American Horror Story: Requiem 1981/1987 Part Two
November 17, 2022 4:19 PM - Season 11, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Adam struggles to understand what Hannah has learned, and Gino tries to come to grips with all that has happened.
posted by kittens for breakfast (9 comments total)
So, I guess Big Daddy was just the Grim Reaper? An apparition of Death personified?

My crackpot theory through the whole season has been that the disease would turn out to be something that mimicked the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, but was actually caused by one of the things the early conspiracy theorists proposed, like mad scientists or something. I'm as big a fan of the "real life is the true horror" trope as anybody, and ghosts are great, and these last two episodes were beautiful and sad, and I'm just old enough to remember how horrible those times were. But I feel like there were just a bunch of plot checks written and never cashed.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:34 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Well, I guess Big Daddy was the personification of Death, except for...all the times he wasn't, like when he killed Barbara in the shower and tried to murder Patrick a bunch of times and set that night club on fire? I can accept the Grim Reaper as a passive spectral presence, but getting his hands dirty and actively assassinating folks isn't cricket.

Taken as the final chapter of this season, this episode leaves so many unanswered questions as to be deeply unsatisfying. But taken as a discrete unit of entertainment, I found the episode extremely well-made and compelling: the Kraftwerk sequence is really bravura stuff, and the images of Adam wandering the streets of NYC deep in thought, trying to wring understanding from his dead friend's last words, are haunting and moving.

And somehow it doesn't bother me that we don't quite know what happened to Hannah, because that is the kind of haunting ambiguity we are sometimes left with after a death in real life. And there's also a fog around AIDS and Lyme where we don't quite know what the authorities knew when, even if conspiracy theories about weaponized plague are (we hope, right?) a Bit Much. I often think that conspiracy theories are the fairy tales we sometimes tell ourselves, hoping to find a logic, a meaning, that would make it all seem less random; it would be comforting to know there was a reason why, even if the reason didn't comfort us. But I also think poor Karen Silkwood was probably murdered, right? I mean, come on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

It seemed pretty clear to me that Big Daddy is the embodiment of AIDs, which is weird since he fire bombed the Brownstone. However AHS has never been great with consistency and seeming plot points that turn into dead ends is another hallmark of the show. Normally, I'm totally fine with that. But when you introduce conspiracy theories into a real horror that people lived through and still vividly remember, especially in the wake of covid, you need to treat very very carefully. And that's not something this show has ever done well.

Having the last two episodes simply be about the horror of AIDs along with some trite symbolism just didn't do anything for me except piss me off I didn't stop watching this season much earlier. While I loved the talent involved in this season, which kept in, the writing was just not there and no amount of Denis O'Hare as gay lounge lizard/hit man could save it for me.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

And somehow it doesn't bother me that we don't quite know what happened to Hannah

We don't? Didn't she die of AIDS?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:15 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

...Maybe? She had AIDS, but it sure sounded like she could have been strangled to me. If she knew something that They (you know, Them) didn't want out there, is it that far-fetched that the cops could have been in on it? And doesn't it seem like she expired awfully suddenly? You know. I'm not saying this is what happened: I'm saying we don't know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:21 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes her death is unclear although I think, again, the lack of clarity is bad writing. It looks like Billy buys into the possibility of the conspiracy with her sudden death augmented by what he discovers on the tapes like that some of what Fran said is actually true. In addition, there's the "we don't know why the deer are repopulating so quickly" which, again, suggests something unnatural is going on.

But when Billy talks to the coroner (or pathologist? I don't remember) she basically tells him none of this connected although she understands how it could appear that way. Keep in mind he also thinks Theo's death is murder and is connected to all of this. I grant you Theo's death is caused by Sam, but is accidental. (Sam sure does rack up those accidental deaths though.) The pathologist (or coroner? I forget) basically tells Billy that none of these things are connected and Billy is looking for patterns and reasons where there isn't any. I think that's intended to also be aimed at the audience. That's natural to want to believe there is some overarching evil causing all of this pain and suffering, but nope it just happened.

Now, it wasn't written very clearly but when you consider that just last season there was a huge government conspiracy plot, they needed to work extra hard to make that clear.

So I think Hannah's sudden death was natural and intended as a symbolic point for the season, but the writing was weak and so it got lost in the shuffle.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:44 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I just finished this season and was really into the ambiance for most of it, but these last two episodes were completely infuriating! It's not like I go into AHS expecting a respectful take on real-life horrific events, but, uh...maybe not actively disrespectful? Denis O'Hare was a vision, though.
posted by quatsch at 1:41 PM on December 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just finished this season recently and have very mixed feelings.

Early on, the disease they were talking about seemed like more on an HIV/AIDS analogue and I thought it was bizarre that they seemed to have created a fictional illnesses for a story set in the era of the AIDS epidemic. In a sense, that it turned out to actually be AIDS, rather than a fictonal disease, was a relief. And the AIDS epidemic as horror story makes a lot of sense because for many who lived through it, it very much was.

All that aside, basically the first 7 or 8 episodes were largely a fake out: you think this is a "typical" AHS murder/ghost story, but nope, it's actually all been a big AIDS allegory and the character who turns out to be the ghostly embodiment of AIDS did a few things that plainly don't make sense after this big reveal, which just feels like bad writing rather than deliberate red herrings.
posted by asnider at 10:39 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

The firebombing and the strangulation are both pretty easy metaphors, especially in light of the ending sequence in which he's shooting up offices and stabbing people in clubs. His violence is the violence of the virus, and of the society which laughed at its victims and worked to prolong and worsen the AIDS crisis. The firebombing of the club in particular I took as a metaphor for how the virus devastated gay social scenes, killing not only the people but the structures they built around them.

I think the problem is that people want to read this season as, and I'm not sure what the literary term is here, physically real: they want the violence shown to be actual, physical violence in a literal sense. I think it's been a metaphor the whole time and the story has been operating on rules other than the rules of reality from the start.

In light of that I think the final two episodes flow smoothly from the rest of the series, and found the final sequence, created by a gay man who was young during the crisis and survived it, absolutely devastating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:27 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

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