Ryan Murphy revealed the title of the latest AMERICAN HORROR STORY season with a brief teaser on Instagram.
Ally does the only thing she can think to do in order to stop Kai from committing a massacre.
While Ally tries to escape the cult with Ivy and their son, things only get more devious.
Winter begins seeing the misogyny and danger in her brother. Beverly is up against betrayal.
The tale of Valerie Solanas, the Scum Manifesto, and her effect on the women of Kai's cult.
Kai's life emerges in front of our eyes, as he and Beverly get closer in their psychopathy & their quest to Make America Scared Again.
After Election Night, Kai begins recruiting people he perceives as down, out, and full of rage.
Ally's downward spiral goes further, as the Wiltons harass her and Kai starts supporting her after the shooting.
Everything changes in this episode, as we go behind the scenes with Sidney James and discover a Season 2 is underway. Only nobody realises how much blood is coming.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 12: “Be Our Guest”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by John J. Gray
* For a review of the penultimate Season 5 finisher, “Battle Royale” – click here
This finale for the wild Season 5 begins with Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) talking about taking over the Hotel Cortez. Only she has her throat slit with a gloved hand, not unlike the one we’ve seen Countess (Lady Gaga) wear earlier in the season.
Cut to a couple checking in. Iris (Kathy Bates) and Liz woo them, with champagne on arrival, hoping to make the guests feel at home and ready for a wonderful time. They’re apparently from some website, one which reviews hotels. “It was going to take 4–stars on the internet,” Liz tells us. All the rooms are newly redone, looking beautiful; even Egyptian Cotton on all the beds. Looks a far cry from where it was once.
Except Sally (Sarah Paulson) shows up from out of nowhere to greet the new guests, lazing around smoking in her usual leopard print. She’s even getting ready to shoot up, which soon does in one of the guests. The other one goes running in the halls, coming across Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). “I‘m new at this murder game and jesus christ is it a thrill,” he says before stabbing her to death. Seems like things aren’t exactly perfect at the Hotel Cortez, despite the beautiful surface.
A very wonderful start to this final episode for the season. Plenty more macabre, nasty fun to come, I hope.
The meeting is called, as Liz and Iris try to create order among the ghosts of the Cortez. They all meet at the bar, everyone wanting something different. Marcy wants a new room. Will and Sally would rather kill. The rest are too self-involved, but not those two. They’re more excited for killing: “I‘m dead,” Will tells them, “but I‘ve never felt more alive.”
Up turns James March (Evan Peters), wanting them all to stop the killing. Funny, right? He’s mostly concerned about what happens if the Cortez gets shut down, torn down, bulldozed. Where will they go? In the meantime, everyone’s aruging. Until March flips a lid and sets them all straight. They need to make it a historic landmark, March claims, only they’ve got to keep the building there another 10 years, until 2026. Sally needs a “soulmate,” though, and she doesn’t look poised to change. Even with the threat of March sicking the Addiction Demon on her, as once he did before.
Most interesting is how Iris shows Sally about the world outside, social media, which will help her not be so alone in the world. She can’t go out, but that doesn’t mean Sally can’t interact with the world. Great way to bring the issues of today into the show, instead of only relying on dates onscreen from time to time. Plus, it goes well with Sally’s 1990’s rock/grunge character, to think she might be someone who would fall into social media and all its trappings.
Mainly, everyone is now trying to figure out the way to head into the future. Liz has all but convinced Drake to stay holed up in the hotel, all “Howard Hughes” and such. In fact, Liz is now Will’s acting hand at his company. Amazing new age company being led by Ms. Liz Taylor. The fashion goes on, the clothing still coming out – even Sally models bits of his work, plus Ramona (Angela Bassett) and other ghosts in the Cortez.
