Architect David Madson's fate becomes linked to killer Andrew Cunanan months prior to the murder of Versace.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 8: “Chapter 8”
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by Todd Kubrak
* For a review of Chapter 7, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 9, click here.
Agnes (Kathy Bates) is being slaughtered by The Butcher (Susan Berger) outside, as Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Dominic (Cuba Gooding Jr.) sit inside, wondering how they’re going to get out alive. They decide to head down for the tunnel. Of course they have to pass Matt’s smashed head, but they manage. Until coming across the Asian family that died in the house years ago. Fucking creepy.
Back to Mama Polk (Robin Weigert) and her kin, still with Lee (Adina Porter) in their grasp. She’s making her boy Cain (Finn Wittrock) do a bit of slicing to get the good meat. Mama tells a tale about the Depression when there wasn’t much to eat. That’s when the cannibalism started, with a few hobos and such. Now, it’s time to get a few “prime cuts” out of Lee. As suspected the Polks are a bunch of inbreds, as well. Cain talks about being caught “in the middle” of not being able to have sex with mom and not able to cuddle either. Also, Cain wasn’t happy not being able to get into the TV story, so Lee tries making a deal. He goes on to tell her about Kincaid Polk, who wore a pig’s head and killed people before being burned alive. Knowing she’ll die Lee takes a snort of oxy to take the edge off, before Mama takes another cut off her.
At the house Shelby and Dominic run from the terrifying creature at their heels. He tries to keep Shelby from giving up, worried that they’re up against some “Paranormal Activity shit.” Then Pig Man shows up, brandishing knives. Those nurses drag themselves slowly. The house’s spirits come alive, all trying to corner Dominic and Shelby. Even the chandelier drops from the ceiling crushing Shelby’s ankle. The pair make it upstairs and she starts falling apart. She is clearly in shock after beating Matt’s head in downstairs. Soon she cuts her throat wide open.
Lee gets Cain to let her leave a message to her daughter Flora via camera. She continually tries to ingratiate herself to the young man. He even admits not wanting to kill her. She does whatever possible in order to stay alive, to the point of playing to his sexual fantasies. That is just long enough to get the upper hand. Fuck yeah, Lee! She chokes Cain out and manages to get away, stabbing him a good one in the skull for good measure.Poor Audrey (Sarah Paulson) and Monet (Angela Bassett) are still being taunted by the Polk family. The two women try convincing them that the real Matt and Shelby are to blame. But that matters nothing to these inbred cannibals. They’re more concerned with the Blood Moon coming up. The Polk brothers can’t comprehend the difference between reality and the reenactments on television. And they need teeth, of which the ladies have mouths full. They start with Monet, but the chair and the pliers break. Again, the woman gets the upper hand on the Polks, as Monet gets free. Although she leaves Audrey, weeping, alone. Mama ain’t happy with her boys, all the same. Now she has to get some teeth out of the British girl on her own. A brutal moment to watch. Luckily, Lee comes to her aid with a ball peen hammer. She lets Audrey use it to bash Mama’s brains to slop. Over at the house she and Lee come across the similar brains of Matt, sending his sister into hysterics. At least Shelby’s dead, too. I guess. They find her upstairs with Dominic lurking depressed in the dark. Nobody’s sure what to do next, although Lee and Audrey don’t believe what he tells them about Shelby. They lock him out in the hallway where Pig Man mutilates his body wickedly, blood flicking over the walls everywhere. Shiiiit.
When morning comes Lee says they have to go back to the Polk place. She wants to get the videotape, so nobody can use it against them. She knows that if the “wrong people” get their hands on the tape then it won’t be good, for either of them. True. Especially considering Lee has dealt with this already because of My Roanoke Nightmare.
When the two women make it the front door, there is Pig Man – only he takes off his mask, it’s Dylan (Wes Bentley) who played Ambrose White in the original show. Ah, he’s back again. However, I don’t think he’s the Pig Man that’s been slaughtering.A nice, bloody, creepy episode! Lots of nastiness going on and unexpected deaths.
Very excited for the next chapter. I can’t wait to see who’ll survive and who’ll be murdered in grisly fashion coming up. Will we see more of The Butcher? And what about the actor who played Dr. Cunningham (Denis O’Hare)? Also, Taissa Farmiga is supposed to show up, and we’ve already seen Finn Wittrock as one of the nasty Polks. So much to look forward to in these last couple episodes. Already primed for Season 7!
