Ryan Murphy revealed the title of the latest AMERICAN HORROR STORY season with a brief teaser on Instagram.
In Miami, Gianni Versace is shot in front of his villa by a young man, Andrew Cunanan.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 10: “Chapter 10”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy
* For a review of Chapter 9, click here.
The cast of My Roanoke Nightmare attend Paleyfest, where Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt Miller (André Holland), Audrey (Sarah Paulson), Lee (Adina Porter), Dominic (Cuba Gooding Jr), Monet (Angela Bassett), William Van Henderson (Denis O’Hare), Rory (Evan Peters), Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson) – they all answer questions for the crowd on a panel. The fans all go wild. One especially for Lee, who she feels has been unfairly judged. Shit. If the girl only knew.
The Lee fanatic posts online about the second series being “crass” instead of doing anything artistic. We also find out Lee’s headed for a murder trial. And the remaining Polk brother Lot intends on murdering her if the courts won’t do the job.
We get television special on Lee and her history. Her family, the addiction, the custody battle, her husband’s murder. Once Return to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell was filmed, things changed, as we know. The trial went on. The video of her torture by the Polks was used to get her acquitted, playing sympathy to the juror. But the murder of her ex-husband Mason is still on the books. Her own daughter witnessed Lee crack her dad in the head with a rock: “You killed daddy,” she says on the stand. Only problem is that Flora sounds crazy because she saw ghosts in and around the Roanoke House. And so the verdict comes back Not Guilty.
Now we get Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) back for another season! A survivor in her own right, she is now interviewing Lee Harris after her big murder trial. “Questions remain,” Lana explains. She’s come out of retirement and everything, just for the live TV interview. We get a very familiar looking format, makes the whole bit feel genuine. Lana asks her questions, starting off with soft lobs and working up towards the harder stuff. First, it’s about the custody. Secondly those murders still linger on in public consciousness. Then we get a Bloody Face namedrop, as Lee brings up Lana’s own history with maniacs.
Afterwards comes an intense moment. Lana asks where Flora is, after reports of the girl going missing just before they began their interview. Suddenly outside is the sound of assault weaponry. Lot Polk has arrived. He wants revenge. Lana tries talking him out of it and only gets knocked out with the butt of a gun. Luckily, a cop busts in and blows the guy away. Lee makes away again.
A show called Spirit Chasers takes Ashley Gilbert (Leslie Jordan), star in the original series’ reenactments, out to the Roanoke House in order to try figuring out: is it all real? A steel fence went up around the place trying to keep people out, but the show’s crew heads in on their own. During the Blood Moon. Isn’t that great? They head on in without understanding how real any of the madness there is, and surely something nasty is poised to happen. As night falls the crew go about their usual routine, detecting spirits and hoping to find conclusive evidence. Soon, the spirits start to wake. Doors slam shut. Air rushes through the rooms. Ashley even finds a bonnet laying around: “The Real McCoy,” he says and not a prop.
Craziest of all, Lee shows up from out of the blue. That is fucked up. She wants to find her daughter, and she looks crazy as hell. She warns the crew and Ashley away. The Spirit Chasers want to help her, although she isn’t too keen. On one of the crew’s thermal videos they see one of the Chen family, creeping around the walls. A recording captures the eerie voices of children, Priscilla to be exact. When Piggy Man turns up, game over! Ashley is dispatched first. Then another, as one of the Chens hauls them off. Police show up and by that time even The Butcher is carving people to bits.
It seem as if the whole thing’s turned into Lee in a hostage crisis. We get plenty news coverage on the ordeal, including Lana Winters at home recuperating well. People want all the reality they can get. From reality television series to complete reality. “When we latch onto something it becomes our destiny,” says Lana prophetically.
At the Roanoke House, Lee and Flora are inside just fine. Her mother asks about what she ate in the woods, how she survived. Mostly she tries to explain to Flora how things ever got so bad, what it’s like to be a parent trying to make the best life for her and her family. None of that is any good when the girl clearly saw her own mother murder her father. The hardest part of everything is the fact Flora still has Priscilla kicking around in her head, or y’know, right in front of her.
Then the house begins to burn, out walks Flora safe and sound. Inside, Priscilla helps Lee dies, and the house blows nearly to smithereens, the top exploding with fire. While Flora is taken away from the old house her mother and Priscilla walk into the darkness together, torches light the woods, and the Lost Colony descend with the Blood Moon high in the sky.
I absolutely fucking adored this season! So many interesting things went on and the format really worked out in the end. Very fun to bring Lana Winters back, too. Such great stuff. I’m excited now to see what they’ll do next season. This series, for me, gets better each year. Some don’t agree, but I couldn’t care less. A spectacular bit of television, and this season was beyond expectation.
FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 6: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by D.V. DeVincentis
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Race Card” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Conspiracy Theories” – click here
This episode begins with Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) in court over her children. She starts to express herself “outside of protocol” and the judge is not pleased. But we’re seeing the warring parts of her life; she is a high profile, powerful woman, also not without her faults and flaws. I’m sure her husband wasn’t any better, though, we definitely get a glimpse of her obsession with the law over anything else in her life.
Marcia rushes on into the court, as everyone else is already seated. Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) gets everything rolling.
On the stand is a friend of Nicole, who recounts a vulgar moment about O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr) grabbing Nicole by the crotch in front of a crowd. Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) tries to keep everyone’s cool, including Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) who gets feisty. Johnnie tells O.J. and Bob that the woman is “crying on cue” and seems pretty confident when Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) taunts a bit on his way out of court. I’m sure Cochran’s got a few tricks ready to roll out his sleeve.
At home, Marcia sees herself on television. Except it comes in the form of talk about her beauty, whether or not she dresses well, her style described as “frump incarnate” by one of the people on the news. This weighs on her, while she has other things that need attention, from family to the courtroom.
More custody troubles. Marcia finds her husband wanting further custody, as she’s so busy all the time. Particularly with the Simpson trial now. Lots of looking at Marcia in this episode already, excited for more.
Meanwhile, Johnnie is laying out his next strategy. Bob shows up late, then in typical Shapiro style glares at Cochran, as he goes on about his routine. Cut to Marcia on the stand, talking to Detective Phillip Van Atter (Michael McGrady), whom Johnnie cross-examines afterward. What comes out of the conversation here is that Cochran tries to draw Van Atter into admitting they quickly identified O.J. as a suspect, rather than a “husband to be notified” or anything else. For now, Johnnie is setting things up to show how the LAPD is lying about “small things” to get to the bigger things later in the questioning.
We get to see all sides of Johnnie, too. He’s a jack of all trades, hanging with police and laughing with the likes of Detective Tom Lange (Chris Bauer). He then turns around and puts Lange on the stand, grilling him; even bringing up that where Lange lives, where he took evidence for “6 hours” before logging it, is the same place where cops involved in the Rodney King case live. Any way he can draw doubt into the picture, he can, and he will. Major, major doubt now with Shapiro and Cochran double-teaming Lange over the evidence; something he’d not done before, that he “can recall“, anyways.
I dig seeing the relationship between Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. She is very supportive of him, even after sort of using him on the case in a racial sense. However, Darden clearly cares for her, as both a friend and a colleague. What they both have in common is that they’re marginalized, in life and in the case. She brings up being judged – can’t be too uptight or they call her a bitch, can’t let loose and party or they’ll take her kids away. Same as Darden’s situation on the case, stuck between a rock and a hard place – seems a black man can’t judge O.J. or he’s a traitor of some kind versus the fact he’s black and a lawyer and doesn’t want to go against his best judgement simply due to him and O.J. both being black.
On the radio next day, a DJ polls – “Is Marcia Clark a bitch or a babe?” This prompts Darden to call in and vote for babe. Although it seems he’s playing into it, he does so because of his feelings for her, obviously. They’re sort of cute together, Marcia and Christopher.
When Marcia calls Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), things get sketchy. Cochran brings up a witness who has to be on the stand right away. Then “babysitting issues” for Marcia come up, as the personal side of her life spills into the public eye of the court. Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) tries to convince Marcia into letting go of the media; “stop watching tv,” he tells her sternly. He hates it and knows the whole thing is sexist, but there’s simply nothing he can do. Except to suggest some “media consultants” he could put her in touch with, causing a bit of embarrassment on both their parts with the whole office listening in. But again, Marcia has so many things, each bigger than the last, to tackle.
