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"Tapeworm" is the third episode of the third installment of American Horror Stories. It premiered October 26, 2023 on Hulu.

An up-and-coming model will stop at nothing in her hunger for success.— FX Networks, official synopsis[1]


Plot[]

Just after arriving in New York City, Vivian walks into Sheila Klein’s, a modeling agency. Hoping to fulfill her dream of becoming a model, kind-hearted Vivian walks past a long line of other girls waiting to be seen by Sheila Klein. Sitting in the line is Heather, and after a bit of conversation, it’s shown that Heather is one of the few kind girls trying to get into the modeling business. They promise each other that if one of them makes it in the industry, they will vouch for the other.

In the meeting room, Sheila Klein sees Vivian’s headshot and invites her in. While Vivian performs well and Sheila seems to be fond of her, Sheila quickly dismisses her for being too overweight for her agency. Heather recommends Vivian to a doctor named Thaddeus Lau, an endocrine specialist who practices “ancient methods”. Upon arrival, Vivian begins to notice the sketchy location of the office. Dr. Lau recommends the drug “Mondify”, a weight loss drug for diabetes. Initially reluctant, Vivian accepts the drug and takes it with Heather, with whom she is now living with.

A few months later, Vivian goes back to Sheila and re-auditions, slightly skinnier to Sheila’s liking. Vivian is signed and they begin photo shoots. Vivian performs exceedingly well at the photo shoots, even trying to get Heather noticed by Sheila. All goes well until Vivian starts to get woozy and blacks out, hurting her face. Vivian goes back to Dr. Lau, to find other options. Dr. Lau scolds her because Vivian has a heart murmur, which she kept silent from the doctor. He states that Vivian should no longer take the drug as the heart murmur caused a reaction with the drug, saying Vivian’s heart could “explode”. Out of desperation for her dream, she begs Dr. Lau for another option. He hands her a tapeworm in a small box. He says she will simply have to swallow it and not stray from her normal eating habits, as it can have extreme side effects. She swallows the tapeworm and goes back to her apartment.

When she arrives, she suddenly feels hungry and eats everything in her fridge, an entire bottle of ranch dressing and a piece of rotten fruit. We then see a montage of Vivian rampage-eating at different restaurants, simultaneously becoming rash and rude. It is clear through her snotty interactions with waiters and her other model colleagues that the tapeworm is turning her into a monstrous diva.

During a break at a shoot, models make fun of her for eating so much, and Vivian has an extremely rude outburst and storms off. Sheila goes to comfort her and tell her that the outburst can’t happen again. When Vivian reveals something is inside of her, Sheila says that it is just ‘imposter syndrome’ and that everything will be okay. It is clear that Vivian knows what the tapeworm is doing to her, but has a lack of ability to control her anger.

When Heather arrives back at the apartment, she finds Vivian in the closet eating ice cream. She has an almost possessed sound to her voice, and tells Heather that she is a “has-been” and “wannabe”. She grabs Heather’s camera and smashes it. Once Vivian realizes what she has done, she begins to cry and apologize, but Heather leaves angrily, saying the monster inside her is jealousy.

The next day, Vivian is at her Vogue photo shoot, and in the mirror, it is clear that Vivian is much skinnier than before. An assistant tells Vivian that she’s lost five pounds since the last fitting, and that they cannot do the shoot. When the assistant says it could be an eating disorder, Vivian has another outburst. Once she realized what she has done, she runs to a bathroom and cries in the stall.

Dr. Lau arrives at his office to find Vivian waiting outside, clearly underweight and losing control of her body. Lau apologizes to her as she sits in his office, and she says that she is changing. She says her hunger isn’t just for food, but for “everything”. Lau says that the tapeworm’s need to devour is becoming her own need to devour, so she asks him to take it out of her. He says surgery won’t work because the worm is enmeshed with her, and any medications that would be strong enough to kill the worm would kill Vivian as well. Lau hands her a liquid that the worm will hate, ultimately wanting to leave her body. At this point, the worm should be about a foot long. However, she must grab the worm as it comes out of her and dispose of it.

Back at home, Vivian drinks the liquid and gets into her bathtub. She experiences contractions in the tub, and the tapeworm leaves her body. The tapeworm has become extremely large, biting Vivian and seemingly killing her. Heather arrives back at the apartment to pick up her things. She finds Vivian’s body in the bathroom as the tapeworm appears behind her, hanging from the ceiling. After attacking her and entering her mouth, a jump cut shows a much skinner Heather at Sheila’s auditions, about to be signed, with Sheila asking her “Are you hungry?” to which Heather responds “I’m starving”.

Featured Characters[]

Quotes[]

Notes[]

  • This episode, along with Bestie, Daphne and Organ, does not use the signature AHS font in its opening titles. 1984 was the last time this happened.

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. FX Networks (2023, September 25). "Tapeworm". From Listings - AMERICAN HORROR STORIES on FX ON HULU. The Futon Critic. Archived from the original on 2024-07-20.
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