American Horror Story Recaps: Chapter Nine

by thethreepennyguignol

So, uh, I missed last week’s recap-sorry about that. But, in my defence, I had nothing to say about the episode that I didn’t already say about the week before’s outing- Sarah Paulson was awful and hilarious, unexpected characters died, the found footage thing is way better than the first half of the season, etc. Not to mention the actual, real, much more disturbing American Horror Story happening at the moment (bet I’m the first one to make that comparison, eh?).

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But! I do have some opinions on Chapter Nine, the second-to-last (sniff) episode of this season of AHS. As the blood moon reaches it’s peak, chaos reigns (sorry to put Antichrist in your head, but trust me, it’s pointless violence is appropriate for this recap), and a group of hapless teenagers led by Taissa Far-Worse-Than-I-Remembered stumble through the woods with GoPros and selfie sticks in order for the show to shoot for staggering new highs of gore and violence.

Alright, for one thing: is bum-spike-death really the recurring thematic image that this show wants me to associate with it? Because this is now the third time someone has been murdered by getting impaled up the arse by something pointed- Zachary Quinto in season one, spike-rape in season five, and now two teeangers being kabobed and set alight in the climactic sequence to this episode. While plenty else happened in this episode (well, a bit), this was certainly the centrepiece to the whole thing; we watched from POV cameras as the two victims were strung up, doused in kerosene, and set alight, in a sequence that makes me wonder how this is considered prestige, award-winning television but Saw is considered grotesque torture porn (for the record, nothing in the original Saw movie comes close to what AHS showed in this episode).

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Look, I’m a horror fan, and I get that many people see violence as the crux of horror- horror is meant to scare us, and what scares us more than suffering, pain, and death? So, I understand this show’s urge to show us violence, to show us gore and pain and blood and guts in edifying, never-seen-before detail. But…it doesn’t need to. Look, my favourite horror movie is The Blair Witch Project (a film to which this episode owes a lot, along with classic found footage schlocker Cannibal Holocaust, but I digress) , and part of my deep love for that movie comes from the fact that we see next to nothing; everything is implied, and it’s far more actually scary than this episode was. The very first article I published online was about horror vs terror- basically, terror being the build-up, and horror being the pay-off when it comes to scary movies. This episode relied far too heavily on the horror side, the easy side, instead of bothering with much tension to lead us into the release. It just felt…cheap, and, as disturbing as that scene was, it had been led up to by not much more that Taissa Farmiga and that guy from The Glee Project stumbling around the woods and tripping over various bodies. It’s hard for the cathartic release of horror scene to hit home without the careful build of terror before that.

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On from my pretentious ramblings: this was an okay episode overall, and had enough going for it to just keep my interest for the upcoming finale. Adina Potter as the real Lee is our final girl (if anyone has ever earned the title of final woman, it’s her-also, why is she still a guest star when she’ll be pretty much the only person except Sarah Paulson in every single episode? Grumble, grumble), and she’s been fucking excellent; by turns moving, scary, flawed and decent. Also, possessed, after the real version of Lady Gaga’s character fed her some delicious, delicious heart. Similarly, Sarah Paulson got a great send-off as the traditional “they-think-it’s-all-over-it-is-now” final scare, though she’s back next week as Lana Banana from season two’s Asylum, a tantalising prospect. Also, I got to watch Wes Bentley die twice this season, which nearly makes up for the accent. Nah, it doesn’t, but a girl can dream.

American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 9 (screengrab) (CR: FX)

Shame, then, that this episode was so focused on probably my least favourite actor the show has ever taken on, Taissa Farmiga. I try not to be mean (ha), but my God, I just cannot conceive of who thinks she is a good addition to their show. My boyfriend, who has ggrudgingly consented to watch this season with me so I have someone to bounce ideas off if, turned to me, his eyes wide, as she stumbled on screen, and intoned in a threatening monotone “TAISSA”. She’s just rubbish, and I’m not sure why Ryan Murphy seems so enamoured with her- maybe they asked for her sister and were too awkward to admit to their mistake? I don’t know.

Next week, which sees Lee going to court for reasons we’re not sure of yet, looks interesting, and I welcome your wild speculation. I will also leave you with my wonderful friend Ellie and the Facebook message she sent me regarding what next week might hold: “This week on American Horror Story… Litigation. Will Lee fill out the documentation correctly and succeed in her civil suit against Sydney? Find out, Wednesday at 10…”

If that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will.

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