In court, Johnnie takes jabs at Marcia about “childcare issues” and she finally stands up to say it is offensive, “totally out of line“, making clear she will not stand for any his bullshit any longer. Finally, on comes the housekeeper, Ms. Lopez, whom Cochran wants on the stand. Marcia starts to unravel a bit of Ms. Lopez’s story concerning a ticket out of the country, then begins working on whittling down the timeline the housekeeper proposes: “Whatever Mr. Johnnie says I said,” she tells Clark. Then she can’t seem to remember. “Good enough for me,” says Marcia.
Outside Marcia receives a ton of media attention, women chanting out to her as she leaves the court. But it’s Johnnie who’s got the trouble – rumours of his own clash with domestic abuse in the past are about to hit the newsstand. Although, Marcia still has her trouble, too. Her ex-husband Gordon goes on the news revealing Marcia didn’t need to leave court to take care of her children, effectively spreading their dirty laundry in public.
Johnnie gives a call to a woman named Barbara. Obviously the one whom he abused. He ends up offering her the profits off selling a property he owns, that was her “pet project“, and putting the bribe out there for her to take.
At the prison, Johnnie, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), and Bob Shapiro go meet with O.J. The Juice is not happy about the whole “Mr. Johnnie” incident in court with the housekeeper. He wants more control, to be involved with all the decisions. “When I wanna hear from you I‘ll rattle my zipper,” Simpson screams at Shapiro, yelling everybody out of the room.
Back over to the trial. In the lobby, Darden has it out with a black reporter who seems to only focus on Cochran. At the same time, Dominick Dunne (Robert Morse) pipes in for Darden, seeing behind the thin veneer of celebrity that lays over Simpson.
Marcia shows up with her new hairdo, which has everyone turning their head. Not necessarily in a great way, but turning nonetheless. She goes for a short, curly do, even more than before. And she digs it. Until Judge Ito makes a remark and her eyes reach around the room to see everyone mocking her. Darden writes her a sweet note, though, the papers next morning give her a brutal going over. Then she experiences NASTY sexism – at a store getting Tampax, a cashier makes a remark about her period and how the defense are in for rough times. Wow. Unbelievable writing, yet the situation is atrocious. Such blatant sexist talk, and it affects her deeply.
Detective Mark Fuhrman is on the stand now with Clark. He expresses distaste for the trial devolving into “personal issues” rather than “facts” and all the evidence. And so his testimony begins, recounting the crime scene, the evidence found, et cetera. Things go along smoothly. Stories of the white Bronco, the blood, and the police worrying O.J. himself may have been injured in whatever the incident had been. Of course Simpson and Cochran don’t think that’s too true.
Later during drinks, Bailey goes on about Fuhrman’s “tombstone” and how he’s going to ask the man about the word “nigger“, whether or not he uses it. As those of us know, this is exactly what Lee did during the trial, and is largely believed to be one of the nails in the coffin of this case later.
Back to court, where Bailey gets up to talk about Fuhrman’s service with the Marines. Seems Bailey was a Marine, too. Then he heads into hacking away at Fuhrman, attempting to make it look as if the detective possibly planted evidence, or even to put that seed of doubt in peoples minds. Finally, Bailey drops the question on Fuhrman, whose response is no, he doesn’t use the word nigger. Great editing and writing in this scene makes it quite exciting.
At the office, Gil shows Marcia a paper that published a nude picture of her. And it’s real. The husband before Gordon took them. Now they’re in the public eye, like the rest of her life; now it’s her body. Gil seems thrown off. Not as much as Marcia.
Everything is weighing hard on her. She’s about to break, as the tears well in her eyes and Darden tries to comfort her. Ito sees it. The defense sees it. Luckily, the judge graciously breaks the court for recess until the next day. An act of mercy on his behalf.
Afterwards, Marcia weeps in her office on the floor. Darden goes to see her, to try and be of some help. She breaks down further: “I‘m not a public personality, this isn‘t what I do. I don‘t know how to do this. And those other guys, they‘re flashy hot shots. They‘re used to it. But I – I just can’t take it.” He sits with her, a literal shoulder on which to rest her head. At least they’re in it together.
Amazing episode, so much focus on Marcia while still pushing the entire narrative forward. Wonderful writing and lots of nice direction from Ryan Murphy. Stay tuned with me for the next one, “Conspiracy Theories” – see you next week.
FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Run of His Life”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
* For a review of the premiere, “From the Ashes of Tragedy” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Dream Team” – click here
After an excellent premiere episode, American Crime Story‘s first season continues with “The Run of His Life” (also the title of the book this series is purportedly based on). Last we left O.J. Simpsons (Cuba Gooding Jr), he was finally in the infamous white Bronco heading out onto the Los Angeles freeway, running instead of surrendering to the police. Also, he’s got a gun.
This episode starts on Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) who prays for his dear friend O.J. Then downstairs, there’s Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) trying to talk things down with Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood). Gil, for his part, is pretty damn upset. As is expected. Everyone’s up in the air now with O.J. on the road. Shapiro and Kardashian meet in a darkened room, as the latter gives the lawyer O.J’s supposed suicide note: “Who the hell signs a suicide note with a happy face?” laments Shapiro.
The news is already spreading that Simpson is on the run. Garcetti claims it’s worse than when he received his cancer diagnosis. Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is adamant the Juice “can‘t hide forever – everyone knows his face“. Meanwhile, Detectives Van Atter (Michael McGrady) and Lange (Chris Bauer) are loaded down with tips, everything from O.J. being with Magic Johnson to even crazier mentions. And at the grave of Nicole Brown, people come to lay all sorts of presents, flowers, anything at her tombstone.
Up alongside the cemetery lane appears the white Bronco, slow, skulking. It drives away after a moment.
Garcetti gives a press conference to make clear that O.J. is a fugitive. We get a glimpse into Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) and his office watching the news coverage, some claiming “they‘re just trying to tear down another black man“. At home, Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) rushes in to watch the conference. There are stakes at play here, for so many. Shapiro is worried for his reputation. Some of Cochran’s team are upset at the racial angle.
But Shapiro gets ahead of the tidal wave. He holds his own conference, exclaiming how he is a man of his word. Cochran watches on at the office and tells his colleagues to never abandon a client, as Shapiro does on live television. We get to see two different sides of the law and justice here with both Cochran and Shapiro being a fairly strong juxtaposition against one another.
Kardashian reads the statement for O.J’s fans, and at the same time the Kardashian name rockets to fame. We get little flicks back and forth to the Kardashian house, where a young Kim and her siblings sit around watching their father. Nice little moment, even though I couldn’t care any less about their family. Still, pop culture and all.
Two people in a VW van spot a white Bronco on the freeway. Inside is not Simpson, however, but Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner). Police fly out after the vehicle, guns drawn and approaching. O.J. is in the backseat, not at the wheel. A tense situation occurs before Cowlings speeds off. One of the cops ask if they ought to shoot, but the other office replies: “I‘m not shooting at O.J. Simpson unless somebody authorizes it.”
The people around Simpson are crumbling, almost as bad as him. Kardashian sits in his car before going back into O.J.’s place, where friends and family wait, and screams into the steering wheel. He tells everyone about how upset O.J. was before running off, and that now they “have reason to believe he has killed himself“. But then on the television up pops the white Bronco. Live coverage follows Cowlings driving, reporting that Simpson is in the back with a gun to his head. Relief? A little. Not much, though.
White Bronco-mania is raging. Every station on television, even the ones with sports ongoing, are all focused on the Simpson situation. Channel to channel the television is blocked. I like that actual footage from those moments is being used, not solely the recreated filming Murphy & Co. did. Because it adds more authenticity among all the factual stuff that’s stretched out a bit here and there.
Inside the Bronco, Cowlings tries to talk O.J. down. Simpson is out of his mind, keeping the barrel of the gun stuck against his forehead. Al assures his friend he’ll do what’s necessary, but things are still scary.
