Well, another season premiere has come and gone, as well as the pre-season hype and anticipation we were all feeling. Personally, I am quite entranced by the season premiere episodes. The underlying questions and the overwhelming amount of information being introduced to me doesn’t allow me to see the episode in a clear sense. However, by the second episode, I have reached a point of clarity and am able to understand what this season has to offer in the weeks to come. As Ally’s post-election fears and Kai’s master plan further ensue, I am hoping Murphy and Falchuk, alongside their team of talented actors, writers, cinematographers, etc. can make this season one of the strongest in the anthology.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Director: Liza Johnson
Writers: Tim Minear
The episode begins with the same eerie shot of Ally and Ivy’s bathtub we saw in the last episode. Ally, after asking if Ivy could hear the noises in their room, is startled by a creature in a creepy mask.
Okay, sorry to interrupt this recap here, but please excuse me as I go off on a quick tangent. I very much enjoy watching all of my television and movies with subtitles. My hearing is not an issue, but I personally like to read the words as they come across the screen at the same time as watching the media. When I was watching this episode, the subtitles that were describing the action during this scene read, “Clown appears.” I don’t know if it’s just me, but this doesn’t appear to be a clown to me. This creature does not possess any of the conventional traits of a clown. I don’t see a zany hairstyle, nor do I see any makeup resembling that of a clown. This creature, whatever it may be, is incredibly scary-looking, but I just am not buying that it is a clown.
As I was saying, Ally is startled by this unknown creature, and bolts down the steps in order to escape. She grabs a knife, and Ivy attempts to call the cops, a rational response to this situation. However, Ally brings up the point that Oz is upstairs, and Ivy’s maternal instinct level quite literally goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of milliseconds. Ivy grabs the knife, shielding a cowering Ally behind her, as they investigate. It should come as no surprise that they end up seeing nothing, and Ally begins to break down, claiming that she doesn’t know how much more of this she can take.
We quickly move into a scene with Oz, containing slow and menacing shots of his room that let us know that something frightening will soon occur. The camera hones in on his illuminated night light being switched off by a dirty gloved hand that could only belong to everyone’s favorite serial killer clown, Twisty! Oz appears to wake up and attempts to turn his night light back on, only to be startled by Twisty, who screams in his deformed dialect, “Scream and I’ll kill you!” Oz runs under his bed and is startled by the same creepy mask “clown” that we saw scare Ally. Oz runs and hides in his bathroom, behind his translucent shower curtain. Well, we know he’s not going to be winning any rounds of hide-and-seek any time soon. Twisty and his partner in crime gaze intensely at Oz.
Ally and Ivy are interrupted by Oz’s scream and immediately rush to his room. Ivy reassures him that what he was fretting about what simply a night terror, but he truly isn’t buying it. He continues to speak about how the clowns are going to kill him. Ally, being no stranger to these clowns and their wicked ways, attempts to comfort him. Oz bluntly pushes her affection to the side, claiming that he wants “Mom” whilst leaping into Ivy’s arms. This answers Winter’s question about whether Ally or Ivy was Oz’s biological mother.
Our next scene begins with some news footage of the harrowing video, filmed after Kai terrorized the innocent Hispanic men. There is a familiarity in the voice of the news anchor that I noticed. I was quickly able to deduce (through the “Guest Starring” section) that this was none other than AHS alum Adina Porter. Although Roanoke was definitely not my favorite season, I did enjoy Porter’s performance as Lee, alongside her brief two-episode stint as one of Ben’s clients in Murder House. I am excited to see her role as an anchorwoman expand and sprout as Kai’s plan continues to capture the attention of local news stations. We also learn that the men who hit Kai are being held in ICE and they are either going to stand trial or be deported. Kai uses this opportunity, however, to run for city council and take Tom’s place since he was murdered by the clowns. Kai’s plan seems so premeditated and meticulous that it almost leads me to believe that he set up the murder of Tom and Marilyn.
Ally is now in her house, looking across the street to see a moving truck and a man in a hazmat suit moving a countless amount of barrels of an unknown substance into the garage. Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman are spotted, inferred to be the new neighbors. Ally, her interest piqued due to how soon someone has moved in after the Chang’s alleged murder-suicide, decides to do some sleuthing. Without the slightest semblance of subtlety, she walks onto their front porch and looks in their front window. Billy Eichner asks, “Can I help you?”, in an incredibly curt tone. Ally walks away and we see perhaps the bitchiest look being exchanged in the history of American Horror Story.