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 8: “Blood Bath”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the previous episode, “Test of Strength” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Tupperware Party Massacre” – click here
After the blood already shed, an episode titled “Blood Bath” sounds quite promising.
Opening on Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy), we begin with her lamenting about Dandy (Finn Wittrock) to a psychiatrist. He believes institutionalizing the young man may be in order, but she won’t have that word bandied about in the same sentence as his name. We see flashback to a young Dandy playing sadistically with a young version of Gabourey Sidibe’s character. She claims no was “an affront” to him, a “battle cry”. He had a history back then of killing small animals, as well as terrorizing others. Until one day a boy he played with frequently vanished, no doubt as a result of Dandy’s nasty predilections. The boy was “never seen again.” She, of course, does not reveal all the “recent incidents” to her psychiatrist which brought on all her worries. No, let’s not mention all the murder.
Just a little note: the more I watch the opening each episode, the more I think Freak Show‘s credit sequence is the creepiest to me. Very unsettling with all the messed up animation and the clowns and the macabre imagery. I loved Coven, and all of them, but this one is particularly wild.
Everyone is out searching for Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) – Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), even Dell (Michael Chiklis), Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) is there too. Out in the woods, Jimmy stumbles across the clothing of the little one. It is brought back to Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) in a box. She weeps for the tiny girl, who they all believe was taken and killed by some animal in the night. A sad scene, especially knowing what we know after last episode. Although, Ethel (Kathy Bates) seems unimpressed. She thinks it’s all bullshit: “Thought you‘d be high as a Limehouse whore by now,” she says dryly entering Elsa’s tent. A slap across the face for Ethel comes later; we know the truth, but I can understand how Ethel believes all that’s precious to Elsa is “the roar of the crowd.” Only problem is this will cause undue friction between these two, and it makes me worry when anyone crosses paths in any way with Elsa. She’s out for herself and herself only.
Things get tense between Ethel and Elsa. Eventually when the situation gets very hot, ready to boil over, a gunshot goes off putting a hole right through Elsa’s leg; the wooden part, anyways. To the surprise of Ethel, who didn’t even realize he own supposedly close friend was a so-called freak herself.
Another of my favourite sequences this season comes with more flashbacks to Elsa and her past in Germany. We get more Danny Huston, who comes back as a doctor who made Elsa new legs after they were taken from her by the sick men who made those vile films. I think there is such amazing chemistry between Huston and Lange, they are two incredible acting talents and I love that Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk brought them together once again after Coven giving them another romance, yet an entirely different kind of one. Such power in this black-and-white flash back sequence.
And then, before Ethel can get revenge on Elsa for betraying her trust, Elsa wings a knife right into her eye. Ethel dies then and there. The titular bath of blood has commenced.
Enter Stanley (Denis O’Hare). His greasiness helps Elsa cover up the murder of Ethel, staging it as a suicide and featuring a performance from Ms. Mars to rival any other performance of hers before. She steps up the dramatics in order to match the ridiculousness of their cover-up plan. Everyone is devastated, not least of which is her son Jimmy (Evan Peters), whose life only gets worse and worse as the time goes on. Headlong into depression Jimmy goes, pushing Maggie (Emma Roberts) away. During the reveal of what happened we go between the present and when Elsa/Stanley set up the scene to have Ethel’s body decapitated in one of the most strange suicides ever.
Elsa is out recruiting once more in the hospital wards. She finds a large woman named Barbara (Chrissy Metz) who gets invited into the troupe. She’s renamed Ima Wiggles and gets fed on the hour every hour. Even more than that, Jimmy begins to fall into her arms in an eerily Oedipal lust for a large woman after his mother died.
Over at the Mott House, Dandy is entertaining Regina Ross (Gabourey Sidibe). Her housekeeper mother hasn’t phoned in so long. Gloria shows up, nervous as usual and especially so seeing as how she knows exactly where mama Dora is buried. She tries to convince Regina her mother is off buying squash somewhere. Not going to work at all. Then Dandy ends up in psychoanalysis with Gloria’s psychiatrist, but it’s all sort of under wraps. Only he figures it all out, he’s not exactly stupid: just fucking crazy. This drives him further mad. He talks about tribes in Papa New Guinea and how they would eat the defeated tribe, their chief – he wonders if it’s possible to “take someone‘s power by eating their flesh” or if you could just get it done by “bathing in their blood.” Hmm, will we see a true to life blood bath tonight? Certainly seems like now that Regina threatens she’ll go to the police if her mother isn’t back by suppertime tomorrow.
