American Horror Story: NYC “Requiem 1981/1987: Part 1 and Part 2” (S11 E9&10)

The final two episodes of American Horror Story: NYC have graced Hulu, which means it’s time for me to make this the third, or maybe fourth, fully completed season of AHS. This season had its ups and downs, seemingly more flaws than not, but there was something (besides an obligation to cover it) that kept me coming back every week. I wanted to come up with some witty opener here; it’s just that since starting this article after rolling credits on the final episode…I’m drained. In the best way possible, these final two episodes may have been some of the most emotionally draining episodes of any show I have ever watched. My theory about Big Daddy (Matthew William Bishop) was basically verified—honestly, at this point, I feel too empty to care about that.

Episode 9 “Requiem 1981/1987: Part 1”

Written and directed by Our Lady J

Starting off strong out of the gate we arrive at Theo’s (Isaac Powell) funeral, with attendance including Patrick (Russell Tovey), Gino (Joe Mantello), Adam (Charlie Carver), and even Sam (Zachary Quinto). Shortly into the service, Sam passes out. He soon wakes up in a dingy-looking hospital with Billy (Danny Kornfeld) acting as one of his nurses, and soon Theo joins as the second nurse. Sam demands to go to another hospital, Theo tells him that it’s impossible and that people are afraid of this thing (the disease) and in turn are afraid of him.

This turns into a ghost of Christmas past thing with Theo taking Sam around the decrepit hospital and taking him to his past lovers’ hospital rooms. The first person we see is Danny (Kyle Dunn). This was the first man Sam and Theo opened up their relationship for. Danny was, in both of their words, a talented writer. Sam was given tickets for the opening night of Danny’s one-man show but did not go. Danny assumed Sam hated it because he never brought it up. I’m all for Sam being shown the error of his ways, it’s just—god damn—these scenes get dark. The next room Sam gets taken to is Stewart’s (Taylor Bloom) room. Theo makes Sam kiss Stewart on the forehead and they move on.

Sam passes out at Theo's funeral, other attendees rush to his aid

Sam gets taken to his final room, his room, lifeless and full of tubes and IVs. There is a shift to a bare black room, Sam is in the cage he kept Stewart in. Sam watches as Henry (Denis O’Hare) monologues to him. After telling Sam they are going to ‘have fun’ Henry tells Sam, “It’s people like you who make the world hate people like me.” In typical Sam fashion, he does quip back by saying, “You’re a gay hitman.” This is when Big Daddy shows up. We see Sam’s father (Brian David Tracy) tied down to a table. Big Daddy whips him over and over. It’s implied here that Sam’s father beat him constantly. Next up Sam’s old boss (Kevin Paul Woods) from his Wall Street days is bound to a chair. The Wall Street guy gets nipple clamps attached, which leads to Big Daddy ripping the clamps, and his nipples, clean off.

Up next, Sam gets bound to a cross as Big Daddy approaches him. Henry goes to take Big Daddy’s mask off, but Sam breaks free and falls to the ground. As Sam falls to the ground, we match cut to Sam falling on the sandy beach of Fire Island. Henry tells Sam he can run as much as he wants, even if Big Daddy will catch him anyways. And like Henry said, Big Daddy catches up to Sam. For the very first time, we get to see Big Daddy without his mask on. Once the mask is off, Big Daddy transforms into Beautiful Young Man (Tyler Johnson Ellis). It’s not clear who this man is, but he embraces Sam as he dies. Henry spreads Sam’s ashes into the ocean.

Okay, so holy sh*t. I’m sorry for my crassness. Sam obviously did very bad things, but was he a bad guy? I mean, yeah, in the sense of everything, he was a terrible guy. It’s just when his past was laid out in front of him he was able to take a step back and realize just how awful he has truly been. Whether it was a revelation or a simple acknowledgment of his past, I’m not too sure. It seems like he was finally able to repent for his actions as he took his final breath. I really like how they handle some of these main character deaths with class, rather than having them be extravagant bloody/gory messes. To me, this truly shows that when AHS wants to truly make something beautiful and artistic they can, and it really seems like they took more time and care with creating this season.

Moving on. 1987. Gino arrives at another decrepit hospital. Gowns are strewn about the hallway; used tissues line the sinks. It’s become clear very quickly that the nurses and doctors have officially stopped caring about all of these HIV/AIDS patients who have been secluded in a singular wing of the hospital. Now, I have no clue if this is based on reality or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is how things were handled. If you’re wondering who Gino is at the hospital to see, you’re probably guessing correctly. Patrick is resigned to a bed, alone in a room and covered in lesions. A doctor soon enters covered head to toe in protective wear, including a facemask and a face shield. The doctor tells them Patrick’s retinas have detached from his eyes, rendering him permanently blind. For the first and only time, we hear the word AIDS. Patrick and Gino are told there is a surgery that could be done. It’s just not being offered to AIDS patients.

