THE PERFORMERS | Frances Conroy and Evan Peters
THE SHOW | American Horror Story: Double Feature
THE EPISODES | “Cape Fear” and “Pale” (August 25, 2021)
THE PERFORMANCE | Two part Wednesday Double function premiere gave us enough to sink our teeth into, but nothing was more satisfying than the all-you-can-eat buffet of delight served by Peters and Conroy as “pugilists of prose” Austin Sommers and Belle Noir. Oh, how we partied.
From the moment we first saw (and heard!) those eccentric beauties in that dimly lit P-Town piano bar, which Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers were proud of with a smooth rendition of “Islands in the Stream,” we were in rapture. If we rank achievements here, it was easily the best horror story musical moment since Jessica Lange led the residents of Briarcliffe Manor in that manic round of “The Name Game” all those years ago.
Austin and Belle’s mutual hubris made them impossibly fascinating from the jump. And Peters and Conroy enjoyed every line of delightful dialogue and every flowery self-compliment as their characters constantly reminded us of their shared brilliance. Plus, it was just… well, it was more than we even deserved.
The second hour of the premiere wasted no time revealing the darkness bubbling just beneath the duo’s arrogant facade, providing opportunities for Peters and Conroy to excite us in new, twisted ways. Conroy’s kind delivery made Belle’s lines about bloodlust downright poetic, just as Peters’ disturbing swagger made Austin’s deplorable behavior all the more palatable.
After only two episodes, Double function already feels like a return to form for the long-running FX franchise, thanks in no small part to hauntingly entertaining performances from bonafide powerhouses like Peters and Conroy.
FAIR MENTION | Netflix College Campus Comedy The chair boasted a deans list full of outstanding achievements, but Holland Taylor shot straight to the top of the class with her hilarious work as feisty old professor Joan. She climaxed in episode 4, when Joan berated a student for giving her a negative class evaluation, while passionately defending Chaucer’s defense. The Stories of Canterbury with a foul-mouthed diatribe: “If you don’t find out he’s a badass, then fuck the fuck out of my class.” It was a courageous, heart-wrenching performance from the TV veteran, pumping powerful life into a character heartlessly set aside by the profession she loves so much. Taylor was obviously having a ball with Joan… and we had a ball watching her.
FAIR MENTION | In Titans‘ first season, Curran Walters’ Jason Todd was asked to be little more than “rebellious.” But with this week’s deep dive into why Jason went mano a maniac with the Joker, Walters made the most of his meatiest episode yet. In therapy with Dr. Leslie Tompkins Walters used a quieter, introspective Jason, while his scenes with Jonathan Crane were an exciting bit of cat and (outdone) mouse. But when Bruce benched his last Robin (for the good of the boy wonder), Walters made us feel the pain of the relegation. “Oh, so I’m off-king wrong now?!” Jason asked. “Whatever Dick does, you keep giving him more and more. Why don’t you do that with me? What’s so? bad as regards me?” After fruitlessly begging Bruce for another chance, you had to wonder how far Jason would go to prove himself – what made his next moves and his sensitivity to Scarecrow all the more believable.
Which performance(s) has blown your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!