Possibly my favourite bit of this season sees the fed-up freak women join together – Eve, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins; RIP, she passed away today), along with the newly minted ‘Lizard Girl’ Penny (Grace Gummer). First they come together over Ethel, who was a “survivor since the day she was born.” Desiree gives an impassioned speech to the women about how they must rise up, take hold of their lives, because the law doesn’t care about them. They decide to go and kidnap Penny’s father Vince (Lee Tergesen). They will have their cathartic revenge against all terrible men by taking revenge upon Vince for what he had done to his own flesh-and-blood. They attack him in his home, drag him back to one of the trailers at the tent city. Then, Vince experiences a good old fashioned tar and feathering. Such a savage and intense moment, yet it’s perfect; Vince deserves everything he gets.
Later on, Dandy goes home. He is enraged with life, his mother, everything. He reveals he’s the product of incest, and a father who did things “to those little girls.” Gloria is astounded by his demeanour. As he goes to put the gun to his head, she cries that she couldn’t go on in life without him. To which he replies with a bullet through her forehead.
Afterwards, we see the titular bathing, as Dandy bathes in a white tub in his lavish room: filled to the brim with his mother’s blood.
“I was born of deadly sin. You knew what father had done to those little girls. You knew the risks of breeding with your cousin. You‘re no better than the Roosevelts.”
“How dare you say that name in this house!”
As the insanity escalates, Father Gore’s looking forward to the next episode, “Tupperware Party Massacre.”
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 9: “She Wants Revenge”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Brad Falchuk
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “She Gets Revenge” – click here
This episode begins with Countess (Lady Gaga) explaining that “women age differently than men do,” but the kicker is, of course, as we know she’s a vampire. Here, she stares into the walled off corridor where James March (Evan Peters) had sealed Natacha (Alexandra Daddario) and Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock).
Countess is convinced to build “something new” and makes it clear: “I will not be managed.” Later downstairs, she’s talking about her upcoming wedding to Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). She wants it small. Yet he tells her “I‘m a showman” and he wants a big wedding. Finally, she agrees that he will design the gown, she will get everything else taken care of. Then there’s Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), who Countess wants to arrange the flowers. Liz does not want any part of her: “Buy your own damn flowerrrrs.” And why would she want to help the Countess, after the Tristan incident. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) is still kicking around, serving drinks, to a highly disaffected Countess who only grows more and more disdainful about the world around her.
Then Countess tracks down Rudolph Valentino at a motel. While simultaneously at home, she beds Donovan (Matt Bomer) again, screaming “I forgot how good you feel inside me.” They have a nice little bit of pillow talk. He asks that it only be him for her, forever; he needs commitment. Not in the way of just being with one person, but rather he wants to be the ONLY person she loves: “I swear it. But I won‘t make the same mistakes again,” she replies. Is this all a ruse on Donovan’s part? I’m sure he didn’t just switch back to loving her, did he? I imagine Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) is lurking along the periphery of the Countess’ life, alongside Donovan. We’ll have to wait and see. For now, Donovan and Countess seem to be making a list – of who to murder.
Nice to Iris (Kathy Bates) again. She even tells the people at the front desk the “douche bag convention” is somewhere else. Proper. A couple pornstars show up with their disgusting director. Iris tells them she’ll bring up some “extra towels.” An AMAZING voice-over sequence after this, starting off with a Blue Monday cover and Iris talking about the “Sydney Pollack” of porn and how she went to see Deep Throat back in the day. She even calls herself “Dirty Harriet,” as well as gives us a little lesson on why pornography “hurts people,” what it does to the male and female psyches. Plus, afterwards she goes into the room and starts slitting throats, stabbing chests, and generally bloodying the place up. Good gore. Out of nowhere, Donovan appears. Very impressed with his mother. “You have clearly come into your own,” he tells her. Though, she warns about problems. We slip back to the Bartholomew incident, where that creepy little baby got out to wreak some havoc with its terrifying face; Iris gave up Ramona’s name to the Countess.
