In the end, the same thing that brought down the Chanels was also the major letdown with Scream Queens as a whole: the need to be right. The exact smugness that doomed the crew of blonde psychopaths at the center of this story was the season itself’s main misstep, and one that was doubled down upon rather than made more subtle as it progressed.
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.
Despite the somewhat stately pace of the season premiere “Monsters Among Us,” the sheer inanity of the action happening onscreen created an off-the-wall vibe. Whether it was the special talents afforded by Jimmy’s syndactyly, Ethel’s beard and bizarre accent, or Elsa singing a song that wasn’t released until 20 years after the show’s setting, Murphy and Falchuk made it clear that, in true “freak show” fashion, spectacle would be given precedent over logic. In this week’s episode, “Massacres and Matinees,” the bonkers factor is raised a notch, as is the fun.
The fourth season of American Horror Story starts off with a stunning cold open amidst a quaint farmhouse. After stumbling upon a gruesome crime scene, a milkman makes an even more shocking discovery in a rural home. It’s difficult to remember an episode of AHS in which the camera work is so effective as it is here. “Monsters Among Us,” directed by show creator Ryan Murphy, prefers to keep things hidden off-screen, and rather than show the audience what it is, we instead get a series of gasps, startling sound effects and a series shots that are framed to hide the dark mystery. “Monsters Among Us” keeps viewers guessing until after the spectacular opening credits before it pulls the curtain up on conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler. Ever playful, Murphy’s visuals are also concealing, and yet telling.
When it comes to gripping and powerful films, HBO knows what they’re doing. Though they are TV movies, they actually feel like big Hollywood productions and often times, they are. Big name stars, expert directors, and brilliant screenplays are what comprise an HBO film these days and this is fortunate for the viewer because they are in for truly quality films. The extremely sobering The Normal Heart continues this trend of excellent filmmaking and the results are just divine.
After failing to create any original story lines or legitimate interest with the newbies at McKinley High, the creators and writers of Glee made a game-changing decision last week. They cut their losses, crushed the underdogs with a fatal almost win at nationals, and set up a new base camp in New York, New York. This is a giant leap in the right direction and this episode is proof.