We are now taken to the kitchen of The Butchery on Main, where one of Ivy’s trusted employees, Roger, is giving orders. One of the workers in the kitchen, Pedro, is speaking Spanish, and Roger gets incredibly infuriated. Pedro calls him a “pendejo”, the English equivalent of a dumbass. This causes Roger to point a ladle a Pedro, escalating to Pedro responding by raising his knife. A fight nearly occurs, but Ally intervenes. Roger explains that Pedro needs to be fired, but Ally voices her concern about firing an immigrant in this political climate.
Winter arrives at the Mayfair-Richards household after picking up Oz from school. She asks him if there’s anything wrong, claiming that he’s been “throwing shade” ever since he got out of school. Winter gives him an iconic Twisty figurine, under the pretense that he will not tell his moms about it. Oz is afraid that the clowns may come back for him, as he was a witness to their murder in the Chang household. Winter responds to this by performing the same exact pinky ritual with Oz that we witnessed between her and Kai in the previous episode. She says that they’re connected now, and she’ll know if he’s lying. Winter asks him a series of questions about his fear, and in turn, she offers to take it for him so that he no longer has to keep it. As a result, she explains, they’ll both be stronger. Ally and Ivy return home, calling out Oz’s full name, which is Ozymandias. There is definitely some hidden meaning and possible foreshadowing in this name, which I will be further delving into in my “Final Thoughts” category.
Oz is apparently across the street; Winter sent him over there to see the new neighbors’ beekeeping setup. Ally, the worry wart that she is, sprints over and starts freaking out, most likely due to the holes in the honeycomb. I am eager to learn what it is about the freaking holes that bother her so much! Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman introduce themselves as Harrison and Meadow Wilton. After some banter about Ally’s paranoia and introductions between the two couples, Ally asks the Wiltons why they moved in so quickly after the Changs were murdered. Harrison explains that due to their previous history with foreclosure and bankruptcy, they wanted to move into a house that was flawed because they were more likely to attain it. Ally finds it weird that the Changs were renting; I find it more intriguing that the person they were renting from could easily be in cahoots with the Wiltons and the evil clowns!
Harrison begins to explain his attraction to the beehive. He admires the beehive to such a full extent due to the fact that every single member of the community is committed to a uniform and singular task. This leaves no room for self-indulgence. This unity definitely sounds cult-related to me, and it explains the beehive pictures that American Horror Story has been marketing. The four of them move inside as Meadow explains her ongoing battle with the sun and her undying love for Nicole Kidman and Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade. It is revealed that Harrison is actually gay, but they are married due to a pact they made, pledging that if neither one was married by thirty-five, they would marry one another. They drop some hints about their location, mentioning cities like Northville and Detroit. As Ally and Ivy exit the Wilton household, they witness the disturbing and poorly painted-over smiley face symbol and blood-stained hardwood flooring.
Right before bedtime, a notification appears on Ivy’s phone indicating that the alarm inside the restaurant has been triggered. Ivy is just about to go when Ally offers to. Um, excuse me? Are you okay, sweetie? This plot twist is almost as severe as when it was revealed that Oliver Thredson was Bloody Face. Ally goes in and disarms the system, but hears some rummaging around in the meat locker. She walks in only to see Roger’s nearly lifeless body dangling from the meat hooks.
Presumably a few days later, we see bars being installed around side the Mayfair-Richards household, as Ally stares off into the distance. Dr. Vincent appears with genuine concern due to Ally missing some of her meetings with him. Ally is somehow convinced that she is responsible for Roger’s death, despite the fact that she merely tried to help him and obviously whoever hung him up there in the first place is solely responsible for his demise. A flashback depicts that Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) has a hunch that Pedro did it, due to the debacle in the kitchen, but Ally and Ivy explain that Pedro couldn’t have done this. Ally explains that she feels vindicated and actually is thankful for all of her phobias, as many things she has been terrified of have been incredibly rational. We view another flashback of Ally purchasing a gun from the Wiltons. Hmm..they sure do have a vast range of interests and hobbies. Ally pulls out her gun and shows it to Dr. Vincent. Honestly, I don’t think Ally should have a gun. When left in the wrong hands (i.e. Ally, an incredibly anxious and scared person ready to act based on impulse), a gun is an incredibly dangerous weapon. The scene ends with Ivy and Dr. Vincent discussing Ally’s current state. He explains that Ally seems to be exhibiting signs of agoraphobia...
