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"Multiply Thy Pain" is the first episode of "American Horror Story: Delicate". It premiered September 20, 2023 on FX.

After multiple failed attempts of IVF, actress Anna Victoria Alcott wants nothing more than to start a family. As the buzz around her recent film grows, she fears that something may be targeting her – and her pursuit of motherhood.— FX Networks, official synopsis[1]

Plot[]

Unto the woman he said, "I will multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children..."
— Genesis 3:16

Anna Victoria Alcott awakens to feel the arm wrapped around her is not her husband Dex's, but a cloaked woman whom she chases out of her Brooklyn Heights apartment. She calls the police, who seem dubious of her account. Before the call ends, she discovers a bloody trail leading from a torn photograph of her newly dividing embryo.

One week earlier, she steps out of the shower to find Dex calling her from their fertility clinic. She is at risk of missing her egg extraction (a step in in-vitro fertilization) appointment, and Dr Hill is insistent she hurry. Emerging from her apartment building, she notices a distinctly dressed woman investigating an object on the pavement across the street. As the woman walks away, Anna observes the object herself: a birds nest with a broken fertilized egg inside. Hurrying to the clinic, Anna is surprised to see a billboard poster with her own face promoting "The Auteur". The film has gained her recent critical acclaim in the starring role; she quickly takes a picture and notices that she is running very late. Dex rushes her inside to the operating preparation room. The anesthesiologist goes over the procedure with her, though she notes she has done it twice before. Alone with Dex, she expresses her doubts and insecurities, but her husband insists all will be fine.

She awakes with good news from Dr Hill: he was able to retrieve nine eggs. He prescribes refrigerated hormones for the next step, which will prepare her uterus for embryo transfer once they have been fertilized and are viable. She is given her prescriptions, and is still in much pain as she is wheeled out of the clinic. In the lobby, she notes her own face again on the cover of a magazine. Her momentary joy is cut short by a call from her publicist, Siobhan Corbyn, which she rejects. She has mixed feelings about the gazes of the women who recognize her in the lobby, but one entering the door gets her immediate attention.

"I know you.", the woman states. Thinking she is a fan, Anna thanks her for watching. The woman insists "You are her" and takes her picture as Anna rises from the wheelchair and rushes out. The receptionist addressed the older woman as "Ms. Preecher". She notes to Dex that the oddly dressed young woman from that morning is watching them from around the corner of the building, but Dex downplays Anna's concerns about a potential stalker. They banter at lunch about their hopes of children. Alone later at home, Anna is concerned about changes in her body.

Anna meets with Siobhan, who presents some appearance opportunities to her as the actress signs promotional photos for her fans. A special item from Anna's first role as a teen actress, a "Summer Day" action figure, comes with a special request to autograph the doll's body (which she does, marking her initials on the abdomen). While she finds the request odd, Anna is delighted to hear she's been asked for a high profile interview; she sees on her calendar that it is to be recorded the same day as her potential embryo transfer and vows to make both events work. Siobhan asks why Anna has packed the doll (out of the box) to go with her, but Anna muses that she didn't put it there. Anna finally tells her publicist about the IVF treatments. Siobhan — who Anna met at an IVF support group — is overjoyed that her best friend is enjoying such success (in both her career and her treatment). Siobhan's own IVF journey was not as successful.

On a walk later, Anna and Dex muse on the effort to get pregnant. Dex becomes melancholy when Anna mentions his first wife, Adeline, who died in a tragic accident. Adeline wasn't interested in children, and they did not try to have them when she was alive. Dex looks up to find a spider crawling in Anna's hair, which he picks off. They return to the apartment to find Anna's refrigerated medication has been spoiled left out on the counter, and Anna insists she returned them to the refrigerator.

