American Horror Story
October 19, 2011
Hot Moira is making the master suite bed when the master of the house comes in and begins leering at her and grabbing at her little maid skirt. But what’s this? Hot Moira, she’s not purring and rubbing against him and licking his face, but instead, she is rebuffing his advances! Alive Hot Moira, she is not quite the sullen hotpants that Dead Hot Moira is, and it irritates Master of the House (presumably), who whines that she liked it last time. Alive Hot Moira explains she was lonely and continues to repel his come-ons, even the offer of a new Camaro. So, the Master of the House, he rapes her. And then
Tootsie-era Jessica Lange Constance saunters into the room with a gun, with which she fires off a warning shot. Except it’s not so much a warning shot, as she shoots poor Alive Hot Moira in the head without so much of a howdy-doo. Other than the warning shot. Which isn’t much of a howdy-doo, when you think about it.
As for Master of the House, Young Constance tells him that she loved him since she was 16-years-old, but that he’s broken her heart for the last time. And then she shoots him in the chest some three times. That bit of nastiness taken care of, Young Constance has a seat next to the corpse of her husband and has a good, cathartic cry. And we cut to Dead Hot Moira, who, it would seem, was shot straight through the eyeball. So that explains that eyeball! Also, poor Moira!
Vivian and Ben have an argument that you are supposed to think is about his affair and the fact that he covered up his little girlfriend’s pregnancy, but instead is about how Ben neglected to mention to Vivian that they have no monies, and have to stay in the house. Whoops! Vivian, who for some reason is very not interested in staying in the house where she and her daughter were nearly killed by psychopathic perverts, is VERY UNHAPPY ABOUT THIS, and most certainly does not appreciate Ben telling her it’s just PTSD and she should get some therapy. She’s made an appointment with the realtor tomorrow, and hopefully they can make some minor improvements to the house, maybe do something with the backyard, and not lose their shirts in a sale. AND OH BY THE WAY, BEN BEST NOT LIE TO HER AGAIN. Dramatic irony and foreshadowing all rolled up in one!
Realtor Martha Huber is horrified for Vivian and her family, they must be feeling terribly anxious. No, not anxious, explains Vivian, angry. And that’s why she wants to sell, and sell it for a decent price. Realtor Martha Huber is afraid in this housing market, which is dropping by the day, that might not be possible. And so Vivian threatens to sue Realtor Martha Huber for neglecting to mention that actually, A LOT of people had been murderized in the house, not just the unhappy couple that came before them unless she sell the house and sell it quicklike.
In the kitchen, Hot Moira informs him that she has made a new pot of coffee. He gives her the stinkeye.
Milk Eye Moira turns the corner to discover Constance rooting around in the Harmon’s silver, helping herself to a few choice pieces. Milk Eye Moira makes enough noise to alert Constance to her presence noting that while she didn’t want to give Constance a heart attack, she does wish she were dead. (So that settles that, I suppose!) Constance explains that she is going to steal the silver, piece by piece, and sell it all on eBay, and Milk Eye Moira, she’s the one that will be accused of theft. After all, she is a husband-stealer. And poor Milk Eye Moira, she doesn’t need this, she doesn’t want to be here anymore, and Constance, lacking all pity, screams at Milk Eye Moira to move on already. She would if she could, Constance. Constance, filling her pockets with the silver and her mouth with the scenery, notes that every time she feels sorry for Milk Eye Moira, she remembers that she brought this on herself. And every time Constance sees that ghost eye, she remembers what a good shot she was and continues to be. Pew pew! Milk Eye Moira yells after her that she needs to pay for what she’s done. OH SHE DOES, HONEY. SHE DOES.
Dr. Ben meets with his new patient, Tara’s crazy mother, Lettie Mae, who, frankly, it’s about time got some help. In an affectless monotone, Lettie Mae explains that her husband is about to divorce her for being boring. Clearly, he hasn’t experienced one of her demonic episodes. Anyway, as she prattles on and on about her exceptional memory, Dr. Ben gets sleepier and sleepier …
… and wakes up in the backyard with blood all over his hands. Super.
Inside the house, Hot Moira is on her hands and knees, cleaning up his mess, and honestly, she has to be cold in that get-up. Maybe they make some Maid Pants she could invest in? Maybe she could pick up something sensible from the uniform store, some comfortable scrub pants, perhaps? Instead, she waggles her behind at Ben and gives him cryptic answers to his questions about what she saw happen. Nothing! And if anyone asks, she’s very discreet. WAGGLE. She follows Ben into his office to get it ready for his next victim, I MEAN, patient. And then she grabs his crotch, because sure, and Ben, he freaks out. SHE’S FIRED! Which is where Vivian finds Ben and Milk Eye Moira and is thoroughly confused.