But sadly, Liz misses Tristan. Then we’re introduced to an old, familiar face – Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) back from Season 1’s Murder House. What a beautiful return to the original season, another character linking things together. Great season for this sort of thing, with Queenie in the last episode, Marcy showing up from time to time, and more. This sequence sees Billie helping Liz to try reconnecting with his now lost, murdered love, Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock). But it seems Tristan isn’t willing to fully reconnect, he’s angered and doesn’t want to talk with Liz. Not right now, anyways.
But wait – it’s Donovan now reaching from the other side, talking of “pancakes with blueberries” and that it’s “always Saturday morning” wherever he is.
Gathering the ghosts together, Liz tells everybody she’s got prostate cancer; inoperable, “nothing to do.” All those ghosts are worried, but Liz absolutely has a plan. Of sorts. Weapons are out on the bed, ready for everyone. She wants to be hacked, bludgeoned, et cetera, to death. “It‘s not murder,” Sallys says to them: “She wants to be reborn.”
“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull starts to play while everybody weapons up. Liz lays back on the bed, ready for the murder to take place. At the door, though, Countess arrives. “You were always my fondest creation,” Countess tells Liz. She’s there to join in on the fun: “I wanted to be here to help you transition.” Great word play all around with this sequence. Great, viciously bloody fun. This takes us back to that first scene, watching Liz have her throat cut open, the blood flying and beginning to run down onto the floor. Savagery – the best sort which Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk continually give us. And in death? Liz finds Tristan once more.
Down at the desk a woman shows up on Devil’s Night in 2022. She booked a room way in advance. In other news, Iris and Ramona are lamenting too much publicity after Billie Dean Howard’s specials aired on television, bringing out the weirdos, the perverts. Funniest is seeing John Lowe in league with them all, just another part of them. We get cuts back to Howard doing her various specials in Room 44, Room 64, and so on.
Now Lowe has got himself a plan. They call Billie Dean down for another taping, as she continues to try calling on the Ten Commandment Killer to reveal himself.
Then there’s Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) and John’s family. They made things work in the outside world. Or at least, as best as it would work. They tried. Out on the streets, Lowe killed, stockpiling blood in coffee canisters, stalking the streets for more victims with which to feed the family. One night, he finds himself caught by the police. Bleeding, full of bullets, John tries his best to make it back inside the Cortez, to die in there. Instead of making it all the way, he’s left on the sidewalk. Returning on Devil’s Night, though, it is easy to see James March has a hand in it all. Another dinner party, perhaps?
Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), Richard Ramirez, Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), they’re all back! Gacy’s trying to teach Jeffrey to talk to guys, in such a creepy scene. The music in the background plays heavy, lazy. Everything is terrifying and dark. John introduces her around the place, acclimating her to the strange surroundings. The Zodiac is there, too. Quiet and chilling in the corner with his baghead costume on, totally silent. A surreal sequence here, as Billie Dean navigates through “all these dark spirits.” March appears soon enough to toast them all. Lots of fun! A top five favourite sequence out of this Hotel season.
This is all a way to get Howard to stop doing specials at the hotel. The ghosts all want, need, to be left alone. So they need to her to give up. None of the ghosts can leave, but Ramona shows up to tell her: “I can.” Seems ole Billie Dean has more to fear than a few ghosts. Best she start moving on, right?In Room 64, John keeps his family. His daughter has grown a few years, obviously, and the others sleep soundly. Must be strange for her to age while the family stays the same, forever. Yet she seems fine with that mostly. It’s nice for John and Alex, who have their son back and eternally get to sleep next to one another, just like a new family. A creepy finish, as John has to go away for a whole year until the next Devil’s Night, when the family will come back together in the Cortez, to enjoy each other’s company, to love one another for that single day. A semi-happy ending in one sense, but a deeply tragic one for Lowe.
The very end of the episode sees The Countess at a table in the lounge, drinking, smoking. Out of the dark hallways comes a man she likes the look of, so off she goes to sit next to him at the bar. He sort of looks like Donovan – hair slicked back, handsome, a bit of stubble. Is that the intention? I think so. “You have a jawline for days,” says the Countess, right before everything cuts to black. Beautiful.
