American Horror Story S8E7: Traitor
“Is it really that bad?” My partner asked me this morning, as I was moaning about having to watch and write about another episode of this season.
“Yes,” I replied emphatically, angrily scratching behind the cat’s ears.
“Worse than Coven?” He replied, raising his eyebrows in disbelief.
“Worse than everything.”
And honestly, I stand by that. Apocalypse has been, so far, my least favourite season of the show to date. I had my issues with Coven and Freakshow and Hotel, but at least they all had elements that I really enjoyed amongst the garbage (some moreso than others). But Apocalypse? It’s a cobbling-together of all the worst parts of AHS, and it’s really starting to buckle under it’s own weight right about now.
And yes, that’s just my OPINION, but really, I’m shocked to see how many good reviews this season is getting when it’s just so damned lazy. The plot is just this rambling, backwards-facing mess, and honestly, it’s looking back on the seasons of American Horror Story that fall apart on close inspection. Is seeing Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) back fun? Is it nice to see Nan (Jamie Brewer) rock up as an undead, hell-loving soul from beyond? Did I enjoy watching Adina Porter pull out a woman’s hard with her bare hands? Of course I did! These things are objectively entertaining, but they’re only little snippets on a story that’s feeling more and more inessential.
And I think a big part of that, fair enough, is because so much of it revolves around Coven, a series that I will go to mat for being really, truly terrible storytelling – you’re welcome to love it, because I love a lot of TV with objective faults, but for me, it’s dragging, uncompelling, character-dearthed wreckage – and even the new characters don’t bring much to the table. I really like Leslie Grossman, but the witchy Coco, fluttering her hands over muffins and divining the calorie count, isn’t remotely interesting. Billie Lourdes doesn’t have the emotive power to land Mallory as anything beyond a cipher for the story, while Joan Collinns is just playing herself, and not even doing that very well. And Michael Langdon, as I wrote last week, is so much more interesting when he’s not playing dimestore Lestat, which seems to be the mode settled on for the rest of the season.
But even beyond that, Apocalypse just feels like a grinding bore. It looks nice, it sounds nice, there are some decent performances smattered about in there, but it’s just such a drag of a story. Previous seasons have suffered from issues of messy storytelling, but at least they had, say, Finn Wittrock bathing in a bath of blood or Evan Peters getting horny for murder. There is less and less every week that actually makes me smile, even nostalgically, knowing that it’s going to be buried under a heaping pile of amateur dramatics that don’t even have the good manners to be over-the-top silly. They’re trying to gum the story between Coven and Apocalypse together as best they can, when I just want them to get on with the whole fucking Apocalypse thing already, not explain this detail or that detail so fans don’t smugly ask about it at conventions.
I honestly have very little to say about this episode, because I’m rapidly running out of things to say about this season as a whole. The story has been a mess, back and forth and shaking it all around into a useless kaleidoscope of actors and seasons and crossovers. The threat feels distant. The great characters – Kathy Bates, for example – are behind us, and the worst ones – Emma Roberts – are grimly ahead. Maybe there’s time for Apocalypse to turn around, but it’s got a hell of a lot of work ahead of it to drag it back into decency – and I don’t know that it has any intention of being anything other than a wheezing heave of greatest hits.
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 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 Bleeding Cool)