The second episode of the new season is titled “Pale”. In the next few weeks, we will be meeting a new band of survivors in a new town in a desolate place, where a murder occurred recently.
In the second episode of the anthology series American Horror Story’s 10th season, American Horror Story: “Pale”, viewers were introduced to a new character named Zayday, a black woman who was a college student and a drug addict. In the episode, a cult member invites a woman to a party, which turns out to be a ritualistic drug-fueled gathering, at which point the woman is killed by another woman. The woman questions why she was invited to the party and is told that she was invited because she is “cursed”. She continues questioning why she was invited and is told “they” need her for “something”. A man at the gathering stabs her at the end of the episode.
American Horror Story is back for another season, and the show has evolved quite a bit in the decade since it first premiered. It is not quite horror television in the traditional sense anymore—but it is still very much scary.
REVIEW: “Pale” from Season 10 of American Horror Story
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In “Pale,” Harry deals with the consequences of swallowing Austin’s black pill. He gets a surge of creative energy after noticing a sudden desire for blood. His connection with his family deteriorates as he devotes himself more and more to writing, stealing bloody steaks here and there. After a squabble with his daughter Alma, Harry resolves to stop taking the pills and mails his completed work. When he receives an enthusiastic call from Ursula, complimenting the screenplay and giving him a Netflix streaming contract, he immediately changes his mind. Harry goes to Austin’s house in quest of more tablets, only to discover that rare steaks are insufficient to satisfy his newfound hunger.
I’m feeling very stupid right now since the idea that the pale beings in Provincetown might be vampires never occurred to me. To some degree, the more developed, sophisticated vampires like Harry, Austin, and Belle remind me of those in Hotel. Despite the fact that their laws on addicts seem to be diametrically opposite to the Countess’, she avoided them at all costs and instructed her creatures to do the same. Austin and Belle, on the other hand, seem to enjoy receiving a secondhand high from their victims. I find the vampire hierarchy interesting, and I hope they continue to explore it as the season progresses. It’s frightening to think that the pill only works if you have skill and transforms you into a dumb beast if you don’t. This made Harry’s decision to take it all the more risky; he might have become the same monsters that hunted down his wife and children. You might argue that the ones who still retain their brains are much worse than them, and I believe that is what the show is implying. Because Harry and his new pals can still think, talk, and write, their murders are all the more frightening because they know what they’re doing is wrong. It was also intriguing when Belle advised Harry to avoid hunting in town since the new sheriff, unlike the previous one, is inquisitive. This implies that she is aware of and concerned about what is going on, and that she lied to the Gardners in order to keep it a secret or to get them out of her hair. I’m interested to see how it plays out with her in the future. Similarly, I’m still curious about Ursula and how (or if) her narrative will connect to the main plot. She seems to be in a completely different environment, therefore I believe she might be the protagonist of the season’s “Death Valley” portion. I enjoy the concept of this season’s dual narrative, and it’s refreshing to see them branch out after so many years.
Karen was one of my least favorite characters in “Cape Fear,” but she is much more humanized in “Pale.” Her moment with Mickey is sad and has a significant impact on Mickey’s character. I appreciate how, despite being a social outcast and coming off as very filthy, Karen looks down on Belle for who she is and what she does. Karen brings Belle a baby, knowing exactly what will happen to him/her, and it’s difficult not to notice the irony in that. I can’t wait to watch what happens to Mickey as a result of her appeals to him not to take the pill. Only time will tell whether he turns into one of the brainless, talentless zombie-vampires. The portion of “Pale” that interests me the most is Alma taking the pill and the consequences for poor Doris. Her husband and daughter are now both verbally abusive, homicidal bloodsuckers, and she is completely unaware of it. She believes Harry is just on normal human medications, which would be terrible enough. I think this will be bad news for Doris and her pregnant child unless she can get away from Harry, Alma, and the rest of Provincetown’s wild animals. Her prospects don’t seem to be good. Since Alma is still a kid, I’m curious whether she will respond differently to the pill’s effects than Harry and his companions. She has no idea what the drug works and just took it because she believed it would help her play the violin better (which it does). Doris’ discovery of Alma at the conclusion of the episode suggests that she has no clue what to do and has responded to the hunger immediately.
The scenario in which the storekeeper speaks with Harry about the meat he’s purchasing and his writing is odd. Everyone in Provincetown appears to be aware of the vampires (if that’s what they are), but they seem to be leading reasonably regular lives. I’m not sure why regular people would feel at ease having these animals as friends, colleagues, or neighbors. Sure, Belle and Austin don’t eat from inside the town, but it’s doubtful that the locals are aware of this. They do this to escape the sheriff’s suspicions and anger, thus it’s more of a stated guideline for people of their type than a written law. I’m curious whether the folks are complicit in the operation or just accept it since they aren’t the ones who are dying. It’s frightening to hear Belle and Austin refer to their victims as trash who won’t be missed. Many individuals would perceive the lowest rungs of society in this light, and it’s heartbreaking to witness Karen and Mickey’s point of view. They’re the kind of individuals Belle believes it’s OK to murder.
Overall, “Pale” is a significant improvement over “Cape Fear,” and I really enjoyed it. I still have several unanswered concerns regarding how things operate in Provincetown and the mentality of the locals. Nonetheless, I anticipate the program to provide answers, and perhaps soon. I enjoy how the “vampires” work and that there are two kinds of them. So far, the first half of Double Feature is looking promising, and I’m hoping they can maintain the pace through the end of it and into “Death Valley.”
Plot – 9
Acting (10 points)
Progress – ten
9 – Production Design
Elements of Horror – 8
Overall, “Pale” is a significant improvement over “Cape Fear,” and I really enjoyed it. I enjoy how the “vampires” work and that there are two kinds of them. So far, the first half of Double Feature is looking promising, and I’m hoping they can maintain the pace through the end of the film and into “Death Valley.”
- ahs season 10 theme
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