Have we ever seen a more action-packed installment of American Horror Story? I don't think so.
American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 7 featured scare after non-stop scare. And gore. Plenty of gore.
It's as though the AHS writers somehow caught a sneak-peak of The Walking Dead Season 7 Premiere and were like, "Nah, we can top that goriness."
I can safely say that "Chapter 7" will go down as one of my favorite installments of American Horror Story ever. It was legitimately unsettling and just plain creepy, on so many different levels.
The MVP (so to speak) of the hour was undoubtedly Kathy Bates' Agnes. I can't speak highly enough of how unsettling it was to watch Agnes talking to herself, slipping from her Butcher accent/persona into flashes of her "real"/normal self. Give her all the awards for this performance, ASAP.
It's incredible how Bates' performance changed in subtle ways from playing the Butcher in the "My Roanoke Nightmare" re-enactments to deranged Agnes-as-Butcher on this installment and on American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 6.
Bates' take on the Butcher in the re-enactments was chillingly level-headed; she never seemed unhinged. Even re-using the Butcher's very own dialogue, Bates' delivery as a psychotic Agnes in the Butcher persona is entirely different. So much scarier.
It was shocking to see Sidney cut down so quickly. We only officially met him on "Chapter 6," and just like that, he's gone!
Agnes deranged ruthlessness was incredibly sudden. There was seemingly no buildup whatsoever – one minute she was an unhinged woman railing against Sidney and Diana from the porch of her cute apartment complex, and the next she was a blood-splattered mass murderer. How very American Horror Story.
At the same time, I weirdly felt kind of bad for Agnes. Did anyone else have that unnerving sensation? Obviously, it's all owed to Bates' stunning portrayal. Every time Agnes "broke character" to slip back into her pitiful self ("He said everybody would forget about me," "I just wanted to be on the show," etc.) it was legitimately heart-wrenching.
Also, to be quite honest, while it was surprising to see Sid go so soon, I wasn't exactly sad to see him go. Sidney was a one-dimensionally cruel character, which I think was the point.
Before being ended in an epic meeting with the real Butcher, Agnes also got in an attack on Shelby and escaped both from Dominic's attack and Lee shooting her. Did the land somehow imbue Agnes with near-invulnerability? How did she keep going after being attacked by man much larger than her and literally shot?
Agnes' end was just as pitiably pathetic as I would have expected. I loved the fact that they subverted the obvious expectation of Agnes "teaming up" with her idol to wreak vengeance on the survivors. Instead, she was nonchalantly killed off.
There's no mistaking the meaning – the real Butcher is playing a whole new ballgame, and she's way out of Agnes' league.
You're the Butcher. My idol. My maker. Oh! I'm sorry. [crying] I just wanted to be on TV.Agnes
The main group of Roanoke houseguests split into two groups in the wake of Rory's disappearance and Agnes' attack on Shelby. Lee, Monet, and Audrey decided to venture out to find Sidney and get medical help for Shelby. Things literally just got worse and worse for that trio the farther they went.
First, they encountered the Pig Man. Like the real Butcher, the real Pig Man is somehow 10 times more frightening than the "My Roanoke Nightmare" version. It's incredible how subtly they managed to turn up the spook factor on the "real" version of all of these villains versus the TV-friendly re-enactment versions.
The real Scathach, too, is no dirty-but-still-obviously-attractive Lady Gaga. This Scathach is just a ghoul. Even the way she moves is scarier.
After fleeing the Pig Man, the women found the dead bodies of Agnes' victims. THEN Agnes attacked them, getting shot by Lee. THEN they discovered Rory's mutilated body. THEN they got kidnapped by cannibal hillbillies, the real Polk family.
Can you even believe this all happened in just one installment? SO MUCH TRAUMA.
I can't recall being as viscerally unnerved by any other scene in recent memory as I was watching the Polks "tenderize" Lee's leg, torture Audrey and Monet, and force the two women to eat Lee's leg meat. I honestly can't believe I even typed out that whole sentence without throwing up.
