, for a little solo show. No co-star this time, only a chainsaw they use to chop off her legs at the knee.
And still, after all the tragedy and horror in Elsa’s past, Edward opts not to take her.
Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) is having a tough time dealing with Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) and her attitude. At the same time, he clearly enjoys her company.
They find themselves crossing paths with Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), who chases down Bonnie (Skyler Samuels) after she escapes. Ever heroic Jimmy decides to go after the creepy clown, not wanting to let the girl he carries off into the night to suffer any more.
But things go to hell, as Dandy is about with Twisty. What happens is Esmerelda and Jimmy end up tied and trapped back at the rusty bus camp for an impromptu show. The so-called mystic finds herself in a real circus act when Dandy tries to saw her in half with a huge saw. Jimmy gets free, luckily, and knocks Dandy down while Twisty tries to get everyone clapping, madman that he is. Things devolve and Jimmy finds himself choked out by the terrifying clown. Lucky for him, Mordrake and his second face show up, green smoke curling inside the bus.


Now we get to hear all about Twisty! He’ll have to reveal his worst shame, his deepest pains and wounds. Moving backwards to 1943, Twisty reveals he was the clown for children at West Chester’s carnival. He was proud of doing a great job for the little boys and girls. The freaks hated him, jealous of his popularity and talent, so they accused him falsely of molesting children and tricked him into running off; sadly, Twisty doesn’t seem to have ever been very bright. He gave up being a clown and went back to Florida, to Jupiter, trying to make old things into toys for children. This led him into a confrontation with the store owner in town (the one whose head he lopped off earlier in this season), which changed his life forever.
Back the bus, his home, he decided to try blowing his face off. You can tell where this went. Then later on he abducted children and other people, all in order to make them laugh, to give them what they wanted when their parents gave them nothing or refused. Twisted, hey? Twisty is an appropriate name.

I’m so dumb I can’t even kill myself

And so with Mordrake goes the evil clown. I honestly didn’t see that coming first time around when I watched this season as it aired. Still, though, it’s clear with Mordrake and his legions of dead, no matter in the afterlife or not we’ll probably see more of Twisty at some point or another. In a way, now he’s at peace in the beyond with all the other dead; even his face is back to normal again.
Of course, sick Dandy comes by and takes the clown’s mask for his own face. Better off, now he looks more outside like he does on the inside, anyways.
Jimmy Darling comes off as the big hero after he and Esmerelda are found when the cops show up. When a bunch of cars show up at the freak show, Elsa thinks they’re being laid siege upon. Instead, the townsfolk wanted to come and shake Jimmy’s hand – HIS HAND! – all for saving the children and the town as well. A really beautiful scene where the “normal” people come together with the “freaks”, the divide no longer so distant now that one side has proved to be capable of loving the other, being gentle with the other. Great bit out of this episode, kind of heartwarming. If only for a brief reprieve.
Finally, the greasy Stanley (Denis O’Hare) – a.k.a Richard this time – shows up and flaunts the idea of Hollywood, California in front of Elsa.

The episode ends with Dandy, his new and fitting clown face on, slitting a nice rip across Dora’s throat, letting her bleed all over the floor to her death. A disgustingly satisfied and happy smile forms across Dandy’s face and he laughs himself almost to tears.


Next episode should be an incredible one! This was an awesome two-parter for Halloween, expect no less from Ryan Murphy and Co. Can’t wait to review the next episode, “Pink Cupcakes”, which is directed by Michael Uppendahl once again.

