Episode four of American Horror Stories came in strong. It also came in with the biggest gross-out game so far this season. Let’s discuss.

Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Our Lady J, this story is about a smallpox epidemic in New England, in 1757. Since America has a history of messing up plague responses, I’m sure you can guess how that’s going.

We meet a man named Thomas, played by Cody Fern. His wife is dying of smallpox. They’ve already lost their two daughters. So it’s just him and his son, Edward, left. 

The poor kid seems shellshocked, after losing over half of his family. 

Thomas, being a true man of his time, clings to the church for support. But the head of his church is, predictably, a selfish monster named Pastor Walter. 

Walter, played by Seth Gabel, visits a woman named Celeste, Julia Schlaepfer, for what he thinks is just some fun mattress time. And this is where things get weird.

Julia Schlaepfer and Addison Timlin in American Horror Stories Milkmaids.

Celeste has smallpox all over her, but she’s not sick. And any man who has licked her smallpox wounds doesn’t get sick either.

As I said, this episode relies on the gross-out. I’m not thrilled with that, but it makes sense. This is a story about a disgusting plague. Of course, we’re going to have some puss-filled disgusting moments.

There wasn’t a single paranormal or supernatural element to be found in this episode. The only other instance of this I can remember in American Horror Story history was the season Cult. And much like Cult, it’s all the scarier because of that. 

This story could one hundred percent have happened. All of it did happen in one part or another. The smallpox epidemic was a horrific chapter in our history. People were dying, scared, and lost. They were digging up corpses and defiling them. They were hanging innocent people on accusations of witchcraft.

I mean, no one was drinking bleach, but only because it wasn’t readily available. 

I honestly think we could have a whole season of American Horror Story based on the smallpox epidemic if they get around to it. Of course, that touches on one of the reasons I believe American Horror Story is going to be around for a long time. There is no end to horror stories in American history.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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