This American Horror Story review contains spoilers.
American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 3
American Horror Story has redeemed itself in the bloodiest, goriest, most knife-throwing, throat-slitting, flesh-burning, cannibalistic way.
Last week’s episode was like the beginning of a horror coaster that creaks along without any hope of going any faster than the speed limit in a school zone until it suddenly plunges down, spinning and looping and twisting at over a hundred miles an hour into oblivion.
We still don’t know where Flora is except for a yellow sweatshirt impaled at the top of a skeletal tree and a blood-spattered doll whose plastic limbs have been brutally dismembered. There seems to be a force, like an invisible Jigsaw, setting traps that somehow always involve pig heads and laughing demonically from somewhere beyond the veil. Besides the obvious fact that whatever did this is not of the realm of the living, voices and visions have told us that Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, and Lady Gaga’s ghosts have something to do with it.
The Flora investigation starts at an abandoned farmhouse with only a goat head in the fridge and cannibal twins out back in the barn, then escalates to unthinkable scenes in the woods that involve blood, burned flesh, and antlers. A guttural CROATOAN gurgles from the feral twins’ throats and also happens to be the only word they know, even when a psychiatrist later bribes them with chocolate. This is not an episode to watch within at least three hours of eating anything unless human flesh sounds appetizing to you.
This week, we meet Cricket Marlowe, an Andy Warhol-ish medium with a frog-topped cane who just materializes. How the news reaches him in a New Orleans café all the way from Virginia within the 72 hours it takes for a missing persons case to turn into the search for a body is something only a psychic can explain. Lee’s debate over whether Cricket is a psychic or a psychopath comes form her never believing in ghosts—until she does. Séances where candles get split straight down the middle can do that to you.
Candle homicide doesn’t just happen. AHS fans have probably been burning to find out what kind of monster is behind the blood-streaked face of Kathy Bates scowling from behind those fires in the woods. And this week, the fires tell all. It’s actually Cricket who tells all, but it’s just that much cooler to hear her ominous voice (eerily reminiscent of season 3’s monstrous Madame LaLaurie except with a Yorkshire accent) hissing threats from behind the flames. Her name is Tamsin White, aka The Butcher, and she has an axe.
Tamsin governs in her husband’s place while he’s sailing to England to bring back provisions, except somebody would rather put her in an iron cage rather than deal with her iron fist. Locking her into some sort of post-medieval torture device and leaving her for dead in the woods turns out to be a murder fail. Delirious and ravenously hungry, Tamsin is just about to breathe her death rattle when the wraith of Gaga – is she a witch? Shaman? Malevolent forest spirit? – offers her the beating heart of (surprise) a pig in exchange for her soul. Her face turns from desperation to pure unadulterated evil faster than whatever that thing on her head is unlocks itself. This is how the traitor ends up with her axe in his skull.
Oh, and remember that creepy little girl in the bonnet who called herself Priscilla and was Flora’s imaginary (to everyone else, at least) playmate? According to Cricket, Priscilla has been dead several hundred years, which explains the invisibility part, and Flora has gone somewhere with her. Finding out exactly where means writing a check that could easily finance a down payment on a car and then venturing out into the woods at that time of night when the entire horror show comes out to play.
If it’s even possible for those haunted (and they’re haunted no matter what Lee insists) woods to get darker and spookier than they already are, they just did. I’m still having trouble deciding which is the “can’t unsee” moment of the week: the bloody antlered Gaga getting ridden like a wild deer or a certain ex-husband who’s had his eyeballs plucked out and roasted alive.
Please, Ryan Murphy, don’t stop the horror coaster.