Ladies and Gentemen, we have horror. Repeat, we have horror. The latest episode of Murphchuck’s finest series opens with a brilliant three-minute sequence featuring racism, the 60s, voodoo nonsense, and revenge zombies. I’d pay good money to see that in a full-length movie, and it’s added to by the fact that AHS seems to have taken a step back from the innately uncomfortable LSD trip that was last week and embraced some familiar horror.
This episode is really an indulgent nod to fans of the past seasons, with Alexandra Breckenridge and Frances Conroy returning in substantial roles, and Denis O’Hare finally getting some solid (and brilliant) screentime. Involving a mute character is always a brave choice, especially when you consider O’Hare’s first appearance in the show where he goes like a wind-up toy, but the man’s got such talent and wit that he actually manages to sell all the disconcertingly surreal sequences this episode presents him with.
After a couple of shaky set-up episodes, Fearful Pranks Ensue features the cast in full flight as the series squares up to the insanity of the various plots. It’s a breathless dash through minatour rape, creepy tea parties, the utterly magnetic Angela Bisset, the Witches Council, undead Evan Peters, and some stuff which even might be an attempt at thematic consistency. What I like about American Horror Story, and what I have always liked about it, is the pace at which it rattles through ideas. I have the image of the writer’s room, filled with jittery scribes jacked up on greasy joe from the machine outside, going “Yeah, but what if we did THIS?” “But then what about THAT?” “What do we do with THEM?” until some sort of passably coherent script is churned out.
This makes it completely unpredictable-for the last few weeks, I’d been bemoaning how boring Sarah Paulson’s subplot with her boring, boring husband was and BAM! Left-turned the whole thing for no apparent reason. Thought Emma Roberts was going to be in the full series? Think again. You’ve worked out who the new supreme is? Nope. And that’s what keeps me coming back; because just when you’ve got a grip on the whole thing, it knees you in the groin and feeds you to the manatour.