After only just a few episodes, it’s honestly abrupt that American Horror Story: Double Feature is already coming to an end. These two mini-seasons went by very quickly, and the new shorter narrative didn’t always work to its advantage.
Admittedly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Red Tide’s ending. It was frustratingly rushed and seemingly shallow and empty. And while Death Valley is nowhere near as frustrating an ending, it just sort of comes across as an underwhelming finale to an underwhelming story.
The Watergate Distraction
Following the template each episode has, we begin in 1972, which President Nixon reeling from his immense criticism from the American people. Valiant Thor remarks that the Vietnam War (among other famous historical events) were mere distractions so that no one would notice all the abductions.
Even Nixon’s own scandal which leads to his resignation is instrumented by the aliens (and Mamie Eisenhower) as he begins to get cold feet about this decades long deal with them. It’s all part of a larger narrative about alternate history where the aliens had a hand in many events.
On its own, this concept would make for a fascinating miniseries, but sadly all we get are these random and fleeting references that don’t really go anywhere or amount to anything. The same is true when Henry Kissinger is revealed to be a Reptilian (another famous conspiracy theory), a detail which goes absolutely nowhere and has nothing to do with anything else.
Asylum infamously juggled a ridiculous amount of subplots, but even there, each one was given time and development, as well as a satisfying wrap up in the final episodes. But given the length of these half seasons, everything just feels rushed and all these subplots just feel like the random ideas pitched in the writers’ room, none of which were filtered out.
Back in the present, Kendall manages to give birth to the perfect human/alien hybrid, thus completing 60 years of experimentation. Now, Valiant reveals to Mamie his species’ true motivation, to breed an entire race of these hybrids and have them take over the Earth, removing humans as the dominant species.
For someone who spent the last few decades completely betraying her husband, as well as humanity as a whole, Mamie seems awfully surprised at the aliens’ nefarious plan. Ultimately she has a change of heart and decides to try to fight back, only to fail and end this season on one of the most anticlimactic notes in AHS history.
Too Little, Too Late
Let’s be honest here, these shorter form storytelling methods have failed American Horror Story miserably. The idea was to get more content out a “double feature” of half seasons, but the story moved at the same pace as it usually does, which just resulted in a slow suspenseful beginning and rapid race to the finish line in the final episode.
After all, Mamie’s betrayal, change of heart, and failure to do anything about it all take place in the latter half of this episode. Her decision to fight back occurs with only about 5 minutes left until the credits roll, which is why the ending itself just seems like it was building to nothing. Everything that the season promised us will happen off screen.
Usually, AHS does a better job at delivering finales because we’ve spent far more time with the characters, which allows us to have a more poignant conclusion. Look no further than the tearjerker that was the season finale of 1984 for that.
But here, it just seemed like several episodes’ worth of material crammed into just 45 minutes, all because it was decided that this season would be two stories. In the immortal words of Ron Swason on Parks & Recreation, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” And there is perhaps no better way to describe how this Double Feature season was executed!
What did you think of this week’s finale? What do you hope to see in future seasons? Let us know in the comments!
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