Complete Unknown Directed by Joshua Marston Written by Joshua Marston …
Toward the end of Hotel’s second episode, Iris (Kathy Bates) fills in John (Wes Bentley) about the history of the hotel’s creator, James Patrick March (Evan Peters), who built the Hotel Cortez as a “monument to excess and opulence, where he could satisfy his own peculiar appetites”. This is presumably and fittingly a comparison to series creator Ryan Murphy, and co-creator Brad Falchuk.
After the somewhat languid pacing of American Horror Story: Freak Show in the season’s first half, this week’s aptly titled episode “Blood Bath” kicks things into another gear. Though Twisty’s death felt unexpected and climactic (despite occurring only five episodes into the season), the clown’s untimely departure now appears relatively inconsequential compared to this week’s events.
The cold open hints at the episode’s overall trajectory. As Gloria sits on a couch recounting Dandy’s troubled childhood, the viewer gets a stronger sense of just how twisted her son is. While the show always made it clear that he was far from a normal child, the images of him preparing to cut a young girl’s hair off and the discussion of him murdering a cat leave no doubt about his problems. As I’ve talked about extensively in earlier reviews, subtlety has never been Freak Show’s aesthetic goal, but Murphy goes out of his way in the scene to emphasize Dandy’s depravity. Though it feels a bit over the top, it does jibe with the episode’s bloody conclusion.
If there’s one week in which a series entitled American Horror Story simply has to deliver the goods, it’s the one containing All Hallow’s Eve. In that respect, “Fearful Pranks Ensue” falls a little short, particularly if one expected it to step up the freakiness and/or gore quotient. Actually, as it turns out, it belongs to a entirely different sort of tradition: the time-honored transitional episode. Only in its closing moments does it threaten to take its genre elements to the next level of nutty.
The season premiere of American Horror Story: Coven weaves a menacing tale of witchcraft that pushes past anything that would resemble good taste. A Teenage virgin’s vagina is used as a deadly weapon; a bull’s head is crowned upon an African American slave, which leads to a depressing transformation of a man into minotaur; and a date rape leads to a disastrous bus crash, killing several teenage boys. That doesn’t include the various men held as prisoners and tortured in an underground dungeon, the apparent deaths of several characters; and oh, did I mention the magical vagina?