After just five short weeks, our memorable stay in P-Town — with its scenic views, charming boutiques and streets running rampant with talentless, bloodthirsty baldies — came to an end on Wednesday with the finale of American Horror Story: Double Feature Part 1, “Red Tide.”
The episode begins with the long-awaited return of Adina Porter…’s body, as an unsuspecting fisherman discovers Chief Burleson’s corpse floating in the sea, prompting Coach Beiste — sorry, Officer Coach Beiste — of the Massachusetts State Police to open an investigation into the brutal crime. (Psst! It was the little girl!) Much to Officer Coach Beiste’s dismay, however, the town council is less than responsive to her concerns. Hell, they shrug off Burleson’s alleged “murder” and flat-out admit to covering up the bald creatures’ shenanigans. “Strange things happen down the Cape in the winter,” they tell the officer. “Everybody knows it.”
But Officer Coach Beiste will not be deterred, so Holden demands that Belle and Austin dispose of the Gardners, threatening them with all manner of unspeakable punishments… like, you know… stricter zoning regulations? (“I stopped Burger King from opening in this town,” he snarls. “I can stop you!”) That last threat clearly does the trick, because Harry arrives home to discover that Belle has kidnapped his baby.
Meanwhile, Harry informs Alma and Ursula that they’re all done with the pills “for good” after this summer, a decision that’s met with mixed reactions. Actually, there’s nothing mixed about Alma and Ursula’s responses; neither one of them are down for the cause, but Alma does a slightly better job of hiding it. She also does a terrible job of hiding the fact that she and Ursula are scheming to kill Harry behind his back. But we’ll get to that later.
Armed with a batch of “new” pills, Ursula goes into the woods to manipulate the baldies into doing her bidding — and manipulate she does. You know what, I’ll just let her speak for herself, because it’s wild.
“I know this sucks, OK?” she tells them. “I know you got a raw deal. But you are not monsters. You’re a bunch of Laurence Fishburnes. Fishburne turned down Pulp Fiction because his agent told him he’d be working with John Travolta — a has-been. Now, look, you’ve all made a very bad call, but it’s not the end of the story. Fishburne went on to beat out Sam Jackson for The Matrix. The moral of the story is that sometimes there are second chances.” She then offers them a new pill, one she claims is more potent with no side effects.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going quite as well over at Belle’s. Harry attempts to rescue his baby and get the hell out, but the erotic novelist has other plans — deadly, stabby plans. And just like Ursula, Belle incorporates a very specific Hollywood metaphor into her big speech, an on-the-nose critique about how Hollywood types took over California, despite the locals’ firm objections.
It’s a fine speech, but it’s the last one she’ll ever make. The creatures bust in, making quick work of both her and Austin. But before the baldies can set their sights on Harry and Alma, in comes Ursula, guns blazing. So, all’s well that ends well, right? Ha! Not by a long shot. First, Alma feeds on her dad. (Boo to patricide!) Then, she moves to Hollywood with Ursula, the Chemist and the baby. (Yay to road trips!)
While Alma gets busy murdering her way up the orchestral scene, and the Chemist uses her pills to target racist LAPD cops, Ursula goes on distribution overdrive, dishing out those sweet black beauties to countless young writers. Some turn out to be Harry-level successes, but judging by the chaotic final shot of Hollywood Boulevard being torn apart by freshly made creatures, I’d say the scales are hardly balanced. Can you really blame the Chemist for taking the baby and getting the hell out of Dodge?
That’s when Ursula delivers the season’s final monologue, which — and I mean it this time! — is definitely the message we’re supposed to take away from all of *gestures wildly* this.
“Looks like the streets are running red with blood and metaphors,” she says. “At least all of those no-talent monsters are taking their pain out in a real way. Being great is hard. The rest of us just don’t get it. We drive ourselves crazy with envy, but the truth is, most people aren’t willing to put in the work. They focus on the success, the notoriety, the wealth that their great piece of art will bring. But the journey there is tedious. And those that achieve greatness only do so because they’re f–d up enough to push through the pain and failure it takes to reach your potential At least with these pills, the world can find out if you’re any good. To be told we are talented, isn’t that all we ever want? The truth is, history will only remember a handful of us, but at least now we’re leveling the playing field.
Personally, I think she could have stopped at her earlier speech about how success is “just one swallow away. Spit or swallow, the choice is yours.”
And there you have it, folks. Part 1 of American Horror Story: Double Feature has come to an end. Were you satisfied by the six-episode journey? Weigh in via our poll below, then drop a comment with your hopes for next week’s kick-off of Part 2, “Death Valley.”