American Horror Story S9E9: Final Girl

by thethreepennyguignol

Firstly and most foremostly: my debut novel, Rape Jokes, got an ebook release on earlier this week! If you enjoy my recaps and would like to support my blog, please consider grabbing yourself a copy right here.

And secondly and less foremostly: this is the last episode of American Horror Story this season, praise be to, and I quote Zach Villa here, Sa-tan, and much to my surprise. I was sure this was a ten-episode run, and, while I’m relieved not to have to ruin my Thursdays with this any longer, I am a little surprised that it’s being cut off here.

And yeah, this really feels like a finale that was rushed into being. I’m not sure what another episode might have done to fill out the story, given that this season has had a strange habit of just wasting its fucking time, but there’s far too much going on here, and so much of it is done so badly, that it’s hard not to feel like a little more time might have had things run a little smoother.

On the subject of it being done so badly; this episode takes place in flashback, for the most part, as narrated by a dead-but-still-dicked Montana and Trevor, to Finn Wittrock (whose very inclusion in this episode is a dirty trick to remind me of how much better he is in American Crime Story), and told from the present day looking back on the happenings of an eventful Halloween night in 1989. It’s a really strange choice, and one that strips most of the proceedings of any tension; when Richard Ramirez talks about going off to kill a kid in Alaska, we know he’ll never leave the camp, because Finn Wittrock is that kid and he certainly isn’t dead. Sure enough, he gets gang-murdered by a collection of ghosts led by Montana, in what could have been a good twist if the show hadn’t announced it to us already.

And the sheer speed of these forty minutes mean that we don’t get much in the way of satisfying endings to the arcs the show has sewn for us so far; Ramirez ending is as tactless as the rest of his arc has been, and Bruce, for all that I enjoy Dylan McDermott’s performance, is literally kicked down a hill and out of the show with forty seconds and little ceremony, making the not-insignificant time we spent with him these last few episodes seem confusingly wasted. We get more time spent on Chef Bertie (who is good people) being a cougar than we do on him, for goodness sake. Even Margaret, the show’s alleged big bad, gets a surprisingly perfunctory send-off. It’s all a reminder that this show doesn’t so much have its plot priorities un-straight as it does a lack of understanding as to what priority is at all.

To be fair to the show, it does actually draw Brooke’s arc to a close in a way that is probably satisfying to those who were invested in her plot, so, basically, not me. She’s off living the influencer lifestyle in, somehow, anonymity (don’t look too close, it’ll fall apart) – and yes, I actually quite like that she’s been allowed to move on and live a post-Redwood life that suits her, if only because it means that this season has actually managed to trip backwards into an arc with some semblance of a throughline. I still don’t care for Brooke, or this performance by Roberts, But at least this actually sticks, and feels someone sating in the arc of the show as a whole, and her scene shared with Angelica Ross (an immensley fun standout this season) is borderline good television.

This season has been…well, look, it was better than Apocalypse. I didn’t feel, week in and week out, like Mr Ryan Murphy had come into my house to wrestle my time out of my hands personally. But at the end of the day, this has been another unsatisfying season. It has had some higher highs than recent memory, for sure, and there are parts of it that I did consistently enjoy – John Carrol Lynch and his tender performance, Leslie Grossman and her high-camp panto-villain one.

But once again, I’m left with a big, fat, why? I had hoped for a subversion of the genre, but instead I got a straight adaptation of it that somehow had to find enough plot to fill out about eight hours instead of ninety minutes. What was the point of this? What stories did it try to tell that mattered, what themes did it try to bring to life? What did it have to say beyond “a man walks in a bar…the eighties!” by the time it was done? I’m just left cold. Which is better than being left actively annoyed, but still – this show just isn’t what it used to be.

Will I be back for next season? But of course. And I’ll be hoping that it can recapture some of the magic, the magic that it showed flashes of this season but could never really make work. But until then, I just want to offer a big thank-you to everyone who read along with these recaps, and I hope you’ll stick around for my ongoing Watchmen reviews (because after a show this bad, you deserve a good one, too). Until next time, chucks – don’t walk home alone at night. And if you do, at least make sure you do it through a creepy campground that’s going to preserve your spirit for eternity, and then text me so I can get the TV rights and do this story properly.

If you liked this article and want to see more stuff like it, check out my Game of Thrones snark-caps, my Doctor Who reviews, and my Star Wars movie retrospective on my other blog, No But Listen. As ever, please consider supporting me on Patreon for access to exclusive posts and a chance to choose what I write about!

(header image via Young Hollywood)