We don’t question the Murphy-Falchuk universe over here. If Kim Kardashian has to invoke her inner Kris Jenner in order to play the hip publicist in charge of our crestfallen heroine’s all-around well-being, who are we to say no? If Emma Roberts is once again tasked with walking against the grain to play the soft meek damsel in distress, so be it. When you stick around long enough for a show to turn 12, you get the lay of the land. Even though Halley Feiffer now sports the showrunner’s hat and even though the show has ventured out of its comfort zone to base Delicate on a novel, the premiere of American Horror Story season 12 has us reaching for something to cling as we volunteer to be creeped out. Did we need a modern take on Rosemary’s Baby? You’d get mixed answers to that. But there must have been something about the feminist pregnancy horror element in Danielle Valentine’s Delicate Conditions that AHS has deemed freaky enough to haunt its 12th installment. Tokophobes, beware! The rest of us, let’s get on with the eerie happenings in Anna’s life.
From your first brush with Anna, you wouldn’t think she’s a CW breakout star who even had a Barbie-esque doll made in her image. But hey, celebrities are people too, right? So what if Anna’s unbelievably terrifying encounter with a stranger caressing her belly in her own darn bed happens in a posh Brooklyn Heights apartment? You’re sure to pity her circumstances when her blood-soaked hands hold onto a torn-up picture of her embryo. But all of that lies in store for Anna a week later. For now, she’s somehow an hour late for her appointment with Dr. Hill at the most dystopian-looking fertility clinic, where her contemptuous husband Dex withers away waiting for her arrival. What wouldn’t a woman like Anna put herself through in order to match up to an odd standard set by herself? She’d gladly have the nurses downplay her pain after the egg retrieval procedure if it meant that she could feel a little less broken.
Judging by the way Dr. Hill congratulates the husband instead of the woman, who’s just gone through a slice of hell, the procedure seems to be a success. Did I mention the creepy-meter going bonkers when Anna was met with the eerie sight of a woman in black leading her to take a closer peek at a random nest with dead baby birds? If Anna can get over that, it surely wouldn’t be much of a deal for her to be scared out of her wits by the odd Miss Preecher, who, apparently, knows who she is but hasn’t watched her TV show or even the Indie, which is making quite the Oscar buzz. But there’s only so much that Anna can normalize. She draws the line at being stalked by the woman in black, whom her very typical dismissive husband doesn’t consider all that scary. Oh well. Off to the land of awaiting Dr. Hill’s call about the possibility of a healthy embryo.
Insecurity Over the Dead
Fears don’t stem from anything. And however much Anna tries to blame the truckload of medications she’s under for the way she’s feeling, there’s something much more sinister at play here. This isn’t even her first excruciating experience with trying out IVF, as is evident from her heart-to-heart with her publicist/best friend Siobhan, whom she’d met at an IVF support group. Siobhan is more of a glass-half-full person, and despite her constant efforts, hope isn’t something she’s managed to instill in her cynical client. But is Anna’s overwhelming insecurity a wicked joke her mind’s playing on her? For starters, she doesn’t think she can live up to the standards that Dex’s late wife Adeline set.
Smelling an awful lot like Rebecca over here. Adeline dying in a freak accident that was something no one can possibly get over makes it even harder for Anna to even feel a sense of resentment. Someone who doesn’t even exist anymore has her self-worth in a chokehold. That certainly isn’t helped by their friends Talia and Theo gushing over the absolutely ethereal being Adeline was right in Anna’s face. Much to her dismay, Dex’s new artist associate Sonia, at least according to blabber-mouthed Talia, looks like Adeline reincarnated. Now why would Dex go ahead and dig his own grave by agreeing with her? Giving Anna a used red lipstick hardly makes up for the way Talia’s triggered her flood of insecurities, something that keeps Anna up at night as she scrolls through the memorial articles about the breathtaking Adeline and stops at the venom spewed in the comments by her hate group, Annihilate Anna. But I guess getting a call from Dr. Hill delivering the happy news of stable embryos has given her something to look forward to, right?
