Everyone is finding out about one another’s pill taking on this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Double Feature, “Part 1: Red Tide.”
Last week on the double premiere of the 10th season, Harry (Finn Wittrock), Doris (Lily Rabe) and Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) move to the sleepy seaside town of Providence, where they meet interesting characters like Austin (Evan Peters), Belle (Frances Conroy) and even Tuberculosis Karen (Sarah Paulson), who are all in one way or another affected by the “Muse” pills, which either enhance your artistic talents to make you the greatest or reveal your lack of talent to make you turn into a grotesque, pale and bald creature. The catch? You have to feed on blood when taking the pill. Harry takes the pills with Austin and Belle and, unknown to Harry, Alma takes them, too.
This week, Harry finds out Alma has taken the pill after Doris caught her eating a dead rabbit. When the police try to question Alma about the dead rabbit and its association with the dead body found on the beach, Doris falls down the stairs and is rushed to the hospital for fear she’s lost the baby.
Harry and Alma leave the hospital to stay at a hotel nearby, and in the car, he tells her he wants her to stop taking the pills. To this, she responds that she will if he will. Both of them know they want the pills, so they decide to make a pact that they’ll both take them and keep the secret from Doris.
However, Harry tells Alma that he wants to be in charge of getting her the blood and handling the dirty work so that if someone has to take the fall for it, it’ll be him.
The first time he goes to get blood alone, he gets kidnapped by two sex workers who are filming themselves tag-teaming their kidnap victims. However, he quickly gets out of the trap and kills them both, bringing home some of the blood for Alma. The scene is heavily disturbing and would make most people feel sick to their stomachs.
Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, Ursula (Leslie Grossman) pays a visit to Harry in Providence to see where his newfound inspiration is coming from. While there, she meets Mickey (Macaulay Caulkin), who gives her a few of his scripts in hopes she’ll represent him.
After reading the scripts, she realizes something sketchy is going on in the town because everyone is suddenly talented when they arrive there. Mickey admits the truth about the pills, and Ursula says she’ll make a deal with him: he supplies the pills, and she’ll help him achieve fame with the scripts. In response, he sneaks into Belle’s house to steal more while she’s out.
Meanwhile, Belle, Harry and Austin go to kill and feed. When Harry takes home a thermos of blood for Alma, Austin and Belle tell him he is absolutely not to give her anymore pills. Though Harry agrees, when he goes home, the dynamic duo of Belle and Austin — who have another fantastic musical duet in this episode — decide Harry and Alma both must die.
Soon after, Belle approaches Mickey about stealing her pills. Mickey tries to convince Belle that he’s good enough to hang in the big leagues with her and Austin, but she’s incredibly skeptical.
“Honey, you’re a paper airplane, and I’m a 747,” Belle said. “Don’t ever think you’re like me just because you can fly a little.”
Though Mickey makes his sloppy first kill — with, I might add, Dennis O’Hare’s new character, Holden Vaughn, as a witness — Belle decides she won’t kill him as long as he brings her a thermos or two of blood with each kill. The other condition? Mickey must kill Ursula as soon as possible.
Mickey heads over to kill Ursula, but she’s expecting him. She tells him she’s already gotten him a great deal that he can’t refuse — and he doesn’t. The two team up to head over to the chemist (Angelica Ross), who produces the Muse pills and offer her a deal to make incredible amounts of money in exchange for the pills. She tells them she’ll think about it but heads over to Austin and Belle’s house to tell them they must kill Ursula and Mickey as well as Harry, Alma and Doris.
Harry, overwhelmed with the danger, goes to visit Doris in the hospital to make sure she’s OK. Meanwhile, the police chief (Adina Porter) comes to visit Alma and ask her some questions. She doesn’t get very far, as Alma sticks an ice pick in her neck and watches her bleed out. The episode ends with Harry coming back to find the mess and Ursula telling him they need to talk.
The cinematography in this episode is especially well done, specifically the scene of Porter’s character’s death. Overall, the twists in this episode are still leaving the audience feeling excited for what’s to come.
There’s no telling what’s coming, but one thing’s for sure: the acting in this season is especially energetic and focused. Whether that’s because the pandemic left the actors eager to get back to work or this season is just particularly well written is anybody’s guess, but mine would be a solid combination of the two.
American Horror Story: Double Feature airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.