However, now we’re getting a bit of the real story. Donovan is definitely in love with the Countess. At the same time, he’s still looking for revenge. Will he get it? Or will the Countess figure it all out? Has she already? You can never tell fully.
Drake explains to his son Lachlan (Lyric Angel) about how the Countess understands him, gets him, all that. Then Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) shows up talking about how the Countess will only “bleed you dry“. It’s an eerie moment.
Then a flashback comes where Miss Evers talks about how she loved March. He claims that the Countess “is a creature from heaven” and tells her: “It‘s not your fault you were graced with… different gifts.” But back in the present, Will does not heed any of her warnings. Despite the fact we know the depth of the darkness into which he is about to plunge. I won’t quote her exact words because you NEED to experience them from her mouth; she lets Drake know exactly how she feels before leaving the room.
Down at the sealed, now unsealed, corridor, the Countess is trying to get a contractor to re-seal the hallway. After a bit of talk from him, March shows up to try and explain how it’ll all get done: “Make haste – much to accomplish!” Some people don’t like Evan Peters this season. Me, on the other hand, I think he is classic. At times he’s darkly funny. Others he is downright fucking terrifying, to me. Here he shows off a few more chops, as the Countess gives him an ultimatum, of sorts.
Donovan shows up at Ramona Royale’s place. He has an offering: the pornstar guy from the hotel. But she thinks Donovan is a big “pussy” in her words. Though, for all Donovan’s love for the Countess, and all the doubts Ramona may have, he actually seems to be against the Countess. He admits his “addiction” for her. Yet then Donovan claims he slipped enough ghb in her drink to “knock out an elephant.” He further admits he can’t “pull the trigger.” At least Ramona “appreciates a man who recognises his own weakness.” They seem together, toasting on the blood of the pornstar.
Another excellent flashback to Ramona in the ’90s, running back to her father (Henry G. Sanders) in L.A. Her mother (Marla Gibbs) and father helped straighten her out. Also, there’s sadness. Her parents are getting older, forgetting things, getting sick. Then her mother died and her father went further off the deep end in his mind. Such a tragic sequence, yet gives such an amazing depth to Ramona. There’s a break-in scenario and her father ends up getting hurt badly, which sees Ramona give the gift of the ancient virus to him. I saw this coming. I still found it effective, and beautiful in a sense. Eternally sad, though, as “a diseased brain is not a broken bone” and not everything can be fixed with vampirism. We see more and more how absolutely shattered inside Ramona is, having to effectively euthanize her own father so that he wouldn’t remain “frozen in amber.”
Alex Lowe is off doing her own thing, too. Not only serving up drinks for the Countess. She spies on a house, then makes her way inside only to find a bunch of dead, bloody corpses. Further in, there are a bunch of vampire kids with Max as the leader; remember, the kid from the hospital to whom she gave her blood? A few of the kids are getting sick, probably drinking bad blood. Earlier in the episode there was a news report about homeless people dead in the city: all the kids. Some of the kids don’t want to drink, they’re feeling worse and worse. They want Alex to help. Other kids are alive and thriving, one even saying they should “off them,” y’know – “all the sickies.” Such a creepy scene, evoking lots of the creepy children aesthetic. Makes things quite tense and eerie. The kids, most of them, don’t want anything to do with Alex.
Back at the Hotel Cortez, Ramona and Donovan stand outside the Countess’ room, as she lays just inside sleeping on the bed.
Then a double cross, I think? The Countess wakes up before Ramona can sink a knife into her. Donovan tasers Ramona and takes her downstairs. Iris is upset about it all. Donovan is in love and he actually fell into the abyss, even though I imagined he was on the straight and narrow. Ramona ends up locked in one of those neon-lit cages. “You‘re weak. I should‘ve let you die,” Donovan tells his mother getting a slap in the face as a response. Where’s this going to lead Iris and Ramona now?
Rudolph and Countess are having drinks at the motel. Meanwhile, Natacha is off with her head full of “shopping and Uber.” I feel even worse for Donovan now because he’s fallen back for the Countess, while she’s still wrapped up in a time almost a century ago when she and Rudolph had their first great love. All the same, Rudolph hates the modern world. He is disgusted with everything in it, no “enchantment left” anywhere. Countess claims to hate the modern world even more than him and wants to turn the Cortez into a “fortress” against it. Still there’s Natacha to deal with. She loves everything out there. Somehow the Countess begins to try reeling her in, though. Sets up a girls night for them both without Rudie. Hmm.