Is someone trying to warn Anna?
Leave it to American Horror Story to bombard us with back-to-back frights in a narrative that’s usually dealt with in a much more subtle manner. But since when has the show not taken the most unexpected route just to get a wicked kick out of messing with the fans’ preconceived notions about how horror is supposed to work? Things aren’t looking too good for Anna. And since there’s time yet for her mommy-brain syndrome to kick in, there can only be two ways of explaining the weird occurrences that have been tormenting her every waking moment. She may just be going through a slowly exacerbating case of psychosis brought forth by her paranoia and the side effects of her medications. But that’d be much too dull a route for American Horror Story to take.
The other possibility, the one that instantaneously makes your blood run cold, is that there’s something undeniably supernatural at play here. Considering Dex too had seen the woman in black keeping an eye on Anna near the clinic, it can be said with complete certainty that the creepy woman wasn’t a figment of her imagination. But Anna’s developed quite an acquaintance with terror. The progesterone suppositories that she clearly remembers refrigerating freakily show up on her counter. She even feels the unnerving sensation of someone’s watchful eyes on her when she’s on her way to meet her friends.
Finding the Summer Day doll that she’d just signed for a fan in her purse and having no clue as to how it got there isn’t a comforting feeling for Anna. Even though her career is the last thing on her mind, the good thing about Anna is that she’s rather trustful of Siobhan’s advice. And why shouldn’t she be when Siobhan is seemingly the only source of hope in her life at the moment? You get to be a part of the crowd cheering for Anna when she makes the sound decision of choosing to pounce at the golden opportunity of being hosted by Andy Cohen himself on his late-night show, even if it means postponing her embryo transplant appointment with Dr. Hill.
The ruse of charming professionalism, however, is difficult for the actress to maintain when Miss Preecher’s terrifying eyes in the crowd send chills down her spine. Couple that with the Summer Day doll with a cross on its belly mysteriously showing up at Andy’s office, and Anna is walking on wafer-thin ice that’s the only thing separating her from the dark pit of absolute madness. How is Anna to cope when the calendar spontaneously changes her embryo appointment right before her frightened eyes? Run as she might, Anna’s increasingly falling into the trap of terror that’s been following her for a while. Dex isn’t someone she can turn to for a smidgen of support. And when his artist friend Sonia unsurprisingly looks to be the spitting image of Adeline, you can only imagine how Anna’s heart sinks in fear and the sense of being betrayed (we’re looking at you, Dex).
But that’s not all. Sonia’s shoes seem to be the same pair that Anna’d seen in the ladies’ room when the feeling of being watched crept up on her. Was Sonia keeping an eye on Anna? Granted, being tormented by the traumatizing vision of a long-tongued Miss Preecher pouring blood over her sewn-shut mouth and giving her the freakiest kiss in history isn’t something Anna can ever get over. But it certainly could’ve been a bad case of sleep paralysis, as she was dozing off from the anesthesia. So far, every terrifying encounter Anna’s been subjected to has hinted at the universe warning her against conceiving a baby. I mean, the doll having her belly crossed out was too on the nose, wasn’t it? But is it the universe? Or have the crazy members of Annihilate Anna gone as far as to scare her out of having a child with Dex?
There’s something far more sinister awaiting Anna on the other side now that the embryos have been successfully inserted into her womb. And as the episode’s ending yanks us back to relive the horror of the first scene, things are just a little bit different this time around, and we hope Anna hears the warning loud and clear. The blood’s been replaced with the lipstick smeared on her hands. And as the calendar compels her to take a look in the mirror, Anna’s met with a cryptic message warning her against something she’s about to do. We can only assume that the warning is meant to stop her from pursuing the pregnancy. But we’re as in the dark about the rest of the unanswered questions as the bewildered Anna. Talia was right. Bringing a child into this wicked mess of a world is certainly not worth all these headaches.