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"When The Bough Breaks" is the third episode of "American Horror Story: Delicate". It premiered October 4, 2023 on FX.

As Anna and Dex settle into their Hamptons sanctuary, the comfort begins to fade. Her circle of trust is slowly shrinking, and doubt creeps into Anna's head - could the evil be right under her nose?— FX Networks, official synopsis[1]

Plot[]

Anna daydreams of the baby she lost, playing in a spring meadow. She rides in the car with Dex, who tells her that he told the police about her intruding nurse. Anna is concerned that the police will do nothing, as she doesn't think they believe her about the intruder in her apartment. He asks what she wants to do now, and whether they should try to get pregnant again right away. She believes that whomever is conspiring against her pregnancy wants them to wait, and that despite Dex's concerns they should keep trying. He is dismissive, and Anna responds by asking Kamal to pull the car over. She says she needs to be alone, and Dex gives her some space to walk into the woods path alongside the car. She wanders off-trail for several hours, seeing a campfire. Ms. Preecher sings "Rockabye Baby" from overhead, and Anna runs home. Dex has been frantic, but Anna does not immediately realize that she has lost time. She is furious that Dex allowed them to give her sedatives at the hospital, not knowing such until he tells her upon her return home. He, Kamal, and a search party have been combing the woods to find her. She tells Dex that she saw Preecher in the woods, though there is no evidence when the three return to the scene. That night, Anna finds that the harassing internet accounts, including Preecher's, have vanished.

Anna awakes to the sound of Nicolette, Talia's house manager, singing "Rockabye Baby" from the kitchen. Anna interrupts the new mother as she pumps for breast milk, and she was watching a video of herself with her baby to help her lactate. Anna introduces herself cordially and asks to see the video. Nicolette has returned to work after 8 weeks, because she is a single earner. Anna is alarmed to see a gift basket from her "The Auteur" director, Hamish, on the counter. Unnerved by the message in the included card, Anna abruptly grabs the gift basket off the counter and takes it to Dex (walking away from the confused Nicolette in the process). Dex claims he did not give Hamish their address, and Anna asserts that Siobhan would not have; therefore neither knows how it got to them. Dex notices the mark that has been developing on Anna's face, and Anna recalls that Ivy had it as well. Dex muses that despite so many wanting to be movie stars, that few know what sacrifices are made. He arises to call Siobhan to come visit. Anna contemplates an apple from the basket, and looks to her ringing phone to see Siobhan is calling her.

Moments later, Siobhan is behind her. Anna is dressed differently and several hours have passed that Anna does not recall. Siobhan wipes her friend's face, and they both look down to discover Anna has gorged herself on the contents of the gift basket. Siobhan cooks more substantial salad in the kitchen as they discuss the hormonal changes Siobhan experienced after her own miscarriage. Anna asks her friend whether it is normal to feel as if there's still a remnant left behind, and Siobhan responds that it is.

They go for a walk on the beach after lunch, Kamal trailing at a safe distance. Anna feels that neither Kamal nor Dex believe her experiences are real, and further that Dex is having an affair with Sonia. Siobhan tries to reassure her that the worst of the experiences are not actually happening, and that they will soon return to Anna to the public relations tour. To start, Siobhan has booked a photo shoot for Anna to be on the cover of Vogue magazine. Anna feels unready, but Siobhan says that they are all just learning on the job. Siobhan leaves as Anna walks on, stumbling on a buried doll in the sand. It is another Summer Day action figure, this one with nails in the abdomen. Behind the pair, two women garbed in head-to-toe black and escorting two goats on chains watch them, entirely unnoticed.

At Talia's house, Nicolette greets Anna, but Anna is in no mood. She carries a bottle of wine (and the doll) to the basement. She decides to examine the open boxes, marked as "Talia's baby stuff". As Anna leafs through a photo album of Talia's younger years, a crib mobile behind her begins to inexplicably play "Rockabye Baby" amidst a scurrying noise. Undaunted, Anna drinks the wine and falls asleep on an unpacked baby blanket. When she awakes, much of the baby things (including the crib) have vanished. Behind where they were, a small metal door in the wall attracts her attention, and she hears chanting behind it. The chanting stops as she opens the door, and she crawls into the short tunnel beyond. The door slams shut behind her. The candle-lit walls have occasional smudges of blood. She follows the path to a larger chamber, filled with lit candles and jars filled with fetal body parts, some barely recognizable. On the other side, a chamber lit from above holds a birthing table with stirrups. Latin messages adorn the walls, and Anna panics. She turns to leave but is grabbed by the black-clad women and borne to the medical table. Pacified by a rag of ether, she is strapped to the table and bound into the stirrups. The women inject her with something, and she loses consciousness completely.

She awakes in the basement and runs up the stairs to the locked door. Dex hears her and opens it, Anna spilling into the hallway. She tells her husband that she felt the baby move, though he does not believe her. They stumble again upon the doll, which she went into the basement to hide. Dex is incredulous at the appearance of another doll, finding the situation increasingly unlikely. He wants to be supportive, but he is exhausted and dejected; he too lost a child in the miscarriage.

The next morning, Anna leaves a sleeping Dex in their room and calls Dr Hill. She asks if it's possible that the miscarriage diagnosis was wrong, but the doctor says the evidence makes that impossible. He does note that scary dreams and hallucinations may be more common with the trauma of the miscarriage experience. She takes a moment to center herself after the call, and Nicolette approaches her. The house manager asks if Anna is alright, and indicates that Anna is bleeding from the mouth. Anna searches with her phone and joyfully finds that bleeding gums may be a sign of early pregnancy.

In a pharmacy that morning, Anna sees a baby onesie that piques her interest. She sniffs it, and the scent triggers a remnant of a memory of her experience with the black-clad women, who she perceives walking through the store. She is interrupted from her reverie by the store clerk, who tells her the store is closing for the night. Anna came in looking for a fetal heart monitor, but the store is out of stock. The clerk (with little consent given) places her hands on Anna's abdomen and feels a baby kicking. Anna is elated that someone else believes she is indeed pregnant. She purchases the onesie.

On the drive home, Anna asks Kamal to pull over. She has seen Sonia looking at her from an alleyway. Anna emerges from the car and approaches the artist. Dex also approaches Sonia, coming from elsewhere, and leads her inside a building that he says she will love. Anna hurries back to the car, unsure what her husband is doing there. Io Preecher lunges at Anna through the car window, yelling to "Watch out for her!". Kamal exits the car and chases her off. Anna reminds him that she has maintained that strange things were happening and that he did not believe her, which he tries to deny. She tells him to drive. She resets her calendar password to the previous one and writes an appointment into it, titled "WHAT DO YOU WANT?". By the time she has gotten home, the title has changed to "I WANT TO WARN YOU", and below it "THEY DID SOMETHING TO YOUR BABY". Anna places another note "DID THEY KILL MY BABY?", which brings the reply "YOUR BABY ISN'T DEAD". She walks outside to find an animal slaughtered and rotting just off the porch and is nauseated. Nicolette watches unnoticed from inside the house.

Quotes[]

Notes[]

Cultural References[]

Raised Questions[]

Gallery[]


Videos[]

References[]

  1. FX Networks (2023, September 11). "When The Bough Breaks". From Listings - AMERICAN HORROR STORY on FX. The Futon Critic. Archived from the original on 2024-07-06.
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