REVIEW: American Horror Story Season 10, Episode 7, “Take Me to Your Leader”

"Uh oh, looks like you're 'Mr. President' again."


“Take Me to Your Leader” kicks off the second half of American Horror Story: Double Feature. The story picks up in 1954 New Mexico with a family at home. Maria (Rebecca Dayan) calls her son inside, but he continues riding his bicycle. They’re both possessed by aliens, prompting Maria to kill her husband. Meanwhile, President Dwight Eisenhower (Neal McDonough) is alerted to abnormal findings in the California desert. An alien corpse and a woman identifying herself as Amelia Earhart (Lily Rabe) are found at the scene of a UFO crash-landing. The doctors at a nearby military base determine that Amelia is 2 months pregnant, and she goes into hysterics when the President questions her. An autopsy performed on the alien body leads to disaster as Maria arrives, floating and informing the President that he won’t be the one making demands.

In the present, four high school buddies meet up for the first time since they started college. Cal (Nico Greetham,) Jamie (Rachel Hilson,) Troy (Isaac Cole Powell), and Kendall (Kaia Gerber) decide to go on a Luddite camping trip to the desert. Things get weird fast when Kendall finds cows that have been cut in half but still respond to light and touch. The group decides to head home, but they get abducted by aliens and impregnated.

I absolutely love the 1950’s portion of “Take Me To Your Leader.” This is Neal McDonough’s first time appearing in American Horror Story. I only knew him from Captain America: The First Avenger. However, his understated performance as President Eisenhower grounds a story that’s otherwise out of this world. Sarah Paulson also shines in her brief appearance as Ike’s wife, Mamie. The black and white film paired with the cheesy, over-the-top B movie music creates the kind of nostalgic horror experience I wish we got more of from this show. I even like that the aliens look nondescript and generic. This “Death Valley” segment feels like a passion project, a love letter to classic sci-fi and horror B movies. Lily Rabe looks great as Amelia Earhart, and I hope they do more with her in the final three episodes. I worry that “Death Valley” will feel as rushed to tie up loose ends as “Red Tide” did. “Death Valley” only has four episodes compared to “Red Tide’s” six, and “Take Me To Your Leader” was pretty short, coming in around 40 minutes without commercials. One thing that struck me as odd was that Ike was getting his hands dirty, scoping out the crash scene, and questioning Amelia personally. This doesn’t bother me too much, and I could be wrong, but I got the feeling some of these tasks would be delegated to someone less important and busy.

American Horror Story, Take Me To Your Leader

The spooky, somewhat cheesy atmosphere of these scenes also stands in stark contrast to the more restrained approach of “Red Tide.” That makes the gimmick of “Double Feature” all the more appealing in a way, displaying two different subgenres of horror side by side and potentially connecting them. I wish we got more of this period and its characters, and I look forward to more in the next three episodes. I’m also eager to see if (and how) “Red Tide” and “Death Valley” are connected. I figured the teasers of the alien and the vampire wrestling would prove to be a misdirect, but it would still be good to see why these particular stories were paired this way. For that matter, do these aliens have anything to do with the ones we saw back in “Asylum”? The vampires in “Red Tide” didn’t connect to “Hotel.” Still, the latter had a satisfying conclusion and didn’t leave vampire-related questions hanging. The alien subplot in “Asylum” seemed to come out of nowhere, didn’t get a satisfactory payoff, and never tied in very well with the main plot.

As much as I loved those scenes and characters, though, I really didn’t care for the edgier subplot set in the present day. Despite the strange occurrences and the appearance of literal aliens, the subdued performances and easy relationships in the “past” timeline gave it a genuine feeling. These kids at the bar immediately jump into the nitty-gritty of their sex lives in excruciating detail, to say nothing of Troy’s over-the-top drug problem. You could say this is another example of contrasting different horror styles. Some of these changes are probably in line with the cultural shift that took place over that nearly 70-year gap. However, I was really getting into the 1950’s segment and wanted to see more of that. This reminds me of Jupiter’s Legacy, weirdly. The scenes in the past with the formation of the Union were very cool and mysterious. Jumping back and forth from that to the Utopian’s whiny, annoying kids was excruciating.

American Horror Story, Take Me To Your Leader

We also already got a glimpse of the present day this season in “Red Tide.” I think I can see how they’re tying the present and past together in “Death Valley.” The kids mention how technology has changed so rapidly over the last half-century. Apparently, the aliens will cause all that advancement, and there will be negative consequences. I just find these scenes too overblown for my taste. The reason Jamie can’t have sex with her boyfriend seemed thrown in for a laugh, but that’s not the kind of thing I find funny. Troy and Cal are just too much in every sense of the word. Some people might not like them because they’re so obviously gay, but I wouldn’t want this level of detail from a straight couple either. Most of their conversations are insufferable. Kendall’s boyfriend is probably going to turn out to be abusive. Choosing a Luddite existence for himself is one thing. But forcing it on Kendall, not even allowing her to Google her symptoms, that’s very controlling and manipulative.

Two things are ruining the present-day subplot in “Death Valley” for me so far: the acting and the dialogue. I’m not a prude, and American Horror Story is no stranger to adult language and humor. Still, all the sex talk in this portion of “Take Me To Your Leader” is just cringey and overdone. Kaia Gerber, Nico Greetham (both of whom appeared in American Horror Stories over the summer,) Rachel Hilson, and Isaac Cole Powell do little to abate these concerns. These actors have little charisma and don’t sell the friendship among the characters very well. The cheesy monster movie of the past looks tame as a funeral compared to the connective tissue with the kids.

American Horror Story, Take Me To Your Leader

Overall, I loved half of “Take Me To Your Leader,” and the other half was definitely something. Neal McDonough, Sarah Paulson, and Rebecca Dayan deliver grounded, “realistic” performances that keep the alien antics tied to some form of reality. The lighting and costumes in this segment are delightful as well; ditto the music. However, I’m not sure how much I needed to hear and see four young adults gossip about the most gruesome details of their private lives. The bit about the two guys getting pregnant was a little funny, but not enough to make up for this hot mess. I’m definitely still watching the rest of the season, but I hope they focus more on the Eisenhower storyline than the cardboard cutout committee going forward.

American Horror Story Season 10, Episode 7, "Take Me to Your Leader"

Plot - 5
Acting - 5
Progression - 5
Music/Sound - 5.1
Horror Elements - 5



Overall, I loved half of "Take Me To Your Leader," and the other half was definitely something.

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