Loved the end to this season. An impressive full circle, but in a way that doesn’t only recall the beginning of the season, the beginning of character relationships, it also adds things on, making the layers deeper, more enticing. People complained a ton about this season. Me? I dig it. Totally. Stay tuned, we’ll see where Falchuk and Murphy go from here next season.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 13: “Curtain Call”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by John J. Gray
* For a review of the previous episode, “Show Stoppers” – click here
The finale of American Horror Story‘s Freak Show, “Curtain Call”, is here. And it’s surely about to get nasty before the curtain closes for the last time.
Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) is about to make his debut at the show, crooning show tunes. Paul (Mat Fraser), the newest freak Penny (Grace Gummer), Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) and Ima Wiggles (Chrissy Metz) are none too happy. Though, Paul thinks they ought to squeeze all they can out of the rich idiot whilst they still can. Dandy doesn’t know anything about the business yet and treats the freaks like garbage, blaming them for no tickets sold as of yet. “Audiences want a new type of freak; something different,” he claims. The whole confrontation ends with Eve punching Dandy out, and the crew taking him over, Paul leading the attack calling him “rubbish” and worst of all “boring.” Not just that: they quit. Dandy is left to run the place on his own, with a skeleton crew left, having proved he is far more a freak than any of them ever could be.
Ominous beginnings for the finale. I’m sad to see this season end because it’s at the top of my list; I love them all, but honestly I think, for me, Freak Show and Asylum are tied for numero uno. Edit: My Roanoke Nightmare is also tied now after Season 6, loved it personally.
Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) is out trying to take meetings. Except the people at WBN don’t seem too eager to receive her at first. She waits and waits, smoking cigarette after cigarette, sitting in the lobby. It’s clear she isn’t exactly a priority. Watching yet another person stroll by, and the receptionist shut down her desk, Elsa is thrown by the nonsense of Hollywood, the heartlessness of those involved. She ends up slapping the receptionist across the face, then an executive appears, breaking things apart.
Meanwhile, Dandy gets ready for showtime at his newly acquired Cabinet of Curiosities. He struts across the campground in a fresh white suit, red vest underneath and red handkerchief with polka dots around his neck. Turns out showtime isn’t any act. He starts first by blowing Paul’s brains out. Afterwards, Penny gets the same treatment while hiding behind sheets she hung out to dry; blood splatter everywhere. Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins) and others get a bullet for their troubles, too. Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and Eve each scramble to protect themselves while Dandy continues nonchalantly murdering everyone in sight.
But while Desiree hides cowering in the closet of her trailer and Dandy gets crazier by the second, Eve sneaks in and cracks him a good one with a pot. They fight for a little and Eve eventually gets shot to death. Although, Desiree managed to slip free, escaping the wrath of the spoiled Mott boy.
Scariest of all, Dandy has the Tattler Twins, Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson), tied to a post in one tent. He’s certainly planning something nefarious for these two. What could it be?
In the evening, Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) shows up, new hands and all. He looks desperate, hungry. Wandering into the campsite, he finds nobody, only a few pieces of bread, some broken bottles. He calls for Elsa, to no response, and finds all her things packed, gone; except for the furniture. With the lights on and literally no one home, Jimmy stumbles across his dead friends: Paul, Penny, Legless Suzi, Ima, Eve, and others, all their corpses piled in the big tent. A horrific sight. Especially considering Jimmy will take it on himself, blaming himself for not being there and so on.
From nowhere, Desiree shows up weeping in Jimmy’s arms. They’re both left with all their friends murdered. How will they avenge them?
Cut to a beautiful scene where a harp is playing, the Tattler Twins walking down a makeshift aisle in Dandy’s large room. They’re having a wedding. The witnesses are all stuffed tigers and lions and giraffes. Bette looks happy, somehow. Dot, not so much. The groom kisses his bride Bette, as Dot looks on in forced pleasure: “a third wheel,” Dandy says. Have the twins given up because of all the dead freaks? Or are they planning some type of vengeance upon him? I’d like to think the latter.
