American Horror Story
The Dead

Episode Report Card
Mindy Monez: B | 75 USERS: A-
YOU GRADE IT
The Dead

LaLaurie is slicing a ham in the dark, as you do. Queenie appears – the kitchen is their usual late-night rendezvous spot, after all – for some girl talk. "What's the worst thing you ever did?" She's clearly trying to get some justification for turning her new best friend (and her only friend, to hear this episode tell it) over to a bloodthirsty voodoo witch, and ooh boy, does she get it. We see another horrific LaLaurie flashback. Her husband had taken up with a comely young slave named Sally, and when Sally gave birth to a healthy young boy with "a complexion light as cream," LaLaurie couldn't let it stand. She offers the girl a promotion as her new handmaiden, and Sally is PSYCHED. The direction is off in this flashback, right? Shouldn't there be a shade of a fear in Sally's face? LaLaurie's husband certainly seems to know what's in store for his mistress. Not that he does anything about it.

In her bedroom, LaLaurie shows off all her beauty products to Sally. Most of them were total rip-offs, which remains true to this day. How prophetic! She does have one bottle, however, that is absolutely magic. It's a simple concoction made from the blood of a young boy, newly born, as youth begets youth. "I know who's been between your legs, whore. You needn't give that boy a name." Sally clutches her womb and collapses. The next morning, she jumps to her death (or LaLaurie pushed her, who knows). Kathy Bates is doing that gleeful cruelty thing that she does so well here, and her work manages to be a lot of fun despite how horrifying the details of the scene are. I've seen a lot of people comparing these scenes to her Annie Wilkes performance, but I don't see the connection. Annie Wilkes didn't know she was cruel; Madame LaLaurie revels in it.

Queenie has heard all she needs to hear. LaLaurie tries make up for it by saying that they buried Sally with her baby – it was the right thing to do! And besides, back then you couldn't just let your husband's half-black bastards roam free, dangerous heirs to your fortune. Because yes, you know how slaves whose mothers were raped by their owners were always getting their fair share of the estate. Queenie astutely points out that LaLaurie has got a real fucked up sense of right and wrong, and LaLaurie agrees. She's all about taking responsibility these days. She's a brand new woman in a brand new century and she doesn't even want to torture black people anymore. She thanks Queenie for being her friend, for guiding her along her new moral path. It does speak to the strengths of this show that I am actually feeling a twinge of sympathy for LaLaurie in these scenes where she tries so hard to redeem herself. I know on an intellectual level that the era she lived in doesn't justify sewing people's mouths closed with a handful of shit crammed inside, but every once in a while, emotionally, she almost gets me. This is why you only stunt-cast actors who actually care about doing a good job.

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American Horror Story

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