This just in: American Horror Story is actually just about YouTube stars.
Everyone’s got their camera pointed in their own direction this week, as the folks at the Roanoke mansion — and the one literal crazy woman who’s still cosplaying — are all intent on filming themselves, just in case death and destruction come knocking.
Now, listen. I love recapping this show, and I’m going in deep on what happened to all these terrified characters this week, but no amount of analysis or recap scripture is going to do justice to this episode. “Chapter 7” is, so far, the best installment of the season, and the season itself is the best since Asylum, bearing genuine stakes for its characters’ deaths (unlike the fun, campy, resurrection-happy Coven) and legitimately scary moments. So read on, but if you really haven’t watched the episode and are hoping to fake it at the water cooler thanks to this recap, I honestly encourage you to change course and go watch it for yourself.
It’s tense. It’s taut. It’s genuinely scary and frightening. I gasped, like, four times.
So, here’s where we stand with all the characters in this nightmare. They’re fading, and fast.
Sidney (Cheyenne Jackson)
Admittedly, Sidney the producer lasted far longer than I expected — that is to say, he wasn’t the first to die. Congrats on a stunning achievement. He’s only the third to die, in fact, after poor Rory (the criminally killed Evan Peters) and a poor young production assistant named Alyssa, whose only crime was delivering dinner and bearing a childhood dream to enter the cutthroat industry of Hollywood. Turns out they also cut throats in North Carolina, as she’s sliced and diced outside the production office before she can even get staffed on The Middle. So, it’s understandable that when Sidney discovers her rapidly oozing body, his first instinct (“Get the camera!”) solidifies why nobody is upset when he and a cameraman are themselves quickly killed by The Butcher — or, the truly insane woman whom they cast as The Butcher, which in hindsight was a casting choice that should beget a big promotion for whoever saw the light during that audition.
Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates)
Playing The Butcher, then faded character actress Agnes, then faded character actress Agnes schizophrenically masquerading as The Butcher should garner Kathy Bates some kind of award, as it’s legitimately her best work on American Horror Story thus far. This week, she shines during what’s essentially her psychological breakdown after she’s excluded from Return to Roanoke. Setting up a de facto production office in Elias’s underground lair, Agnes goes full Real World confessional as she returns to her tripod camera for period interviews between killings.
First, there’s the murder of the production team. Soon afterwards, she makes a bold stride into the house and cleaves Shelby in the back (which, insanely, is only like the third-most shocking thing that happened this episode). Dominic shoves her into a window, but she quickly disappears again and retreats. Then, to prove even more how unsinkable this Molly Brown is, she comes after Lee, Monet, and Audrey in the forest. Even though Lee shoots her, Agnes won’t stay down: She cauterizes the wound with pliers and takes out the bullet with the elementary finesse of a Sesame Street tutorial from Liam Neeson.
But it’s all for naught when this devoted thespian finally meets her end — and her idol. As Agnes prepares to douse the mansion in kerosene and light it on fire, she’s greeted by the entire Roanoke ghost colony and the big lady herself, The Real Butcher (who, frankly, I was honestly expecting to look like Kathy Bates, but she instead opted for more of a Bette Midler-in-Hocus-Pocus vibe). Despite Agnes’ cries of adulation and her vulnerable final words “I just wanted to be on TV,” The Real Butcher bears no sympathy and slices Agnes in half. Actors, take warning: Never, ever, ever, ever sign on for a biopic of someone who’s alive. Or a ghost. Either or.
NEXT: Three ladies in a wood