As for the people in media, the NBA finals gets switched quickly for O.J. coverage. We see a live reaction at a bar, as people go from mad to enthralled after the game is changed. Every eye is captivated with Simpson and his debacle. Not Marcia Clark, though. She just wants to sink her teeth into the legal justice against Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman’s killer. Most everyone in her office is glued to the television, and the look on her face speaks volumes.
From the Bronco comes a call to Kardashian. His friend O.J. just called to say “I love you, Bobby“. There’s an incredible emotion in Cuba Gooding Jr’s performance. He captures the human element of the man, behind everything else from the news coverage, to the media slant, to everyone and their personal opinions on him. Gooding draws out our empathy, essentially saying goodbye to Rob, to everyone else through his friend. It is an intense moment to watch and hear. Gooding is an amazing actor and it’s a shame he hasn’t done more great stuff since winning his Oscar. This is definitely his best role since then.
Cochran walks into a newsroom where he sees two men compiling a R.I.P segment for Simpson. Trying to “stay ahead of the news“, as they say. But Cochran is disgusted, clearly. He goes on air to talk about the way police mishandle things, as well as how O.J. isn’t used to being arrested, he is a larger than life personality, and so perhaps he’s scared, nervous, “fragile” even. Now, out comes the racial angle with Johnnie putting it out there about a black man who was gunned down years ago by police, comparing that situation to O.J: “His only crime was the colour of his skin.”
Finally, Dt. Lange gets O.J. on the phone. Simpson is actually apologetic, saying he didn’t want to get everyone out on the run, acknowledging they work hard, have lives, families and so on. Lange attempts to get O.J. to toss the gun, but Simpson relies: “I deserve to get hurt.”
Cut to the Darden family gathering where Christopher talks with others about O.J. They seem to have rosy-coloured glasses on about Simpson, due to his football skills. Although, Christopher manages to keep his head on straight and offers rebuttal to their cheers for Juice. The neighbourhoods of Los Angeles are alive, many people out by the freeway cheering on Simpson in the Bronco, shouting “Go O.J! Go O.J!” over and over. None of this comforts the man himself, who weeps in the backseat as Cowlings keeps driving full speed.
Back at the house in Brentwood, the Bronco pulls in. He won’t exit the vehicle, no matter what. He sits in the backseat with the gun in his hand, crying harder now. His son runs out the vehicle, but is thrown back by police. Everything goes dark. Cochran watches on at the office and says “They don’t want us to see“. Clearly is afraid of a deadly end to the situation. With O.J. one step away from blowing his brains out, Kardashian calls his friend outside.
Once everything is settled, the gun is left inside the Bronco, O.J. gets out. He is clearly scared, but we still can’t tell: is it fear of guilt, or fear of the situation mounting against him? Very difficult to understand, which is why I love the performance Gooding Jr gives in this series so far.
Then a cop spots a gun – or so he says. Kardashian runs to tell them “They‘re pictures! They‘re pictures of his kids!” and you can feel a thick tension hanging in the air, almost like they were about to blow him away and be done with it all. Would have been a far different story, that’s for sure. Inside the house, the police stand guard with their guns, Rob gets his friend a phone to talk with his mother, and O.J. asks for a glass of – you guessed it – orange juice. I thought that was a great little moment.
Many people have their ideas of what’s happening now. The people at the Darden place think he was framed, all but Christopher. Marcia smokes happily and says: “We‘re taking him to trial.” And then the police finally take Simpson into custody, as he rides in the back of the squad car, lights flashing behind him and a steady, grim look in his eyes. But again, grim for what reason? Did he do it? Or is he falling apart because he is an innocent man?
The next episode is titled “The Dream Team” and will clearly start focusing on the trial about to start, with Clark, Darden, Cochran and others coming to play a bigger role. We’ll see what happens together. Excited for more. Love when true events are made into impressive series’ or films because we get a look inside the inner workings. Yes, dramatized, but for good reason. It was a highly emotional and dramatic situation, this particular case. Look forward to see what Murphy & Co. have in store for us going forward.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 11: “Protect the Coven”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Jennifer Salt
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Go To Hell” – click here
Another flashback at the top of this episode, with Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) coming back from Paris, though reluctantly. She rambles on about the lack of “intellect” and “inner light” present in the slaves, as well as the loathing of her own family. Nobody seems on her level, I suppose; that’s funny. It’s 1830. Delphine has a chicken brought over for slaughter, ending up cutting the head off herself. She feels its blood run warm over her hands. Then cut to up in the dank attic, a slave has a deep injury to his leg, blood pooling out of it. Looks like this is the first time Delphine realized her inner bloodlust. There’s no other slaves kept in cages there as of yet, so it must have been long before her disgusting habits became regular; in fact, this is when she first arrived. Very interesting to see the start of her love of blood. She doesn’t help the poor injured servant, only knocks him out to keep for further use. She bleeds him out and just from the sound of her breathing, it’s exciting to her. “I think I’m gon‘ like it here,” she tells the gagged and moaning man in front of her. Eerie start to this episode, giving us more glimpses back into the history of LaLaurie and her murderous impulses.
Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) show fake sympathy for the dead Nan (Jamie Brewer), who is being laid to rest in the cemetery. All the witches are present. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) shows up with LaLaurie reconnected at the head and on a leash; brutally, darkly funny. Everyone is sort of pissy. Myrtle (Frances Conroy) is naturally suspicious of any death in the coven, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) backing her up nowadays. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) has Kyle (Evan Peters), who might as well be on a leash. But they all leave after the brief funeral, still wondering where Misty Day (Lily Rabe) could be.
Across town at the Delphi Trust, Harrison Renard (Michael Cristofer) receives word from his right hand man David (Mike Colter) that the story on Hank and his death will be covered up; he was, on record, as a homeless veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Back at the academy, Fiona and Marie are still scheming to get the witch hunters. For once, for good. All the while, we get an excellent voice-over from LaLaurie who goes about the house cleaning up after everyone, lamenting every last minute of it. Even better there are great moments such as Myrtle tasting a beautiful soup made by Delphine, then when Delphine is given a cute little black baby to hold by Marie. So many perfect scenes, it’s a great sequence that lasts almost 5 minutes; the score underneath it all is so good, such an intense and emphatic bit of work.
But the best? A gardener comes in from outside, his hand bleeding; a black man, it so happens. Right as Delphine wonders “what fed my soul back then.” Perhaps a bit too perfect. She’s taken up residence in Spalding’s old room upstairs. The whole voice-over has been Delphine talking to the poor black man she has tied up currently. Such an expertly written sequence, I’m beyond impressed with this episode. This is my second time watching this season again and I’m noticing how well it was actually written. Great job in particular this episode by Jennifer Salt, who is a frequent writer every season in the series.
“You flush my shit, bitch.”
Zoe wants to find out what happened to Nan. Like we’d expect, Madison doesn’t care at all. She’s more concerned with Kyle and his sex. But then Kyle resists, he claims to love Zoe. Is there a fight brewing? Madison gets the room quaking, things flying. A lamp cracks Zoe in the back of the head. Then Myrtle shows up, a little verbal spar with Madison. All three of them – Myrtle, Kyle, Zoe – they see the threat that is Madison. Some sort of devastation is coming. Not sure, though, in which form it will come.
Over with the Axeman (Danny Huston), Fiona lounges in discontent. He seems pretty focused on being able to “give up the axe” and Fiona giving up the coven. He wants to help her sort out who is becoming the next Supreme, to kill her. No good can come of that, either.
Then up in the attic, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) appears to Delphine. He’s impressed with her, what he calls, “art.” Spalding is upset with the new alliance between Laveau and Fiona. He hates that Fiona has forgotten herself, forgotten who she’s supposed to be. A new bond is now forming between Spalding and LaLaurie. They’re forging an agreement.
More news in the house sees Queenie still growing further from the coven, now even more so due to her hating Marie, too. She doesn’t want any of Cordelia’s nice talk and they have a slight confrontation. I hope this doesn’t hurt Queenie because I do love her character, though, I can understand why she’s sort of saying fuck everyone. Nobody has been fully treating her with the respect she deserves.
Still, Cordelia is tough and she is a woman with a vision. Even if that vision comes at a price: her eyes. Down in the greenhouse she tries more herbal magic, but breaks down in the middle. Then, to regain her second sight, Cordelia stabs herself in the eyes with a gardening shear. She ruins her own eyeballs to find the power again. Fiona shows up worried once more about her daughter, even after shunning her previously for the debacle with Hank. But as Myrtle makes clear, she should only be worried if “harbouring bad thoughts.”
