The two-part season 11 finale of American Horror Story was not what I expected. While a mysterious disease was the undertone of the entire season, I didn’t expect that to take front and center in heartbreaking and still terrifying episodes.
Big Daddy was lurking around since the beginning. Once the Mai Tai killer was taken out, it was clear that Big Daddy caused the other disappearances and deaths. So there was still one serial killer on the loose, but one we didn’t know much about.
It turns out Big Daddy was never real. He was a bad omen—a metaphor for the AIDS pandemic. If you saw Big Daddy, it meant you were infected. (At least that’s how the season finale portrayed it, though the group of women on Fire Island were able to fight him off. So, does that mean they didn’t get infected? Some things were not clear in this metaphor.)
For instance, while Sam (Zachary Quinto) was in a Christmas Carol-type dream while in a coma, he unmasked Big Daddy to find an attractive male who wasn’t as buff as the man stalking them. Could this be the past lover that infected him? Maybe this is for us to decide.
It was wise to start with Sam. he was the least sympathetic character. Not sure he was redeemed much, but then we dove into Partick Read’s (Russell Tovey) tragic end. The disease had made him go blind. Gino Barelli (Joe Mantello) stayed by his side until the end. And fought for him to get the care he needed. Seeing them in what looked more like a basement than a hospital was heartbreaking. The doctors were in hazmat suits. Big Daddy watched over Patrick as he went.
Next up was Adam Carpenter (Charlie Carver). He went to see his friend, Dr. Hannah Wells (Billie Lourd) but in last week’s episode, Big Daddy was looking over her, and she succumbed to the disease. (She got it when she inseminated Adam’s sperm.) So after listening to her tapes and learning how deadly this disease is, Adam was on a mission to protect his community.
Gino’s arc was the most heartbreaking. It was a bit of a long montage, but it hit hard. He spent four years after Patrick’s death fighting for his community and fighting off the disease.
During this montage, Big Daddy dug a grave, and an endless line of men fell into it. A chilling depiction of just how bad the AIDS epidemic was. Big Daddy was lurking over Gino the entire time too. Until the end, when he passed. Adam was the last one standing. He tried to speak at Gino’s funeral, but it was too much to bear. Then it went black.
This will be a season that will stick with fans. It’s hard to shake off the horror the LGBTQ community went through in the 80s and 90s. It’s scarier than any of the serial killers that AHS has given us over the years.
Sign up for my newsletter to get more TV insight. Get a 90-day free trial.