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American Horror Stories Season 1 Episode 5 Review: BA’AL


We’re finally getting somewhere!

After some of the worst TV episodes this year, American Horror Stories Season 1 Episode 5 was an intriguing hour of TV that showed this new format could work.

Billie Lourd is a franchise veteran, so it was nice the show saved a compelling story for her.

There were so many layers to the character of Liv, and Billie played the role to perfection throughout this latest chapter.

What worked off the bat was the spooky atmosphere, the jump scares, and a story that felt worthy of the American Horror Story name. Who would have thought it after the previous four episodes?

Bernadette offering up the totem at the meeting was big, largely because it was a fertility clinic. The company would surely want to monetize on every beat of Liv and Matt’s journey, so it seemed like a chance encounter for Bernadette to give the totem that should secure a healthy child.

This being American Horror Stories, it was obvious it was going to work, but it was tragic to watch Liv go through all of these emotions in the aftermath of the pregnancy.

All she wanted in life was to become a mother, but she couldn’t connect with her child, and vice versa. There was something stopping them from being close.

The spooky apparitions on the baby monitor were a nice touch to highlight that there was more going on than she could ever understand.

Did Bernadette and everyone else bank on Liv returning for answers? It was perfect how one of the spells Liv took allowed her to get the power back in her life.

Matt and his pals manipulating every single part of Liv’s life in the name of making some money was deplorable, but the theme of the episode was undoubtedly desire.

Liv had this desire to be a mother, while everyone else had the desire to make get her put in an asylum and run off with her money.

As a person, Liv was too trusting, but then again, Matt was pulling off quite the role by playing the doting husband.

All of his friends seemed nice on the surface, but my jaw was firmly on the floor when he got in the car with Bernadette, and they laughed about Liv’s state of mind.

It was a well-handled reveal that felt ripped from the parent series in the best possible way.

I did sigh when BA’AL arrived at the house as the pals celebrated their mission being a success, largely because there was initially no logical reason for the monster to be in the house.

When we learned Liv had summoned BA’AL with the spell from the hospital, it all started to make sense. Could you imagine if she didn’t get the spell? She would have probably spent the rest of her life inside as her husband and his evil friend spent all of her money.

It was so satisfying to watch the friends be murdered brutally after the way they laughed and joked about Liv being locked up. These people were truly awful, and the deaths set up for them were very decent.

Matt surviving to be sent to jail for the murder of his friends, among other things, was the perfect way to end his storyline. Liv had to get some gratification from it after how much she was manipulated.

Ronin Rubenstein was perfect as Matt, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the actor in the American Horror Story universe.

Matt was so worried about having a public defender fighting his case. You could tell he knew the jig was up and that he was about to face the iron fist of justice for his crimes.

Liv asking BA’AL to provide her with another child came out of nowhere, but could this be setting the stage for the child, Liv, or any of the other characters to appear down the line in the AHS universe?

It sure seemed that way.

“BA’AL” was solid. It had excellent acting, a well-written script that was paced well, and decent production values. The story ended with a decent amount of finality, while leaving a sliver of possibility for the story to be expanded upon.

But after the multiple returns to Murder House, it’s time for the franchise to leave the past in the past. It needs to chart new stories and stop relying on the nostalgia of previous locations and characters.

We have two episodes left, and the show could really go either way. There’s no telling whether we’ll get another two dumb stories or two decent ones. All we can do is tune in and hope for the best.

What did you think of Liv and Matt’s respective journeys? Did you figure out what was happening before the big reveal?

Hit the comments below.

American Horror Stories continues Thursdays on FX on Hulu.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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