The twins say they’ve hired a French housemaid. At dinner, it turns out Desiree is there helping. Dandy’s been given drugged up liquor. Uh oh – just as I suspected! So glad the Tattlers didn’t fall prey to this disgusting savage of a spoiled, rich maggot. Dandy is a great character, but a hateful one. Excited to see what these wonderful freaks will do to show Dandy the wrath of their kind.
Plus, we get a nice little brief cut to an explanation of how the twins communicated with Desiree, as well as Jimmy Darling who appears as a butler for Dandy and the ladies. Love this sequence!
Dandy (to Desiree): “You put something in my bubbly”
Waking up, Dandy finds himself a little wet. He’s chained. Even further, he’s in a large sealed tank. Outside, Jimmy is hooking up a hose to start filling the tank with water. “We‘re carny folk. It‘s gotta be theatrical,” Jimmy tells Desiree re: Dandy’s death. While Jimmy, Desiree, Bette and Dot watch on before the act begins, Dandy starts to lose it. He knows what’s coming. After the freaks tell him why he deserves to die, Desiree also gives a wonderful speech to Dandy and tells him: “You are the biggest freak of them all.” This is such a fitting end to Dandy. Jimmy talks about why the freaks will always win, and why “the freaks shall inherit the earth.” There is strength in numbers, which is how the freaks will prevail. Jimmy sentences Dandy and his “whole rotten kind” to death, as they leave him to drown mercilessly in the tank, and the freaks all take a front row seat to watch the show. Their smiles are macabre and morbid, yet so amazingly right for the moment.
“Heck of a show”
“That boy is a star“
The finale sees Hollywood in 1960 through a few black-and-white clips. Elsa Mars is the Queen of Friday Night on television with her variety hour show, and she also has a nice music career in her native Germany, as well as the world over. We get an awesome look at Elsa’s television set. There’s also Neil Patrick Harris’ husband David Burtka playing Michael Beck, Elsa’s saviour and now also husband: they’ve got a bit of a BDSM relationship going on at home, taking her back to those Berlin days before WWII. There’s a great take on commercials and advertisement with Elsa having to hawk coffee; she isn’t pleased with being “wrangled” by her husband in the commercial, not wanting to be dominated by the patriarchy. Dig it. Someone shows up to talk about Elsa’s Halloween special, though, she isn’t too impressed with this plan: she will not perform on Halloween. And why not? Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley), that’s why. She hasn’t forgotten her roots. Even further, she hasn’t forgotten about Massimo Dolcefino (Danny Huston) who shows up to see her and talks about where he’s been since Jupiter, Florida; funny enough, he did work for the army building whole towns to be vaporized by the government in the desert, for the nuclear tests. Nice inclusion of history, as I always expect with the show.
The terrifying videos of which Elsa was a part in Germany come to light. The studio head Henry Gable (Richard Holden) comes to visit Elsa, to tell her all about it. There’s no denying, obviously, it is her in those videos. How can they blame her for such hideousness? Sure, she was involved in awful business before that video, but surely having her legs sawed off is not her own fault? More of the victim blaming inherent in the world of law and order. Worse, Gable had Elsa tracked and they figured out she once ran a freak show: he tells them, her people back at the show, “they‘re all dead.” All of this goes against the Morals Clause in Elsa’s contract, so off she goes. Though, she agrees to perform on Halloween now. A last goodbye, of sorts. “Why not? Might as well go out with a bang,” she says. Or go back to the other side, she means; with Mordrake. This is certainly her plan.
Amazing part of the “Elsa Mars Hour” begins with her doing another Bowie cover, “Heroes” this time. Love her take on Bowie, especially with that German accent she puts on. Such an interesting part of the show overall this season, the musical choices.
