A funny thing about New York is that, for as large of a city as it is, it still manages to feel small at exactly the moments you’d least like it to feel small.
In real life, this is experienced even if you ride in a different subway car every morning and evening but still manage to run into the same five people you hope to never see again in your lifetime. For Ryan Murphy’s New Yorkers in “American Horror Story: NYC,” this big city-small town feeling is exhibited as the entire population of Big Apple queers being in cahoots for murderous reasons and/or sharing the same rash.
One of my favorite things about the “American Horror Story” franchise is that you can come away from every episode thinking, “Well, that was crazy,” yet creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk will still find a way to top it in the next. In Season 11, the show is throwing everything it’s got at us in armloads; the crazy is consistent, except we get it in double doses via the new release schedule of two new episodes per week. It’s as though Murphy heard fans’ cries for more sexy, freaky content and answered them by saying, “Here! How about two hours of just every batsh*t thing you could think of!”
Releasing new episodes in twos isn’t the only big change this year. For the first time in 11 seasons, the storyline is getting better as the season progresses versus the mid-run decline to which fans had grown accustomed. In previous seasons (not counting “Murder House,” which was, in my opinion, a near-flawless series debut), Murphy, Falchuk and their team of writers would start out strong and then get a bit flaccid around, well, now. But here we are with only two weeks of episodes left, and things are still ramping up. Ramping up to what? Who the hell knows, but something!
Here’s everything we’ve learned so far:
- Mr. Whitely (Jeff Hiller) is the Mai Tai killer, and he’s using the combined skills gleaned from his background in both the military and a vague medical profession to hack up gays and make some sort of corpse monster.
- Dr. Hannah Wells (Billie Lourd) is taking blood samples from gays and random woodland creatures throughout the Greater New York area to get to the bottom of a mutating amoeba that causes rashes which sometimes look like scabies and other times like full-blown AIDS. Oh, and she’s also pregnant with a baby she dreams of being born with tentacles. (Let’s see this!)
- Adam (Charlie Carver) spent the first few episodes passionately searching for his missing roommate . . . and then kind of stopped. He’s the father of Hannah’s baby. Why? Or, how? Doesn’t matter.
- “Big Daddy,” played by newcomer Matthew William Bishop in his first televised role, doesn’t seem to be an actual person but rather a metaphorical dark angel of death or some such thing.
- Patrick (Russell Tovey) is a gay cop with an ex-wife who, we learn in Episode 6, “The Body,” f**ked a man to death in 1979. And yes, part of that f**king took place while the man was dead.
- Barbara (Leslie Grossman), a non-gay and ex-wife to Patrick, as mentioned above, is now dead from whatever sort of creepin’ crud is infecting the city, so now we know that this season not only has it out for queers but also just any ‘ol person. This somehow makes me feel better about the season as a whole.
- Henry (Denis O’Hare) is a fixer for the mob, who I swear I heard referred to in Episode 6 as “The Velvet Touch.”
- Fran (Sandra Bernhard) is all of the sudden a psychic.
- Sam (Zachary Quinto) has a history with Patrick and was with him when he f**ked that man to death back in 1979. Though clearly a psycho, he’s shown in Episode 6 as also being kind of a nice guy who will offer to drive you back to Fire Island to re-bury a body.
You may be asking yourself at this point, “How is all of this going to get wrapped up in the remaining 4 episodes?” And to that, I say, in all caps no-less, “HAHAHAHA! IT WON’T!”
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But that’s half the fun of “American Horror Story,” isn’t it? Similar to our united relationship with Trump, a man who has not been in a formal position since January 2021, what would we have to bitch about if we didn’t have (gestures) . . . this?
The biggest takeaway from this week’s episodes is that Patrick is trash. Fans have been speculating all along that he may have more to do with the murders taking place in the city than meets the eye. While I don’t think he’s the apex villain, he definitely shouldn’t hold a position that comes with the issue of a badge and authorized weapon. It seems like his wang is maybe weapon enough.
And poor Gino! First, he learned that his boyfriend had been hiding a love for leather goods, and now he has to stand there and watch him casually fiddle with a dead body on the sunny sands of Fire Island. Dating apps weren’t around in 1981, but if they were, it would be suggestible for Gino to get on one, pronto. Rashes are temporary. Toxic exes are forever.
Rashes are temporary. Toxic exes are forever.
The two-episode release schedule this season has developed a brand-new pattern to go along with it, in which the first of the two episodes acts as the wind-up, advancing the story just enough to get all the main characters from one point to the next so the second episode can deliver the pitch. In Episode 5, “Bad Fortune,” Fran and Kathy’s (Patti LuPone) out-of-nowhere, psychic side hustle is used to introduce more of a supernatural element to the danger we’ve been shown so far.
Learning the tarot, and then immediately mastering it, Fran gives readings to the gays that, while intended to be for entertainment purposes only, veer into nightmare territory when, more often than not, the cards deliver warnings of imminent death and destruction.
Heading over for their own reading, Hannah and Adam make time for some lighthearted humor amid a series of events that would send most other people to their beds for a year, hiding under the covers, hoping for hell to pass them by.
Given that Billie Lourd is the daughter of the late great Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise, this was a fun little Easter egg.
As a now very visibly pregnant Hannah walks down the sidewalk, Adam drops to his knees, clutching her belly to say, “I am your father,” in his best Darth Vader impression.
They receive a similar reading to the ones that the other gays on main receive in this episode. All bad things are coming — and all bad things are coming for them.
In terms of these rashes that will inevitably be the main crux of the season, we don’t see exactly what the “bad thing” is in Episode 6, but we see a large chunk of it. The Mai Tai killer has advanced from poke and prod to slice and dice. In “The Body,” it’s revealed that he’s collecting body parts from slain gays to make what, in my mind, will be a much more gruesome version of the Adam character from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” There’s something almost wholesome about this, she says now, having no idea what next week has in store.
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