Frances Conroy arrived to stir shit up – but in the end, it all wound up being yet another facet of Kai's master plan.
So... did anyone else feel like American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 7 was a bit of a waste of time?
Raise your hand if you, too, felt personally victimized by Lena Dunham's Valerie Solanas voice.
All in all, "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag" wasn't necessarily a bad installment. But it was by and large the weakest of the season thus far – which isn't so good, considering there are only three more left.
For much of the season, I've been predicting that Beverly would tired of being under Kai's thumb and decide to rise up and oust him. And she sort of did – emphasis on sort of.
The final moments of the hour revealed that everything we'd seen so far of Bebe was an act. While the brief exchange between Bebe and Kai didn't explicitly address their larger game plan, we can infer that Bebe's presence and her long-winded story about Valerie's SCUM murders were all a ploy to rile the women of the cult up and get them angry.
Kai: They're at their best when they're angry. Don't you think?
Bebe: Aren't we all?
The logic behind this doesn't quite hold, but I'm interested to see Kai's explanation for why this is a good idea.
Sure, he has ranted about wanting chaos all season long. But now, he has seemingly orchestrated the makings of a coup – Bebe successfully goaded Beverly, Ivy, and Winter into viciously murdering Harrison (RIP, Billy Eichner!).
Ostensibly, they'll set their sights on Kai next.
How does turning his women followers against him, playing off of their anger and rage at being subjugated, help Kai's larger goals? I guess we'll just need to wait and see.
Aside from that, it was a joy to have Frances Conroy back once again.
She's a phenomenal actress. I'm glad to see that Bebe is seemingly a more interesting, meatier role than that of Mama Polk on American Horror Story Season 6.
I know what it means to assassinate a man. That pantomime the other night? Wasn't that.Bebe
Conroy's Bebe was the perfect combination of mysterious, compelling, and manipulative. All in all, she was the perfect tool for Kai.
Lena Dunham did a good enough job as Valerie Solanas. The character was clearly written to be a mix of deranged, humorous, and egotistical. Dunham pulled off all three of those things well. But I don't think she's a particularly good actress.
She had her moments on Girls, but she's always struck me as the type of performer who is really only good at performing material she is personally connected to – so Hannah's best moments on Girls would be the best of her abilities, I imagine. The more dramatic Valerie material that didn't rely on humor was sort of... meh.
Unfortunately, there was in general just too much Valerie (and too many flashbacks) for this installment.
It felt like the narrative equivalent of riding a bicycle in place. Hearing Valerie's story – the formation of her own SCUM cult and their orchestration of the so-called Zodiac killings – was designed to get the women of Kai's cult to turn against him.
But I feel like we didn't really need all that to get them to this point. It could have been accomplished in far less screentime and with far less Lena Dunham.
Beverly was just about ready to turn on Kai as it was. And I don't buy that Winter and her brother are particularly bonded to one another, based on everything we've seen so far. As for Ivy – well, she was never that into the idea of the cult in the first place. She pretty much just wanted Ally out of the picture.
Speaking of Ally: It doesn't make a ton of sense that she was arrested, given that Meadow was on tape shooting everyone and Ally was on tape wrestling the gun out of her hands. But her absence did make me miss Sarah Paulson. Even her non-stop screaming.
Also, Ivy got to have this gem of an exchange with Harrison, shortly before murdering him:
Harrison: Oh, now you wanna talk about protecting our wives?
Ivy: I just drove my wife crazy, I didn't get her killed!
Gee, these two are really neck-and-neck for the spouse of the year award, huh?
Despite not particularly liking the extended focus on Valerie, there were some good and pleasantly surprising things about those portions of the hour.
For one, Evan Peters' portrayal of Andy Warhol was fantastic. His mannerisms and way of speaking were absolutely spot on. For me, that character's brief appearances were highlights.
Despite being lukewarm about Dunham's performance as Valerie, her final scene with Ghost Andy Warhol was great (again, largely thanks to Peters' performance as Ghost Andy).
Yet, the dialogue there was a bit too on-the-nose for my liking (did we really need to spell out the hour's gendered thesis statement, yet again?). I do think a better actress may have been able to pull it off better than Dunham managed to.
Then again, we clearly weren't meant to feel much sympathy or empathy for Valerie. If the goal was for her to be extremely grating and annoying – well, mission accomplished, writers.
In the present, I'm hoping that Beverly will realize she's being manipulated by Kai (for whatever purpose, which we'll presumably find out soon).
Adina Porter was a great, complex, flawed protagonist on American Horror Story Season 6 – the "twist" which found her the main character by the season's end was great. I want to see Beverly become a wildcard in the same way Lee became a wildcard.
To be honest, I don't have much hope for either Ivy or Winter to accomplish much of anything.
Ivy's betrayal of Ally is all too clearly something that will be punished with death or a grand sacrifice to redeem herself at some point this season. I'd be floored if Ivy makes it out alive. Sure, Ally is annoying, but she's done nothing so terrible as to warrant Ivy literally driving her insane.
I foresee Winter making some attempt at a stand against Kai, only for her brother to harshly and suddenly cut her down. Who knows? Perhaps I'm wrong. But she hasn't been much of an active, independent figure so far, so I don't have much faith that will change within the remaining three episodes.
- That portrait of Meadow and Harrison in the sweaters – absolutely perfect.
- I'm not surprised that Kai has acquired a troop of white male followers, but why the hell have they all dressed identically? Are they trying to look like a cult?
- Whoever played young Bebe tried her darndest to match Frances Conroy's very unusual (and specific) manner of speaking, but it just sounded sort of goofy.
- Harrison said almost exactly the same thing that Taylor did when he was murdered by Valerie's followers back in 1968: "But I'm a man!"
- Kai's enthusiasm after realizing he was retweeted by Eric Trump was so funny.
- This confirmed that no one was in on the Meadow assassination plan, exactly, though Harrison did admit to being told to let Ally rescue her. He didn't know she was going to faux-assassinate Kai and kill herself, though – not that he was too broken up over it.
- I was pleasantly surprised to see American Horror Story veteran Jamie Brewer and Glee alum Dot Jones as two members of Valerie's crew of man-hating killers.
What did you think of "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag"?
Share your thoughts by commenting below, and don't forget that you can watch American Horror Story online here at TV Fanatic anytime!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.