‘American Horror Story’: Let the right one in

American Horror Story
“Home Invasion”
October 12, 2011


And you can tell it’s 1968 because they’re playing “Aquarius,” which is TV and movie shorthand for Late 1960s. Some women in cat’s eye glasses head out to see the Doors leaving nurse students Maria and Gladys home studying and watching a little Laugh-In. There’s a knock on the door, and Maria peeks out to see a man with some very unconvincing fake blood smeared on his forehead complaining that he has been hurt in some unspecified way. Maria, being an innocent sort, allows him inside and dabs at the unconvincing fake blood, while the stranger notices her crucifix, and wonders if Maria believes Jesus will save her. Maria chirps that she’s already saved! And that’s when Stranger bashes her over the head with a nearby bowl. Gladys makes a break for it, but Stranger manages to catch her and knock her unconscious, too.

Later, Maria awakens to water dripping on her face, and Stranger staring at her from the doorway. He throws a nurse’s uniform at her and orders her to put in on. Correction: strip and put it on. Maria does as she’s told, and soon finds herself hogtied on the couch. She prays as Stranger watches, curious. And then he slips out of sight. Has he left? Has she been saved? Nope. STAB STAB STAB STAB, and I guess Maria won’t be giving that baby up to Swimfan and That Other Guy after all.


Ben has another session with Tate for some reason, where Tate tries to shock and outrage Ben with details about what he wants to do to Violet. Ben tries to remain calm, but Tate finally gets under Ben’s skin when he brings up Ben’s affair. Touché, Jackhole! SESSION OVER. As Tate is shown out, Ben’s phone rings, and he aggressively barks at the caller that HE THOUGHT THEY HAD AN ARRANGEMENT. Yeah, well, that was before the arrangement got knocked up by her married husband.

Violet and Mean Girl seem to have mended fences despite the fact that Violet led her into a goblin basement so her boyfriend could attack her. Mean Girl is still freaked out about the Gringotts goblin baby, which Violet insists was simply Tate in a mask. A very very convincing mask. Mean Girl knows what she saw and ohbytheway, her hair is turning white, so thanks for that.

Tate, he watches Violet sleep, because he is teh creepeh.


That same night, the house alarm suddenly goes off, and well, look who finally unpacked his pajama pants. Ben wanders around the house with a bat for a while, finally finding Addy playing with a ball in the goblin basement. A ball that rolls back out of the darkness as soon as Ben’s back is turned, because someone has seen The Changeling.

When Ben returns to bed, he informs Vivian that it was merely that “little freak” Addy, which sends Vivian in an emotional tailspin, worried about the health of her baby. Also, way to be sensitive, Ben. Ben tells Vivian that he believes this baby is their second chance, their salvation. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING, GIMP BABY.

Ben visits with a new patient: Not!Chloe Sevigny, who is mumbling about a recurring dream in which she’s cut in half by an elevator. Ben tries to talk to her about her past, but Not!Chloe Sevigny‘s much more interested in the Murder House, and whether the murders occurred in this room. Ben purses his lips and continues trying to analyze her, but she can’t be bothered.

After their session, Ben calls Tate’s mother to explain that he doesn’t want to treat her son anymore — and appears to have an actual conversation with someone. Hmm. The conversation is interrupted, however, when Not!Chloe Sevigny wanders into the room. Ben leads her to the exit and needs to seriously reconsider this “I’ll Just See the Crazies in My Living Room” plan.

Speaking of crazies, next door, Constance prepares some cupcakes for the new neighbors, complete with a generous pour of ipecac and a dash of Addy spit. Welcome to the neighborhood, you guys!

Ben goes for a jog around that lake? pond? from the only truly cool scene in FlashForward? Remember that show? Of course you don’t. Anyway, when Ben takes a breather in a tunnel, who should be waiting for him but Larry, to whom Ben confesses everything. Sure. Larry advises Ben to do right by his family, to do the honorable thing: lie.

