Though this cycle of American Horror Story has admirably managed to shirk formula for the better part of the season, we’ve reached chapter 8 and, as such, a season staple: The “death and destruction” episode. That’s not to say that this season has been lacking in overflow (wrong choice of word?) of blood and gore, but this week’s vein openings seem to be directed toward a very specific endgame in the final two episodes. Ryan Murphy even said that this week’s episode was its “most intense” ever — and hell, I’d believe it if had the preceding five not been just as bloody disgusting as this one.
We pick up in the aftermath of Shelby and Dominic watching Agnes straight up get chopped (someone didn’t use all the mystery basket ingredients) and Shelby hilariously asking Dominic if he has any advice on what to do next, given that he’s “played this before.” Girl, you LIVED IT. But neither of them has any good idea what to do next. I mean, Shelby has an idea — to go through Edward Mott’s underground tunnel — but just because it’s an idea doesn’t mean it’s a good one.
Passing through the basement and, as such, the convenient reminder that Shelby bashed Matt’s head in, the duo finds the tunnel and comes face to face with the Chens. Remember them? They’re that Taiwanese family that also got slaughtered in the re-enactment and now crawl Exorcist–Grudge style toward Shelby and Dominic at rapid speed. The duo manage to escape, but Shelby’s had it. “We’re going to die in here,” she tweets with her mouth. “There is no escape.” And from here on out, she just loses all interest in sticking around on this planet anymore.
Dominic (who apparently only came to Roanoke to get a coveted spin-off, which we must remember is on a TLC network, so, like, who cares) gets attacked by Piggy Man; Shelby stabs him in the head; and then the old chandelier chooses the perfect time to fall from the ceiling and help them escape yet again. Really, Dominic and Shelby’s whole arc this episode is various escapes and enclosures: Tunnel, kitchen, foyer, bedroom, etc. But the bedroom is the last stop for Shelby: She’s now fully delirious and, for the most part, unwilling to live after killing the only man she ever loved. So, she slices her own throat and goes to that great network spin-off in the sky.
Dominic keeps spouting jokes, though, lamenting the loss of his first-class trip to Thailand, so you know it’s only a matter of time before he’s gone, too.
But first, we return to the real Polks: the cannibal family that sort of looks like what might happen if Jan Brady started binge-watching Weeds and never stopped. They continue to slice and feast on their Lee Apron meals; Lee, to her credit, has a surprising amount of stamina and grit, which makes me believe further that she’ll be the only one to emerge from this whole mess. Her ear, not so much.
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The real juice (again, wrong choice of word?) to the Polk story this week is the big reveal about the family: The story of them becoming cannibals is woefully uninteresting (surprise: they were literally hungry one day) but what’s more intriguing is the revelation that it was a Polk who became the first Piggy Man in response to the Butcher’s fetish for them. Is this particularly shocking? Sure, why not. Is this a tradition one honors in the same way that families pass down ravioli, kugel, or banh mi recipes? Sure, why not again. Apparently, for southern cannibals, going full Piggy Man is as heartwarming a tradition as a patriarch dressing as Santa.
NEXT: The Polks also have a thing for teeth