REVIEW: American Horror Story Season 11, Episode 5, “Bad Fortune”


In “Bad Fortune,” Kathy hires Fran to work as a psychic. We learn that Adam is Hannah’s sperm donor. They visit Fran, who pulls the death card, indicating that Sully is dead. Barbara is reluctant to sign the divorce papers. She finally does, but immediately passes out. Barbara wakes up in a hospital bed and asks Patrick to check on her dog. When Patrick gets to Barbara’s place, he’s attacked by Big Daddy. He survives to call the police, ironically. Hannah’s maternity doctor informs her she has a low red blood cell count, just like her patients, including Adam. Adam returns to Fran for another reading, this time with Theo. The results are just as disastrous: judgment, the Devil, and death are the cards drawn. Gino gets his tarot read, and the same cards are pulled. Big Daddy kills Barbara. 

AHS Bad Fortune

The makeup on Leslie Grossman is really effective in “Bad Fortune.” This character had a glamorous look on her teaser poster, but Barbara looks really sickly and thin in this episode. I almost want to go back and watch the previous episodes to see if there were hints at this. I remember being annoyed with Grossman in Cult, which I believe was her foray into the world of American Horror Story, but now I can’t imagine the show without her. She’s outstanding in villainous roles, such as she played in 1984. Barbara ended up being a harmless victim caught in the crossfire in NYC. I genuinely feel for this character because she clearly never stopped loving Patrick and needing something he couldn’t provide. Heck, Big Daddy (I still hate this name) kills her while she’s fantasizing about Patrick in the shower. At least in the show, Barbara’s life was just endless suffering until her undignified demise. I don’t understand why Big Daddy even goes after Barbara. We know Whitley has it out for Gino because he can identify him, and Patrick has been loosely following leads. Honestly, though, it has been a very lackluster investigation, and I’m not sure why Big Daddy/Sam/Whitley would even bother with him. Killing his ex-wife is bizarre; how do they know he would even care? I’m also curious if the three are connected or if Whitley is acting independently. It would be a heck of a coincidence. As an aside, it’s weird that Patrick still calls Barbara “honey.” This likely adds to her confusion, and I just don’t get it. I understand that he wants to be friends, but now that they’re separated and he lives with Gino, he shouldn’t call her by pet names. 

One complaint I have with “Bad Fortune” is the lighting, or lack thereof, in certain scenes. This problem has been rampant with Star Wars media and the later seasons of Game of Thrones, but I guess this shows that it’s universal. For some reason, modern TV cinematography is designed to keep the viewer from understanding what’s happening. In the final scene with Whitley and his hapless captives, it’s unbelievably frustrating that I can barely see the Frankenstein-esque corpse he’s been constructing. This explains the hands the cops found, by the way; Whitley uses what he needs from each victim and discards the excess. This is very disturbing, and you can feel the terror on the faces of his two newest victims when they realize they’ll be completing his “masterpiece.” I still have to wonder how the mysterious disease ties into this, or if it does at all. I’ve been so engulfed in the drama and murder mystery that I forget about this until another character inevitably finds lesions. This can’t just be AIDS, right? That’s been in the back of my mind since the beginning, but I’ve never heard anything about deer being susceptible to HIV. I have many questions at this point, but that’s a good thing at the season’s midpoint. I hope the next 5 episodes provide satisfying conclusions. 

AHS Bad Fortune

“Bad Fortune” introduces a supernatural element to NYC, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Some of my favorite seasons of American Horror Story have involved witches and vampires, but that’s what they were about. I expected as much. NYC is about a divided city and the struggles of a group being hunted by one of their own. Most of the characters and issues in NYC feel very grounded and possibly even referential to the gay community’s real problems during this time period. Why bring in psychics, the Angel of Death, and the concept of divine judgment in the middle of the season? What does any of this have to do with a lazy police department and a rogue murderer? Fran says she’s a real psychic, and more than once, strange things happen in the tarot parlor. The room shakes, and the lights go out even when Kathy does a reading, so it occurs regardless of Fran’s supposed abilities. And the show frames this as a very real phenomenon, not the result of a mechanical table or trick lights. At least to me, this felt more Penny Dreadful than AHS: NYC

AHS Bad Fortune

It’s also curious that Patrick’s choice to come out to his chief seems to have had no consequences. What are the chances that this demanding, pushy jerk would actually be OK with having “homos,” as he calls them, on the force? Being gay was less socially acceptable in the 80s than it is now. I could see it if the point was that Patrick was worried about nothing, and the guys didn’t care. But they clearly don’t like queer people, as evidenced by their handling of and language surrounding the killings. This is just strange, and I’m curious to see if anything comes of it. Strangely, Sam doesn’t appear in “Bad Fortune,” but I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the next couple of episodes. I want to know how culpable he is for the killings. 

“Bad Fortune” is a mixed bag of ideas and technical displays. I don’t hate it, but it’s the most disappointing episode of the season so far. 

American Horror Story Season 11, Episode 5, "Bad Fortune"

Plot - 5
Acting - 10
Progression - 5
Production Design - 5
Horror Elements - 6



"Bad fortune" is the most disappointing episode of AHS: NYC to date.

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