Having been a fan of American Horror Story from its first appearance on FX in 2011, it was disappointing to see the series on its last legs this season. “My Roanoke Nightmare: Chapter 7” left its ghostly premise and devolved directly into slasher territory.
Add a touch of Blair Witch camera angles and the whole thing took a left turn into “it’s been done before.” There were some moments that managed to drag this episode out of the grave of its own making. Kathy Bates was quite good as the “mad as box of frogs” performer who did a bit too much “method,” to get into her part.
The only problem is the story arc let Bates down. The audience knew that her character would appear and become a major pain in the bum to all concerned. It was what Sidney wanted and the restraining order guaranteed it. So it was no surprise when she turned up and started slicing and dicing her way through the folks on set.
Even the death of Agnes, Bates’ character, by the hand of the real Butcher, despite being exactly what we expected, was let down by the fact that we saw it coming.
There was at least one thing was surprising. The death of Matt by his ex Shelby, via crowbar, was shocking. Although, is there really anyone out there who does not have an ex that they would cheerfully beat to a pulp? Shelby’s homicidal turn really came from left field and appear to be motivated by Matt’s confession that he loved the animal skin wearing sprite of the woods.
On a sidenote, the highlight of the episode was Audrey’s line after finding the dead bodies of Sidney and his two assistants. She screams herself hoarse and is rebuked for her reaction. Her response is the best bit out of the entire episode:
“Oh, leave me alone! I’m not American! I’m not used to all this carnage!”
Speaking of brilliant lines, Agnes’ apology to the real Butcher came a very close second to Audrey’s response. When the real deal comes up to the “off in left field” actor, the pretender to the meat cleaver is reduced to being Mike Wazowski for one split second before having the kitchen implement buried in her head:
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to be on TV.”
There were more things wrong with this episode than right. Agnes pulling a slug out of her chest for instance. Going full Rambo, Agnes uses a pair of needle nose pliers to dig out the bullet.
However the whole thing was undone by the caliber of bullet she wrenched out. Screaming with pain she pulls out a bullet that looks like a .50 caliber cannonball and clearly did not come out of the pistol that Lee was packing. (The gun Lee was shooting the baddies with looked more like a .38.)
After the three women leave the dead bodies by the production trailer they bump into those cannibal inbred hillbillies. (Cue Deliverance music and “squeal like a pig.”)
The presence of these backwoods cretins detracts from the proceedings as it has been done so many times before. Granted the Polk’s have been in the show from episode one but regardless of this fact, the deadly hicks syndrome has been, excuse the pun, done to death.
American Horror Story has, till now, managed to go where few, if any, have gone before. It seems that with this season, both Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have gone to the AHS well once too often.
While not overly enamored with season seven, there were things that felt original, but not many. The idea of having a “confessional booth” a’la Big Brother, for example, was an idea that felt both old and new. It could have been, and may still be, an important part of the plot.
The season has three episodes left. We already know that one person survives at the end of the story. Putting on our soothsayer’s hat and gazing into the crystal ball, we predict the last man standing will be Dominic Banks.
We will also see Shelby bleeding to death, or that wound going septic and killing her. Lee, Audrey and Monet will all be eaten and the last three episodes will be yet another twist.
American Horror Story has, in its seventh season, dropped the ball a little. Perhaps all the screaming and drooping viscera is in anticipation of Halloween. Could Murphy and company be ready to present something more “AHS” and less “kill, kill, kill, ah, ah, ah.”
For those who like recaps. Here you go:
After discovering Rory is gone, but found later by his true love, the group fall apart even more. Lee aggressively films everything and everyone. Matt is rude to Shelby and Dominic. Agnes kills Sid and his two helpers at the production trailer.
Agnes attacks Shelby who decides to film her murderer. Dominick comes in and thwarts the attack. Matt is found making out with the woman of the woods and Shelby bashes his head in.
Lee, Monet and Audrey find the murdered Sidney and rush off into the woods to find help. Instead they stumble across the Deliverance family and Lee ends up on the menu.
Agnes pours petrol around the house and staying in character spouts a load of gibberish about this being her land. The real Butcher shows up with her Roanoke brethren. Agnes is overawed and apologizes for trying to take the ghost’s place.
The Butcher plants her meat cleaver so far into Agnes’ head that the hand ends up next to the actress’s nose.
The season can still deliver something more along the lines of previous seasons. Ending with something that genuinely disturbs and falls outside the box. Like Dandy Mott murdering a houseful of tupperware party guests, or that clown, in the same season, Twisty.
American Horror Story airs Wednesdays on FX. Tune in and see if Murphy and Falchuk can save this season.