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 3: “Edward Mordrake Part 1”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 3:
 “Edward Mordrake Part 1”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Massacres and Matinees” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Edward Mordrake Part 2” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-14-44-pmKicking off a two-parter, “Edward Mordrake Part 1” starts with the introduction of slick Stanley (Denis O’Hare) and his sidekick Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts). At a museum of oddities, the pair are trying to sell off some supposed medical specimens. The authorities at the museum call bullshit on Stanley – a.k.a Sylvester to them – and his so-called baby sasquatch specimen. The owner, Lillian Hemmings (Celia Weston), slyly tells Stanley and Maggie if they brought back a real specimen, a legitimate one, she wouldn’t be keen on asking too much about where it came from, how they got it, et cetera. You can already see the sparkle in their eyes. On a suggestion from Ms. Hemmings, Stanley says they’re off to Florida.
So clearly, the devious duo are off to cause some problems in the lives of Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) and her crew of freaks, or as she so lovingly calls them “my monsters.”screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-16-04-pmMoving on we’re back to Halloween on American Horror Story – Devil’s Night, 1952. A little girl named Jessie (Lauren Gobuzzi) is terrified of clowns. Her brother dresses up like one to torment her. Meanwhile, in the background, Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) lurks like Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween, like a piece of scary shrubbery in the neighbourhood.
Poor Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates) gets bad news from her doctor. She’s got cirrhosis of the liver, headed towards a most certain death at some point. Doctor Bonham (Jerry Leggio) gives her six months to a year to live. But it’s the way he deals with Ethel which is most full of impact. He treats her with a respect, like he would anyone else. He doesn’t see her as the freak others do, putting his hand on her shoulder in comfort. It touches Ethel deeply to be given this respect and they share a moment. Such quality acting from Bates! She consistently proves how important an actor she has been, for a long, long time. Here she’s just giving it her best. Intensely emotional scene.
The freaks are all partying, getting drunk and being foolish. Dot and Bette Tattler (Sarah Paulson) are sort of put off by it all, seeing as how Meep died at the end of last episode. When Dot speaks up, Ethel ends up telling the sisters about Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) – a man in the Victorian era who had another face on the back of his own head, which spoke to him, commanding him to do things, putting him in an asylum until his eventual escape to a carnival’s freak show. He killed himself on Halloween after murdering all the freaks in his troupe.
Ethel is back on the drink. And though her son Jimmy (Evan Peters) doesn’t know she’s dying, as of yet, he still believed her swore off the liquor. He loves his mother, it’s obvious, but she only lashes out at him; naturally. Wouldn’t you? She’s dying. Drink away, Ethel.


Over at the Mott house, Gloria (Frances Conroy) tries to please Dandy (Finn Wittrock). Even maid Dora (Patti LaBelle) dresses up like Woody the Woodpecker to make things fun, although she hates it. A Howdy Doody costume sends spoiled brat Dandy over the edge, throwing a massive fit; Dora’s not impressed, seems like there may be a confrontation brewing between them at some point down the line. He takes the costume upstairs and it looks as if he’s cutting it up to make: a clown costume.
The freaks at the carnival are having their own legitimate troubles, as opposed to Dandy. Jimmy and all the others bury Meep trying to give him an appropriate send off.
At the same time, Esmerelda shows up at the campgrounds – alone without Stanley for now – claiming to be a mystic, Miss Esmerelda, and looking for a job. Hmm. The greasiness begins.
Bette and Dot – the former wailing – find themselves on a surgical table, a doctor and his team readying themselves to separate the two. Dot seems pretty fine with it all, very calm, collected. Out goes Bette with the drugs, doctor beginning to saw inside them, blood flowing.
But then “Wake up,” says Bette. She’s stuck inside one of the dreams Dot is having. Sick, that is, right? They’ve got to seemingly deal with the dreams of the other, which in this case is their respective nightmare.


Yet it isn’t a dream really, it is a waking nightmare for Bette. Dot wants to be separate, claiming she’s totally unhappy and wants to save up for a surgery to take them apart. But one has to die for the other to live; terrible, isn’t it?
Elsa – high on the opium pipe – lays in her tent, receiving Esmerelda on business. The young lady takes out her crystal ball and begins to do her thing, apparently. I love how we’re seeing basically what supposed mystics really do – she eyes the things around Elsa’s room, noticing bits and pieces of her life enough to make the reading seem real and genuine. She ends up reeling Elsa in with dramatics and a subtle, mysterious sensibility. A real con artist at work! Even worse, she feeds Elsa nonsense about becoming a star, appealing to the older woman’s vanity and egotism.
Great writing in this episode when it comes to the character of Esmerelda. Not only that, I love that Emma Roberts gets the chance to play a character who isn’t a total bitch like last season in Coven.
Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his Aphrodite-hermaphrodite Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) try their best to live out some kind of carnival dream in the trailer at the camp. Only Dell has sexual problems, it’s apparent he can’t get it up. Which wouldn’t normally be a problem, only it happens a lot from what Desiree says.
Then down by the lake, after they storm out on one another, Ethel says the same thing about their relationship pretty much. She also wants to make sure Dell never tells Jimmy that he’s his father, but wants him to also keep an eye on the young man. While Dell does express a certain amount of regret in a line or two, wondering what Jimmy dressed up for on Halloween as a little boy, there’s still not much resistance on the topic of revealing himself to Jimmy as dear ole dad.