Anna feels pursued as she walks to dinner with Dex and their friends, Talia and Theo. Talia cheers to Anna's professional success and lets slip that she and Dex have put together an already sold-out show for a new artist. Anna is surprised that she hasn't heard about the new venture, which Dex set up on his recent trip to Berlin. Talia, who was a best friend of Adeline's, notes the striking similarity of the new artist to Dex's late wife; this makes Dex profoundly uncomfortable. Anna escapes to the restroom, where she calls Siobhan for comfort and advice. Anna asks her friend if it's possible Dex is still in love with Adeline, as Anna feels like she's constantly living in the dead woman's shadow. Siobhan tries to distract her friend by asking about her greatest fear, which Anna says is that her eggs are dried up and dusty like a spider's. Siobhan comforts her and says that she would love Anna's "spider baby" as if it were her own. Talia comes in to apologize about her indiscrete mention of Adeline, and while she is sorry for her understandable raising of a sore subject she believes Anna and Adeline would have been friends. Talia also suggests that they move tables, as there is a child near where they are seated that is annoying her; Talia goes on about disliking children longer than Anna is comfortable with, and Anna tries to redirect the conversation to Talia's lipstick (which Talia gifts to her). The two women leave the restroom, but Anna notices distinctive shoes inside the restroom stall.

Dr Hall calls with the good news of two viable embryos. He attempts to set the transfer up for the following Thursday, which conflicts with Anna's interview. She tries to move it to Friday — under Dex's disapproving objection — as the doctor reminds them both that the sooner implantation has a better chance of success. She puts the Friday appointment in her online calendar for 11 am. That night as Dex sleeps, a curious Anna searches Adeline's name on the web. A picture (of her wedding with Dex) accompanies a story of how the acclaimed vegan chef died in an accidental and mysterious kitchen fire at her Brooklyn eatery "Hestia". Anna scrolls further and sees a troll comment from "Annihilate Anna" that says Adeline was so much prettier than Anna, with other similar stalkery comments from the same user. To recover a sense of peace, Anna looks back at her calendar in anticipation of the transfer appointment; while she watches, the appointment moves to a later hour. She hastily resets her password.

The next morning, Anna calls the clinic to reschedule her appointment to 10am. Dr. Hill is concerned, but relents when Anna discloses her security concern. She puts the new time on a sticky note and goes to Siobhan with her fears. Just prior to her interview with Andy Cohen, Anna is unsettled by the memory of the wrecked birds nest. The interview goes well until Anna spots Ms. Preecher in the audience; a moment later she is gone. Afterwards in her office, Siobhan tells her that the interview has prompted new attention from the media. Anna sees another "Summer Day" doll, this one with an "X" marked on the abdomen and Siobhan muses that they're making a comeback in popularity; Anna responds that they've been discontinued for decades, though Siobhan says they can be found on online auctions. Anna throws the doll away. In the taxi ride home, Anna looks up the troll's username and finds fresh disturbing posts — including the covert picture from the clinic. She intuits someone is in the apartment, and grabs a kitchen knife for defense. The sticky note has been torn in half and re-adhered to the cabinet, but there doesn't appear to be an intruder. Anna calls Dex, who is at the art show opening. Initially Anna was not going to attend, given the interview and transfer appointment, but she says she is heading to Dex (as she doesn't want to be alone in the apartment).

At the event, Anna sees the young oddly-dressed woman among the paparazzi. She enters and is immediately drawn to an art piece, hearing a baby's cry when she sees it. The artist, Sonia Shawcross, introduces herself as a big fan of both Anna and Dex — and mentions that she used her own menstrual blood in making the piece. Sonia's attention to detail includes Anna's lipstick, the gift from Talia, a red color that Anna rarely wears. Anna notices the spike-studded green shoes she remembers from the restroom stall. Dex approaches from behind, scaring Anna. He suggests that her emotional energy is detracting from his event, and gently asks her to leave.

The next morning, Anna is to have the embryo transferred. Dr. Hill gives her a photograph of the embryos dividing cells. The procedure is more painful than it should be, and Anna has a vision of Ms. Preecher, now in strange garb, standing over her. Ms. Preecher bites off her own tongue and bends to plant a bloody kiss on Anna's crudely sewn-shut lips. Anna awakes groggy in her apartment to a caring Dex, watched over by the embryo picture.

We see again the scene from the opening as Anna chases the intruder in her bed out of the apartment, knowing now that the red on Anna's hands is Talia's lipstick. An alert on Anna's phone tells her that a new calendar event has been added with the title "Look in the mirror ". The mirror bears the message "Don't do it, Anna" written in lipstick.

Quotes[]

Notes[]

Cultural References[]

Raised Questions[]

Gallery[]


Videos[]

References[]

  1. FX Networks (2023, August 21). "Multiply Thy Pain". From Listings - AMERICAN HORROR STORY on FX. The Futon Critic. Archived from the original on 2024-07-20.
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