This leads in to Elsa’s big sendoff. First, though, we watch Desiree with Angus T. Jefferson (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) in their newly wedded life, kids and all. Jimmy and the Tattlers now at home, their home, together as husband and wives – and buns in the oven. All of them watching Elsa on television somewhere or another. I love the morbidity and macabre nature of American Horror Story, but the happy endings mixed in for some characters is usually a great way to top off a season. Among the murder and loss, some of the characters here get a happy end, while Elsa’s is sort of a bittersweet release. Mordrake comes back, along with Twisty (John Carroll Lynch) and other dead freaks, to take Elsa away in front of her television audience.
Only he doesn’t take her. Elsa returns to a different afterlife than that of Mordrake’s little cabinet of souls. She is back at the freak show, Ma Petite still running around, Paul and Legless Suzi and Penny alive once more. Everything is as it once was, before all the tragedy and the blood and death. Even Ethel (Kathy Bates) is there running the ship for Elsa, happy to see her again. Ethel tells her: “The sins of the livin‘ don‘t add up to much around here. In life, we play the parts we‘re cast in.” A wonderful, weird, and intriguing end. One of my favourites to any season.
Glad those who’ve showed up are still coming back. If you want to check out more, just head up to the top of the page and click on American Horror Story for all my reviews.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 12: “Show Stoppers”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Jessica Sharzer
* For a review of the previous episode, “Magical Thinking” – click here
* For a review of the Season 4 finale, “Curtain Call” – click here
The penultimate Season 4 episode starts with a large party at the freak show. Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) watches on and toasts her family and friends. As well as the new owner, Chester Creb (Neil Patrick Harris). Everyone is in attendance, from Marjorie to Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts), Paul (Mat Fraser), Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and the Tattlers (Sarah Paulson).
Elsa asks for time alone with the original freak family. She thanks Richard Spencer a.k.a Stanley (Denis O’Hare) for helping to change their lives. Only we know the truth. And now, Elsa knows, too. They’re reeling him in with food, drink, as well as entertainment – nice callback to Season 2 and The Sign of the Cross, as Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins) complains they don’t want to see that one again. But Stanley says he has to go, lots to do before their move to Hollywood. Elsa doesn’t want him to go, nobody does. They want to give him a nice present. Out comes a big, heavy box. They beg him to open.
And what’s inside? The head of the museum owner floating in a jar. Cut to a scene where Maggie and Desiree lured her in, before killing her. “Now it‘s your turn,” Desiree tells Stanley. He of course squirms like a snake about to be cut in half. He keeps flaring up the dreams of Hollywood, but Elsa won’t have it. He’s put up on the knife wheel, as Elsa tosses a few blades. Then things progressively get worse with Stanley cornered by the entire crew of freaks.
Let’s see where ole Stanley ends up after they’re finished with him.
“You tried to kill my dreams, but they cannot be murdered. But what you did – you brought death into this place, and for that you must pay.”
Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) is turned onto what really happened with Richard a.k.a Stanley. Maggie gave herself up to everyone, too. But Jimmy is not happy. He is completely disfigured now and doesn’t want to be the leader Elsa says they need. She’s bringing an old friend who can help with his new predicament. Maggie’s left to help change the bandages on Jimmy, though, he would rather not have her around. Still, she tries her best to be there for him in his weakest time of need.
At the same time, Elsa is working on her show not having much luck with anything. Out of the darkness comes the doctor who helped her so long ago – Massimo Dolcefino (Danny Huston). He is the old friend come to help Jimmy with the missing hands. Elsa and Massimo embrace, having not seen each other for so long.
Switch over to Chester and the Tattlers having sex, while Marjorie (Jamie Brewer) is watching. Or at least Chester sees her as very real and embodied, looking on. He throws her on the floor, out of the way, as requested by Bette and Dot. Then the lovemaking gets more intense after Marjorie is out of the way. Afterwards, she’s not too impressed with Chester, who says he simply got “carried away.” The twins obviously don’t want to be watched by a creepy doll. But Marjorie convinces Chester, more and more, they’re only trying to twist him up. He doesn’t want to see it, though, I’m sure Marjorie will drive him to seeing things her way. Even if Chester still believes Alice/Lucy, his wife and her lover, were killed by Marjorie the doll.
