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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Gaslighting, gaslighting and more gaslighting: Episode 3 of ‘American Horror Story: Delicate’

“When The Bough Breaks” serves as a mid-season catalyst episode for the final events to come.
Promotional poster for “American Horror Story: Delicate,” which is now streaming on Hulu. (Photo courtesy of @ahsfx on Instagram).

I want to start this review by saying that as a whole, this episode is mostly unmemorable. 

There was nothing blatantly wrong with it, per se, but “When The Bough Breaks” continued a lot of the same tropes that appeared in Episode 2, “Rockabye.”

Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts) is still hidden away in the Hamptons with her husband as she grapples with the emotional effects of her miscarriage. In addition to the emotional pain that comes with something as traumatic as losing a child, Anna is even more distressed by the belief that mysterious figures are stalking her. In typical horror media fashion, Anna’s husband tells her that she’s imagining it. At this point within the television program, I’m over the use of the “gaslit woman” trope. Let’s come up with something new, please. 

About 80% of the episode focuses on Anna’s alleged insanity. She can’t recall massive chunks of her day and sees masked women in the woods clothed in black — not even Siobhan (Kim Kardashian) believes her. She just advocates for long walks on the beach and eating salads (thanks Kim!). 

I know that I didn’t enjoy a lot of this episode, but given the way the production team has episodes rolling out, it makes sense. There’s a plan to release “Delicate” in episode sets labeled Part One and Part Two. There are five episodes within Part One, and “When The Bough Breaks” is episode three, making it the “mid-season” portion of the series thus far and presumably the episode that presents a newer conflict for the final half of Part One. It feels like the writers mostly saw “When The Bough Breaks” as a “setting the scene” episode, if you will. 

The last 15 minutes of “When The Bough Breaks” are the most compelling. Viewers are introduced to Nicolette (Michaela Jae Rodriguez), the manager of the Hamptons house. Every time Nicolette appears on screen, she is presented in an ominous and suspect manner — it alludes to the idea that she’s a part of the group of women stalking Anna (and is probably true).

Nicolette is pumping her breast milk when she encounters Anna, which causes Anna to stalk off to the basement with a bottle of wine and wallow in her present emotions. Of course, it wouldn’t be a season of “American Horror Story” without illegal and disturbing things appearing in the basement (“Murder House”). There are a lot of aspects of “Delicate” that remind me of “Murder House,” quite honestly. Anna stumbles across rows and rows of glass jars filled with body parts (like in “Murder House”), and she passes out and wakes up on a bloody operating chair (similar to the vibes of the character Dr. Montgomery in “Murder House”). After this strange procedure, Anna swears that she feels a baby inside of her again — is it possible that these strange women implanted a cursed child into her womb? (Once again, that would be similar to “Murder House”). 

I’m all here for potential references to old seasons, but it could just be a coincidence. 

The final scenes within “When The Bough Breaks” are some of the most gruesome yet, and I find the title of this episode fitting for some of its content — the bough (Anna’s sanity, perhaps) snaps — I’m excited to see where the next two episodes take us.

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About the Contributor
Blythe Bouza
Blythe Bouza, Deputy Life Editor
Blythe Bouza (‘25) is from New Orleans, La., and is double majoring in communication of science and technology and English with a minor in theater. When not writing and editing for The Hustler, you can find her waiting in line for coffee, making niche Spotify playlists or talking about Bret Easton Ellis. You can reach her at [email protected].
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