Which is what he does! That night (? who knows with this timeline) Ben tells Vivian that he has to go back to Boston to see a former patient who is struggling. And Vivian is like, “Sure! What possible problem could I have with you going, alone, back to the city where that little slut you had an affair with still lives?” adding, “You’re a good man!” Which, in an improbable series filled with improbable things, this is the most improbablest.

The next morning (?) Constance brings over Chekhov’s cupcakes for Violet, and immediately announces that she can smell Vivian’s pregnancy. Gross. Vivian asks if Constance can smell anything else about the baby, and after a long-winded, scenery-chewing monologue about her 4 children, 3 of whom were inflicted with Downs, and how she might have considered taking drastic action towards them even after they were born, Constance tells Vivian that her baby is fine. Ben arrives home and attempts to eat the Chekhov’s cupcake but is swatted away by Constance who hands Chekhov’s cupcake over to Milk Eye Moira for safekeeping until Violet can come home and enjoy it. Constance mentions that she and Milk Eye Moira go way back, before gnawing on the door frame a bit, something about the promise of a child, and then fluttering off. Oh, Jessica Lange. I heart you.

That night (?) Violet is in her room enjoying a little Camus when her mother attempts to bring her Chekhov’s cupcake and lure her downstairs to watch a movie. Instead, Violet gives Vivian a lot of lip about getting pregnant and how weak she thinks she is for staying with Ben. And with that, Violet puts Chekhov’s cupcake in the hallway and slams the door because teenage girls are the worst.

At the girlfriend’s apartment in Boston, Ben promises to not check his phone, and just be there for Hayden until they get through all this. She makes some noise about how she knows that this baby is not meant to be, and not wanting to be the person who sleeps with a married man anymore. Ben clarifies that he will be sleeping on the couch tonight WHICH, NOPE. First of all: terrible idea. Second of all: Won’t Viv be looking for a hotel bill charge? BECAUSE TRUST, I WOULD BE LOOKING FOR A HOTEL BILL CHARGE. Whatever. The moment Hayden is distracted by the doorbell, Ben checks his phone, she catches him, she freaks out. He promises to not look at his phone again and slips it into her purse as a measure of good faith/for plot purposes.

Back in Los Angeles, there’s a knock at the door, and Vivian checks to see a young woman with some very unconvincing fake blood smeared on her forehead complaining that she has been hurt in some unspecified way. Vivian, being a clever and suspicious sort, offers to call 911 from inside the house, while Bloody Head waits outside. But before she can do that, several masked people — bearing an eerie resemblance to Gimpy — slip into the house. O NOES!

Violet and Vivian find themselves face-to-face with their attackers, who include Not!Chloe Sevigny and two of her friends, all of whom have some sort of fetishistic need to recreate the murders from the beginning of the episode, with Violet and Vivian in the roles of the nurses. In fact, they’re so obsessive about it, they have brought the very bowl used to bash Maria upside the head and everything! Violet attempts to make a break for it, and manages to get all the way to the kitchen where Tate is lying in wait, encouraging her to lead them to the basement. Not!Chloe Sevigny‘s friend finds Violet and drags her upstairs to pay the role of poor drowned Gladys.

Meanwhile, in the mural room, Vivian waits with the third attacker and spies Addy behind him. So she begins talking loudly about how it would be NICE if someone would GET HELP.

As Violet runs the bathwater, Not!Chloe Sevigny! She eats the Chekov’s cupcake! And it’s not long before the effects of the ipecac + spit kick in. Not!Chloe Sevingy excuses herself, and Violet sets to convincing the other attacker that the actual bathtub that Gladys was actually drowned in, it is actually in the basement. Other Attacker, Fiona, considers this.

Next door, Constance is having a little private time with a very pretty and very dumb young man. Addy attempts to tell her mother about the very bad man next door, but Constance, furious at being interrupted, locks Addy in the bad girl mirror closet. AAAAHHhHHHhhHhhH!!!

Not!Chloe Sevigny, she is very sick. She wanders back to the bathroom looking for help and catches a glimpse of someone slip behind the bathtub. She goes to investigate and gets a Tateful of ax in her belly for her trouble. Yeowch!

