In “Thank You For Your Service,” Gino wakes up in a strange place. His captor prepares to make a sacrifice of him but decides to release him upon discovering his veteran status. Meanwhile, Hannah prescribes a pill to Sam for an STD. Her office is full of queer people with rashes. Adam and Gino work together to get the word out about the killer, but Adam is arrested for dispersing flyers. The lesbians return to berate Gino, and he gives them a job. Police threaten Adam and demand that he retract his statement to Gino’s paper. Barbara asks Gino about a box of handkerchiefs she found in Patrick’s stuff. Adam is released from jail. Gino and Patrick go on the search while Adam and a friend go to a club. Sam invites a strange man named Stu to his house. Gino calls Patrick out on the box Barb brought, but he evades the topic. Someone at the bar is attacked. Fran informs Hannah that she believes the US government is targeting the gay community, causing her patients’ rashes. Sam keeps Stu prisoner in his basement. Patrick gets a call from work: the killer has left a series of his victims’ hands.
“Thank You For Your Service” expertly creates anxiety in its opening sequence. In “Something’s Coming,” I wasn’t sure if it was actually the killer who drugged Gino. I thought it could be someone who didn’t like his investigation for other reasons, someone who hates gay people, or one of the main characters. I was overthinking it, but I’m glad the killer decided to let Gino go. He’s my favorite character so far, thanks in part to Joe Mantello’s performance. I like his voice and the way he carries himself. Gino doesn’t care what other people think, like Patrick does, and you can see as much in his walk and body language. You can also tell Gino cares about everyone threatened by the killer, not just himself or his friends. Patrick’s reluctance to jump in is understandable, given his job and unsteady personal life. But it’s still wrong; as a police officer, he’s standing by and slowly investigating in the shadows while people are being killed. This, paired with the lies he’s told Barbara and Gino, actually had me wondering if he could be the killer at times in “Thank You For Your Service.” This would be too similar to the twist in Hotel. Furthermore, Patrick does seem concerned about the slayings, even if his response is too restrained. But why would he ask Gino what the handkerchiefs mean if he not only owns some but used to frequent leather clubs? The only other possibility I can see would be if Barbara lied about the handkerchiefs, but I don’t see why she would do that. She can’t get back with Patrick for obvious reasons, so I don’t see any benefit to her trying to split him from Gino.
As “Thank You For Your Service” progressed, I started suspecting a few other people of being the killer. The emcee at the club Adam visited seemed like a total weirdo. This depends on how you read the scene where he repeatedly points at Adam, saying, “Something’s coming for you.” Is this just part of the show? Is he marking Adam for death? Could it be both? Is Adam just taking it this way because he’s paranoid? Sam is becoming increasingly likely too. He came off as a creep in “Something’s Coming,” but in “Thank You For Your Service,” he seals it by luring a young man to his basement and trapping him there. It’s crappy of Theo to cheat on Sam, but at this point, they need to break up, and Sam needs to go to jail. Mr. Whitley at Dr. Hannah’s office seems like a weirdo, too, and I thought he would attack her at first. The curt way he answers his fellow patients in the waiting room is unnecessary, and his facial expressions are unsettling. Speaking of the waiting room, most of Dr. Hannah’s patients are gay, and all (except Sam) have the same rash. Is this HIV, or could it have to do with the disease the deer have? Could the two be connected?
My favorite scene in “Thank You For Your Service” is Gino and Patrick’s dinner. Gino talks to a mostly silent Patrick about the silence permeating the city. He’s used to the noise of a bustling Manhattan, but the sound of silence means secrets, and that’s what he can’t stand. He also connects this to their relationship, trying to get Patrick to fess up about the bandanas. Gino concludes that Patrick is the most silent of all, keeping everything close to his chest and sharing little with the people who love him. I’m probably not doing the scene justice; the dialogue is delivered perfectly by Mantello, and you can hear the pain and betrayal in his voice. American Horror Story: New York City excels when it treats its characters and subject matter seriously.
This brings me to some of the things I didn’t love about “Thank You For Your Service,” most of which were aesthetic this time. The music in the clubs sucks! I don’t know if this is the type of music they play in gay clubs or if it’s to show how odd some clubs are. For example, the one Adam visits seems almost like a haunted house. It’s over-decorated, overly loud, and the people there are a lot to handle. The live performance at this club is the worst musical selection in the episode, but the darker ambiance at the club Patrick and Gino scope out is pretty bad too. At least so far, camp and the sillier side of AHS haven’t been front and center. I think this is wise, and they should keep it that way. The best seasons are the ones with sympathetic characters who stick with you, and turning their plights into a farce is a sure way to ruin that. So far, I like Gino and Adam, and I might like Patrick depending on how much he’s hiding.
“Thank You For Your Service” has some marvelous high points held back by poor musical choices and dark lighting. I’m not opposed to a darker palette that fits the tone and situation. But you should be able to see what’s happening on screen. The opening scene with Gino and the killer is creepy in all the best ways. The dinner scene is emotional and superbly acted. “Thank You For Your Service” is less consistently good than “Something’s Coming,” but I still enjoyed it more than not.