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American Horror Story: Delicate ends with a WTF

American Horror Story: Delicate ends with a WTF
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Perhaps two good American Horror Story seasons in a row was too much to ask for.

I’ll be the first to put on my clown makeup and call myself out for daring to wish for too much. But after the surprisingly poignant AHS: NYC last season, I was full of hope. Early episodes of AHS: Delicate had me bewitched by the more restrained psychological buildup. And I kept making excuses when the show failed to deliver, when it strung out the buildup for yet another episode.

I forgot the first fundamental rule of being an AHS fan: The show rarely, if ever, sticks the landing.

[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for the end of American Horror Story: Delicate.]

Image: FX

Delicate followed Anna Alcott (Emma Roberts), an actress on the road to campaign for an Oscar who is also desperately trying to get pregnant. After finally conceiving, she starts to experience a lot of weirdness: dark figures following her around, dolls of herself with various injuries left around, and cravings for raw animal flesh, among other things. Throughout it all, her best friend and manager, Siobhan (Kim Kardashian), reassures her that everything will be totally fine and normal.

But Siobhan is actually the mastermind behind everything Anna’s been experiencing. ’Twas she who orchestrated (almost) every creepy event this season!

Except… What the hell was she orchestrating?

Yes, she’s preyed on women who want it all for centuries, including familiar faces like her husband Dex’s tech mogul friend Talia (Juliana Canfield) and Sonia (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), the artist he works with. They’re all in this cult to birth creatures, which Siobhan claims will be a new race of superpowered beings that will take over the world and kill all men. This is all revealed in some weird luxury apartment where almost everything is painted bright red and all the cult members wear stupid costumes and fawn over Siobhan.

And it would be 1% more forgivable if the costumes weren’t so bad. Seriously, it’s bugged me all season that the feathered headdresses look like something you can pick up at Party City for $25.99 (plus tax).

Kim Kardashian in a garish black feathered headdress leering over Emma Roberts. Behind her is a gaggle of women in the same headdress. They all stand in a bright red modern loft.

Image: FX

It all seems like it’s taking place in a liminal space, or Anna’s own head, which contributes to another frustration of this season: We don’t necessarily need an answer to whether or not certain events were in Anna’s head or not, but so few of those moments had actual, tangible effects on her that it doesn’t even matter. Siobhan planted her cultists in every aspect of Anna’s life, from the nurse holding her when she was born to the ambulance driver whisking her away as she gave birth. Anna kept having increasingly disturbing visions, including her baby clawing out of her and strange scaly legs, that all immediately vanished once someone else was there to perceive them. And even if we don’t get answers, we should at least have some sense of what is going on.

Take last season, for instance: We never learned who the strange leather-clad figure haunting the queer community of New York City was, even when he unmasked himself to one of the characters. But that was OK, because we got the general sense that he was a sort of harbinger of death, past trauma lurking around the corner and eventually dragging everyone with him. It was a metaphor, and a devastating one at that.

Emma Roberts looking like she’s on the verge of tears

Image: FX

In Delicate, though, we learn too much and yet not enough. The show clearly has some stuff on its mind about beauty, aging, motherhood, and womanhood — but it all kind of fizzles together in the end without much of a metaphorical structure. Siobhan never reveals what or who she is. (Beyond, uh, secretly Dex’s mother.) This would be fine, without her weird master plan to kill all men. It’s too specifically detailed, especially when we have no idea what the hell her motives are. It ends up being a comic portrayal of extreme feminism, which sits weirdly considering everything else the season tried to do.

It’s the way Siobhan is defeated, though, that turns everything from bad to laughably stupid. Dex’s dead wife, Adelaide, who we learned a couple of episodes prior was a former member of the cult who defected and tried to live a normal life, suddenly appears next to Anna. She leads her in a cryptic chant invoking Hestia, Greek goddess of the hearth, for some reason (even though it’s never implied Siobhan is a figure from the Greek pantheon; if anything, there’s hints she’s Satan or Lilith or some other more biblical figure). All Anna does is repeat these words louder when Siobhan comes in, and then Siobhan withers away into dust.

Emma Roberts and a blonde woman in a pixie cut chanting together.

Image: FX

Ta-da! That’s it!

The cult is gone. Anna’s baby is normal. The super-modern apartment is now white and not bright red. She has her Oscar, too.

All that buildup (So. Much. Buildup.) and it’s just some loud chanting that fixes everything. Sure!

As far as AHS seasons go, Delicate was not the worst. The first half was intriguing, especially since it shied away from typical AHS conventions, thanks to a new showrunner at the helm. But the ending was perhaps one of the biggest letdowns this show has ever had, with one of the most baffling “defeats” of a villain I’ve ever seen. Not even Kim Kardashian’s surprisingly good performance could save her from ridiculous motives and that horrible costume.

All episodes of American Horror Story: Delicate are streaming on Hulu now.



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