Patrick tells Gino it would be best for him to sell his life insurance policy, that way Gino will have money to pay for Patrick’s funeral and also so the money doesn’t go to Patrick’s parents. Gino feeds Patrick some cinnamon applesauce and leaves us with a frog in our throat. Later on, Patrick goes to get his buzzer for the nurse, but it slips out of his hand. He tries grabbing the buzzer before falling out of his hospital bed. After a bit of a struggle, he gets into a wheelchair and attempts to find a nurse for help. Rather than finding a nurse, he finds Barbara (Leslie Grossman) standing at the beginning of a hallway of light. Barbara tells Patrick to open his eyes, even though they are open, and he soon is able to see her: she is wearing her wedding dress.

It’s time for Patrick’s ghosts of Christmas past moment. Barbara takes Patrick to a crime scene from ’80, the first time he met Gino. Gino gives Patrick his phone number and implies he knows Patrick is gay. Patrick tries playing it off, just not very well. Now we’re back a few more years in ’77. Patrick and rookie cop Steve (Will T. Travis) bust into the precinct and Steve is covered in blood. It turns out Steve shot a suspect that didn’t deserve to be shot. Patrick tries to help Steve calm down and takes him down to the shower so Steve can wash the blood off of him. Patrick leans into the shower to help Steve get the blood off, which leads to them making out. That’s when Mulcahey (Brian Ray Norris) walks in to see them kissing. Patrick instinctively pushes Steve backward, making him slam his head on the shower handle.

An overhead shot of Big Daddy chasing Sam on the beach of Fire Island

We then get a slightly confusing scene, and I might be misinterpreting it. Barbara takes Patrick to the warehouse where Whitely (Jeff Hiller) was creating The Sentinel. In this false memory, Patrick is seen assisting Whitely with the creation of this abhorrent creature. Whitely tells Patrick it’s time to put the head on, but Patrick says he can’t. Whitely retrieves a head from a freezer, and it’s Patrick’s. Whitely goes on a bit of a winded monologue about how The Sentinel represents Patrick and all those like him. The people who have been torn apart by society and are forced to rebuild themselves. I like how they went about this scene, but it would have been dope to find out Patrick actually had something to do with helping Whitely out all along.

The final memory Barbara takes Patrick to is of him with his father (Chris Henry Coffey) when he was a young boy (Kieran Brown). They are in the woods shooting at targets; unfortunately, Patrick keeps missing his targets. His father tells him it’s because of his limp wrist and gives him one more chance. Patrick misses again, which in turn causes his father to reload the six-shooter and unload all six rounds right next to Patrick’s ear. This causes his ear to bleed.

Back to the present day, Gino is sitting with Patrick in his hospital bed. And goddammit, I’m tearing up just writing this. Gino holds Patrick’s hand as Patrick looks off into the distance. Patrick sees Barbara, and behind her is Kathy Pizzazz (Patti LuPone), Big Daddy watches them all. Kathy croons a melancholic tune as Patrick slowly drifts off into his final sleep; Gino gets into the bed and holds him as he dies.

My god. This scene f*cking hurts. This whole episode hurts, and it’s just going to get worse, I promise. As with Sam, I am happy with how they handled the death of Patrick. He, too, had his demons, but I think he was able to reach an atonement and die with a clean conscious.

Episode 10 “Requiem 1981/1987: Part 2”

Written by Charlie Carver, Ned Martel and directed by Jennifer Lynch

For the final episode, we find ourselves following Charlie upon getting back from Fire Island. Upon arriving at Hannah’s (Billie Lourd) apartment, Adam notices the front entrance is taped off with police tape. One of the neighbors tells Adam there was a smell coming from apartment 6B. Adam is able to make his way into the apartment, and we find out what has been in the back of our minds. Hannah is dead. Adam holds himself together and asks the detective if he can have the room to himself for a few minutes, and they oblige. Adam notices Hannah was working on notes before passing away, he sits down and plays the recording she was making.

