American Horror Story S8E5: Boy Wonder

by thethreepennyguignol

Look. I’m trying with this season, I really am. I’m trying not to let my disdain for Coven get in the way of what could be a fun, goofy season, I’m trying not to let this convoluted mega-plot undercut the episode-by-episode entertainment. But this week’s episode, Boy Wonder, a sequel to last week’s outing, was a genuine slog, and I’m starting to wonder if this greatest-hits season has anything to offer but sheer indulgence.

Following Michael Langdon as her performs the Seven Wonders in an attempt to prove himself worthy of the title of the Supreme. And also involves a lot of people we haven’t spent a lot of time with waving their arms around and being cross about stuff, and making me wish that this two-parter had been commuted into an expositionary monologue so we could get on with something more interesting.

I’m still really not sure about Cody Fern as Michael – I mean, he looks great, and I know he can act, but he doesn’t have quite the bite that I was hoping for from this character. To be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I find so lacking about him – perhaps is more to do with the script and the fact that he’s mostly now bouncing off characters we have a much better grounding in than him, leaving him feeling thin by comparison. Whatever it is, I’m starting to lose patience. With him, and with this season as a whole.

Really, Apocalypse so far hinges on the viewer’s enjoyment of Coven, which I just so happen to hate. As I explained last week, I think it’s fucking dire, and that opinion has not changed with the return of these characters and this story this season: Emma Roberts is mannered and difficult to watch, Taissa Farmiga grindingly forgettable, while Gabourey Sidibe is just plain underused. Frances Conroy is doing the job, sweeping around in That Wig and looking hot as hell, but, for someone like me, this feels like a joyless rendition of a song I never liked in the first place. Speaking of songs I never liked inthe first place, this episode takes a good four minutes out  of its runtime to deliver us witchy Stevie Nicks belting out a tune. Which, you know, nice for Stevie Nicks fans, but for the rest of us, maybe get on with the story? And stop trying to make Glee again? You fucking-

Okay, fair enough, there were a couple of good things about this episode: Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is brought back from the dead, and her reunion with Sarah Paulson’s Cordelia is a genuinely lovely, heartfelt moment – in fact, Cordelia is arguably the only thing keeping this episode grounded, as she brings her textbook gravitas to the role and manages to eke something out of this bizarre mess of an episode.  Kathy Bates also rocks up briefly to murder Cheyenne Jackson (who has less luck in his outings than Nicolas Cage does in his movies, I swear), and that’s a fun, deliciously creepy scene. JonJon Briones is getting a decent outing, which is excellent news as this guy needs to be in everything, seriously.

But this still just feels like a massive great Kumbaya circle for everyone who thought Coven was great. And that’s fair enough – a lot of people did, and they seem to be enjoying this season well enough, and I’m happy for them. And hey, next week, we’ll be sliding on back into Murder House, a season I totally adore and am excited to see the return of, so maybe some of that indulgence will swing over in my direction for a change. But for the time being, this season is just leaving me so cold – after three episodes about one thing, we’ve crashed into a couple of episodes about another, and now we’re about to go for more episodes about something else. American Horror Story has always had trouble sticking it out with one storyline, but even for them, this feels like too many balls in the air.

And that’s where we leave off for this week! If you want to read some of my other recaps, I’m also looking at the first Harry Potter book chapter by chapter right now, and recently yesterday picked up on my Riverdale recaps for the new season.. If you enjoyed this recap and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon! And if you’re in a horror mood, go check out Halloween season on my film site, No But Listen

(header image courtesy of Variety).