Thanks to my trusty pal IMDB, I was able to discover before watching this week’s episode that James Wong had written “Neighbors from Hell”. Wong is certainly no stranger to the American Horror Story realm, as he has produced and written multiple episodes. Some of his writing credits on the show include one of my favorite episodes, entitled “Orphans” from Freak Show. Which shows that Pepper’s role in Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities was ultimately a prelude to her time spent at Briarcliff, and divulges the true story of how Pepper ended up in the Asylum. Needless to say, I had quite high hopes for this episode after discovering James Wong was at the helm of it. I am hoping that this episode lived up to my expectations, and more importantly, continues to increase in quality as we move forward with the craziness that’s emerged thus far.
Neighbors From Hell
Director: Gweneth Horder-Payton
Writers: James Wong
The episode begins with a narration of a person unbeknownst to us, describing her fear to us. She explains that her fear is always the same...she lies down in bed, her husband Mark will kiss her, and the whole world will go black. She feels as though she is in a coffin and is unable to get out. This woman explains that one night her husband kissed her and it felt like she was lying in a bed of daisies. We now return to reality, and it turns out this woman who was describing her fear is named Rosie, one of Dr. Vincent’s patients. She suffered from a condition called feretrophobia, or the fear of caskets and being buried alive. The origin of this fear was being locked in a cabinet by her father as a young girl. After her father’s death, she explains, she felt liberated and was able to conquer her fear with the help of Dr. Vincent. He congratulates her whilst giving her a very strange look that unsettled me...I think something is up with this man and I don’t like it very much.
Rosie and Mark return to their house, and Mark goes in a separate room in order to prepare a surprise for her. When he doesn’t respond in a while, Rosie investigates the situation. Much to her dismay, she finds a group of killer clowns restraining Mark and placing him in a white coffin with red lining...there is one for her too. They are both drilled into these coffins and we see the red smiley face once more as the title sequence plays.
We see Ally in her house, moments after the Pedro incident. She is joined by Ivy and Detective Samuels. Ally expresses her concern that she is going to be sent to jail, but Detective Samuels explains that Michigan has a “stand your ground” law that allows residents to shoot people that are trespassing on their property. Ivy attempts to comfort an inconsolable Ivy with the fact that it was dark out. Ally adds that there were clowns strewn about the house that were terrorizing here, citing Oz as a witness, but nobody is really buying it.
Detective Samuels explains that Pedro was already a person of interest for Roger’s murder from last week, and says that it would make sense that he would be at her house at night. Thankfully, he takes Ally’s gun just in case the District Attorney wants to press charges. Ally is still incredibly traumatized, as she nearly goes into cardiac arrest when the power merely turns back on. She is afraid that Oz will be scarred by the memory of her shooting Pedro, but little does she know that he and Winter have seen much worse on the “dark web.”
The following day, Ally and Ivy pull up to their restaurant to see a group of angry protestors holding up signs of Ally’s face and mercilessly chanting, “No justice, no peace!” repeatedly. Across the street, Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) is covering this footage on the news. What up, girl?
Ally simply cannot go into her workplace after this, as she is already a major basket case to begin with. Her and Ivy switch seats and Ally drives home. Before she drives home, however, Kai appears right outside of her window. She is fearful at this point, but Kai appears to be very friendly to her. He commends her bravery in shooting Pedro and tells her to never apologize for protecting her family. He promises to control this mob for her and tells her to have a nice day. Obviously, this nice demeanor is laced with ulterior motives, but it does seem to help Ally relax for the time being.
Once she’s back at home, she enjoys a glass of rosé midday. Harrison and Meadow knock on the door wearing grandiose sombreros. They berate her for killing Pedro, explaining that the sombreros they’re wearing represent how Ally sees all Hispanic people. On top of this, Harrison is also angry because she misused the gun that he gave her when he is to blame for this. When they first met Ally and Ivy, Ivy explained how paranoid Ally was and yet, he decided to give her a gun. He asks her how it feels to exercise her white privilege with absolutely no impunity and they throw Taco Bell coupons at her, giving her an opportunity to wallow in her white appropriation of Hispanic culture.
