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American Horror Story is unleashing all the twists

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko (FX)
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Ryan Murphy saturation has reached such a peak, you don’t need to consider the current TV canon to find something to contextualize the morality questions posed in this week’s episode of AHS, you need only to look as far as Mr. Murphy’s newest project, The Politician. No spoilers, but the titular politician often wonders if he’s a good person or a person who does good things, and what the distinction is. This week on AHS, though there is a character insisting there are no inherently bad people or people who have done enough bad things to be irredeemable, that character helps break a convicted serial killer out of a mental hospital and kidnaps a woman before stealing her identity. So.

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What seemed like a pretty big plot hole last week has been quickly filled; why Rita was only lightly stabbed by the crazed killer who was generally pretty quick and efficient when it came to slitting throats and cutting off ears. Not-exactly Rita as a mad scientist is one of the night’s better twists but undermined by the nonsensical reasoning behind her definitely not peer-reviewed experiment. She’s talked to the most notorious serial killers, gotten them to open up in new and exciting ways, and what’s going to help stop said killers for good is giving one of them the chance to kill again? The scientist letting the ends justify the means is a trope every bit as well-trod as the kissing camp counselors meeting an untimely end during a hook-up, but her reasoning just isn’t logical enough. If she’s able to watch him go on another murder bender first hand, what new insight could she possibly get, other than to notice fourteen years after the fact his slashing has probably slowed down a bit?

Of course, the fact that she didn’t offer any details when Mr. Jingles asked what drew her to the serial killer field might suggest her character will be given a double twist, and later this season the show will jump back three years into the past to reveal her lover was the victim of a serial killer while she was just beginning her initial research, and rather than actually stop the killers she just wants as many people as possible to feel the pain of losing a loved one to a spree killing.

Ray’s flashback was both too modern and too overdone. Maybe starting with the whole “I’ll confess a great secret to someone unconscious” meant it could never rise above its cliché overload beginnings. Somehow acknowledging frat culture and hazing can have deadly consequences seems like something that wouldn’t have been addressed in the early ‘80s. And maybe this stems from watching too many shows that push the boundaries of what humans can and can’t do, but it just didn’t seem like he really worked for it when the car with the actually not dead pledge was going over the cliff. Couldn’t he have reached in and grabbed the parking break? Even more overkill (pun intended) was the number of times the audience needed to be reminded Ray is the kind of guy that will leave his friends for dead to save himself. Forget survival of the fittest, he believes in survival, period, and each subsequent time he put himself first at the expense of others was less surprising and more unnecessary.

Maybe the best twist of all was Trevor proving he’s a pretty decent guy, and Xavier having a guilt-induced conscience that won’t let them leave even the less developed characters behind in the camp to die. Of course, it’s still early in the season, and there have been plenty of AHS arcs that slowly strip away the likability from every character (Cult, for instance). Plus Trevor did accidentally throw a prankster in a pit of spikes, probably to his death. As American Horror Story keeps reminding its viewers, seeing death can really change you.

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On next week’s episode, tonight’s final twist will be tackled with the origin story of Montana and her Satan worshiping lover. Still unclear whether she wants him to murder Brooke or Margaret. It might all come down to who has a stronger jazzercize background.

Stray Observations

  • Mr. Jingles doesn’t kill the sad teen boy who was happy just to play a messed up prank with his peers for the night. But it was still unclear whether it was the killer’s pity, compassion, or just bewilderment that saved him, at least for a little while.
  • If fake Rita did talk to all those other famous serial killers, why choose Mr. Jingles for her prison break? The security at his mental hospital doesn’t seem great, but that probably wasn’t uncommon.
  • It’s a lesson as old as Romeo and Juliet, and yet still needs repeating. Even if you think someone’s dead, check for a pulse. Double-check for a pulse.
  • Trevor and company seem...surprised by the very concept of a flaming bag of poop. Was that a new prank in the ‘80s?
  • If fake Rita really wanted to commit, she would have swapped clothes with the nurse, like every other TV character that ever assumed someone’s identity. Plus, that nurse’s dress looked very official.
  • Ray’s headless corpse rode that motorcycle for an impressively long time. Can Trevor still claim the bike is a “fickle mistress” if it can be driven by the headless horseman?
  • Once again proving that these characters have never seen a horror movie: “let’s split up,” is floated as a great plan, they block the doors and almost completely forget about the windows, and continue to think help on the outside can save them. There were already three Halloweens out by ‘84, some basic horror education should have happened.
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