(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of “Red Tide,” Part 1 of “American Horror Story: Double Feature.”)
Alma Gardner (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) decides to settle for nothing less than greatness towards the end of the second episode of “Red Tide,” the first half of “American Horror Story: Double Feature,” by following in her father, Harry’s (Finn Wittrock), footsteps and taking the mysterious black pill that has elevated his writing considerably.
Unfortunately for Alma, the young violinist learns the price she must now pay — and that her dad is already secretly paying — in exchange for her increased talent, when she is found feasting on the blood of a rabbit by her mother, Doris (Lily Rabe). And unbeknownst to Alma and Doris, Harry is off devouring an actual human under a bridge near the big-city family’s new home of small beach town Provincetown, Massachusetts. Alma’s father is getting his own fix to feed his internal “muse” that’s been ignited by the black pill that makes gifted people even better at their specific gifts — and turns untalented people into vampire-like “pale people.”
What are these creatures specifically? We don’t know that yet, but according to Armstrong, they are scarier than whatever being you could dream up.
“I think that the scary part of the season is the fact that the Pale People, like real people, are much scarier than any other mythical creature could ever be,” the 11-year-old “Tomorrow War” star said. “The Pale People are us, what’s left of us when our dreams are taken away and there’s nothing else to live for but to search and hunt to fill that emptiness inside of them. They become animals with an insatiable hunger to feed.”
Alma’s decision to take the little black pill wasn’t a hard one for the character, Armstrong says, as even though she doesn’t know exactly what it turned her father into, she knows it made him a better writer. And she was OK accepting the cruelty that he showed, and that she herself began to show, toward those less gifted, like her own mother, after she took the mysterious dose.
“For Alma, there’s no compromise for greatness. The mood and the personality shift that her father experiences is nothing compared to the victories that he has with writing,” Armstrong said. “And at this point, it seems like a small price to pay. Alma is not afraid to share with her parents her desire to be the best. As far as she is concerned, nothing will stand in her way in achieving that. I think the writers explored perceived worth, value and importance in a really interesting way.“
As for what Alma’s mother will think of her daughter’s new diet, Armstrong — who got a taste of just how “stressful” committing to the violin is while playing Alma, a child who desires to be first chair in a philharmonic by the time she’s 18, by taking serious lessons throughout production on “Red Tide” — says you’ll have to wait until Episode 3 of “AHS” Season 10 debuts next Wednesday.
“Well, I know what her reaction will be, but everyone will have to wait until Episode 3. If I were to guess, I can’t imagine what must be going through her mind. The scene is so unsettling. What would you do about it? I think her instinct would be to take Alma as far away from P-Town as possible. And maybe get her a few shots.”
“American Horror Story: Double Feature” airs Wednesdays on FX.