EDGE Hot List: That Was the Dick Dock....and Other Takeaways from 'AHS: Red Tide'

Tuesday August 31, 2021
Originally published on August 27, 2021

Editor's note: This story contains spoilers for the first two episodes of "American Horror Story: Double Feature."]

"American Horror Story: Red Tide" premiered on Wednesday and it getting a largely positive buzz. "Two episodes from the first half of season 10, subtitled 'Red Tide', have now aired, and thankfully, we're very happy to report that 'Double Feature' is an absolute return to form for 'American Horror Story,' even if it doesn't exactly rewrite the rulebook," writes Digital Spy.

The season, collectively entitled "Double Feature," features two parts: "Red Tide," the current one set in Ptown, and the second half, "Death Valley," set in the California desert. The first deals with drug-induced vampirism; the second with a government cover-up of aliens set in the 1950s with Sarah Paulson playing Mamie Eisenhower.

"Red Tide" stars Finn Wittrock as a screenwriter who brings his pregnant wife (Lily Rabe) and daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) to Provincetown in the dead of winter in order to finish an overdue treatment for a television pilot. But even the solitude of Ptown in the dead of winter can't inspire him, that is until he meets a bohemian couple, played by Evan Peters and Frances Conroy, at a local bar, They are a pair of hugely successful writers who turn Wittrock on to the key to their success: a black pill that unleashes the creative imagination, but comes at a cost: a craving for blood.

This leads to the show's central question teased in a press release about the show: "The destination is said to offer residents the inspiration they desperately crave, but this inspiration has a price."

Here are some take-aways from the first two episodes:

Is This Ryan Murphy's Meta-Moment?

Provincetown has long been known as a writer's haven, largely due to two of the 20th century's most famous playwrights, Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, worked there. Also Norman Mailer lived there, and, more recently, Michael Cunningham, Tony Kushner, and Ryan Murphy, who wrote the scripts to the first episodes with long-time "AHS" collaborator Brad Falchuk. Murphy has a house in Ptown, which prompts the question, is the spectacular house that Peters lives in the one that Murphy owns? When the film crew published a list of locations last year for a local Ptown paper, the location of the house was likely one of the redacted ones.

And is Murphy writing about himself? It certainly felt that he was channeling his own career when Peters — a hugely successful playwright — speaks to Wittrock about a colleague.

"I used to be like you. I thought small, I wrote small. Little plays about things that made little money and attracted little attention," Peters tells Wittrock

"I had a friend. though. He writes for television. You know the name. Disgustingly prolific, silly rich, couldn't write a thank-you note without somebody handing him a trophy of some kind. And I thought to myself, 'How is he doing it?'

"And all I knew was that he spent his winters here, and when he returned to the city he had a stack of material as long as my Johnson. He invited me out here one winter, and when I arrived he handed me one of those. Tragic magic little black pills. Within an hour, I was banging away at the keyboard like Amadeus at his harpsichord."

Yes. That is the "Dick -Dock"

Among the locations featured in the second episode of "AHS: Red Tide" was a quick-trip to the "Dick-Dock," which sits beneath the deck at the Boatslip harbor side resort. For those not knowing of this legendary cruising area, in the summer it often packed with men having anonymous sex. A few years ago the Huffington Post wrote that the DIck Dock "is an open secret; for years and years, gay, bisexual and curious men have gathered here under the cover of darkness." They also posted an interview with Brad Amberheart, a tantric sex coach from North Carolina, who said of the location: ""It's probably, in my opinion, one of the most frequented and sanctioned gay cruising spots in the world."

But on "AHS: Red Tide" it appears only briefly when Wittrock heads there for a fix, but not the sexual kind. He is met there by a hunk (actor Austin Woods) looking for some action who greets him with, "Welcome to the dick dock. In July, this place is a like a gay hometown buffet. Big ones. Little ones. Are you a top or a bottom?" It turns out Wittrock wants neither.

Macaulay Culkin Defines 'Frottage'

Making an impressive "AHS" debut is Macaulay Culkin, who plays a hustler and wannabe writer named Mickey. His wanting to write ties him into the show's main theme of the price of success, but whether or not he is charmed or damned by taking the mysterious pill that supplies unlimited creativity to the talented remains to be seen. Culkin appears in the first episode when he attempts to pick up a clearly uncomfortable Wittrock at a bar. "I'm married. To a woman," Wittrock tells him. .Micky replies: So are all my regulars. You strike me as an angry top." He also advises Harry that he'd need to "glove up" were they to hook up.

Adding, "Unless you're down for some frottage... It's French for rubbing our dicks together."

That Karaoke Moment — An All-Time 'AHS' High?

Midway through the first episode of "AHS: Red Tide," Finn Wittrock goes to a local bar alone and watches a karaoke performance between a couple who don't look much like the year-round Provincetown residents he's come across. The couple look they'd be more at home in Beverly Hills than a dumpy, Provincetown bar as they sing a thoroughly entertaining cover of Dolly Parton's "Island in the Stream." Variety raved about the moment: "But the floor show was Evan Peters and Frances Conroy singing Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream," which was definitely the highlight of the episode — and maybe an all-time 'AHS'" highlight."

Was Finn Wittrock Referring to a Real Cape Cod Murder?

When Finn Wittrock and Lily Rabe arrive at their new house in Provincetown, their daughter, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, says it looks haunted, which brought to mind the first season of this franchise, "Murder House." It turns out it isn't ghosts that haunt the resort town, and Wittrock touches upon the town's dark history when he asked the property manager Robin Weigert) that he knows there have been mysterious deaths in this area. Specifically, he mentions that a family of five was found dead in their beds. "The Truro family wasn't really murdered, but this detail is likely a nod to one of New England's best known serial killers," writes Decider.

"In 1969, Antone Charles "Tony" Costa committed several murders around the Massachusetts town of Truro," Decider continues.. "Costa's disturbing crime spree has a lot in common with the prevalent death in Red Tide. Altogether, Costa was suspected of murdering eight women. He would remove the hearts of his victims and chop them up into several pieces. Costa received so much media attention that Kurt Vonnegut actually compared him to Jack the Ripper. Ultimately, Costa was only convicted of killing two women: Patricia Walsh and Mary Anne Wysocki. In his unpublished novel, he claimed that he was taking LSD and Dilaudid with the two women and an unknown friend named "Cory" before "Cory" shot them."