American Horror Story Wiki
American Horror Story Wiki

"Smoke Signals" is the third episode of "American Horror Story: NYC". It premiered October 26, 2022 on FX.


Without the NYPD's help, Gino is forced to get resourceful. A traumatizing event brings dangerous suspects closer than ever. [1]


Fran asks Hannah for details about the figure that menaced her in Central Park. In turn, Hannah asks for details about Fran's government attack. Fran describes her time as a lab assistant in "Operation Paperclip", a program from 1952 that tested contaminants and animal-hosted diseases on human populations. She said that the facility on Plum Island developed a weaponized strain that could hide in mucus membranes for use in the Cold War. The underclass population volunteered as subjects in exchange for money, but ticks became an infection vector and got out of the lab. Hannah confirms patients have begun showing up with ailments that should be rare, but cautions against spreading anti-science conspiracy theories that could misinform the public. Fran urges Hannah to go to the Native with more information about the Fire Island deer and a deeper dig into the story.

Sam's prisoner, Stewart, emerges from his cage in the basement and heads upstairs. Big Daddy stands guard outside the apartment, but does not react as the nearly nude Stewart flees to the street.

Patrick and Marzara go over the evidence in the murder series, but are frustrated at the lack of evidence. Patrick hopes that the new lead he is about to interview will help. Stuart's plight, however, seems unconnected, as the circumstances were very different. Patrick notes "The Ditch" leather bar, and acts on Stewart's description to crash a party Sam hosts at Theo's. After his guests leave, Sam takes the detectives to his basement – where he insists all was consensual and that Stuart could have left at any time. Sam knows that Stewart will not press charges because he is afraid of his reputation (which would name him publicly in a legal filing). Sam intuits Patrick's orientation and preferences and blackmails the detective into not pursuing things further.

At home, Patrick tells Gino that Sam's dungeon does not match where Gino was held, and that Sam is not likely to be Gino's torturer. Gino provides Patrick with an artist's sketch of Whitely's face, but Patrick believes Gino's altered mental state makes the sketch dubious. Gino feels Patrick is obstructing him, and gets Patrick to admit he lied about frequenting leather bars in the past. Patrick says he can't follow up by staking out The Ditch, because Marzara will not approve it. Gino plays on Patrick's newly disclosed masochism inclinations and goads him into acting without "permission". The pay phone rings, but many wrong numbers and dead ends later ends with a lead: the warehouse salon. Hans' friend Daniel offers Patrick a smoke, and notes that Patrick's weapon is conspicuous and should be better tucked. After all, he says, not everyone is as nice to cops as he is. Patrick walks into a back room after a harnessed man he thinks is the caller, leading to a sexual encounter where he whips his suspect.

Hans, still wearing clownish pancake makeup from the salon, anxiously awaits a subway train. He scratches at his rash on his wrist (which he blames on the cats in the salon). The woman who shared a subway train previously with Morris and Adam tells Hans that something is coming for him before she retreats into the shadows.

At the Native, Gino and Adam compare notes. Adam says that he will be careful, but is off to a date with Theo. Gino warns Adam that Sam is very powerful and has a dark reputation. Gino heads to The Ditch and shows Alana the sketch of Whitely, who she identifies as a patron. She mentions that the man is a Vietnam veteran. Gino posts flyers with the sketch.

Adam arrives at the Ascension Club for his date with Theo and charms Dunaway, the proprietor. She allows him into her member's only club, but refuses to allow him to post flyers of the suspected Mai Tai Killer (even though she read about it in the Native). Theo arrives shortly thereafter. Outside, Big Daddy watches the photographer enter.

Theo orders beer for each of them. Adam questions his date's motives and what he sees in him, as they have very different backgrounds. Adam doesn't want to become attached to Theo, who has an intimidating boyfriend, even if Theo plays with other men. They change the subject to the flyer of Whitely.

Gino shows the flyer to Henry at The Brownstone, who identifies Whitely as having come in the night before. Henry says that he did not contact police because they would not have been helpful in an inherently dangerous community. Gino relates that the last time he was at The Brownstone he was drugged by a drink that Henry bought him, but Henry denies any involvement in the drugging or what Gino experienced after.

Patrick retrieves a harness from the closet and puts it on. He flexes and poses, alone, and notices a rash developing on his chest.

Adam insists that Big Daddy is alive, and that Sam is still associated with him. As Theo disputes this, a server delivers a pair of Mai Tai's gifted by Whitely at the bar. Dunaway notices that the patrons are all locked into the bar, and they break the first chains holding them to discover Big Daddy tossing a lit Molotov cocktail into the bar. Big Daddy quickly chains the outer door behind him and walks away, sealing the burning Ascension Bar.

Hannah proposes secretly testing men who have sex with men for contagions she sees on the rise. Her boss refuses, as it's unethical without their consent or clearance from health bureaus. She exits and sees her patient, Whitely, being wheeled in on a gurney. He is one of several victims from the Ascension fire, which has already claimed four fatalities. She quickly calls from a pay phone, and orders preparation of 15 blood test kits as quickly as possible. Theo is treated for burns and Adam shows symptoms of smoke inhalation. As he's being shown to a bay, Adam calls out to Theo to find Gino. Theo races away, encountering a badly burnt Dunaway who tells him that "the fire is coming". Theo heads back to the nurses' station and calls Gino, who arrives with Patrick. The pair track Whitely to his assigned room, but the killer walked out with minor burns and smoke inhalation. As he has been gone only minutes, Gino and Patrick split up to cover more ground.

Dunaway tells Hannah that the man who burned the bar is coming back for "not just the boys, all of us". Hannah finds Adam and removes his restraints. She says she is there for research and draws his blood. He says she has a glow about her that comes with pregnancy, and implies with a "I feel good about what we did" that he is the father. Soon thereafter, Hannah locates Whitely and pulls him aside for blood samples (of which she draws eight vials). He knows he is being hunted, and flees. Gino intercepts Whitely and chases him deep into the hospital, ending up in the morgue. Gino arms himself with a scalpel and checks the cadaver drawers, but is surprised from behind and restrained into one of the freezing drawers.


  • Alana: "You can just feel the dark energy when he's around."


Cultural References[]

  • While talking with Hannah Wells, Fran references Operation Paperclip, a US program involving Nazi scientists during the Cold War.
    • In the same conversation, Karen Silkwood is mentioned, who was an American chemical technician and nuclear whistleblower who died in a car crash under suspicious circumstances in 1974.
  • Fran's theory of the US government experimenting on marginalized groups matches the experiments conducted by Robert Galbraith Heath, chair of Tulane University's psychiatry and neurology department, to "cure" homosexuality – the ordeal suffered by Lana Winters in Asylum. It is also in line with common theory that the AIDS crisis was a bioweapon targeting the Black and LGBT communities. [2]
  • Dr Hannah Wells' response on the damage of unfounded conspiracy theories ties to the same culture, including the recent narrative on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Henry ironically mentions American crime dramas Kojak and Mod Squad from the 70s.
  • Gino Barelli laments that the Mai Tai Killer flyer should be on the evening news or the cover of The Post, like Son of Sam. David Berkowitz aka Son of Sam was also mentioned by Xavier Plympton in 1984.

Raised Questions[]

  • Is Fran telling the truth?
  • Will Patrick find Gino before it's too late?
  • What's coming next?
  • Who is the homeless woman?


Promotional Images