And then, outside as she strolls away happily, there is Donovan. Will he finally see the light?
At the Cortez the wedding is about the be finished. Naturally, Liz objects with a hilarious quip: “Don‘t mind her. She drinks,” says the Countess. But the happy couple is proclaimed man and wife. The Countess wants to get the honeymoon started, so she plans to go get changed and get going. First, she gives over the flowers to Liz and gives off some nonsense about hoping she finds true love. Sad, to see Liz have to grin and bear it against this awful vampire of a woman.
Nice little meeting at the bar between Will Drake and James March. Very good stuff with James, having a little drink with Will in congratulations. “Here‘s to new worlds to conquer,” James toasts the newlywed gentleman. Even better is when March brings Will up to see Bartholomew in his black little crib. “What the hell is that thing?” Will draws back in terror after seeing the child-thing. Countess shows up and doesn’t like the “hateful things” Will has to say about little Bart: “I‘m going to make sure you suffer immensely,” she says before whacking him over the head.
Following this new development, Will finds himself down with Ramona. Only he’s on the floor while she stays locked up. But I’m sure he’ll be caged up right away, as soon as the Countess or March or whoever returns.
However, Drake doesn’t last long. He gets Ramona out, finds their in a sealed hallway, to which he quips: “Nobody knows we‘re in here. We‘ll starve.”
“I won‘t,” replies Ramona. She then pounces on him, starts to feast on his bloody neck. Miss Evers shows up to gloat, as the Countess watches on a screen up in her room comfortably. The end.
I’m interested to see who the she is in the next episode’s title, “She Gets Revenge”. Who will get it? Who will be revenged upon? Very exciting. Honestly, the haters can keep on hating this season. I’m digging it. Especially once we see more of John Lowe (Wes Bentley) next week. Curious to see where he goes now plot/character-wise after the revelation last episode that he is, for certain, the Ten Commandments Killer.
Stay tuned with me friends and fellow fans, more to come!
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 7: “Flicker”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Crystal Liu
* For a review of the previous episode, “Room 33” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer” – click here
Checking in at the Hotel Cortez for another week, are we? Join me, as we walk the halls.
You can already feel new revelations about the come to light. Construction has broke ground at the hotel under Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and his management. Eventually, the crew comes upon a part of the hotel covered with steel, running along a whole section. Drake tells them to get the job done, knock it down. Once a couple of the construction guys make their way down a hallway uncovered after tearing the wall down, they discover creepy people(things) lurking in the darkness. Not long after, they have their throats chewed out.
One thing others are whining about is the blood and gore. Those elements do not a horror make. However, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have explored a lot of avenues with the 4 seasons preceding this one. They’ve stated this season is meant to have more intense brutality and gore. They said that. So, sorry you don’t like blood, but there ARE horror fans who LOVE that. I am one who can appreciate many sub-genres in horror, including the splatter stuff if it’s done well. The splattery nastiness here is done properly between the writers, the directors, and the Murphy-Falchuk banner. Dig it, hugely.
Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) has brought her husband John (Wes Bentley) to the hospital. He’s almost in a trance-like state, walking in catatonia. He virtually mumbles everything coming out of his mouth. But rightfully so, he is definitely failing mentally. At the same time, most of his mental stress is being produced through his wife, through the hotel, through all the things he knows are real but just can’t prove. Not yet. He seems to have a plan, being checked in on purpose, though. I hope so hard he is NOT the Ten Commandments Killer after all. I don’t think he is, he seems to have an ace up his sleeve.
Back at the hotel, Iris (Kathy Bates) accompanies The Countess (Lady Gaga) over to where the construction crew are down two men. They don’t even know who did it, so that’s something I find interesting: Countess doesn’t even have the lid on everything happening under her roof. I’m sure James March (Evan Peters) knows all about the various comings and goings. But The Countess readily admits she’s not sure of what could’ve done the deed, and Iris notes how “I‘ve never seen you scared before.” Very intriguing little scene.
