REVIEW: American Horror Story Season 11, Episode 8, “Fire Island”


“Fire Island” fittingly sees Patrick, Gino, Adam, and Theo arrive on the island. Gino and Patrick immediately struggle to relax, both suffering the fallout of Whitley’s attacks. Henry comes to the island and professes his love to Gino, who doesn’t take it well. Sam resurfaces with two new lovers, simultaneously spying on Theo and trying to make him jealous. Big Daddy continues terrorizing everyone, from the lesbians to Patrick. He attacks Gino and Adam, ultimately being stopped by Patrick and his pistol. Sam drugs Theo and gives him to Henry, who runs away when he sees Big Daddy.

Patrick has some gall to tell Gino he needs to see a psychiatrist. Gino and Patrick have basically switched spots, with Patrick now calmly over-rationalizing what’s happened while Gino breaks down. They’ve gone back and forth a couple of times with this dynamic. Patrick is all but incapable of discussing his feelings, or much of anything, for that matter. Henry’s going too far with his attempts to woo Gino, and it’s honestly a little creepy. But he’s right about one thing: Patrick isn’t right for Gino, or anybody right now. I want to like Patrick, but he’s not honest with himself or the people he cares about. Lying about his past and present proclivities was awful; he and Gino live together. They’re essentially married for all intents and purposes, and Patrick refuses to show Gino that level of respect and consideration. But now, Patrick refuses to address his own trauma and deflects Gino’s concerns about the lesions, only to insist Gino go to therapy. Amazing. Short of resorting to physical abuse, I don’t see how Patrick could be a worse partner; he already cheats on and gaslights Gino, who deserves better. Previously, I was convinced Henry might be the better option. However, after his behavior in “Fire Island,” I think most would agree that it’s a non-starter. His kneeling display is pathetic, a creepy, sad reflection of a proposal. Rather than the natural progression of a mutual relationship, this is one sad, lonely man begging someone in a committed relationship to consider him. Yuck. It’s the way he won’t let it go that really seals his fate for me, as well as his willingness to take advantage of Theo at Sam’s behest. 

“Fire Island” is the gayest episode yet in a season all about the gay community and the problems they face. Depending on who you ask, this could be a good or bad thing. I have nothing against gay people and count them among my friends and family. However, one thing I really don’t like is excessive public displays of affection regardless of gender or sexual orientation. You know that Facebook friend who changes their profile picture to a photo of them making out with their significant other? How about the handsy couple in a high school hallway? I hate it so much. I don’t know if it’s insecurity, exhibitionism, or some combination of both, but I don’t want to see it. The characters make out and get frisky a lot in “Fire Island,” and much of it happens right on the beach or at parties. This is totally personal preference, but it distracts me because it doesn’t further the characters (with one exception), and it feels like the show is basically showing off. Like, “Look at all this gay representation.” This goes hand-in-hand with issues I’ve had in the last couple of episodes; New York City has lost any interest in implication and letting the audience think for themselves. Instead, everything must be spelled out and thrown in your face. The one example that gets a pass (or at least some justification) is Gino and Patrick making out in the beach chairs. This actually is important because it shows Gino’s discomfort and inability to be intimate. He’s so traumatized by Whitley’s attacks that he shrinks from Patrick’s touch. This is both sad and important for his character. 

AHS Fire Island

Speaking of representation, I find it ironic how the trio of lesbians led by Fran has spent the season demanding representation in The Native, Gino’s paper. It’s funny because Fran is the only one who has received any attention or development, and their respective problems haven’t been explored at all. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with making a season about gay men or that the women should be focused on just as much. The season is what it is, and my issues aren’t with the concept. My question is, why include them at all and give Fran these important scenes? Why is there tension between the lesbian and gay male communities? What problems is this particular triad facing? What do we know about the two who follow Fran around? These characters have received enough screen time and emphasis to intrigue me, but not enough to sate my curiosity or justify their role(s) in the story. 

AHS Fire Island

New York City continues to blur the line between mundane, human violence and the supernatural. The fact that Big Daddy survived Patrick’s shot and left the house indicates that he may be a ghost. If not that, maybe a zombie or some other undead ghoul. He seems impervious to most attacks, and I don’t know many people who can be shot in the head and walk away. This also explains why he never talks, and we don’t know anything about him when you think about it. He’s a tall, leather-clad guy who kills people. But as Adam observed, we have no idea who he is or what he even looks like. I still think Whitley was the more threatening and interesting villain, but I’ll bite; I am somewhat interested to see what’s up with Big Daddy. Likewise, Patrick and later Theo have more visions in “Fire Island.” Patrick sees Barbara again, and she even kisses him. Then after Theo is drugged, he’s surrounded by men with antlers as Henry runs away. I’m not sure about this, but I think Theo is dead, and these are the other dead gay men. The antlers tie them back to the sickly deer Hannah has been studying. I’m not sure exactly what this is supposed to mean. Perhaps innocence? By the way, this may be the worst thing Sam has done yet. He drugs his ex-boyfriend, has him bound and hanging from a tree, and offers him to Henry as an ego boost. If Theo is dead, I wonder if Sam is capable of feeling guilt or grief over him. Speaking of Theo, I’m not sure why the writers conceived him as a photographer. Gino, Adam, and Fran’s status as columnists are integral to the plot, Patrick’s NYPD badge facilitated much of the early storyline, and Henry was able to spare Gino as a hitman. That’s a major nitpick, but it seems odd. 

American Horror Story Season 11, Episode 8, "Fire Island"

Plot - 7
Acting - 10
Progression - 7
Production Design - 8
Character development - 5



"Fire Island" is an episode comprised of excesses. There's plenty of sex, conflict, and intrigue. However, I find it misbalanced in focus and execution.

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