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"Lake" is the eighth episode of the second installment of American Horror Stories. It premiered September 8, 2022 on Hulu.

Synopsis[]

A mysterious drowning uncovers secrets at the bottom of the lake.[1]

Plot[]

A party boats across a lake. Hayley notices the topographical map Jake has on his phone. He explains that when the lake was created by damming, it covered the small town of Reedsville. With the current drought, the ruins are not so deep under the surface. Jake offers a dive to see it, and his sister Finn volunteers. He tells her privately that he's annoyed, as he was hoping Hayley would join him; his sister tells him, despite his objections to the contrary, that Hayley is a bad fit for him. The siblings dive in, pointing out relics to each other. A hand emerges from the lake floor and grabs Jake. Finn rushes to the surface and calls the others for help. When she returns, her brother is still and appears to have drowned. However, he shakes violently when the hand drags him further towards the ruined lake floor.

Four months later, Jake's parents (Jeffrey and Erin) welcome Finn home. She had been in a mental health facility, but her doctor's have released her. Once she is upstairs, her parents express their concerns. They too have been having problems coping with their loss. Jeffrey says he was swamped with work after Jake's death, but his wife asks him to be more present for Finn's sake. Erin checks in with Finn, who asks her what was put in Jake's memorial casket (as she was committed during the service). Mementos and keepsakes, her mother responds, turning it into a time capsule. Time has not diminished Finn's belief in what she saw happened to her brother. Erin fills a tub and screams as a hand emerges from the bathwater to grab her arm, but a second look finds nothing but clear water.

Erin is startled by Jeffrey's hand on her shoulder as she researches Lake Prescott. He wants them to move forward, and admits he dealt with his grief by focusing on work. Finn dreams of her brother's fate, while Erin hears water running late into the night. The kitchen faucet refuses to be turned off, and Erin follows splashing to water rushing from the pool supply. She hears Jake's voice pleading with her to find him. She turns to find a waterlogged apparition of her son, covered in weeds, gone as quickly as it appears.

The next day, Jeffrey is skeptical. He reminds her that divers searched for weeks, and that there is no merit to dredging up all the trauma. He will not help her, but Finn offers to go with her to look for him. Erin does not want to re-open Finn's fresh mental wounds, though Finn insists that she will not rest comfortable until Jake is found. The two agree to leave immediately without telling Jeffrey. Erin recalls memories of Jake when they arrive at the family cabin. Finn pilots the boat to the dive site, and Erin tethers herself with a rope to the boat as she dives in. Finn handles her mother's belay, and Erin finds three skeletons chained to a concrete pillar. She removes a necklace from one and is dragged down. She looks back down to find Jake's fresh corpse.

Incredulous Lincoln County Sheriff Maldack questions her once they reach shore, confounded that his teams found nothing in the weeks of searching for Jake (including the chained skeletons). She relates her experience and shows him the necklace she found, to which he associates the Boone family. The Boone family farmed near Reedsville and have a living descendant. Jeffrey calls furiously, but she interrupts that Jake was found and that they'll return home soon. Finn has an injured hand from rope burn, but is feeling better. Mother and daughter feel that there's more to the story, and agree to meet with Millie Boone about the strange happenings.

Millie tells the pair that her great-grandfather Maynard must have owned the necklace. She claims that Wrede Prescott, developer for the area, invested in Lake Prescott's dam and murdered the three main opponents to the project. The necklace is a pair of dog tags from Maynard's neck, presumed to have been on him when the dam was launched. He and his two cohorts were left chained to the pillar as the lake bed formed by flooding over them.

The surviving descendants continue to fight yearly the dam's operation nearly a century later, hampered by the endowment Wrede Prescott left behind in trust. His law firm, Spengler and Webber, fights the petitions to protect Prescott's family name. That evening, mother and daughter are packing to leave as Jeffrey arrives. He was concerned that hours have passed since they said they were headed home. Erin takes the opportunity to ask him about his involvement with the dam, as Spengler and Webber is his firm. He admits that he is in charge of the case, and rebuffs the claims about the late Prescott's dirty dealings. He points out that their own family money is based on his legal work, and that she has benefitted. In fact, Jeffrey himself is a Prescott (and so are Jake and Finn, by extension). Erin realizes that the ghostly attack on Jake is retribution for the murders. He threatens to have both women committed if they continue to see delusions. Before they can leave, the lights go out and corpses shamble up from the lake and surround the house. The mob separates Jeffrey from his wife and daughter, bearing him into the water. The living mourn him, realizing this was the plan all along, but recognizing that even if they are not believed that the drought means the secret truths will come out eventually.

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