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"Aura" is the second episode of the second installment of American Horror Stories. It premiered July 27, 2022 on Hulu.


Synopsis

After moving into a new home, a married couple is terrorized by a cryptic visitor. [1]

Plot

A security-oriented commercial for "Aura" and testimonial from an Aura customer convinces Jaslyn Taylor to purchase the smart doorbell system. She brings it to her new home in Mountain View Place, a security patrolled and gated community. Her husband (Bryce) is skeptical about her purchase, pointing out the expenditure when they are on a budget. He acknowledges that her childhood trauma fuels her current anxiety, but gently hopes she can move past it. He agrees to install it. Twenty years prior, a rabbit masked invader woke Jaslyn as he came in through her window. She crawled under the covers and overheard her mother being shot. Bryce hammers the Aura into place, triggering Jaslyn's memory of the childhood incident.

Jaslyn and Bryce begin nesting and decorating the house, as Jaslyn receives orders from her online store for jewelry she crafts. She is creating an earring when she gets a notification from Aura about a hooded man at the front door. When he says he is there for the home invasion, Jasyln realizes that it is Bryce playing a joke on her. She lets him in, but he quickly must re-dress and leave again for a work meeting. She locks the door behind him and begins posting photos of her new work. Aura notifies her of motion outside, but she doesn't see any in the camera. She opens the door to investigate, and is startled by a raccoon emerging from the trash cans at the curbside.

Later, Aura alerts her to another motion. An older man (that she does not recognize) is at the door, calling her by name and asking her to open the door for him. He bangs at the door, but refuses to leave. He taunts her and sings as she calls the police. Bryce comes home to find her being questioned by the police. Hwan, the neighbor across the street, provides video from his own camera that shows no one approached Jaslyn's door between the raccoon and the police. The Aura app also did not record the man. The police have no evidence and say they can do nothing. That night, Bryce suggests that the stress may have caused her to think of the man and that she might consider seeing a therapist.

Another night, Jaslyn compulsively checks her phone. She is hoping at least the raccoon will reappear to justify her previous alarm, and Bryce mentioned that he set out poison for it. Aura notifies her that there is someone at the door, and this time Bryce also sees and interacts with the strange man through the app. As before, the man wants to be let in. Bryce grabs a fireplace poker but Jaslyn stops him from opening the door. Thinking to get a second point of view, Bryce calls Hwan, who says that his camera does not see anyone. Jaslyn's app also no longer sees the man. Bryce suggests that someone has hacked their Aura camera as a prank, but Jaslyn reminds him that the door was physically rattling the first time.

The next day, Jaslyn finds a video listed as an "Aura prank" which showed a similarly menacing figure at someone else's door. She tells Bryce that the video wasn't actually a prank in that case, as a registered sex offender was arrested in connection with that incident. Bryce assures her that he has tightened their digital security and that it shouldn't happen again. Jaslyn remembers that her school janitor, Dayle Hendricks, once made inappropriate advances at her and made similar comments as the man at their door. Bryce once again insists that it is a cyber prank, and it's neither Hendricks nor anyone else at their door.

Some time later, Jaslyn is startled by a reflection over her shoulder of the strange man. She sets out to find Hendricks' sister and find out his fate. She tells the sister that the alumni and old staff are hosting a reception and want to invite Hendricks, but the sister responds that he disappeared months before. Hendricks was also deeply involved in computers, and a picture of him shows he is the same man she has been seeing. She calls Bryce and tells him what she found, and he says that he will be home later. Soon, Hendricks appears on the app. He claims all he wants is to see her again, and that nothing else will happen if she simply opens the door for him. She opens the door and steps through, but sees nothing and no one outside. Stepping back in, she re-locks the door and turns around to find Hendricks standing physically inside her home. He says he is sorry that he lied, but that he also is there to apologize for his inappropriate behavior when she was in school.

She acknowledges that she and her friends were unkind to him as well, and that she hopes they can forgive each other. He turns to her, begins crying blood, and dissolves instantly into dust. The news that evening claims that the missing Hendricks' body was discovered floating in a river after an apparent suicide, though Jaslyn does not tell Bryce about it. Bryce comes home, elated that the situation seems to be behind them, and they joke about him being a (raccoon) murderer. Another Aura notification comes in as he heads upstairs.

A woman Jaslyn does not recognize is on her porch. She claims she doesn't know where she is or what is going on, but that she was at the park when something she can't remember happened. Immediately, Bryce begins yelling through the app about another prank. He angrily yanks the Aura unit off the door and throws it away.

A different day, Jaslyn visits the park the mysterious woman mentioned and sees a bench memorialized for Mary Jeane Burkett. A web search shows that Burkett was killed by a drunken driver in a hit-and-run, and the picture matches the woman she saw. Jaslyn comes home and confronts Bryce, suggesting that Burkett came for him this time. Jaslyn has found a theory on the internet that suggest Aura's camera system uses a form of quantum computing that draw ghosts. Bryce laughs, but Jaslyn continues and tells him that her resolved conflict with the ghost of Hendricks allowed him to move on. She strongly suggests that Burkett has similar unresolved issues with Bryce. Aura notifies them that Burkett is at the door, and Jaslyn admits that she re-hung the unit.

Bryce refuses to admit that he knows who she is, but finally acknowledges that they were engaged. The night she was killed, they fought and he says he drove off leaving her behind. Jaslyn opens the door, and Burkett — holding a swaddled baby — materializes in their home. The fight they had was because she was pregnant with his child, and Bryce was actually present when Burkett was hit and paralyzed. She was not killed by the collision, but was when Bryce crushed her neck by stepping on it. Bryce retrieves the fireplace poker to kill Jaslyn, who now knows his secret, but is stopped by the ghost of Burkett. His body dissolves into ash, just as the ghostly Hendricks was.

Three months later, Jaslyn has moved into a new apartment. She is distressed when she discovers the building requires Aura units for low insurance rates, and the doorbell immediately tells her that Bryce wants to talk to his wife.

Featured Characters

Quotes

Notes

Raised Questions

  • Did Jaslyn poison Bryce?

Gallery

References

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