We hear a knock on the door, which enables Ally to grab her knife. I’m sure these clowns pose a real threat to her in broad daylight. Kai appears, behind a newly-installed metal door that resembles a prison cell. He announces his campaigning, referencing to last week’s quote that he is a humiliated man who needs a chance to redeem himself. Ally immediately recognizes him from the latte incident, but continues to listen to his spiel after his poorly-worded apology. He asks her when the last time she truly felt safe was, and she struggles to answer. He quotes some bullshit facts he found on Facebook linking illegal immigrants with 40% of all crime. Ally says that she wants to build bridges and not walls, and politely tells him to buzz off. Kai questions all of her safety precautions and challenges her previous statements. He bangs on her door and gives her quite a good fright. Although, scaring Ally isn’t that hard. Just put her in a room with a sponge and she’ll freak out about all the holes in it.
Oz is ready to go to sleep after Winter asks if he needs to be tucked in “or any shit like that”. He inquires her about his dreams. He has a hard time differentiating his dreams from reality. Winter simply suggests asking the subject of his dream if he is asleep or not. Across the house, Winter notices that Ally is uptight, although to be fair, anybody would be uptight after you creep up behind them and dig your hand into their shoulder. Ally explains that she doesn’t want to take her pills, and Winter offers a glass of red wine and warm bath instead. Winter thoughtfully draws her a bath, not without ulterior motives. Winter attempts to seduce Ally, her motives truly unknown, as the alarm goes off.
Harrison rushes to the door with candles and chants, “Lesbians, we’re under attack!”. Apparently, there has been a terrorist attack and eight states have lost power simultaneously. He advises them to simply stay inside until this all blows over. Winter wants to go back home, in order to protect her belongings. Ally is a total basket-case at this point. She begs and pleads, doing everything in her power to get Winter to stay. Unfazed by this alleged terrorist attack or Ally’s grandiose displays of fear, Winter strolls out casually. Ally and Ivy have a brief phone conversation before Ally’s phone dies. Ivy, across town at their restaurant, asks Pedro to bring her a bunch of candles and a charger...I think we can all see where this is going. Ally is walking around the house when she sees the infamous ice cream truck pull up across the street. In lieu of an alarm system, she puts furniture in front of her windows and uses the classic “chair under the doorknob” trick we’ve all used once or twice. When looking at her power boxes, she notices that her fuses are cut. She turns and sees a creepy clown! Now this is a clown, people! It’s got the creepy face of makeup, the wacky green hairdo, and the positively sinister smile.
Ally starts to run for Oz now, but there’s some demonic creature at the top of the stairs. Ally pushes her over the edge of the railing effortlessly and wakes Oz up from his slumber. She runs through the house with him and prepares for them to sprint away from the house. Pedro is right in front of the door as it opens, and like the irresponsible gun owner she is, Ally shoots him. The episode ends after showing Oz’s horrified face and Ally’s instant regret.
Despite seeing more of the same when it comes to Ally’s character, I am pleased that “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” at least provided some more insight into the motif of bees throughout the season and the idea of the cult as a whole. I am interested in seeing how much further Ally will deteriorate before she eventually does something even more drastic than shooting an innocent bearer of iPhone chargers and candles. I also am excited to learn more about Kai’s plan and see some more of Winter and Oz’s interactions. Also, I totally want a Twisty Figurine. Not a Funko Pop Twisty, a legitimate Twisty figurine like the one Winter gave Oz.
Speaking of Oz, let’s talk about his name: Ozymandias. Ozymandias definitely sounded familiar to me, and through some research, I learned that it was the name of one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad, but ultimately originated through a dark and ominous poem. The name Ozymandias translates to “a tyrant, a dictator, a megalomaniac, a colossus”. The author of this poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley, essentially aimed to convey a social commentary on the reckless arrogance that tyrants employ and how it essentially takes them nowhere in the end. Although Ozzy is far too passive at the moment to become a tyrant, his name could ultimately serve as a form of foreshadowing for how this season will turn out. Our main character, Kai, seems to be wanting a lot of power and clout, and he is dropping down incredibly low in order to get it. This could mean that Kai’s ending ultimately is pointless and that all of his power led him nowhere. We’ll see. I found that little easter egg very interesting, and something very few people may have noticed. I honestly didn’t even catch it until my second viewing of it, thanks to my handy subtitles.
I am really liking the characters Meadow and Harrison so far. Although their intentions have not yet been revealed to us, they are quite funny and interesting. They definitely have some memorable moments already, and hopefully they will make some more along the road.
Well, that’s all I have for this week, folks. I am hoping that next week’s episode, entitled “Neighbors From Hell”, keeps us on our toes and leaves us all with a plethora of thoughts and opinions to discuss.
Thanks for reading,
Though much too modest to admit it himself, Jonah is perhaps the world's preeminent AHS expert. He loves talking film & television, building his fledgling vinyl and Blu-Ray collection, & having far too many coffee drinks. Jonah can often be found binge watching shows with his handsome one-eyed ocicat, Irving.