Ally and Ivy are in their bedroom watching news footage about the protestors, as it segues into coverage of Rosie and Mark’s murder. Apparently, they were left in the coffins for a full week, their bodies in the early stages of decomposition. Ally hears an engine revving outside her window and she sees a giant truck spraying some kind of green chemical gas into the air.
The next morning, Ivy enjoys a cup of coffee and sees Ally staring blankly out into their yard. Upon closer investigation of the situation, there are at least thirty dead crows in their yard, presumably dead because of the aforementioned gas.
Winter walks in and Ally is still pissed off about Winter abandoning her during her time of need. Ivy defends Winter, explaining that none of it was her fault and Ally agrees to forgive her and take her back on as their nanny. According to Winter, there was a man outside that she assumed was here to interview for a position as Oz’s babysitter. This bitch just says, “I hope it’s okay, I just let him in!” Okay? They migrate into the living room where they find a large naked man who is apparently here for an ad that was placed about horny lesbians. Ivy is threatening this dude, taking full advantage of FX’s newfound ability to say “fuck” on cable television.
After they are traumatized by this event, they discover the ad placed online about them, and find out that the ad says they prefer Caucasian people and that Latin lovers are strictly prohibited. Ally is convinced that Harrison and Ivy are behind this scheme. We now cut to a phone call of Dr. Vincent reading the ad and talking to Ally about the best plan of action. Ally keeps taking the ad down, but it’s coming back up in a slightly reworded format. During this phone call, there is a very subtle thing I noticed that could foreshadow big things for this season. I will be discussing it in the Afterthoughts section of this recap for those who are interested. Dr. Vincent suggests that they should have an emergency session and that Ally could possibly benefit from an inpatient facility.
Ally pulls up to the restaurant, and again she is completely surrounded by these protesters who clearly have nothing better to do. This time, they barricade her car and refuse to move. Kai appears from this large crowd and simply shouts, “Enough!” They magically back away from Ally’s car. Kai seems to be upholding this promise of protecting Ally, but I am just waiting for him to turn on her.
Winter and Oz are in the house with his new pet, Mr. Guinea. As Ivy and Ally come into the room, they are immediately angered by his presence. On top of the fact that they all have a sensitivity to his fur, their biggest red flag is that Mr. Guinea is a cisnormative pet name. According to Winter, Mr. Guinea was a sort of peace offering given by Meadow. However, it is quite obvious that this was a ploy to turn Ozzie against Ally. As Ally tells Oz to say his goodbyes to Mr. Guinea, he dramatically says that he wishes he could say his goodbyes to Ally. I am living for Oz’s pettiness right now.
Ally calls the Wiltons, who are apparently hanging out with Dr. Samuels for some reason. Harrison tells her that they got Mr. Guinea because Oz needs a man in the house, as he’s drowning in estrogen and white privilege in the Mayfair-Richards household. Meadow hangs up on her. Right in the middle of, “That bitch hung up on me!”, the green gas truck is driving down the street again. Ally, the nonsensical person that she is, runs in front of the truck and screams a bunch of things. Sweetie, I don’t think they can hear you! The truck doesn’t stop and Ally dives head-first into the curb trying to dodge it.
We now cut to a very crucial scene in Cult, a meeting between Kai and Meadow. They perform the pinky ritual that has been very prevalent in the previous episodes, and Kai asks Meadow what she’s most afraid of. Meadow says that her biggest fear is that Sonja from Real Housewives has a drinking problem. Kai bitchslaps her in response to this bogus answer. Truly, her biggest fear is that Harrison is turning against her by befriending Detective Samuels. Seeing that Kai is now convening with Harrison and Meadow makes all the more sense to his plan. Instead of treating Ally poorly, he is winning her over through his ability to control the masses. Conversely, Harrison and Meadow are terrorizing her when they were incredibly sweet to her just last week. Oh, how the tables have turned. Kai says that if she wants to be somebody, then she has to make the world wrong.