As distressing and terrifying as Lee, Audrey, and Monet's ordeal was, the far more complicated story centered on Matt, Shelby, and Dominic... oh, and Scathach.
I've been waiting for you.Matt
Remember how we all noticed that Matt had been acting like a total weirdo since returning to the Roanoke house? Turns out he was under Scathach's "thrall" or something. He was basically a living zombie since leaving the house, which he admitted to Shelby shortly before sh*t hit the fan.
Everything that happened in this installment was scary, but wasn't exactly surprising. Gross as the Polk scenes were, we'd already seen essentially the same thing in the re-enactments. Shelby killing Matt, on the other hand? That was a complete shock. I didn't see that coming from a mile away. I gasped. Audibly.
If Kathy Bates was "Chapter 7's" MVP, Lily Rabe was a very close runner-up. Her distraught reaction in the aftermath of killing Matt in a blind rage was breathlessly realistic and amazing. She's an incredibly talented actress.
That said, I'm not fully convinced that Shelby actually did kill Matt.
Hear me out: I believe it's possible that Shelby may have snapped. The one-two punch of seeing your estranged husband with a creepy forest demon-witch-spirit (who is, again, decidedly NOT as attractive as Gaga's reenactment version) and then having your husband confess that he's in love with said creepy forest demon-witch-spirit – that would wreck even the most stable gal's mental state.
The sheer brutality and suddenness of Matt's murder was intense. Crushing someone's skull with a crowbar? That takes intent and some serious, unbridled anger.
Which leads me to – Dominic.
Dominic was sketchy throughout the entire installment. According to his confessionals, he was in the house solely to drum up drama and get himself more time on the air.
The bad guy's always the lead on every show. Now let me ask you something else, judgmental motherfuckers. What's more important than screentime? Huh?Dominic
(PS, no one can convince me that the above quote wasn't meant as a direct jab at the fans complaining about Evan Peters' lack of screentime this season.)
The writers also made a huge deal out of Dominic wearing a body cam. That, paired with Dominic's rather aggressive insistence that Shelby turn herself in made me suspicious that we might not have seen the real truth of what happened. Could Dominic have killed Matt himself and then convinced a traumatized Shelby that she did? I know, it's a stretch, but stranger things have happened on this series.
Who will be the final survivor? In this installment, we lost Sid, the cameraman, Alissa, Agnes, and Matt. Rory was the victim of "Chapter 6." Lee is still apparently alive, despite her missing leg, according to American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 8's promo. Monet, Audrey, Dominic, and Shelby were also all still alive when we last saw them.
As of now, I'm guessing Lee, Shelby, or Dominic will make it to the end. Personally, I hope it's Lee. Monet and Audrey strike me as goners – Monet has had absolutely zero character development beyond her Lee-matching alcoholism. Audrey is hilarious, but she was pretty bound up in Rory. I can't see her being the final survivor. She's just too goofy and, honestly, sorta useless.
- Finally, we met Finn Wittrock's character. Did you catch him? We only got a quick glimpse – he is playing one of the Polk boys. Specifically, he's the one holding the camera throughout the duration of the Polk torture scenes.
- Still no sign of Taissa Farmiga's character.
- I was incredibly disappointed that Jessica Lange didn't appear as the real Butcher. I know she officially left the series years ago, but man oh man, a surprise brief one-off appearance like that would have been amazing.
- The Grudge-type ghost was already incredibly scary during the re-enactments – how much scarier could it possibly get in the "real" version? Yikes.
- Even in the midst of all of this terror, the writers found time for some comedy, courtesy of my fave Audrey. I will never tire of her ceaseless Britishness.
Oh, I can't believe that Agnes. I knew she was upset about losing the Saturn Award, but I didn't think it would make her completely homicidal.Audrey
Audrey: Oh Jesus, Sidney! I think he's dead.
Lee: You think?!
Audrey: Oh, leave me alone! I'm not American, I'm not used to all this carnage.
What did you think of "Chapter 7"? Leave me a comment below and remember that you can watch American Horror Story online, to relive the madness!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.