Halloween homage, once again, as Dandy picks up a clown mask on the hall table, heading downstairs – all the while shot behind the mask, our perspective looking through the eye holes from inside. He raises a knife to Dora and we’re waiting for that big stab. It doesn’t come, though. Only more whimpering and whining Dandy.
Then from a pay phone booth, Esmerelda calls her naughty partner Stanley back at his motel. She’s uncomfortable around all the freaks, not used to being near anyone different and outside of the norm. Most of all, Stanley’s excited about Bette/Dot, the conjoined twins; the big payday! This is beginning some uncomfortable territory, our fear of what may happen to the twins, as well as what could happen to any of the freaks.
Jimmy and Esmerelda run into a little trouble with a cop briefly, as Stanley enjoys some man-on-man action back at the motel.
The little girl from earlier, Jessie, is being tortured by her big brother. When out of nowhere, Twisty shows up behind him. He’s gone quick out the window before the mother is alerted. Now, the little girl has a huge reason to be terrified of clowns: one took her fucking brother.
As the clown terrorises neighbourhoods, the freaks back at the show are still worried about Edward Mordrake. Bette/Dot are about to practice, warned by Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) and Paul (Mat Fraser) not to tempt Mordrake to come and take their lives and souls. Elsa shows up, though, insisting she needs to practice her own act. A bit of a fight ensues with Ms. Mars losing her mind at the sisters before doing some singing.
This episode, Jessica Lange gets to perform Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and Monsters”. Another wonderful, fitting choice in a sense. Spooky quality to the song with Mordrake (Bentley) appearing out of billowy green smoke, like out of nowhere, then making his way into the tent to watch and listen to Elsa sing. Of course, she doesn’t realise who it is, but rather believes it’s the man out of Esmerelda’s prophecy – the one who would help her achieve fame and success. Boy, is she ever wrong.
Really dig the bits with Mordrake (he even has his own specific score/theme playing in variations), as he roams the campgrounds, appearing to all the freaks in search of which soul he’ll take back beyond with him. First, Ethel starts to see dead people around her, then the green smoke brings Edward inside. She doesn’t want to be taken yet, as death is already coming for her and obviously Ethel has things she wishes to do before then. Moreover, we’re given a fun look at Ethel in the past, through her own eyes/words, and even those brief moments are lots of fun.


