Overambition can be our own worst nightmare, a lesson that American Horror Story displays and might need a lesson in.
The worldbuilding that was going on in the introduction was necessary, and yet now it feels like the show is falling back into old habits. Trying to create shocking twists and turns is necessary to keep things fresh, but what happens when there is too much going on?
American Horror Story is familiar with that question considering the seasons before this one that struggled to follow a concrete core story because it had too much going on, with a lot of those twists not actually doing anything within the narrative.
During American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 2, Michael clued everyone in on the test that would be administered by him in order to find out who deserves true sanctuary. His arrival in the Outpost causes a chain reaction, which ends with one person dead and one injured in a mysterious way.
While all this is going on, sexual tension is at an all-time high and that really is the calling card for the Rubber Man to appear back in the world.
"The Morning After" written by James Wong picked up where the story left off, and its strongest area had to be character focused scenes. But the need to add in too many new concepts into the mix resulted in the episode as a whole not really holding up.
It felt like too much happened and yet most of it didn't make sense, which is a crutch that American Horror Story always falls back on.
The truth is though that the show is at its peak when it doesn't focus on how to confuse its audience.
Adam and Eve and the Rubber Man
Timothy and Emily are sadly becoming the slowest part of the season so far, and nothing has even really started yet.
Realistically, trying to create a relationship that an audience will root for is difficult for an anthology series that has limited timing as it is. But there is also no way to tell a story without exploring the way that characters connect with one another, especially at the end of the world when there is no hope and the survivors have to count on one another somehow.
Humanity is on the brink of failure.Michael
And yet, Emily and Timothy's need to find a way to have sex with one another is scary only in the way that it takes up screen time.
Even if a theory could be formed that these two are Adam and Eve that are being tempted by literal snakes and figurative ones in the form of Michael and the Rubber Man, that only leaves so much room for that to matter in the grand scheme of things.
But at the same time, there seems to be a fixation on the Ten Commandments again, with the idea of sins intermingling with everyone's chance to survive.
Michael's tests aren't clear yet, but they appear to be rooted in pushing everyone to the brink. The first step was pushing anger and turning that into Mr. Gallant killing his own grandmother.
On the other spectrum is Emily and Timothy being unable to ignore their need for one another, and that becomes Timothy being driven to a breaking point where he kills the guards to keep them alive.
Within this entire equation is the Rubber Man, a new presence that possibly came with Michael since in a way he is his father. That gets even messier when you consider that Mr. Gallant who is played by Evan Peters slept with the Rubber Man who was Tate who was also played by Evan Peters.
The Rubber Man doesn't only appear that one time though, he makes a few appearances and all of them are linked to some sort of sexual situations. Whether he is in them or is watching them, the sexual tension increased quite a bit with this character now in the mix.
All of this doesn't begin to explain though what is going on, but the hints revolve around everyone in that Outpost suffering. They were already not having the greatest time barely living, but now their lives are at stake in a different sense and it is really possible that torturing them all is a part of the test.
I'm gay, but I fucked a girl in high school. And I finished, and she did too, I think. It's hard to tell with girls.Mr. Gallant
Some have had to reveal their most painful secrets to Michael and that never ended well. Mr. Gallant's feelings were the trigger that killed his grandmother and allowed Michael to see his weak spots easily.
This connected back to Evie, who couldn't truly accept her grandson, that quickly turned her into the first victim to suffer the consequences of what a sin might do to someone.
This all is seemingly pointing at a mental experiment that everyone is involved in, one that might not have any winners at all.
Michael might be trying to conduct a test that can only work for the survivors if they don't allow it to influence them.
Open Ended Revelations
Now, something that the show always struggles with is revealing information that might sound like it will play a part, but then it becomes nothing but background noise.
The Rubber Man appearance felt like that at first, but there is still the promise of other characters that helps leave some hope out there.
The real questions come from Venable's conversation with Michael, the one that questions what emails actually made it her way.
I paid my way in here, and that is the only cooperating that I plan on doing.Coco
Ignoring the fact that with the end of the world there is still great wifi to be had, is Venable a character even worth trusting?
The instinct here is to question where the disconnect is between the two leaders, but Venable has already proved that she is following only her own rules.
But she is also a survivor that wants to have a chance at the Sanctuary, so lying to Michael is such a stupid move if she should be reporting to him.
It is a giant risk to take in telling him about emails that she can't even back up, which means either it is the truth or she is hoping her bluff won't be called.
In the midst of all this, Michael introduces the audience to a secret that Venable has up her sleeve, or specifically in her back.
The immediate thought is snakes, and then that morphs into a question of does it even matter?
Is this reveal something that assists the story or is it an aesthetically based decision that was meant to be mysterious without an actual pay off at the end of the tunnel?
You were 52 when Elvis took his last shit.Coco
Because truthfully American Horror Story functions on the kind of horror that comes from the element of fear and surprise. But then there is also the horror function that is all about making the audience feel uneasy, whether it plays a role in the plot of the show or not.
The same would go for that strange reveal that Miriam might not even be human. A person who was just shot shouldn't have a strange white substance coming out of her wound, that just means she has no blood and can't be like everyone else in there.
Does it matter though?
Will this add to the structure of the apocalypse and how these people will try to survive? Or is this a question that is just a new thing that the show hasn't tried yet and won't actually have anything to do with what is coming for Outpost #3?
This is just the beginning of American Horror Story, so there is still plenty of time for it to grow and develop in ways that aid the season, the important part here is watching out for common mistakes that have created problems before.
What did you think of the episode? Was the momentum built up even more for you or are you starting to slow down with the show? What character are you hoping will be chosen by Michael to survive? Do you think anyone will be chosen?
What theories do you have about the season as a whole? Where do the scattered seasons fit in here?
Let us know what you think below!
And don't forget that you can watch American Horror Story online, right here on TV Fanatic.
Yana Grebenyuk was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in April 2021.