QUICK CUT TO: Chester beating his wife’s lover to death with a hammer, blood everywhere. He remembers it. He just doesn’t want to, that’s all.
Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) pokes his head into the Tattler Twins’ tent. He has “relevant information” pertaining to Chester and his other life before the freak show. He appears like a friend would, trying to look out for them. Of course, we’re well aware of the true dark heart in Dandy. Even if he fakes some tears, saying he’s not “half the man” they deserve. Funny little line, I thought. Sadly, though, the guy has real information about Chester and the girls don’t heed his warnings. They’re not entirely above board, his intentions. But Dandy is sort of looking out for them, in his own backhanded way. And Chester is actually a psychopath, so y’know.But now we’re getting back to Elsa visiting Jimmy in his bed, feeding him a bit of liquor and telling him he “looks like shit.” Well, duh – he has no hands. Then she readies some penicillin as Massimo reveals himself. He is going to craft some new hands for Jimmy, to make his life a little more manageable with wooden hands.
Excellent flashbacks to Elsa’s past, in the black-and-white snuff films. More connection to Season 2 Asylum with a young doctor Arden (played here by John Cromwell; James’ son) leading the crew of people cutting the legs off Elsa. Massimo tracked down Arden, or Hans Gruber as he was known then. He tried to kill the doctor, but only received capture and hideous torture. Luckily, Massimo survived because a higher ranking general wanted a bookshelf, and he was needed to build it. Later he escaped to America and away from it all. Amazing story and a great inclusion of Danny Huston in this season, giving him more screentime than I originally imagined he would have.
At the carnival, the Tattler Twins are at odds over who Chester really is; Bette is worried, Dot thinks she is influenced too much by Dandy. They say they don’t want to be his assistants any more. This shakes Chester. He says they’ll be ‘sawed in half’ during his big finale, instead of a member from the audience. They don’t want any part of being in that box, refusing to do so. But Maggie says she’ll do it, she wants to be a “part of the show” and seems very eager.
Now, Chester is hallucinating it’s his wife, and then her lover getting in, not Maggie. This spells danger already. When the trick is being performed, Chester starts hallucinating more. He handcuffs Maggie at the feet. He sees Marjorie, the wife, the lover, Maggie, all in the box. Maggie is terrified and then he proceeds to saw her completely in half, blood spurting everywhere. Paul and the others are mortified by what has happened, as he hauls the box open and Maggie’s guts spill everywhere. Supremely nasty stuff. In the audience, Marjorie sits laughing: “That‘ll pack ‘em in, Chester.” No one is too broken up, as Maggie helped kill some of the freaks. Desiree tells the rest of the crew: “She had it comin‘.”
In his trailer, Chester finally stabs Marjorie to death. Or to splinters, I don’t know anymore.
Knowing the truth about Ethel’s murder, the rest of the freaks intend on taking revenge upon Elsa. The Tattler Twins discover her in her tent, finding out she is also a freak with her missing legs. But they tell her about the freaks coming for her, feeling indebted to her slightly. Then, Elsa is gone before they can find her.
At a police station, Chester walks in to confess the murder of Marjorie. How perfect.
Before fleeing Jupiter, Elsa meets with none other than Dandy Mott. She receives $10,000 in exchange for her carnival. And so Dandy loves every moment of it, prepared to take hold of the show himself. Afterwards, he finds Stanley who is now transformed into an homage to Tod Browning’s Freaks. Fitting, as it was referenced earlier on at the start of the episode. Very creepy scene with Stanley’s new body.
The finale sees Massimo give Jimmy his new hands: they are wooden lobster hands, like his original ones. Jimmy claims they’re perfect and comes to accept himself, in a new yet familiar form.
Excited for the next and final episode of Season 4, “Curtain Call”.