Ally is having blood work done in order to determine what exactly the green gas substance was. She was sprayed by it in her feeble attempts to stop the truck. Ally agrees to let Ozzie keep Mr. Guinea, despite his cisnormative name. Once all three of them arrive home, they see the red smiley face painted on their door. Oz, like a stupid hoe, runs into the house. In his search for Mr. Guinea, he finds that he has been microwaved, and now more closely resembles the inside of a Hot Pocket than a guinea pig. Ally storms over to the Wiltons, assuming that they are behind this scheme. She punches Harrison directly in the face and threatens to kill Meadow, too. The Wiltons inform her that the red smiley face on their door signifies that they have been marked by the killer, despite Ally’s assumption that they drew it on the door.
On their way out, Oz notices that the Wiltons have also been marked by the killer, but Ally decides not to tell them in order to maintain her passive-aggressive contempt towards them.
Across the street, there are some men in masks spraying the green substance in the Mayfair-Richards’ yard. Ally interrogates them and she rips one of their masks off to reveal another mask: the red smiley-face. Damn, whoever is wearing those masks must be really warm and probably has trouble breathing. Ally falls to the ground in dramatic flair.
We now see a “pinky meeting” between Kai and Harrison. Kai asks him what his biggest regret in life was. Harrison responds by saying it was marrying Meadow. He then divulges to Kai that he wishes Meadow were dead.
Ally, now with Detective Samuels, is attempting to explain the relevance and connection of the smiley faces and Mr. Guinea, placing the blame on the “neighbors from hell”. This explanation is interrupted by Oz gasping upstairs. Ivy and Ally go to his room and discover that a certain link has bothered him. They demand to see the link and it’s a video on “scared2death.com”, Oz’s favorite dark website, of Winter seducing Ally in the bathtub. Ivy is incredibly angered by this and bitchslaps Ally as a result. They have a huge fight over this, obviously, and Ozzie and Ivy leave Ally alone in the house.
Across the street, Harrison is being questioned by the police. He’s very confused, as he was simply sleeping and rolled over to be covered in blood. They tell him he needs to calm down, and he replies by telling them they need to “calm up”. Harrison accuses Ally of being the killer and being up to some Gone Girl shit. It is now relayed to us that Meadow is missing, right after Harrison admitted to Kai that he wanted her dead. Harrison gets arrested, and Oz is in the house by himself again, looking quite mortified. Now, all three of them are in their house and stare up at a red smiley painted on the inside of their house. Uh oh…
I am very pleased to say that this episode lived up to my expectations of it, and this season seems to be following the trend of gradually increasing quality through each episode. This episode delivered some very memorable quotes, alongside an interesting facade that Kai put up, and the revelation that Kai has now reigned in Harrison and Meadow to his cause. I have heard many theories that Ivy was simply gaslighting Ally and that she was going to turn on her, but after further inspection, I have conjured up another speculation about one of our characters.
I have a feeling that Dr. Vincent is in cahoots with the evil clowns. I know this may sound far-fetched, but trust me, it really isn’t. With the death of Rosie and Mark, the killer clowns used the exact fear of Rosie in order to kill them. This fear was something that Dr. Vincent knew in strict confidentiality and wasn’t just random information that could’ve been acquired on the street or online. This wouldn’t be the first time that Sarah Paulson confided in a sketchy psychiatrist...think back to Dr. Thredson (aka Bloody Face) in Asylum. The recurring symbol of this season is quite literally a bloody face, and the clowns use the fears that Dr. Vincent is aware of to prey on their victims. Like Dr. Thredson, Dr. Vincent has a layer of mystery to him that has yet to be revealed to us. He could very well be running the entire group of clowns. On top of this evidence, I also saw a very interesting thing that many people probably didn’t catch…
While he is talking on the phone to Ally, he is simultaneously pushing around a bunch of buttons with smiley faces on them. This was very subtle, but it could very well serve as foreshadowing for the identity of the main clown killer. I thought this was a nice touch, and am super excited to see if the idea I conjured up is in fact valid.
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.