American Horror Story can often be shocking, revolting, even down right disturbing, but it usually has genuine thrills that serve a larger story. Normally, the show goes light on the shock-for-shock’s-sake, just enough to keep the B-horror movie tone and the audience guessing, but it doesn’t overdo it like a show like The Following. I wish that were true of tonight’s episode.
For the first time in the history of this show, I desperately wanted to turn AHS off. I kept asking myself, what about this show I was supposed to enjoy? All that I saw was a program trying to be scary, failing, and only succeeding at being overly weird and gross. What about that is appealing? Nothing that happened was scary. Nothing was shocking. Many moments believed themselves to be shocking, like the revelation of Dot and Bette’s not-death death, or a character like Dell being gay, but those moments were cheap, unearned, and insulting (I’ll get to that in a moment…).
Dandy going full American Psycho felt like a lame parody, and then he leads a victim into the woods. Am I supposed to be shocked that he kills him? Or am I supposed to squirm when he gasps for life after being stabbed a dozen times and having his arm cut off? That’s not scary; it’s not shocking; it’s just gross.
And the treatment of gay characters in this episode is completely unacceptable. Ryan Murphy usually is a champion at presenting complex gay characters on television, but here they’re just your typical demonized, homicidal homosexual or depraved sex addicts. A character literally says in this episode that the toughest part of being gay is “blood in your shorts and a load in your hair.” That’s so backward for 2014. Once again, that’s just shock-for-shock’s sake.
Detailing the happenings of the plot in this episode is kind of pointless. Denis O’Hare’s character inches closer toward trying to trick, catch, and kill freaks, and Elsa moves towards getting rid of the twins. The twins and Paul the Illustrated Seal have their deaths foreshadowed. Desiree finds out she’s a real woman (through more gross-out means) and Jimmy and Gloria Mott feel guilty – Jimmy for getting Meep killed and Gloria for raising a monster. Dora’s daughter is looking into her disappearance and Maggie shoots Jimmy down. Nothing really moves forward and nothing on screen is enjoyable. We’re even subjected to Elsa singing a pitchy “Life On Mars” again, with the only saving grace being that they cut out before the chorus. I wish I had something to throw at her like the members of the audience.
The usual AHS charms were not present tonight, or maybe it’s just me. Regardless, I found this episode a boorish assault on the senses that aimed for shock and only achieved sleaze, and that’s an opinion of someone who calls Asylum their favorite season. The air came out of the big top tonight.