AHS: Red Tide episode 5 brings back the notable gaslighting premise from Billie Lourd’s praised episode of American Horror Stories, “Ba’al.”
American Horror Story season 10, episode 5 was a wild ride of manipulation and betrayal by characters, while also cleverly repeating the gaslighting premise from American Horror Stories episode 5, “Ba’al,” starring Billie Lourd. While American Horror Stories wasn’t the best received Ryan Murphy series, a few key episodes stood out as worthy against its American Horror Story predecessor, particularly “Ba’al.” In the episode, AHS alum Billie Lourd plays a young wife, Liv, who desperately wants to get pregnant, and once her wish comes true, a sinister demon seemingly plagues her life.
The penultimate episode of American Horror Story: Red Tide, aptly titled “Gaslight,” follows the Gardners after Doris has finally given birth to the baby. Doris’s husband Harry and daughter Alma have already taken the black pills to enhance their talents, while Doris has been kept in the dark. It becomes increasingly difficult to hide Harry and Alma’s bloodthirst and aggression, which leads to the duo and Harry’s agent Ursula convincing Doris she’s crazy and having a post-partum mental breakdown. By the end of Red Tide‘s episode, Doris has been so manipulated and gaslighted by those she loves that she reluctantly takes the black pill, quickly confirming the theory that she becomes a dreaded Pale Person.
As the title implied, AHS: Red Tide’s episode followed a premise that effectively repeated the enthralling American Horror Stories episode starring Billie Lourd. In “Ba’al,” Liv has her baby only to begin seeing a demon haunt her home, though she is the only person who can see it. Her husband and his friends convince her she’s having a post-partum mental breakdown, which is exactly what Harry, Ursula, and Alma do to Doris in Red Tide. Toward the end of “Ba’al,” it’s revealed that Liv’s husband had been intentionally gaslighting her into thinking she was crazy, having used his actor friends to dress up as demons and create props and effects to complete the deception. In American Horror Story season 10, the characters purposefully make Doris believe she was dreaming so that they can continue on in the town without her interference.
In both American Horror Stories and AHS: Red Tide, the purpose of gaslighting the sympathetic character is to get them out of the picture by their own doing. Liv ends up being institutionalized when her demon fixation becomes so severe, which was her husband’s plan all along so that he could leave her and take all of her money. Harry hadn’t originally intended to get Doris out of the way, but that was Alma’s main goal. The gaslighting on Alma and Ursula’s part was used to eventually get Doris to take the black pill on her own, knowing she was “ordinary” and would turn into a Pale Person, which is essentially the same fate as killing her. While Liv ended up getting revenge on her husband and his friends after conjuring the fake demon for real, it’s unknown if Doris will get proper payback. Since she’s now an AHS Pale Person and still alive, it’s possible she’ll save her husband for a snack in the Red Tide finale.
Another way that American Horror Story: Red Tide episode 5 and AHStories’ “Ba’al” connect is their substantial critical acclaim. “Ba’al” holds a 7.5/10 rating on IMDb, which is significantly higher than the rest of the episodes in American Horror Stories season 1. Following Red Tide’s “Gaslight” episode, American Horror Story season 10 (Red Tide) is now the highest-rated season of the show on Rotten Tomatoes, holding a 100% approval rating by critics that will hopefully remain after Death Valley. American Horror Story season 10 episode 5 is also being lauded as one of the greatest AHS episodes of all time, currently holding 9.4/10 on IMDb, which is the highest score of any episode in the entire series.
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