Up in the eerie attic playhouse of Spalding, he receives the item he asked for. Delphine brings him back a doll baby, which drives him to near ecstasy. Such a creepy moment, he even sniffs the thing. Very “unsavoury” in the words of Delphine.
In the basement, Myrtle gives Zoe some sort of sapphire ornament to keep. “To hawk in case of emergency,” she says. She also wants Zoe and Kyle to leave, to get away from the coven somewhere. Myrtle warns of both Madison and Fiona, each of them with murderous intent towards any next emerging Supreme. Probably smart, really. Is being the next Supreme worth all of that deadly competition?
Harrison Renard, his right-hand David and a bunch of other suited gentleman go to meet Fiona and Marie. The two sassy women against all those unsuspecting dummies. Very calmly, Marie and Fiona talk with Harrison, who is pretty damn on edge. He offers up a century long truce. Fiona counters: “You disband this little merry troupe of assholes, vowing never to harm another witch from now until the end of time.” The ladies play with them a bit before David tries laying down the line. Fiona tells them plainly: “Then here’s my other offer: you can all just die.” After which the Axeman, tending bar unnoticed, turns and chops everyone to death, except for Harrison. Renard has a cup of coffee trying to be nonchalant, his last words being a spit and “Go to hell, witch bitch.” But Fiona has the last word, planting her man’s axe right in the side of Harrison’s neck. A beautifully gory end to their boardroom meeting.
“I love you more than jazz, baby doll.”
At the academy, Marie is getting drunk on French 75 made by Delphine, as Fiona takes off to “hail the conquering king” who “swung a mighty axe” for them. Although, LaLaurie has other plans. She stabs Marie with a huge kitchen knife right in the chest. But a little medication and a knife are nothing compared to the Voodoo Queen. When Marie goes after Delphine, Spalding shows up and cracks Laveau over the head and sends her over the stairs. He tells Delphine to bury her and make sure she can’t dig her way out, similar to what she had done to her. Then creepy Spalding goes back to the way things were for him. Except now he has a little baby to dress up, too. So he gets in his baby outfit, puts the baby in one, and they sit in a rocking chair like two weird babies together. “Finally, a living doll all my own,” says Spalding while they rock back and forth. Wow – damn unsettling, and I dig it. Denis O’Hare is a wonderfully talented actor.
“That ain‘t magic. That‘s an antihistamine.”
Zoe has to try and convince Kyle to go with her, away from the academy. He’s afraid that he may hurt her, or someone else. He has uncontrollable feelings boiling up inside of him all the time. He doesn’t want any of that to inexplicably come out and affect the world around him. Poor FrankenKyle, he’s made up of a bunch of different parts, all warring against one another inside I’m sure. But there’s something about Zoe which calms him.
Then they’re off, running to the bus for Orlando, Florida. The future is ahead of them, bright and gleaming. Is it meant to be? We’ll see.
Another solid episode. I’m looking forward to more developments closer to the season finale in the next episode, titled “Go to Hell”. Stay tuned, friends and fellow fans!
FOX’s Scream Queen
Season 1, Episode 7: “Beware of Young Girls”
Directed by Barbara Brown
Written by Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the previous episode, “Seven Minutes in Hell” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mommie Dearest” – click here
And we’re back at Kappa House for another night of horrors, plus a good few laughs.
Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) is consistently hilarious. She’s beyond oblivious, but to the point it’s comical. They all are really. Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande) is being laid to rest. Instead of a nice eulogy, Chanel #1 rants and raves about the “dumb dead whore” in the casket. It’s such a grim crack-up to me. Others will say it’s overkill. Not me. Totally in line with who Chanel #1 is and her personality is meant to be awful.
The others aren’t particularly upset. Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) is more concerned with stirring shit; between suggesting a seance to mend things with #2 from beyond the grave, to bringing up how #2 banged Chad (Glen Powell).
Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) leads their little Ouija board ceremony, alongside #1, #5, and Hester (Lea Michele). Things start to get a bit spooky once neither of them can admit to moving the Ouija. It spells out the unfaithfulness of Chad. Oh, I get it… obviously the girls are trying to mess with their fearless leader’s head.
More and more, the true character of Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) comes out. She makes clear their game – her and the Red Devil(s) – is not kidnapping: it is murder. This is wild. Not just that, she and Wes Gardner (Oliver Hudson) are moving along quickly. They’ve got a serious relationship going now. Might spell trouble for Wes, as well as his sweet daughter Grace (Skyler Samuels).
Speaking of Grace, she is trying her hardest to get close with Gigi. Though, the more Grace tackles Gigi’s terrible fashion sense, the closer they’re becoming… the more Gigi digs her nose into things. She’s attempting to push Grace, and reporter Pete (Diego Boneta), towards Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Then we get a nice little Rosemary’s Baby visual homage with Feather McCarthy (Tavi Gevinson) looking so similar to Mia Farrow. Gigi suggests going to talk to her, a former Kappa Sister. Pete and Grace meet with her. She opens up a new little subplot involving Dean Munsch – turns out Feather slept with Munsch’s husband, creating an incredibly tense situation. Apparently, Cathy would then show up everywhere dressed like Feather, terrifying the young girl and everyone else. Lots and lots of stuff pointing towards Munsch as being involved with the Red Devils. But can we believe this? I feel there’s something more devious, more dark at play. But who can tell.
Back at Feather’s house, she discovers an ominous bloody arrow on the floor, a severed arm and motions to go THIS WAY. Further and further she heads upstairs, only to find more chopped body parts, more bloodily written directions on the wall. Inside one of the rooms, there is Steven Munsch (Philip Casnoff) – former husband of the Dean – his head cut off and in a fish tank.
Cut to Chanel #1, who walks in on Chad… in his boxers, lying in bed with a pink-collared goat. I honestly can’t get enough of Chad Radwell. He is a piece of shit, a misogynistic, terribly dumb man. But Chad’s so funny, he is the evisceration of brodom, of the dudebro code and all it represents. Then there’s Chanel – she represents the equally stupid and vicious type of girl who often, too often, falls for a guy like Chad. Together they’re downright ridiculous, which makes me laugh, over and over.
Let’s get back with Munsch, though. Cathy has a bad knee, complaining she fell down drunk last night. But Detective Chisolm (Jim Klock) and all the other cops are determined she killed her ex-husband. In turn, they speculate her to be the Red Devil Killer. I still don’t buy it. She obviously did something stupid a couple decades ago by covering up what happened to that poor pregnant girl in the bloody bathtub. I just do not think she’s part of the killings, moreover I’m convinced she’s a target.
Grace and Pete are already jerking each other off over their supposed victory. Everyone is settled: Dean Cathy Munsch is the killer. Case closed.
Oh, really? Well Munsch wants to see both Grace and Pete in the morning.
At the asylum ward, where Cathy’s now setup painting and relaxing with other patients, the place is rough. It’s part church, part snake pit. Seems like “therapy twice a day, plenty of time to rest and dream again” has started making a difference for the Dean. A bit of a revelation, really. Lots of creepy goodness here slash a few laughs.
Cathy breaks it down for the “crackerjack reporters“, letting them know nothing has been solved. Typical to the slasher sub-genre the police are being lazy, everybody is looking elsewhere than towards the proper directions. Either way, Pete and Grace are playing along for now. Munsch is way too smug to be the real killer, it’s as if she has no fear about any true conviction in the murders, so I’m inclined to keep believing she’s more a target of the Red Devil(s) than anything.
More good tackling of the slasher horror tropes – Pete ends up getting access to a ton of police files, pictures, et cetera, because of the detective’s utter laziness. I find Ryan Murphy & Co. do a great job lampooning so many aspects of the slasher movies we know and love (or hate).
More Ouija board for the Chanels. It only makes them go a little crazy. I’m not sure now if any of them were moving the board because they’re freaked out. Then Hester drops a bomb, saying they have to kill Chanel #1. A couple awesome suggestions from a Sugar Party to poisoning her through the nipples. They’re wasting no time, though. After #1 falls asleep, the ladies plan on murdering her.