And downstairs, Vivian manages to bash Dumb-Dumb over the head with his own stupid murder bowl, knocking him unconscious.

Meanwhile, Violet leads Fiona down into the basement, where Tate is waiting with a bathtub already filled for her. As she nears the tub, up pops a very displeased Drowned Gladys.

Violet and Vivian go running down the street, yelling for help! Police! Help! under Constance’s window.

Dumb-Dumb wakes up from his head injury and sees someone slip downstairs into the basement. He follows, to discover the filled tub, a very dead Fiona and two extremely cranky dead nurses.

In Boston, Ben and Hayden wait at the clinic for Hayden’s appointment. As the nurse collects Hayden for her appointment, Ben promises to be waiting for her when she’s done. Which of course he won’t be, especially once he checks his voicemails and discovers some 13 messages from one very panicked Vivian.

In the basement, Tate, Milk Eye Moira and Constance consider the bodies of the intruders before of them and agree that if Constance wants Ben to continue treating him, they will have to get rid of the bodies. “I’ll get the shovel, you get the bleach.”

Ben, home again, answers the cops’ questions, including whether or not the patient he was visiting in Boston was one of his “real” patients. Ben has a guilty until the cops explain that one of the invaders was his “patient” Not!Chloe Sevigny. They found her body some 6 blocks away, cut entirely in half. The cops’ leading theory is that her accomplices, unable to recreate the nurse murders, turned on Not!Chloe Sevigny and recreated The Black Dahlia murder. Sure! Makes sense! Case closed!

After the cops leave, Ben asks Violet about Tate having been in the house, helping them escape, and Violet confirms that he was. She hadn’t let him in, but she was glad he was there. SINCE BEN WAS NOT. And before Violet leaves, she tells her mother that she thinks she’s really brave. Ben turns to Vivian and apologizes for not being here at the time, but he’s happy to be home now. OH NO, MISTER. THIS AIN’T HOME. WE ARE SELLING THIS HOUSE. Worrrrrrrrrrrd.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time analyzing this episode because that’s just silly. That said, I should point out that continuing with the use of the house as a metaphor for the self, this episode is all about the violation that Ben’s affair caused, and how it specifically victimized Vivian and Violet. Ben literally brings the assailants into the home, he welcomes them — unwittingly, of course — inside, leaving his wife and daughter vulnerable. Similarly, he allowed Hayden inside his marriage, leaving his entire family vulnerable.

What’s interesting is how if this metaphor is extended even further — the invasion of the attackers being compared to the invasion that was Hayden — Violet has an interesting turnabout. At first, she regards her mother as weak for staying in her marriage, a victim; but after the home invasion, and seeing her mother demonstrate strength in the face of this attack, she recognizes her mother’s innate strength. I don’t think this necessarily marks a change in Violet’s attitude towards her parents staying together, but it does suggest she might be more patient with her mother’s motivations for not leaving her father.

Finally, some questions: we can agree, I think, that Constance is not a ghost, right? And neither is Addy. Milk Eye/Hot Moira, however, certainly is. But what about Tate? I definitely thought he was a ghost after the first episode, but in this one, Ben appears to talk to a flesh and blood mother on the phone, trying to cancel Tate’s sessions. Tate does make an interesting comment to Constance at the end of the episode, noting that if she wants Ben to continue treating him, they have to clean up the bodies. This opens up an intriguing possibility, that Ben was actually speaking to Constance. She is an actress, after all, one that can do accents — or lack thereof.

So, then, what’s Constance’s deal? Why’d she want to poison Violet? And why does she have a vested interest in having Ben treat Tate? Furthermore, what is with the trio of Tate, Constance and Moira serving as some sort of guardians of the house? There clearly are other ghosts mucking about, but they don’t seem nearly as protective of the property as these three. Ideas? Theories? I’d love to hear them.

American Horror Story airs on FX Wednesdays at 9 p.m. It is very naughty.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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