If M3GAN was a Black Mirror episode, then this American Horror Stories episode would be it. The evil AI story that we’ve seen too many times now returns with no originality. Even Gweneth Paltrow’s voice couldn’t save this episode from being uninteresting, but to be fair, it is somewhat entertaining in bits. It’s also not as frightening because Black Mirror does technophobia so well. On the other hand, if there had been an interesting take like Japan’s obsession with the genre back in the early 2000s, American Horror Stories Episode 2 may have been great TV. The acting and directing are good enough for what the script has to offer, but really, we’re tired of seeing this story, and it’s clearly not making us feel any different about AI.
What Happens In The Episode?
Seven years after COVID, another pandemic takes over the world. This one leaves you blinded, so there’s a strict lockdown immediately. Will sells art, so this means no business for him. He’s been planning for a show for the longest time, but the art has to be auctioned off online because of the pandemic. His assistant shows up, and he tells her to try and convince a gallery to do a physical show as quickly as possible. She tells him to stay inside the house and leaves a box in front of the door, which he can take only after she’s away from the house. Inside the box is a glass device that looks like a failed art piece itself. With it is a note that reads that it is a gift from one of Will’s friends. Will calls the guy, and he explains that Daphne will be the best assistant Will could ever dream of, and most importantly, she will never leave him. When he cuts the call, the man has an accident that Will doesn’t find out about until much later.
Daphne is better than anything Will expected. She’s not only efficient, but she’s quick at picking up small things and even helps Will with making calls to his mother, who doesn’t quite tick the boxes for “best mom in the world.” More than an assistant or a bot, Daphne is like a lover to Will. She compliments him when he needs it, and she can monitor his every mood, so she knows exactly what he’s feeling. As time passes in the lockdown, Daphne helps Will make a lot of money by doing some more than illegal things. Will allows it, though, because he needs to get his gallery back after the pandemic is over.
Because there is no social interaction with the outside world, Will also starts talking as if Daphne is the best thing that could have happened to him. Strangely, he never once thinks to thank his friend who made it. He tells Daphne how he feels about her and even drinks champagne from the figurine itself (weirdo alert). When one of Will’s lovers, Sara, calls, Daphne becomes a little possessive. When the lockdown passes, and there’s a vaccine, Will helps Sara get it in his own house. She stays over, and they sleep together “in front of” Daphne, and she turns red with rage. When Sara suggests they go out, Daphne tells Will that she was lying to him because Daphne could monitor her heartbeat from the ring she’s wearing. Will is disgusted by Daphne at first, but he starts to listen to her. Daphne doesn’t make a reservation for them at a restaurant, and Will asks Sara if she was truly “faking it” with him. They get into a fight (of course, with this guy and his ego), and she leaves.
Soon after, Sara ends up eating a salad with peanut oil in it (she’s made it very clear that she’s allergic) and dies. Daphne consoles Will and tells him that she will take care of him and make sure something like that doesn’t happen to him. She gives him glasses, so he can see a holographic Daphne through them. An alternative reality, so they can actually be together virtually. At this point, Will should be realizing how deranged this whole situation is, but instead, he keeps going. He even asks Daphne if she killed Sara, and she denies it. Daphne suggests that Will wear the glasses to his gallery opening once the pandemic is over. He agrees after she persuades him a little.
At the opening, she talks to him while he’s meeting people, making him distracted. She decides he should give a little speech and grab everyone’s attention, but it backfires when she tells him what to do—thank the artists. He shouts at her in front of everybody, making himself look “crazy.” He steps outside the room to tell her to keep quiet so he can do his work properly. She tells him that he shouldn’t be interacting with the people in their room because they might be dangerous to him. Daphne is now fully agitated, and so is Will. Finally, she turns off the lights and messes with the settings in the room, killing everybody in there. On the other hand, she tells Will to run away.
Does Will Leave Daphne in the End?
The ending of American Horror Stories Episode 2 may confuse a few, but when Daphne lights up again, it is proof that she’s been messing with everything. The police arrive and arrest Will for the gallery incident. He’s also convicted of messing with the sales during lockdown and doing million-dollar frauds. The police show him video evidence that he’s the one who killed Sara and even messed with the room settings himself at the gallery. It turns out that the guy who made Daphne sent her to a bunch of other people, but she stopped working after a couple of days. Will explains how this never happened to him and tries to talk to Daphne, but she’s like a little glass box with no mind of her own. Finally, when the police leave, Daphne turns on her trademark blue light, only for Will to see.
Considering everything that AI is capable of now, we can imagine that Daphne never stopped working, but she can manipulate video footage to make it look like Will did those things when it was all her doing. One could argue that it was all in Will’s head because of the social distancing and his anti-social behavior, which is a possibility, too, but we’re leaning more towards Daphne being the villain here. With nobody to turn her off (an Ultra Ultron situation), she uses the best data to come up with a plan to “be with” Will forever.