Then we get a trippy little sequence where Chanel #1 sees #2 come back. ALSO HILARIOUS! Carl Sagan sits at the front desk of Hell. #2 has to spend eternity picking food out of the Husseins beards with her teeth. SO MANY great lines of dialogue with Ariana Grande delivering them: “She was probably just mad ’cause Adolf Hitler was motorboating my boobs.” Best of all – #2 advises #1 about the upcoming murder plot the girls are planning, apparently off getting a bowling ball to smash her head in. Tricky, tricky! I love that there are supernatural-like aspects coming into play, makes things into even more classic slasher style.
Hmm. We get a scene where Grace and Pete try to find more evidence. He mentions to her a feeling of faintness around blood. Is this purposeful on his part? Or is it a real clue to the fact he can’t be a Red Devil?
Doesn’t matter right now. Munsch is exonerated, back on campus. Little Feather doesn’t appear to be who she seems. Could she be the one who was on the phone with Gigi earlier? Is Feather a Red Devil in league with Gigi? There’s certainly something wild happening around the events at Kappa House.
Chanel #1: “See this is why you turdlets need me. You’re not even competent enough to kill one lousy sorority president.”
Lots of speculation on different parts. The Chanels start to believe Grace and Zayday (Keke Palmer) are the killers. Meanwhile, there’s Munsch and the cops/Grace and Pete who are believing Feather is the one responsible.
The finale of the episode has Dory Previn’s song “Beware of Young Girls” playing, as Munsch prances around back at home. SHOCKER: She did kill her husband! Holy christ, I did not see that coming. What a saucy minx Munsch is, she spun Feather around her finger almost from day one, and then she used the Red Devil(s) killings in order to kill her husband. On top of that, Feather is thrown into a glass jar at the asylum.
Dean Munsch: “Here’s to young girls getting what they had coming to them. Yuu know what they say: nothing tastes as good as revenge feels. Actually they don’t say it, I just sort of made that up, but here’s something they do say: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Such an awesome finale. This is one of my favourite episodes yet in this first season. Excited to see how things start expanding on the new developments in the next episode, “Mommie Dearest”, which I hope will bring more revelation.
Stay tuned with me, friends!
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
This 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.
Seems 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.
Roger: “What do we do now?”
Chad: “Only thing we can do: give him the dignity of watching him die.”
Chad 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?
So 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.
Chanel #3: “You and I are going to outlive Chanel. Deal?”
Chanel #5: “Deal”
With 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?
Stay 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.
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 5: “Pumpkin Patch”
Directed & Written by Brad Falchuk
* For a review of the previous episode, “Haunted House” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Seven Minutes in Hell” – click here
The fifth episode of Scream Queens kicks off with Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and the Chanels – new addition Hester (Lea Michele), #5 (Abigail Breslin), & #3 (Billie Lourd) – they’re planning a Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser. Both Fergies – the Dutchess and the Black Eyed Peas frontwoman – are coming, little whoops from #3. Seems they’re mostly letting the original Chanel down, yet she’s laying down the law.
The Wives of Fallen Presidents = theme for the Chanels. Hilarious and morbid all at once. Of course, Chanel #1 chooses Jackie Onassis – stylish as she was certainly. More constant bickering between #5 and #1, though, now Hester is puckering up and kissing lots of ass becoming the new go-to-girl for Chanel #1.
Far as I remember, this is the first episode we’re treated to the full-on Scream Queens theme song and an elaborate credits sequence. At first I kinda thought it was a little lame, but it grew on me. More great music comes out in this episode in terms of the overall score throughout various scenes, so I’m loving the electronic stuff from the credits to everything else. Works so well for the show’s aesthetic.
Back to the task at hand – Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) has been abducted and everyone is gathered at the sorority, or at least everyone of interest and pertinent to anything happening. Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) gives another ridiculously foolish speech, trying to plea for an open campus instead of Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) opting to cancel Halloween and shut the place down. A curfew is enforced and the Chanels are pissed, as the Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser will not get to go ahead.
Hester is rounding up Chanel #5, as well as others such as Jennifer (Breezy Eslin), in order to try and oust Chanel #1 from the presidency.
In class, #1 gets bothered by her professor before getting taken out by police to one of their cars. Hilarious sequence, I loved it.
Then a quick shift to Zayday, who finds herself holed up in some basement-like room. Down the halls, we hear Culture Club, Boy George belting it out, as the Red Devil’s workshop is presented to us. He stands up above Zayday, holding a puppy, just like Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Awesomely executed homage, all around in this scene.
Pete (Diego Boneta) and Grace (Skyler Samuels) are worried about Zayday, obviously. But everyone else seems pretty unconcerned. In fact they’re downright horrid and could not care any less. The Chanels are all pretending to eat and way too busy to be bothered with anything else – like a twisted version of the Lost Boys from Hook except they were poor and actually had no food to begin with, unlike these stuck-up sorority ladies.
When Grace goes for help trying to find her father, dear ole dad Wes (Oliver Hudson) is in bed with Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad). Awkward bedroom interruption scene, as Grace and Pete walk in on the two of them banging. Real good moment, though. A crack up; Pedrad in particular makes me laugh out loud often.
Even better scene is right afterwards when Chanel #1 is talking away, as if to her Chanels, yet it’s in jail. She has a few “besties for life” after having impressed one of them with Chanel-O-Ween presents last year. I mean, if you don’t find this stuff funny, totally fine. But to me, it is hilarious! I’m not even a big horror-comedy fan yet I find myself consistently in laughter while watching Scream Queens.
Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) and Dean Munsch are bonding, hilariously. Nash is one of my favourites on this series so far, her character is way too funny. Security guard Denise is stuck on Zayday actually being the killer, though, we clearly know the difference, don’t we?
And while everyone sensible, or half sensible, is trying to find Zayday – in some way – Chanel #1 and #5 are still having at it, back and forth. Ultimately, #1 wants her Pumpkin Patch and she will god damn have it.
Roger (Aaron Rhodes) and Dodger (Austin Rhodes) help #5 light all the Jack-O-Lanterns for the fundraiser. The designer ended up making a life-size replica of The Shining‘s hedge-maze, full of snow, so we get another fun homage in this episode. As the Red Devil chases them all, Roger and Dodger give us lots to laugh at, arguing with #5, making her choose one of them. However, eventually one of the brothers gets disemboweled by the Red Devil, his guts flopped out in his lap. Sick! Awesome scene in the maze, both full of laughter and again harkening back to Kubrick’s creepy (loose)adaptation of Stephen King.
The rest of the crew – Pete, Grace, Wes & Co. – go searching for Zayday, taking along the proper weaponry and defense mechanisms. They find their way to where we saw the Red Devil earlier, in his/her workshop, and even stand atop where Zayday was kept. Is she still there? No, only the red velvety pillows on which she was last seen sitting.
Bit of a Saw homage here, as well! Lots of stuff happening. Denise and Gigi come upon a room much like something out of one of the Saw films. Another quasi-homage back to Silence of the Lambs with the Red Devil using night vision to move around a room. And just when you think the Devil is caught, they’re gone again. Or is it really how it seems? We saw Gigi in the old house where the hag supposedly lived, so can we trust her saying Gigi saying the Red Devil cranked her in the head before taking off? Hmm.
Zayday shows back up at Kappa House triumphant. Just in time for the big vote for presidency of the sorority.
Flashback to the Red Devil wining and dining Zayday back at the workshop, as he hauls her up from the pit where she’d been kept. Managing to stab the Devil’s hand and take off, she was able to get back in one piece.
Of course, no one believes Zayday until Grace runs in confirming the story of the lair, the romantic dining set, et cetera. Still though, the vote is on!
Nice creepy sequence with Gigi walking alone, the Red Devil following behind. FINALLY – they meet! They are officially in cahoots, now we know for sure Gigi has something to do with what’s going on in the overall plot. Unsettling stuff, who knows where this will head now.
Looking forward to the next episode, “Seven Minutes in Hell”, directed by a regular Ryan Murphy brother-in-arms Michael Uppendahl. Stay tuned for the next one, fellow fans! I’m still loving these episodes, one by one they add up to more excitement and more horror and tons of laughs.
