American Horror Story Recaps: Holes

by thethreepennyguignol

With an episode as good as last week’s one, there’s always going to be a comedown. But, to my pleasant surprise, this week’s outing Holes wasn’t as big a drop as it could have been.

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THE DREAM TEAM

 

Yes, there were elements of this episode that ran a little flat, especially after the soaring spectacle of writing, direction, and acting that last week offered. I mean, we’re back to spending time with Ally who, despite Sarah Paulson’s heroic efforts, is just pretty boring and a boring leading character compared to everyone else in this season. And yes, Holes in some ways felt like a way to get from point A to point B, shifting the plot along so we could get back to the really juicy stuff next week. But damn, this is the third episode in a row that I’ve actively liked, and I think that might mean that American Horror Story is on a roll.

The best part of this episode, once more, was everything to do with Evan Peters and Adina Porter; not since Peters shared the screen with Jessica Lange has the chemistry between him and another character been so electric, and Adina’s Beverly is slowly, systematically breaking down Evan’s Kai in a series of scenes that just…mmm. It’s like savouring on a fine wine, better when you give it a little space to breathe and really enjoy the spicy notes. For all that AHS might wave it’s arms about and throw spike dildos and excessive gore in your direction, these kinds of scenes, just letting two great actors act at each other, is by far the best thing it does.

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And there’s plenty of gore in this episode, make no mistake – in fact, I have to give AHS some props for at least showing me the kind of gore I haven’t seen before? I guess. Watching a gimp suspended on a series of hooks punctured through his skin slowly being torn to pieces as he’s lowered to the ground, or someone getting nail-gunned to death slowly, or Dermot Mulroney licking his fingers (shudder) are all new experiences to me, and this show really leans in to it’s violence, revelling and enjoying it – and, while I don’t have the stomach for violence that I used to and find it all leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth, I have to say that this season’s use of violence is a lot more impactful that it has been in the past couple of years, actually meaningful as opposed to just kind of there because that’s what’s expected of them. Characters are affected by it; Ivy flees to puke after Dermot Mulroney gets stabbed to death. Last season reached some real new lows with it’s excessive and pointless violence, but this season wants to remind you how awful it is. Well, sometimes.

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Pointless, but: Evan Peters’ hair never looks long enough to fit into this manbun whenever I see it in other scenes. Anyone else?

There’s other good stuff to this episode as well – the pieces have finally started to fall into place regarding the cult and everything around it, with Ivy revealed as part of their ranks (called it!). I’m not sure if it makes the weaker start to the season any better (a problem last season suffered from as well – the big reveal didn’t actually retrospectively improve the episodes that went before), but I’m pleased to see that the episode has both managed to keep focused on one story and take legitimate and logical steps towards that story’s conclusion. It kind of sucks that I’m giving the show credit for doing the very least that it should as a TV show (telling a coherent story), but still, I’ll take what I can get, especially with a cast this good and a story that continues to intrigue. Compared to the last few seasons, Cult is laser-focused mastery of the genre. Which says more about the last few seasons than it speaks to Cult’s quality, but I’ll take what I can get.

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More than anything, this felt a little workmanlike; an episode to bridge the gap between more compelling and important outings. A lot of things fell into place, from the reveal of Evan Peters’ past to Meadow’s escape to Beverly’s grab for power. But, with an episode as good as last week’s behind us and even this perfunctory episode offering some amazing scenes and powerful moments, I’ll take what I can (cautiously) get.

Lou’s Wild Fan Theory Corner

  • I’d just like to remind you all that not ONLY did I call the Ivy shit way back when, but I ALSO semi-called the Cheyenne Jackson twist last week. Bow down! BOW DOWN!
  • I don’t have much to work with based on this episode, but I am going to be the one to call the fact that Evan Peters is going to fuck his mother’s decomposed corpse, because this is American Horror Story, after all.

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