This episode is bookended by two very dynamic events: Mamie Eisenhower (Sarah Paulson) talking about fudge in relation to it being in or out of the pan. And Troy (Isaac Cole Powell) giving birth to an alien baby out of his ass. Is it homophobic, hilarious, rude, or a combo of the three for a show to craft a scenario where a gay male character has a literal butt baby? That’s between the powers that be and Ryan Murphy, I suppose. Regardless, that fudge has to get out of the pan somehow.
The second episode of Double Feature, part two, “Death Valley” has a duality of its own, in that it takes place both in 1963 and in 2021. While watching black-and-white scenes of dead presidents unburdening themselves of their stressors during golf games doesn’t make for very exciting television, hearing Sarah Paulson say the word “fudge” and then go white-eyed alien on us certainly does. But it isn’t until midway through the episode, while Kendall (Kaia Gerber) kills time in what appears to be a cafeteria in space as Debussy’s Clair de Lune plays, that I realize this must be some manner of joke. Do you mean to tell me that they’re up there playing the Twilight soundtrack while gays and Cindy Crawford’s daughter are struggling with the reality of nonconsensual alien pregnancies? Is this a nightmare or the comedy of the year? I ask you.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (Neal McDonough) forms a treaty with aliens that will allow them to abduct 5,000 humans a year. The aliens get to use humans for experiments in the hopes that it will lead to human-alien hybrids that will be better suited to surviving on Earth, a planet we’ve spent thousands of years pissing on. Humans also get to use their technology to heat Salisbury steak in mere seconds.
Everyone is mostly fine with this, especially Mamie, who calls the treaty “patriotism at its finest.” But Dwight seriously questions if he made the right choice. While, on the one hand, he really wants to get a jump on the alien technology before “the Russians” do, he’s getting pretty sick of seeing aliens make people’s heads explode all the time. Wait till he sees these butt babies. Then he’ll really have something to cry about during golf.
Because it’s an unwritten rule that you can’t have something take place in 1963 without bringing JFK (Mike Vogel) into it, he’s dragged into this as a handsome doofus who jokes about the alien file he’s handed being part of a hazing ritual. Spending his evening hours with his mistress, Marilyn Monroe (Alisha Soper), he confides in her about the aliens, and she says she has known about them all along. This scene flashes back to Marilyn as a child, shrieking in terror when her teddy bear’s face morphs into that of a black-eyed alien. [Checks notes to see if Fox News wrote this episode.]
Kennedy gets assassinated, which Mamie and Dwight learn about on the news amid bites of Salisbury steak. Amelia Earhart’s (Lily Rabe) baby kills her during alien birth, along with everyone else in the room. And the alien using Maria’s (Rebecca Dayan) body as a host kills her via head explosion, then goes off in search of a new form to inhabit — one that’s as obsessed with brownies as Doris (Rabe) from part one was with Lyme disease.
Sarah Paulson looks surprisingly good with white eyes and is a trooper during all of this. She appears to be visibly straining not to laugh during certain scenes. (I wonder if she also thought that Amelia Earhart’s alien baby looked like a chewed-up wad of gum.)
The episode closes out with the four present-day youths in a white-walled Matrix space station of some sort, hooked up to glow sticks and awaiting their fates. Steve Jobs is up there for unknown reasons. A woman named Calico (Leslie Grossman) used to work as a backup dancer for Ann-Margret and tells a story about seeing a woman shoot Ping-Pong balls out of her lady bits. She tries to soothe the nerves of the youths by telling them that most of the abducted humans only have to have one birth. But she is on the “annual plan” and has had several. The youths have a hunch that they’re not going to make it back home, at least not in any form they’d deem comfortable.
At the head of this baby-making operation in space is Theta (Angelica Ross), a being of some sort dressed like Lady Gaga going to the Met Gala. She oversees Troy’s butt birth and pulls off the dramatic white mask she’s wearing to reveal that she is a human-alien hybrid. She has one normal eye and one huge alien eye, so it seems like they haven’t gotten this formula perfected yet. If this is a trial-and-error thing, they’ve only got two episodes left to get it right. And the season itself only has that same amount of time to make part two fold itself back into part one — but that’s not going to happen. Is it?
Amelia Earhart Never Got To Watch The Matrix
• Apparently Mamie Eisenhower had a hand in making it popular for adults to have birthday parties? What a legacy.
• I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by calling him out in the bulk of the text above, so I’ll just leave it as a secret between us down here: Craig Sheffer’s Nixon voice is really bad. Perhaps he suffered a jaw injury when Lea Thompson smacked him in the face during the filming of Some Kind of Wonderful in the late 1980s. His Nixon kinda sounds like he’s chewing on some rolled-up socks.
• When Leon Theremin invented the theremin in 1919, do you think he would have ever guessed that it would mainly be used to make alien sounds? Professional theremin player Rob Schwimmer has said, “Playing theremin is like having sex with ghosts.” I’m curious.
• Do you think the bug-filled Jell-O squares served to the youths in space tasted like lime or just bugs?
• I see this as a good time and place to address a few people who commented on last week’s post questioning my statement that Kaia Gerber has talent. I beg your pardon? Let’s see YOU try to make being pregnant with an alien look sexy and casual.