American Horror Story: Double Feature (Red Tide) – Winter Kills (Finale) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
Although American Horror Story: Red Tide has done a great job building up the anticipation for Double Feature’s first finale, it unfortunately vastly underwhelms.
Frankly, the first sign of trouble with Red Tide’s finale came with its runtime as it being the shortest one of the season didn’t bode well considering how much there was to wrap up. Also, it just starts with this random town meeting that’s kind of interesting with the way that the town’s board, featuring a thick Boston accent and Holden’s (Denis O’Hare) sass, openly perpetuates and accepts the bloodshed in the winter, but doesn’t go anywhere. The entire set up of new law enforcement coming to Provincetown after Chief Burleson’s (Adina Porter) body is finally discovered is never touched on again and it seems like this opening is only meant for Holden to get Belle (Frances Conroy) going on killing Harry (Finn Wittrock), Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and Ursula (Leslie Grossman).
In a lot of ways though, Holden rushing Belle to make a move embodies a lot of issues that this finale has – mainly that it’s completely rushed. It’s no surprise that Belle would ending up taking Harry’s baby Eli hostage to lure him and Alma to her and Austin (Evan Peters) to kill them, but it just leads to an anti-climactic duel that’s ruined by a sudden plan that Ursula has cooked up. The pale people were set up so perfectly last episode to possibly be a force that will reclaim Provincetown for themselves with Doris (Lily Rabe) leading the charge. However, this finale doesn’t even do anything with Doris, who is completely absent, and instead just continues to make the pale people just these mindless slaves that Ursula somehow gets under her control.
I get that Ursula and Alma were heading to the The Chemist (Angelica Ross) when we last saw them, but this whole idea of this new pill suddenly existing to control the pale people and that they formed this big plan together is ridiculous. It’s lazy and unsatisfying writing at its worst and kills off the series’ two great villains in an untimely and messy fashion. Belle and Austin for sure deserved better ends and the same can be said about Harry.
While Alma and Ursula are ready to continue using the black pill to make their dreams of success a reality, Harry is ready to get off this crazy train and its just an odd turn for this character. He literally just sent his wife out to live a miserable life and now he’s suddenly trying to find his soul. If the episode maybe gave more time to this sudden change of heart to give it more emotional weight and reasoning behind it, it could’ve been a decent arc. However, it just cuts his story short as Alma unsurprisingly kills him to solidify her, Ursula, and The Chemist starting their own journey together with the pills. It’s another anti-climatic death since you could see it coming from a mile away and just sets up a bland “kill everyone” finale.
The entire last section of this episode basically shows the extent that Alma and Ursula are willing to go to achieve their success. We just watch them destroy Hollywood by Alma killing anyone that disrupts her from musical mastery and Ursula sell the pills to anyone she can causing a swarm of pale people to consume Hollywood. This kind of ending might be okay if it there was some kind of character arc, theme, or message that comes from it, but there’s pretty much nothing. There’s almost something when Alma gets told that her dreams of being the best only make her more of a freak, but it gets cut short with her killing her competition. Other than that, Ursula delivers this pretentious final monologue about the hunger for fame and talent that feels totally unsatisfying to listen to and doesn’t present a conclusion that leaves you thinking, but rather annoyed.
Red Tide absolutely drops the ball in its rushed finale that’s devoid of satisfying conclusions and full of anti-climatic moments. It’s sad to see Red Tide collapse in its finale and hopefully Double Feature’s four-episode arc, Death Valley, won’t fall into the same traps with its black-and-white alien horror story.