American Horror Story hit our television screens back in 2011, and when we first entered Murder House little did fans of the show know that the show would still be going strong all this time later. Season 6 titled Roanoke is the current season scaring us witless and with the news that we have more exciting times to come, it seems there is no end in sight for the American Horror Story franchise.
What better time of year than Halloween to look back over the series and share with you all my favourite American Horror Story episodes. Grab a cushion and prepare to relive some of the best and scariest episodes of the FX series.
1. Murder House Episode 5 “Halloween Part 2”
Season 1 took us to the Murder House, and we met Evan Peters’ troubled teenager Tate Langdon. As with so many of the characters in this particular season, it was unclear whether Tate was alive or dead, or what he had done to require the services of Ben (played by Dylan McDermott). The second part of the Halloween specials gave us those answers, Tate had gone on a killing spree at his high school, killing five students and that he died at the hands of a SWAT team following his spree.
2. Murder House Episode 5 “Piggy, Piggy”
This episode guest starred Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet as a man who visits Ben for help to get over his fear of the Piggy Man, an urban legend of a man wearing the head of a pig who will kill anyone who repeats a specific phrase – a bit like Beetlejuice but creepier. This episode in itself wasn’t anything special, however fast forward to Roanoke where we have discovered that Piggy Man is a little more than an urban legend; and this episode takes on an altogether darker turn.
3. Asylum Episode 1 “Welcome to Briarcliff”
There is no doubt that Asylum is my favourite season of American Horror Story, and the opening episode of the season sets the fans up for a dark and sinister season. Asylum also provided us with one of my favourite cross season characters – Pepper, who was played by the brilliant Naomi Grossman. In the opening episode of the season we meet many of the characters we will root to escape and those we want to be caught.
4. Asylum Episode 10 “The Name Game”
In this episode, which shows a fall from grace can be a painful thing, we see that Sister Jude (played by Jessica Lange) has been admitted as a patient of Briarcliff and as Judy Martin she has been subjected to the same inhuman treatments as the rest of the residents. One of the side effects of these treatments is that she seems to lose all sense of reality and we are given one of the most bizarre scenes in the series – and that is saying something.
5. Coven Episode 2 “Boy Parts”
Season 3 took us to the Big Easy and introduced us to all things voodoo and witchcraft. The second episode of the season showed the fans that bad feeling can run deep and grudges can be held for hundreds of years. The realisation that the murderous Delphine La Laurie (played by Kathy Bates) had been kept alive for centuries, and that the voodoo priestess Marie Leveau (played by Angela Bassett) is still alive and kicking makes this episode one of the best in the season. Watching these two powerhouses go head to head made for must watch TV.
6. Coven Episode 10 “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”
Misty Day (played by Lily Rabe) always had an ethereal quality and we find out that she is a fan of the Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, and the icon makes an appearance as herself in this episode. Apparently this episode was part inspired by the rumours that Nicks herself was involved in witchcraft. Watching Rabe’s Misty side by side with Nicks definitely showed us that perhaps Nicks and her flowing fashions could have acted as inspiration for Misty Day. As a life long fan of Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, seeing Nicks play “Rhiannon” makes the episode one of my favourite of the season.
7. Coven Episode 13 “The Seven Wonders”
The season finale for Coven was about bringing the Coven full circle and saw the surviving witches complete The Seven Wonders to determine who the new Supreme of the Coven would be. The episode ended with Sarah Paulson’s Cordelia being shown to be the new Supreme and that Miss Robichaux’s Academy is thriving and full of new students. The season finale also saw the return of Stevie Nicks to the show, and the episode opens with Nicks singing the Fleetwood Mac song of the same name.
There is no doubt that the episode was not the strongest final episode but it felt like the door was being left open for the Coven to return for inclusion in future seasons. Ryan Murphy has made no secret of the fact that all the seasons are connected and Queenie (played by Gabourey Sidibe) did indeed check into the Hotel Cortez when Hotel came to the screen two seasons later.
8. Freak Show Episodes 3 & 4 “Edward Mordake Part 1 & 2”
Season 4 saw the action move to 1950s Florida and we met Elsa Mars (played by Jessica Lange) and her show Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities. This season was the first to see a direct link between a previous season with Lily Rabe, Naomi Grossman, and John Cromwell all reprising their characters from Asylum. The Halloween episodes introduced us to Edward Mordake aka The Two Faced Man; who according to the freak show superstition would claim the soul of a performer if they were to perform on Halloween. The episode brought John Carroll Lynch’s Twisty the Clown some form of redemption as we learned the real story of the man behind the mask.