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 4: “Haunted House”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk
The opening scene is excruciatingly funny and so acidic in terms of how it takes on popular “bitches” like Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts). Chanel-O-Ween sees her send presents to tons of girls who idolize her, supposedly the “losers” or whatever you want to substitute for a description.
Way too funny. Hard to describe, yet it’s just so good. Solid opener for the episode.
At Kappa House, Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) is being questioned by the police, but not really. She is great friends with the detective questioning her. Not only that, she does make sense – it would be awfully hard for her to get out, dress up as the Red Devil, climb down unnoticed outside, and then attack. Or is it? Wes Gardner (Oliver Hudson) is not convinced, neither is Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) particularly. I am, though. Munsch is dirty, just not a killer, I don’t think. Then in bursts guard Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) trying to tell everyone Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer) is the real killer.
Mostly this part is an amazing showcase, once more but longer this time, of Niecy Nash kicking out the comedy jams. She is awesome and perfectly fits this character. We always hear how black women are “sassy” or something similar. I think Nash allows herself to be goofy, which is super fun. Not that she’s a weak character, but she doesn’t necessarily have to be strong, she just gets to be silly and it works proper.
In another confrontation between Denise and Zayday, we find out Denise was rejected from Kappa House at the same university she now guards. Great, quick flashback to her being tossed – once again showing off Nash’s hilarity.
Meanwhile, Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels) and Pete Martinez (Diego Boneta) track down the woman who was once a sorority pledge at Kappa House – Mandy (Jennifer Aspen). She tells them about how her life is “split in two: before that night and after“.
Flashback to 1995 where Dean Munsch talks through the process of covering up the young girl’s death in that bathtub. Then, she makes the girls wear hoods on the ride out to bury the body, so they’ll never know where it is buried. Munsch locks them all down with a highly nasty little plan, all to cover her own ass – though, she claims it’s to protect them, to protect their families. Real chilling scene. More and more, we see how sinister Munsch is, but again: not a killer. I’m sure there’s someone, or a couple someones, out to get Munsch and anyone else linked to Kappa House, or the original women.
SHOCKER? The baby was/is a girl, confirmed by the woman who was there. Hmmm, the plot thickens.
Chanel #1 gets a big smack in the face when Zayday reveals her intentions to run for president of Kappa House. Ms. Oberlin makes a bit of a threat, then takes off somewhere to grieve. The other Chanels find her in the shoe closet, sharpening kitchen knives.
I think Emma Roberts is pretty great, too. Honestly, she pulls off the incredibly awful sorority girl role. Slightly similar to her role in American Horror Story‘s third season, but very different than the one she played in the fourth season. There’s more comedy here obviously and it’s a satirical, even farcical look at the sorority/fraternity mentality which is especially rampant in this day and age in America, particularly. So while some think it’s either over-the-top, or what not, I find it on the nose and Roberts does well with making us truly believe she is a stone cold bitch of a young lady.
A bit of nice horror in this episode. Mandy, in her little trailer out in the dark, out off the grid somewhere, finds herself at the mercy of someone outside causing mischief. She walks around brandishing a baseball bat. Then, in the mirror behind her, the Red Devil appears, knife in hand. As she screams out, the Devil stabs her to death. Nice little clip of Leprechaun plays in the background, cut in briefly; I’m pretty sure it’s one of those films, anyways.
Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) is out in the graveyard about to have a yank over a grave, when Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele) shows up with her new look going on. She proposes they’ll have sex in a “very scary location“, and that maybe he can head in the “back door“. Hilariously twisted scene.
Professor Gardner is showing more horror again in class. This time it’s Children of the Corn. He’s going on about children in horror movies attacking the adults, that we “can’t escape our inner child“. More of the film professor nonsense, or is it? You be the judge. I think it is, if you’re examining a film like this, others maybe not so silly.
Grace shows up then to question her father about her mother, who went to the same school, supposedly pledged Kappa. She point blank asks if her mother died in the bathtub, to which her father replies with surprise. She’s convinced something is going on with him, in some way. I am, too. All the same, the moment between them here feels genuine, like he’s telling the truth: “I saw you come out of your mother”
We’ll see where it all goes.
Grace then heads off to meet Pete at a local haunted house, or so Pete and Denise say – the house on Shady Lane. At times this sequence is spooky, others it’s fucking riotous with Pete and Denise telling the tale simultaneously, or in tandem more so, which comes off like a scary version of Abbott and Costello. They talk about a hag living in the house, shrieking and wailing coming from inside, et cetera, typical legend type stuff. A super creepy room full of weird little dolls is found to boot. Turns out the woman lived in the house around 1995, when the Kappa House tragedy happened, or just after – that’s where the screaming must have come from, I imagine.
There’s a PERFECT scene where the Chanels are about to eat cotton balls, dipping them in sauce, when Hester speaks up and changes Chanel #1’s mind. They decide to go for pizza. Then, the world of the sorority at Kappa changes. Great little feminist bits where Chanel #1 points out the hypocrisy of how men can look versus how women are expected to look. Then, a moment between the girls and a couple fratbro douchebags where they lay it out for the men: don’t whistle at me, don’t ask me to give you a smile, don’t belittle women under the guise of trying to talk to them, and so on. Love, love, loved this bit! Such an excellently written scene.
Right afterwards, Chad is being brought out to the house on Shady Lane, where Hester seems to be letting him “throw her a bone”. Then comes the HORROR – bodies everywhere! First, it’s Ms. Bean and Hester pokes a hole through her leg accidentally, believing it to be a wax replica of some sort. Then there’s Chanel #2, Denise’s partner Shondell, Coney a.k.a Aaron Cohen, and more. Even poor Mandy who was recently dispatched by the Red Devil.
Solid homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween with Ms. Bean’s headstone above the bed where she lays. Love all the homages and references in the episodes so far.
I thought this part was absolutely fitting. Using all the real dead corpses of those killed off previously in the series as supposed props in the haunted house, it’s genius!
Chad: “Don’t go to the haunted house on Shady Lane! There are dead bodies. Like real, live dead bodies.”
Zayday gets nabbed by the Red Devil in a great freeze frame with red filter. The aftermath sees just about every main character at Kappa House, the detective and other officers present to try and suss out what’s been going on around their campus. So much madness and mayhem and murder. Professor Wes wants answers, threatening to go to the media if nothing is done in regards to the safety of the students.
Pete and Grace decide they have to discover who the Hag of Shady Lane was, the woman in that house, that way they may break through to find out more about the murders and the original tragedy.
Perfect closing shot sees Gigi sitting in the Shady Lane house, in a chair with all those dolls, hooded in the Hag cloak, wailing away. Very, very spooky!
Can’t wait for the next episode titled “Pumpkin Patch”. Stay tuned for another review next week! Hope at least some of you are enjoying the show as much as I am. Been having a blast, full of comedy and equal parts horror. Cheers.
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 3: “Chainsaw”
Directed by Ian Brennan
Written by Ian Brennan (also writer of Cooties)
* For a review of the previous episode, “Hell Week” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Haunted House” – click here
The beginning of this episode sees Grace (Skyler Samuels) and Zayday (Keke Palmer) going to a convenience store, talking about Pete Martinez (Diego Boneta). Zayday in particular says she thinks Pete is a bit strange due to his concern with what’s been happening at Kappa House, but Grace assures her he’s a good guy.
Then they confront the Red Devil himself, standing silently near one of the coolers in the store. He comes at Grace and she uses a taser on him, right in the balls.
Suffice to say, the murders are taking their toll on everyone.
Back at Kappa, Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) are face to face having issues. #5 has been getting laid recently, or Eiffel Towered as she puts it, so this has helped her popularity-wise. Therefore, #5 says goodbye to the original Chanel in spectacularly bitchy fashion.
But a little later, Chanel #1 concocts a plan in order to help get back in Chad’s favour after he breaks up with her. She decides to fix up the apparent trainwreck Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele), so then there’ll be less “losers” in Kappa; meaning, long story short, Chad will want her back when the place is more popular again.
At the same time there’s Grace and Zayday, who are looking for clues to what has been happening at both the sorority house and then at Chanel #2’s parents’ home, along with trust security guard Denis Hemphill (Niecy Nash). They eventually discover that none other than Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) was engaged in a sexual relationship with Chanel #2. UH OH!
