American Horror Stories Welcomes Former Batgirl Alicia Silverstone

The following contains spoilers for American Horror Stories Season 2, Episode 8, “Lake,” currently streaming on Hulu.

The season finale of American Horror Stories was literally and figuratively a long drive for a short day at the beach. Season 2, Episode 8, “Lake,” benefited from a creepy premise that unfortunately took too long to set up and resulted in a payoff that ended just as it began. During a season that involved a pus-sucking fetish and a woman turned into a sacrificial animal through plastic surgery, its story of watery ghosts seeking revenge felt a bit pedestrian.

One of “Lake’s” greatest qualities was its lead, a new addition to the american horror story candor and hopefully a continued presence in the future. Alicia Silverstone delivered a winning performance that kept the audience engaged and on her side the entire time. She helped save the effort, at least partially, and given all the Batgirl news lately, her appearance was a breath of fresh air for reasons that had nothing to do with the episode.

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Who plays Alicia Silverstone in American Horror Stories?

Silverstone made its famous debut in a series of Aerosmith videos before hitting the big time with 1995 cluelessa modern update of Jane Austen Emma which has become a comedy classic. She’s worked steadily since then, though not with the same high profile she had in the ’90s. Her turn as Batgirl came in mid-1997. Batman and Robin.

In “Lake”, she plays Erin, the wealthy mother of a young man who drowns under mysterious circumstances one afternoon in a reservoir above a dam. Her surviving child – who was present during the incident – claims to have seen a drowned corpse shoot her down, prompting her parents to send her to a mental institute. However, Erin changes her tune when she begins to have visions of her drowned son, prompting her and her daughter to return to the lake in search of answers.

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What happens in Alicia Silverstone’s AHS episode?

The search itself works almost entirely thanks to Silverstone’s performance – which emanates from Good Mom’s kindness, focus and energy, while playing off the episode’s intermittent jumps. Returning to the lake with her daughter, she finds her son’s drowned body – about four months after a long search that turned up nothing – along with a dog tag taken from a trio of additional corpses chained to the bottom of the lake. Apparently, the sinister founder of the local town left them to drown after they spoke out against the dam project he supported. It turns out the lake has a lot more bodies than that.

The problem with the episode is that those details all come together in the finale. It turns out that the men’s descendants fought unsuccessfully to have the dam removed for decades, only to be blocked by the founder’s relative, Erin’s husband. She confronts him about it at their lakeside vacation home, only for a small army of drowned people to return from the depths and drag her underwater.

It’s a scary good time, but it’s over in a flash and the rest of the episode is all about questions and mystery solving. Silverstone does a lot to mitigate it: ask the right questions and play detective with a winning character who doesn’t deserve any of the horrors she braves for the greater good. The episode was a slight drop from the generally high quality of the rest of the season, but the best part of it all comes from her.

American Horror Stories Season 2 is currently streaming in its entirety on Hulu.

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