9. Freak Show Episode 10 “Orphans”
This episode is one of the most emotional in the entire series for me, because we see the beginning of the journey that takes Pepper (Naomi Grossman) from being happy at the Freak Show to the sad and upset individual we meet in Asylum. The episode starts with the death of Pepper’s husband Salty, and we learn that Elsa took Pepper from an orphanage and she then scoured other orphanages to find Pepper someone she could love. Salty and Pepper were married and when Elsa took charge of Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) Pepper was able to look after someone other than herself. Following the death of Salty and the disappearance of Ma Petite (we discover she has been killed) Elsa reaches out to Pepper’s sister in the hope that she will look after Pepper.
Pepper of course does not have that happy ending, as we know that Pepper was in Briarcliff for the murder of her nephew; however we discover that her nephew was disabled and she was the one who looked after him. Pepper’s sister and brother in law frame Pepper for the murder of their child. The episode ends with Pepper in 1962 sorting magazines in the Briarcliff Library where she finds a magazine with Elsa on the front and she presses her hand to the magazine and cries. Grossman’s performance as Pepper is always flawless but this episode showed just how talented an actress she is.
10. Hotel Episode 4 “Devil’s Night”
Hotel marked a bit of a departure from the seasons that went before. This was the first season without Jessica Lange and the first season starring Lady Gaga. Although in Freak Show we saw the connection between the Freak Show and Briarcliff, Hotel took it to an extra level with the return of a couple of characters from Murder House. What didn’t change was that the episodes which aired around Halloween were some of the best.
“Devil’s Night” introduces us to some of the most evil and depraved killers in American history, including Lily Rabe’s standout portrayal of Aileen Wuornos. The killers all come together once a year to have dinner with Mr March (played by Evan Peters), and let’s just say the after dinner entertainment is uniquely murderous. Detective John Lowe (played by Wes Bentley) finds himself on the invite list and he seems confused as to why (however this riddle is solved in a future episode).
11. Hotel Episode 5 “Room Service”
Iris (Kathy Bates), who is the loyal receptionist of the Hotel Cortez. goes through a transformation in the second of the Halloween episodes, joining the ranks of the undead in order to bring down Lady Gaga’s Duchess. She may need blood to survive now, but rudeness is still not something she will tolerate and her justice will be swift and final. A social media star Justin and his girlfriend check into the hotel and do nothing but complain and Iris loses it. Now the death of a Twitter hipster would not normally be something worth commenting now, however when said hipster is played by Glee star Darren Criss then it is a sad time.
This episode also gave us the backstory of the fabulous Liz Taylor (played by AHS stalwart Denis O’Hare), and it showed the deep connection that is present between the Duchess and Liz.
12. Hotel Episode 12 “Be Our Guest”
The season finale of Hotel gave us a wonderful farewell to the Hotel Cortez. We saw all of our favourites discover a new way of existing. My personal favourite was Hypodermic Sally (played by Sarah Paulson) becoming a social media sensation in spite of being unable to leave the Hotel. We discovered what happened to John Lowe following the revelation from earlier in the season that he was the Ten Commandments Killer; he revisits the Hotel on Devil’s Night every year and joins his fellow murderers. Devil’s Night 2022 also brings back Sarah Paulson’s medium from Murder House, Billie Dean Howard. Howard tries to film an episode of her TV show in the Hotel and almost ends up as the after dinner entertainment.
However, the best part of this episode for me was the truly happy ending for Liz Taylor. In this episode we see her become the figure head for Will’s fashion empire, we find out she has remained close with her son and new family, and she is ready to accept her terminal cancer diagnosis. She requests that the ghosts of the Hotel murder her so she can stay where she loves; they all assemble to commit the act however The Countess reappears and kills Liz declaring her as “her favourite creation”. Once Liz joins the ranks of the undead in the Cortez, she is reunited with Tristan (played by Finn Wittrock) and, to be trite, she lives happily ever after.
Kirsty has been writing in secret ever since High School however has recently decided to share her ramblings with the world.When not writing about all things culture especially Doctor Who, Glee, Literature and Theatre especially musicals such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Kinky Boots; she can be found working as a Personal Assistant and Administrator.
She spends way too much time on Twitter talking about all her favourite things , however as her father points out at least she is surrounded by friends!!Kirsty also enjoys travelling with the UK and wider afield.