Even better, Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) tells Sam (Jeanna Han) her father is – wait for it – Charles Manson. Her mother supposedly connected with Manson while in jail and got pregnant. Is it nonsense or what? I’d love to think it’s not because that would be AMAZING, but I don’t know… I guess that would be too far out. Either way, this scene was hilarious. Billie Lourd is a crack up in this show!
I’ve got to say: Niecy Nash is god damn hilarious! The part where she talks about the luminol and horseradish would be good enough on paper, yet Nash takes it right off the page and makes it a riot. Because I honestly wondered – why the hell does she have that? – then Brennan’s writing makes it clearer, on top of that she acts the character hilariously. There are some typical moments you might expect from this character, but I think Nash is funny enough that she’s able to transcend that a little.
Glen Powell plays the character Chad Radwell excellently. The character’s meant to be an idiot, he is the archetypal fratboy douchebag. But you can have those types played badly. Powell is almost near perfect. Because there’s no subtlety about the character and somehow that’s spot on. Every time he’s onscreen I know there’ll be at least one good laugh.
On a comedy note again, Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch is both sinister at times and flat out hilarious at others.
Chanel #3: “Are you hitting on me? ‘Cause I heard munching box is what killed Michael Douglas”
Again, the score of this series is incredible. One of the first real awesome bits of music out of “Chainsaw” comes when security guard Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) enters the scene. Just a great example of the electro-sound these episodes have going on, amongst other popular songs on the soundtrack and other horror-styled compositions. There’s more of this throughout the episode. For instance, when Chad and the fratbros are talking about the supposed death of Boone (Nick Jonas), there’s a perfect little piece with a minimalistic sound that’s sort of creepy horror-like music and at the same time it has the EDM excitement about it in a subtle way.
Things get awkward for Grace when her father Wes (Oliver Hudson) shows up as her film professor. She storms out, naturally a bit weirded out. Then it gets AMAZING and also hilariously satirical of film professor bullshit, as Professor Gardner shows them his choice for the greatest film ever – Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. He gives a silly little mini lecture about the final frames: “Vietnam, Watergate, the invention of the pill, the White Album…”
Loved this whole scene because it throws a little suspicion out onto Wes himself, as he really enjoys Hooper’s film a bit too much. Not only that, as I already mentioned, this scene takes on the film professors/TAs/even students who try to take certain films and elevate them to high art when really they’re not even intended as such. I’ve been to film school and let me tell you: so many students and professors are this way. Many are not, but too many definitely are snobby, nose-in-the-air types. Though, Wes Gardner comes off a little creepy, a bit dangerous here. Will this lead to anything more? Or simply another red (pardon that pun) herring? Time will tell.
While Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) still tries to inch her way into Wes’ arms, Dean Munsch is determined to step in the middle; she’s got a real thing for the new professor. Inviting Gigi to golf, they have a bit of a stand-off over Wes, though it seems the Dean has laid down the law. Regardless, the two of them plan on moving into Kappa House with the sorority for a week to keep an eye on things. Is this for safety, or is Dean Munsch more concerned her part in the tragedy 20 years might eventually come to light?
Once they’re finally rooming together, Munsch puts the screws to Gigi with her white noise machine, her array of dressings at dinner (prompting Gigi to laugh hard when one of the bottles makes a fart sound), all over handsome Professor Wes.
Professor Wes Gardner: “Aren’t we all running from the chainsaws in our past?”
By far my favourite part of this episode is the mascot, Coney, a.k.a Aaron Cohen (David Simpson). There’s a real great montage of scenes happening while WHAM!’s “I’m Your Man” rages in the background, which culminates with the Red Devil infiltrating young Cohen’s room, attacking him with a chainsaw, and naturally, sawing his head off. Coincidence the chainsaw was used after Professor Gardner’s class? Hmm.
There are other things going on in “Chainsaw” aside from the horror and bits of violence thrown in the mix, such as more exposition from Grace and Pete; she thinks Chad may be the killer, or at least is an interesting suspect. Luckily Pete is a sneaky Pete – he’s been doing a bit of digging. He found the name of a girl from Kappa who dropped out, two credits shy of a degree, not too long after the mysterious death at the sorority.
Decent stuff happening. Even poor Zayday is being looked at as suspect with security guard Denise doing footwork on her background; not that she has much to be worried about, as far as I’m concerned. Denise has good intentions, good detective she is not. God damn funny, though.
But what I love is the scene set to “Backstreet’s Back” with the fratbros fighting the Red Devil; only there are TWO Red Devils. They come wielding chainsaws. Just as it looks like Chad Radwell is going to get the saw, one of the bros runs in to save him only to have both his arms lopped off, the effects like the wonderful “Tis but a scratch” scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Just a gnarly awesome sequence all around.
The Red Devil – only one it seems this time – shows up back at Kappa House when Gigi opts to leave her and Dean Munsch’s room to sleep on the couch. Wes gets a chainsaw to the arm trying to defend Gigi (is he the other Red Devil? Key horror trope would be to have him injured, y’know… so it looks more convincing). Even more than that, Wes grabs the chainsaw, after the Red Devil disappears into thin air, and tells Dean Munsch: “You’re the killer”
Overcompensation? I don’t know. I have an itching suspicion Wes is not who he appears. Though, that can be said for a lot of these characters.
Next up is “Haunted House”, directed by Bradley Buecker (American Horror Story). Stay tuned fellow fans, we’ll see more blood and hilariousness together next time!
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 1: “Checking In”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the Season 4 Freak Show finale, “Curtain Call” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Chutes and Ladders” – click here
Opening this new season, there are plenty of interesting things happening over at Falchuk, Murphy & Co.
We fade in on the Hotel Cortez, looming over the street below like an ancient building. A couple blonde foreign tourists, maybe Swedish, enter the doors of the luxurious and massive hotel; one of them even says, “It‘s so quiet. It‘s like a tomb.”
They meet Iris (Kathy Bates) who is taking care of the front desk, checking people in and showing them to their rooms. All the while a slick, laid back piece of music plays underneath the scenes – Iris shows the girls to their room, passing through long, empty halls.
Already from the start we’ve got a ton of creepiness: first one of the maids is trying to steam out a big bloody stain in a sheet down one hallway, then a creepy lone child pointing eerily appears down another. There’s also a dreamy moment where we see a gold, glittery glove with pointy nails reaching out for one of the tourists, as she is back on; we see only the glove, no doubt belonging to Lady Gaga’s character who we’ve yet to meet, and no real noise only unsettling music lowly building, then cut to the tourist turning around, nobody there. Spooky!
I feel really bad for these tourist women. They discover a foul smell in their new room. Eventually tracking it to the bed, they rip off the sheet to discover a large stitching made through its middle. Cutting it open, a good idea or not? Probably… not. A hand bursts from out the mattress and a terrifying man with nasty, yellowed teeth on blackened gums, sores on his body, bursts up screaming.
This part actually reminded me a lot of Se7en. Not positive if Murphy and Falchuk intended this as a sort of sly homage to the scene where Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt find a near dead man strapped to his mattress still alive, even though he looked positively foul. But either way, it was awesomely frightening and definitely takes me back to Fincher’s movie.Iris is quick to put the girls in another room, assuring they’ll not be paying for the previous one. When confronted about having said there were no other rooms available, Iris simply tells the girls “This one we don‘t rent out” and already this season is a creepshow. Presumably the cops are on their way, though, it’s unsure whether these women will survive until then or not.
Of course quickly we find two little children, vampires probably, feeding off one of the tourists, as the other one walks in to witness it all happening.
Detectives John Lowe (Wes Bentley) and Detective Hahn (Richard T. Jones) show up to a crime scene – a man and a woman are posed having intercourse, nailed in place, as well as the man having his tongue and eyeballs torn out. Turns out it was an affair. But as Lowe says: “This isn‘t jealousy. This is something else.” This whole scene is downright brutal, in the right horror sort of way. Poor dude is stuck inside the dead woman; his wails just before we cut to Lowe back at the station are bloodcurdling.