Super creepy how Edward’s second face knows the “deeper, darker shame” of those he visits. He draws it out of Ethel and we understand more of her tough life. Terrible: Dell charges money, in their hardest times, to let people watch Ethel give birth, live and out in the open. So devastating. While the face on Edward’s head revels in the pain, he does not; his eyes are teary at the end of Ethel telling her sad tale. He does not, however, take Ethel with him back beyond.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-27-37-pmDandy, in little Michael Myers attire imitating his best clown, shows up back at the rusty old bus. Twisty is not there, but Dandy has a bit of fun terrorising the poor captives, each hungry and slowly going crazy. And when Twisty does show up, he’s got “more fun” for them.
Next episode is the second half, “Edward Mordrake Part 2”.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 2: “Chutes and Ladders”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 2:
 “Chutes and Ladders”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Checking In” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mommy” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-03-amAfter the first and at times devastating premiere episode in Hotel, “Chutes and Ladders” (definitely a reference to the original owner of the hotel based off H.H. Holmes) begins with Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) shambling around her room. She appears to be sowing Gabriel (Max Greenfield), still alive, into a mattress. Ah, the same fate as that terrifying man from “Checking In.” It’s a disturbing moment, watching Sally push Gabriel’s face down inside the mattress.
Then we zip through the vents, down to where one of the Swedish tourists, caged in the neon contraption, is being fed on by the little blonde haired children. They’re sucking at her wrists. One of them turns away: “Yuk. Tastes gross.” Only because, as Iris (Kathy Bates) makes clear – they’re dead.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-20-amLiz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) brings the new fresh body into a room with Iris and ghostly maid Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) dump the body down a chute. It sails downward through the hotel, into a big basement, landing dusty on a pile of other bodies.
What’s creepiest is the white room again, where the children eat treats and play games and watch things on the massive screens – Iris filters off a bit of blood into a nice crystal decanter. Bringing it upstairs, The Countess (Lady Gaga) and Donovan (Matt Bomer), the latter trying his best to avoid his mother, have a tall glass of the red stuff. A little while afterwards, The Countess heads out to a function, not for the art but “for the hunt”. I love the way Gaga plays the character, I’m not even a fan of hers regularly yet I feel Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk did a great thing casting her in this role; just how she sort of moves through every scene, elegant and scary at once.
Dr. Alex Lowe (ChloĂ« Sevigny) is out giving house calls. It’s excellent how the writing incorporates our modern day issues in this season. For instance, Lowe has to deal with anti-vaccination parents. I find this a great touch, and as always there are issues brought out in American Horror Story which are absolutely prevalent in society today.
Over at the Cortez, Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) wakes up in Room 64. Everything is pretty eerie. As if out of nowhere, Miss Evers comes in asking if he needs anything. Then suddenly, a quick glimpse of the wretched, disfigured creature (that raped Gabriel in “Checking In”) standing just above Lowe’s face, steel drillbit dildo protruding out. In the shower, Lowe witnesses to dead people having sex. But then he wakes up again in bed, radio on once more.
I feel bad for John Lowe. He’s obviously scarred by the disappearance and loss of his boy Holden (Lennon Henry). The worst part of that being Holden, we know, is in the hotel. Lowe continuously sees the little boy running around the halls yet can never seem to catch up with him.


He ends up having a brief run-in with Sally and a bar-tending Liz Taylor, trying his best not to fall off the wagon. Basically in this scene, Sally makes him talk about his worst days, the hardest times of his life, and it stirs him up. Though, for now Lowe leaves. For now…
Dt. Lowe receives a package from the Cortez where he’s staying back at the station – inside is what looks like an Academy Award stained with bits of blood. Hmm.
Over at the grand Cortez Hotel, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) has a big party happening, lots of guests such as Vogue’s Claudia Bankson (Naomi Campbell). Things seem to be bumping in the lobby with a ton of people lounging, chatting, and so on. When Sally turns up, not allowed into the party, she mysteriously eyes Lowe’s young daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks) – perhaps another little blonde child for the Countess? I hope not, I already feel viciously bad for Dt. Lowe. He’s seen some hard times.
At the huge fashion show Drake is putting off, we’re introduced to model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), whose presence there is somewhat of a major draw. Of course, Duffy is a fiendish cokehead and all around playboy, walking the runway as if every single person there wants to bed him. Amazing change for Wittrock in this season, compared to his also amazing portrayal of Dandy Mott in last year’s Freak Show. Even in that first scene, from the back room to the catwalk, he is fantastic. After his disastrous walk, Drake confronts him backstage; Duffy only cuts his face with a straight razor and announces his retirement from modelling. Savage!

Hes full of rage, I can still smell it— like copper.”