An impressive flashback to The Countess and her former life, 1925 in Hollywood. She is an extra on the set of a Ruldoph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) picture, admiring how beautiful the man is. They end up back at Valentino’s luxurious home. “Flickers are the future,” she says to him. He doesn’t buy her talk of immortality on the silver screen, commenting that in a century nobody will remember any of the movies they were in. We already know this not to be true, 90 years on; highly and almost categorically untrue, overall. Regardless, we’re treated to an excellent few classical film-like moments where the young Countess is whirled around dancing by Rudolph. Then, out of nowhere, Natacha Rambova (Alexandra Daddario) – his wife – shows up and makes the entire thing unpleasant, terribly awkward. This sex-laden season continues with a Rambova-Rudolph-Countess threesome.
Young Countess heads over to a celebration held by none other than Mr. James March. Here, in a brief scene, we get to see Evan Peters really do some excellent acting. I love him, and I’ve loved his performance in each season. Although, at the beginning of Hotel I was not sold on his March; I thought it was too hammy, or something. But more and more I’ve been drawn in. With this scene, and the one following with him/Gaga, I’m beyond pleased. There’s some element of these moments which I can’t escape, so damn infectious.
More than that, March and young Countess come together: man and wife. She doesn’t truly love him, still burning for Rudolph (who in this timeline has faked his death). Nevertheless, we see the beginning of the March-Countess murder double team, plus there is an excellent black-and-white old school sequence featuring Wittrock as Valentino; it reminds me of an actual silent movie from the early 20th century, fitted with an homage to F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. Not just an homage, it’s actually Murnau who is a vampire seeking to preserve Valentino. There’s lots of good stuff, including a blood orgy of vampires in the Carpathians.
But Valentino and Rambova have plans to whisk The Countess away with them. Will March let anything like that happen? I think not.
Over at the West Los Angeles Health Center, John Lowe is stumbling around, dazed and looking like any other patient. Only soon he knocks out a guard, making his way into a locked wing of the hospital looking for a patient named HAHN. Opening the door, he finds a young blonde girl dressed like all the other kids The Countess took. Her name is Wren (Jessica Belkin), she doesn’t “want to feed anymore.” More than all that, she has information about the Ten Commandments Killer apparently. Wren was present during one of the crimes, but says: “Nobody forced me to do anything.” She doesn’t seem to want to run from any of it, admitting to what happened and claiming it was nobody else’s fault except her own. There are scary parallels happening now, between Wren/The 10 Commandments Killer and John/his daughter. The visuals are awesome, with close-ups on John’s face, as well as Wren. Then she takes us back to a 1986 flashback where her father leaves her in a hot car outside the Hotel Cortez; when she met The Countess. Finally, Wren agrees to take Lowe to where the killer lives if they can escape.
Big surprise! The two creepy things that killed those construction guys are actually zombified, starving corpses, vampire corpses starving for blood… they are Rudolph and Natacha. Trying to get enough blood to return them to a state of beauty, they argue with one another. Natacha hates him for needing The Countess, bringing them into their now horrific state.
“What curious creatures”
“Like Colossus come to life“
James March and The Countess have a nice dinner together, a monthly tradition it seems. He’s very dapper and lovely, she is also gorgeous and looking elegant. She wanted to see him because of the plan to marry Drake. He feigns a bit of sincerity. Clearly, he does not like the idea. The Countess, to James, is his property. The dinner isn’t exactly wonderful or happy. Mostly, they’re tense with one another.
Then we see what could’ve been assumed – March had Natacha and Rudolph attacked, then brought to the Hotel Cortez. After which he proceeded to wall them up in that hallway, where they were left to perish for the rest of eternity. Or, at least until Drake decided to start renovating his latest acquisition. But even while I knew this was coming, I love the sequence. It’s haunting, harrowing even, to see these two lovers – assholes though they were – discovering themselves forever entombed behind a steel, a wall, then a ton of bricks. Best of all, March reveals all this to The Countess.
The finale of the episode is incredible. “Circles” by The Soft Moon plays as we first see Rudolph and Natacha stroll out of the hotel replenished with youthful vigour. Then, John Lowe gets Wren out of the hospital. But instead of any answers, Wren wants it all to end: she runs into the street and gets ran down by a transport truck. Cue the black screen.
Excited for the next episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer“. What do you think? Will John be the culprit? Or is it an unknown, hidden character lurking just beyond the periphery of our vision? Stay tuned with me and find out, horror heads!
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
Kicking 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.”Moving 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.
Dandy, 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”.