Gino walks down the halls of the hospital to see Patrick

The voice recording starts with Hannah discussing the ticks on Fire Island and how she thinks there is a connection between the ticks and this disease. Suddenly Hannah drops to the floor and utters out her death rattle. Adam breaks down, with Big Daddy watching forebodingly in the background. As a favor to Patrick, the coroner (Shirleyann Kaladjian) runs a second autopsy on Theo and Hannah. Adam is hell-bent on thinking they were killed, but the coroner confirms they had not been murdered.

In a nonlinear scene, Adam goes to the bar and gets quite drunk. This cuts back and forth between the bar and listening to Hannah’s audio logs. Through the recordings, Hannah talks about how Adam was the sperm donor for her baby and she knows that Adam has this disease because her symptoms started in conjunction with the conception of the baby. This just adds to the overall dread Adam is feeling. Like a badass, Adam decides to take Hannah’s notes and make sure the research doesn’t go to waste. Adam goes to the doctor’s (Tony Chiroldes) office and gets him to take a sample of the lesion on his back. He tells the doctor, based on Hannah’s research, what he has is Kaposi Sarcoma. Adam also tells the doctor to get as many colleagues as he can on this disease as it’s only going to get much worse. As you could expect, the doctor does not take him seriously.

Back to Hannah’s audio logs. We hear her talking about there might actually be something to this Plum Island tick thing, and there is now a new disease called Lyme Disease, though she makes sure to note these two things are completely separate. Hannah does also mention that what the community is going through is most definitely a sexually transmitted disease. This prompts Adam to make fliers to put all around telling people to wear condoms. Adam arrives at Neptune Bath and asks Kathy if he can put fliers up, Kathy says go ahead and that tonight is her last performance and she is closing down shop. On the way home on the subway, Adam sees a newspaper article saying that a rare form of cancer has been found in 41 gay men.

Cut to ’87. Gino is in line at a pharmacy to get AZT, the first antiretroviral drug used to prevent/treat HIV symptoms. One of the most haunting aspects of this pharmacy scene is how the entire store is bare, presumably meaning this store only deals with AZT. This goes hand in hand with how we saw the doctor treating Patrick in Episode 9. As I’ve said before I’m not too familiar with the accuracy of things like this, but unfortunately, I would not be surprised if this was fairly accurate.

Patrick kisses Steve in the shower after Steve kills someone in the line of duty

Gino goes to Patrick’s funeral, which is full of NYPD detectives who snub him. Adam is also at the funeral and acts as an emotional rock for Gino. What we get next is one of the greatest and most depressing moments of TV I have seen in quite a while. The haunting techno song Radioaktivität by Kraftwerk starts to play. From the wake, we falling a Gino-focused montage starting at the gravesite. Men in suits walk in a line and fall into the grave en masse, and soon they turn into men with skull masks which adds to the overall message of the hundreds of thousands of deaths that came from the inactivity of the medical field during this time. From there, we get a few years thrown at us at once. In ’87 Gino is at a find the cure protest, emotionless, then to ’88 when he’s sitting at a bar and gets handed a Mai Tai. Whitely appears and is quickly throat-slit by Big Daddy. Big Daddy then goes on to kill multiple bar patrons in the background. In ’90 we see Gino trying to make a salve for his lesions, followed by him walking with a cane to Patrick’s grave where the men are still falling in, even though the grave is completely full. The song ends with Gino at his weakest in bed resigned to death.

Gino lies there taking his last gasps when the light turns warm. Patrick approaches Gino’s bedside. We cut to Adam at Gino’s wake, Gino getting the open casket that Patrick wanted but was refused. Gino wanted the world to see these people who are dying from HIV/AIDS do have a face. It’s incredibly symbolic. Adam gets to the podium to start the procession, but can’t find the words. Adam closes his eyes and bows his head.


Final Thoughts

I’m not crying, you’re crying. Okay, we’re both crying.

This season really took me on a rollercoaster ride. It started off rough and worked its way into a really impactful season that made some really great comments on not only the LGBTQ+ community but the disease as well. There were moments of supernatural horror that I think could have been left out, though this really turned into an incredibly respectable season of horror TV.

I was wondering how to properly end my coverage for this season, but I think it really speaks for itself. This epidemic was, and still is, a tragedy. The inactivity of not only the medical field but also politicians to act on this was abhorrent. Call me crazy, but with the inclusion of the ticks subplot, this really brings to light the question of whether this epidemic was actually human-made. What if there were external forces pushing an agenda on a community they disagreed with? When trying to control a specific population, the easiest way to do it is death.

You can find information on organizations who to this day still fight HIV/AIDS to this day here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

Audio Horror Done Right In Monkeypaw Production’s Quiet Part Loud

People standing outside a big door

The Menu Is Fine Cinematic Dining