Little Scarlett is taken to see something interesting by Lachlan Drake (Lyric Lennon), Will’s son. They end up in a strange room, like a pool but emptied out. He takes her down to see these strange glass coffins, where the little blonde children are sleeping. There, she sees her brother Holden who opens his eyes intensely. Spooky moment! This goes on to lead her on a bit of a journey alone.
Up in the penthouse, Duffy is scavenging for cocaine (a nice little reference to Lars Von Trier; a favourite director of mine). He’s interrupted by Donovan, they have a bit of a row. But the Countess shows up as well to stop anything further from happening, letting Duffy wander off. She’s playing a bit of catch and release, I believe, no? When former model Duffy finds himself a bit lost in the darkness of the Cortez’s shadowy corridors, things go from a little unsettling to a whole other level of madness. First, it’s a sandwich from room service he tries to eat in the hallway – it looks good to him, but after it’s in his mouth the sandwich appears rotten, full of maggots wriggling in and out of the bread.
But secondly, when Duffy goes into a room to try and look for more cocaine, or anything else, he runs into Mr. James March (Evan Peters) whose Old Hollywood charm is more than evident. It’s only after a few minutes, the situation becomes murderous. Miss Evers brings in a tied up prostitute and March orders Duffy to kill her, but he refuses. Revealing a nasty neck wound, March then kills her himself. This sends Duffy back into the darkness of the halls until he’s snatched up by the Countess herself.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-19-04-amScarlett Lowe manages to get back to the Cortez on her own. When she locates the room where Lachlan brought her during the fashion show, the coffins are open, empty. Where are the children? Are they in the sterile white room? Well, Holden is anyways. Scarlett enters and meets him, again after all this time. She shows him a picture of their family all together. She further wonders why Holden hasn’t grown up thought she has herself. Instead of being happy, though, Holden is very happy at the hotel telling her “I am home.” The kicker comes when she tries to take a picture of her and Holden, he leans in almost to bite her neck; you just know the picture will not be coming out correctly.
One of the nastier scenes comes when Scarlett runs into the hall – Sally scares her with a huge smile, a laugh, and then grinds her own teeth and gums into a bloody mess. What a freaky shot! Great, great makeup effects, as usual.

Can a bullet take me out? A silver bullet, or a stake?”
Bitch please— of course it can

The Countess has turned Tristan Duffy into a vampire like her and Donovan. They have an intense bit of sex afterwards, Tristan loving the new life of vampirism. Will this cause some tension now between these two and Donovan, between the Countess and Donovan more so? You bet your ass it will. Almost more animosity comes from Donovan towards Duffy, though. They’re the boy toys of the Countess and neither are hugely happy about them both being in contention for her attention.
We’re also privy to the rules of American Horror Story‘s vampires, such as the sun doesn’t kill but should be avoided, coffins aren’t needed as long as you’ve got nice black-out curtains, you can die though being immortal can be achieved through being smart and intelligent about how one handles the effects and responsibilities of being a vampire. This whole sequence is fucking awesome! Not only are Gaga and Wittrock incredible together chemistry-wise, we further get to hear more about the Countess, her birthdate, all the wild stuff she did back in the day, what she lived through, and more. Real good writing here that I found super intriguing!
Dt. Lowe tries to leak information out of Iris – after Scarlett returns safely, obviously her parents are livid. She gives him the lowdown on Evan Peters’ new character, James March; the original builder/owner of the hotel.
For those who don’t know, this character is hugely based on H.H. Holmes, right down to his appearance – he built a massive murder hotel, essentially, including chutes for dropping bodies, secret passages, and so much more. Here, we get a look at 1925 when James March built the hotel. Excellent, eerie scenes shot in black-and-white showing us a brief glimpse of March and his strange ideas about how the architecture of the hotel ought to be constructed. When a construction foreman asks questions about the strange design, March brings him up to this office, stabs him in the neck, then slides his body down a chute where the body heads to the basement. There was asbestos lining the walls, thick to dull out any sound, hallways which lead nowhere, plus tons of other creepily constructed torturous elements. A vicious and interesting sequence from its beginning to end. There are some savage moments, some funny ones, and lots of intensity.
Most fun of all? Room 64 is the office of James March, exactly where Lowe is staying.

Just cause Im sucking on a dude doesnt mean Im gay.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-21-11-amI won’t spoil all the fun. Great episode, especially the Countess and Tristan together near the finale. Could not get enough!
Look forward to the third episode, “Mommy”, directed by Bradley Buecker once more. Stay tuned for more madness, my friends!