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The Ending Of American Horror Story: Double Feature Episode 4 Explained

Contains spoilers for the "American Horror Story: Double Feature" episode "Blood Buffet"

After setting up a showdown between Ursula (Leslie Grossman) and The Chemist (Angelica Ross) in the previous episode, "American Horror Story: Double Feature" hit the pause button and took viewers five years into the past for a deeper look at the inhabitants of Provincetown. "Blood Buffet" puts the spotlight on the surprising backstories for characters like Belle (Frances Conroy) and Austin (Evan Peters). The episode also gives a deeper insight into the qualities of The Muse itself.

In fact, the episode begins with the origins of how Provincetown came to be the home of the powerful drug. We see The Chemist purchasing her stately abode from Holden Vaughn (Denis O'Hare), a local who we briefly met last episode during Chief Burleson's (Adina Porter) murder investigation. The Chemist reveals that she's in town after quitting her job in Providence, Rhode Island, has a Ph.D. from Harvard, and that she's looking for a little peace and quiet.

It's soon revealed, though, that she's also working on a project of her own. And when she starts meeting her new neighbors, her quiet presence begins making a significant impact on the community.

The origins of The Muse are revealed

Once she has settled in, The Chemist takes out her beakers and bunsen burners and produces a batch of The Muse. She then takes to the town to try and find a test subject. Enter Mickey (Macaulay Culkin), who is just as destitute in the past as he is in the present. The Chemist invites him home one evening and lays out how she ended up developing her wonder drug.

The Chemist was working for the US military at her old job, specifically to try and develop a way to "unlock the creative part of the brain" so that it could then be locked back up to produce more passive soldiers. Through this research, she discovered the part of the brain that engenders creativity — the occipital lobe — and figured out a way to stimulate it. As we know from previous episodes, this only works on people who have a natural predilection toward creativity (The Chemist says these are people with "denser, more numerous clusters of neurons" in their occipital lobes). The Chemist explains to Mickey that in trials on primates, the ones who weren't blessed with that particular gift simply became more aggressive.

After her explanation, The Chemist tries to make Mickey her first human guinea pig. She appeals to his dreams of making it as a writer, but he is too nervous about the possibility of becoming a failed test subject to take the plunge. Years later, of course, he changes his mind and uses The Muse to unlock his potential as a screenwriter. But at this stage in his life, five years in the past, he clearly hasn't reached a place — either through self-confidence or desperation — where he's ready.

So, instead, The Chemist offers him money to bring her test subjects, which he is more than happy to do.

Belle gets rid of some dead weight

Throughout "Red Tide," viewers have come to know Belle Noir as a force to be reckoned with. A bestselling romance novelist and ruthless killer who won't hesitate to sacrifice others to feed The Muse, she has what could charitably be called an unhealthy amount of confidence in herself. That wasn't always the case, though. When we see her in this flashback, she is a self-published writer of erotic George and Martha Washington fanfiction on a poorly attended book tour. She's also married to a cruel man (Jim Ortlieb) who resents and belittles her dreams.

That all changes when she meets Mickey while on the Provincetown stop of her tour. He first introduces her to meth and then promises something even more uplifting. Mickey brings Belle to The Chemist, who assures her that she's read her work and thinks she would be a good candidate for The Muse. Belle takes it with little hesitation. That night, she writes her first bestseller and then kills her husband in her inaugural fit of blood lust.

Belle's backstory reveals an important aspect of The Muse. In unlocking a person's full creative potential, it also has the power to completely change their personality. Belle goes from a woman with big dreams, genuine talent, but who is utterly lacking in self-confidence to a full-on malignant narcissist. Is her transformation a side effect of the drug itself, or the product of the success she found after taking it? It's a real "chicken or the egg" conundrum, but one we soon learn isn't just isolated to a single person.

Austin gets in on the action

Like his future partner in crime, Austin is also revealed to have humble beginnings. A few years after she begins taking The Muse, Belle spots him trying to embark on an ill-advised career as a drag queen to turn his love of theater into some actual money after an opportunity to stage one of his plays crashes and burns.

After seeing him give an impassioned lip-sync performance to Heart's "Magic Man," Belle approaches Austin and invites him to join her exclusive club. As The Chemist saw in her years prior, Belle was able to look beyond the sad state of Austin's life and see the genuine talent that was buried under some poorly applied drag makeup.

And it's clear that she was right. Belle meets Austin two years before the present-day action of "Red Tide" and as we learned in the first episode, he goes on to win three Tony Awards and a Peabody for his work. Even for someone getting a special boost from The Muse, that's an incredible meteoric rise for any artist to experience.

It helps put into perspective exactly how high the stakes for Austin and Belle are. The Muse hasn't just helped them with their work, it has turned them into living legends in their field almost overnight. Considering how deeply narcissistic each has become after taking the drug (or how much of their latent narcissism was unlocked by taking the drug), the idea of giving up their accolades is likely akin to death for them. Going forward, expect them to take any measures necessary to protect their access to The Muse.

What will the rest of Red Tide bring to shore?

One of the people Mickey brings to The Chemist is a wannabe singer who, we come to learn, does not have the gift. Through him, we see exactly what happens to someone when they are rejected by The Muse (and even learn where the pale people's distinct overcoats come from).

After taking the muse, the singer (Spencer Novich) begins to lose his hair, turns pale, and becomes unable to control his blood lust. When he goes to The Chemist, she merely tells him that nothing can be done. She explains that The Muse causes anger in everyone. For those with talent, the rage comes from "their arrogance and certainty that they are better than everyone." As for the untalented: "You hate everyone because you now know the truth about yourself. You're not talented ... You hate the world for giving you dreams that are too big."

Now that the show has fleshed out a bit more of the backstory, where do we go from here? "Blood Buffet" really establishes the themes of addiction, the concept of talent, and narcissism as central to "Red Tide." But when the season was first teased, it seemed that the seaside setting — specifically the ocean itself — was going to play a more significant role. There was heavy pre-season speculation that we would be getting the "American Horror Story" take on sirens or mermaids (did you catch The Chemist's mermaid door knocker?) and the title "Red Tide" implies something sinister emerging from the water.

With only two episodes left in this portion of the "Double Feature," it looks like the siren calls of "Red Tide" may be strictly metaphorical. But as anyone who has ever watched a Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk production knows, the possibility of a massive twist is always on the horizon.