Lowe clearly has a good relationship with his daughter, although the one with his wife seems strained; when his daughter, via FaceTime, asks her mother if she wants to talk to daddy, to which mom responds simply “no“. I like Lowe from the start, not just because I love Wes Bentley, I think it’s a solid character judging from his opening scenes.
Then he receives a call – from the one who nailed those people to the bed, saying he’ll be doing it again. Uh oh.
Introducing, now, for your pleasure – Max Greenfield as Gabriel.
He meets Iris at the front desk looking for a room. She gives him #64; same room where the girls were put. Appears as if Iris is in on whatever is happening around the place. No matter, Gabriel looks to be a strung out, self-centric junkie who cares about nothing other than his fun.
Furthermore, we get to meet Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) who tells Iris she’s got “dibs on this one.” Then, briefly and without any words, we also get a look at Denis O’Hare’s Liz Taylor; cannot WAIT to see what he’s bringing to the table this season, what an impressive character actor.
When Gabriel makes it back to his room, yes, yes, he shoots up a bit of junk. Then the visions begin – the maid from earlier who’d been steaming out blood, but even worse is an ugly, deformed demon-like creature who comes out of the darkness, bends Gabriel over, and brandishes a STEEL DRILLBIT DILDO! Yowzahs.
Detective Lowe arrives back at the front desk of the Cortez. He wants to have a look in Room 64, where Gabriel is being raped by the hideous creature. Liz Taylor is called out, dressed in fine fashion, to take the detective up to the room.
There is an awfully vicious rape going on with Gabriel and the creature, while Hypo Sally shows up telling him “the more you scream, the more he likes it.” She wants Gabriel to tell her he loves her, that if he does it everything will stop, the pain will go away. There’s something even more disturbing about her part in it all than the actual rape itself, which is horrific – I’m so intrigued already in this first episode by Sally in particular, the creature, that it’s unbelievable.
Great, great and archetypal AHS camerawork happening in “Checking In”. Lots of those odd, high and low angles, big wide views from up above, et cetera. One of my favourites is the low tracking shot behind Liz Taylor and Detective Lowe as they walk the halls to Room 64: elegant, sort of ominous, but also beautiful as O’Hare floats his arms around in the air and his long outfit flows on the gentle breeze. Incredible stuff. Something I always look forward to in each season is seeing how the show adapts to the new locations in terms of the way the AHS aesthetic (both visual and musical) is used. This beginning episode promises both wild and interesting things happening in regards to both plot and style.
Meanwhile, Lowe is seeing one of the creepy children in Room 64. He gives chase out into the halls and it looks like he might be slowly losing his mind. What is Lowe’s story? Perhaps he’s not all I thought he was originally, or maybe the Hotel Cortez is really busting his brain up quick.
We’re finally treated to a good look at Countess Elizabeth (Lady Gaga) and her companion of sorts Donovan (Matt Bomer). The introduction to these characters is magic – “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge plays in the background, as the Countess and Donovan go to an outdoor showing of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. There’s lots of the psychosexual mania happening in this sequence with the Countess and Donovan taking a couple from the movie back to the hotel, up to their bloody little love nest.
I won’t spoil EVERYTHING that happens because it’s twisted, sexy, nasty, and brings the savage horror to Season 5 Hotel right from the top. I’ll hope there’s plenty, plenty more of this to come. The aftermath of this scene, as Donovan and the Countess lay on the bed afterwards, it’s chilling and so nastily gorgeous!The two tourists from our opener are now caged into some strange steel traps lit with neon lights. They’re terrified, of course. Iris has a good tray full of a bunch of different meats, oysters, alcohol, et cetera. She’s decided to help flush their systems out, having gone through their luggage and discovering they are fairly drugged up party girls. But this force-feeding by tube is a bit intense, I would say. Iris loves this sort of stuff, obviously.
When Hypo Sally walks in, there seems to be a good deal of tension and annoyance between her and Iris. For whatever reason, Iris blames Sally for “all my suffering” claiming she’s done with all the bullshit.
Then we figure out: they’re being primed for eating, for their blood, so that she can eat them. She? You know it’s the Countess.
One of the tourists is let free by Sally, told to run. Is this just a trap, or is it real? Not that it matters: the Countess appears while Iris is trying to catch her. Elizabeth whips out one of her sharpened nails and slits the young girl’s throat. A nice, nasty bloodletting.
So the reason Dt. Lowe was running after the boy in the Cortez is because his son died at some point; his daughter tells him, while they go out for father-daughter sushi, she “can‘t remember his face anymore.” Or at least that’s what I gather. What I love about this series overall is the exposition doesn’t always come flat out and in your face with one single scene. Better for it, don’t want to give too much up right away.
Lowe gets a text from his wife: an address and the words HELP ME. The detective makes his way to the address, where the police outside watch his daughter Scarlett. Inside, Lowe receives a call from the mysterious voice who phoned earlier, this time telling him: “I told you I‘d do it again.”
When the cop wanders away from Scarlett, she heads inside curiously and winds up finding two disembowelled victims hanging in one of the rooms, guts about to hit the floor.
After this, with a flashback, we watch Lowe and his family – plus his little blonde son Holden – at a carnival back in 2010. Texting on his phone, Lowe turns around while his son rides the carousel. Turning back: the boy is gone. Any parent’s nightmare.
Back in the present day, Lowe’s wife is terrified about the calls he is getting, she wants to move, she wants a gun, anything to feel safe. He is planning to move out in order to not have his family in the line of fire. Emotional scene between Lowe and his wife Alex (Chloë Sevigny); two great actors head to head, lots of good chemistry to come, I feel.
Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) comes to the Hotel Cortez. As does Marcy (Christine Estabrook) from Season 1; she even talks about putting her dog down, who came to her through unfortunate circumstances – remember? Either way, it seems as if Drake is there as a potential buyer, or rather he’s pretty much already bought the place. Iris is a bit concerned, as is Liz Taylor, when they hear the news. Is the Countess Elizabeth hiding things from them?
When Marcy takes Drake around, she finds Donovan in the nude, in his suite. He’s pretty pissed off. OH THE JOY – then Bauhaus kicks in with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. FUCK YES, RYAN MURPHY! THANK YOU! One of my favourite songs of all time. Even if it’s not the whole song, I love hearing any of it here.
The meeting between Drake and the Countess is amazingly strange, eerie, there’s a spooky quality hovering over everything. A real foreboding sense of haunting. Especially when Drake’s son spends a few minutes with Elizabeth, she brings him to see little Holden – shit! The whole room where she takes him is undeniably unnerving, the kids in the stark white, blonde, their pale faces staring off, it’s all madness. Wonderful madness.
“Messes are always forgiven. The first time.“
So what’s the connection between Iris and Donovan?
Little flashback to 1994. Iris watches Hypo Sally and a much different looking Donovan – sweatier, more strung out – enter the Hotel Cortez where Liz Taylor watches the front desk. Sally takes Donovan upstairs and Iris barges in – she’s looking for her son. Man, I did not expect that! Either way it’s super interesting. Back in ’94, Irish was trying hard to save her son from the dope, and there he is upstairs shooting himself full of the stuff with Sally. Now we’re seeing Iris’ problem with Sally, their sort of feud, and obviously her strong connection to Donovan, as mother and son.
SHOCKER!!! Iris pushes Sally out a window, way up in the Cortez. Incredible shot with Sally flying through the air, down to the pavement, a nice hard crack and splat in the street. Man, oh, man. And when Iris goes back to the room for Donovan, there sits the Countess: “Your boy has a jawline for days.”
The close of the episode shows us bits and pieces of Lowe packing up, getting ready to leave so the killer phoning him hopefully won’t touch them. Is anybody else thinking Lowe’s wife is having an affair and that she may be one of his targets? The killer supposedly makes it clear how the families have no idea about the betrayal, so it feels to me like Mrs. Lowe might come under fire regardless. But who knows, I can’t judge that yet.
As the episode finishes, Dt. Lowe finds himself “Checking In” at the Cortez. What lies in store for him there? Plenty of horror. Not to mention the fact he’s heading to Room 64.
Second episode, directed by Bradley Buecker, is titled “Chutes and Ladders.” This season opener packed a wallop, I’m so excited for the follow up. All sorts of decadence, depravity, blood, horror, and murder to come! Stay tuned, fellow fans. We’ll get spooked together.