I’d never heard of the version of the Bloody Mary legend that this week’s episode uses. When I was growing up, the legend slash ritual was just for scares. You’d go into the bathroom (or any room with a mirror), turn off the lights, and chant “Bloody Mary” three times. Then she’d appear in the reflective surface. I’m not sure exactly what was supposed to happen after that besides the profound horror of seeing something supernatural and malevolent. And speaking of the latter, that was the common implication–you didn’t do this for funsies, because there was the very real possibility that she might kill you. If I’d heard this other version, then I might have taken my chances.
Or probably not, because this version’s Mary is more like the monkey’s paw. She might grant your deepest desire, but she’ll require a heavy toll in exchange. That’s what we find out when the teen girl squad in this week’s episode tempts fate. Maggie (Kyla-Drew), Lena (Kyanna Simone), and sisters Elise (Raven Scott) and Bianca (Quvenzhané Wallis) tamp down their fears long enough to complete the ritual. The first part, at least, is successful.
Bloody Mary (Dominique Jackson) does appear, after all. The experience is unsurprisingly terrifying for the young ladies, and not just because they all see a vision of her attacking one of the girls. Then there is also, as I mentioned, the price. It would be one thing if she wanted you to give up something or put yourself in danger. But that’s not good enough. She wants you to hurt others. Lena, for instance, wants to be cheer captain. If she just pushes Anna (Ryan D. Madison), the reigning captain, from the pyramid, then she’ll be paralyzed and Lena can take her place.
I kind of think you don’t actually need magic for that. I mean, she could just push her, anyway. You could achieve a lot of things if you had no moral compass. But these girls apparently do, and as you might expect, it’s hard to cross that Rubicon. Even though Lena might not like Anna that much, she still finds it difficult to injure her so severely. And then there’s Bianca, the youngest.
To get into Yale, her dream, all she has to do is accuse her guidance counselor, Mr. Miller (James Coker), of raping her. Sure, you’ll ruin his life forever and make a mockery of real victims, but hey–you’ll get into your first choice Ivy. However, even with her dream school on the table, Bianca, like Lena, can’t bring herself to go that far. Besides, she trusts her big sister–and essentially, surrogate mom–to figure out a solution.
It’s a risky position, but of course, there are many risks when it comes to playing with stuff like this. Like, have you ever heard someone say, regarding blackmail, that you can’t buy silence–you can only rent it? If you haven’t, then what that means is that if you pay an extortionist, then you’ve shown them that you’re willing to do it.
And then they can just keep coming back. It’s the same thing here. You might be able to talk yourself into one horrible act, but who’s to say Miss Mary won’t keep asking for more? Then again, if you don’t do what she asks, then you run the risk of sharing poor Lena’s fate. After she chickens out of harming Anna, the next time we see her, she is noticeably un-eyed. And also dead. I guess I should have led with that part.
Elise is the next to go, even though she did what Mary commanded. (Regarding that, can you imagine going to such trouble–any trouble–to win back a high school paramour? Could not be me.) Obviously, Elise and Bianca are running out of time. In what seems like just an attempt to stave off the inevitable, Elise does some research into the Bloody Mary legend.
What she finds is a connection to a woman who lived locally. Well, that’s convenient. Margaret Worth (Maggie Carney) kept a home that was a stop on what a historical society guide refers to as a kind of reverse Underground Railroad. By that, he means that Worth would take in runaway slaves and then sell them back to slave catchers. What a gem she was.
When she wasn’t just selling folks for profit, she was also torturing them. (This is obviously shades of the real-life Delphine LaLaurie, who appeared as a character in the American Horror Story season Coven.*) In any case, it was an awful fate for the people Worth took into her “care.” One of those folks, incidentally, is the woman who would become the Bloody Mary.
Trying to escape, she entreated a goddess for help. You know how we were just talking about how making bargains with powerful entities comes with a lot of risks? Yeah. You can see where I’m going with this because she just ended up leaving one prison for another. Elise and Bianca don’t know this, of course. They do know a little something, though, about desperately longing for a better life. And in the end, they find out that sometimes when you try to cheat your way there, the price isn’t just steep–it’s fatal.
7.75/10 – I really liked the cast, although I question whether these girls would really play around with a spirit. I also always appreciate a story having the courage to end on such a bummer note.
*That makes this the second Coven reference this season.