Ben explains to an incredulous Vivian that Moira has been relentlessly hitting on him since they hired her. Milk Eye Moira notes the absurdity in this — her romantic days are long over. OH YEAH? SO WHY DO YOU GO AROUND WEARING THAT MAID FETISH OUTFIT? Vivian gives Ben the stinkeye because this is clearly insane. Milk Eye Moira explains that men see what they want to see, whereas women see into the soul of a person. Anyway, Milk Eye Moira is willing to overlook all of this — clearly, they are under a great deal of stress. But Vivian suggests that maybe it might be better if Milk Eye Moira found something else. And Milk Eye Moira TAKES EXCEPTION. Just leave? They would toss her out like a piece of trash? I DON’T THINK SO. And so they let her stay? Because they just do whatever their staff tells them to do? Sure. And one other thing: if Ben lays another hand on her, or tries to fire her again, Milk Eye Moira will press charges. Ben whines at Vivian that Moira is lying, but Vivian is not having it or any of his guilty adulterous conscience. Shut up, Ben.
Vivian does a little gardening when the Eternal Darkness Tour bus arrives, parks outside her home and the tour guide introduces the crown jewel of their tour: THE MURDER HOME.
Violet smokes cigarettes with Tate. Ben tells her she could get therapy. The end.
Ben can’t find his digital recorder that he uses in his sessions, and is beginning to have something of a freak out about it. He asks Hot Moira if she’s seen it, and she suggests it might be down her dress, blah blah sullen come on blah. Anyway, his next patient is here. And Ben is all, next patient whazza?
AND O NOES IT’S HAYDEN!!!
Ben is shocked! Shocked, I tell you! that Hayden is here! I am less so. He tried to call, did everything go alright? OH SILLY, she didn’t have the abortion, obvs. In fact, she’s thinking of moving here, and he’s going to be a father to this baby, so. Ben sputters that he loves his family, and, anyway, he doesn’t actually have the means to support her and stuff. HAYDEN IS NOT A PROSTITUTION WHORE. SHE MATTERS.
Saved by the (door)bell! Ben opens the door to a detective, as Hayden slips out and tells Ben to meet her somewhere (it doesn’t matter) at 3. The detective, is not, in fact, here about the home invasion, but rather, is from missing persons. It seems Dr. Ben’s Patient Boring, Lettie Mae, she is missing, and the last person to see her was Dr. Ben. Hot Moira sashays into the kitchen and everyone leers at her, and then Detective Foreshadowing orders Ben to give him a call if he learns anything.
There’s a weird reenactment of Sal Mineo’s death? This has noting to do with anything except to establish that we are on the Death Tour of Murder Houses with Viv. The tour concludes in front of Viv’s house, The Murder House. The Murder House was built in 1922 by Dr. Alby Montgomery. The “surgeon to the stars” built the home for his east coast wife, Nora, but soon Dr. Alby becomes addicted to
anonymous gay sex in restrooms drugs and trying to sew wings onto pigs, I don’t know.
SOMETIME IN THE 1920s IT’S UNCLEAR
Dr. Alby and Mrs. Alby and Baby Alby sit down for dinner and a round of histrionic husband-bashing. Mrs. Alby is DISPLEASED with only having 2 servants. ONLY 2!!! NOT ONE SINGLE SUITCASE MAID OR 13th CENTURY BACKYARD FRENCH CHATEAU!! DOES HE EXPECT HER TO LIVE LIKE A PAUPER? Since he’s done such a piss poor job of supporting his family, Mrs. Alby found a new patient for him: a young woman in “trouble.” Trouble that he’s going to fix.
And soon enough a young woman comes to the house, is given a gown and a big glass of forgetting and sent down to the basement for a little trouble-solving.
The tour guide explains that some two dozen women went under Dr. Alby’s knife, and the guilt must have weighed heavily on the family because in 1926 … but before we can learn what happened to the Alby family, Vivian notices that she’s bleeding in her lady parts and runs from the tour bus into her home.
Vivian’s doctor assures Vivian and Ben that it was just spotting and that the baby is perfectly fine. The doctor then orders Ben and Vivian to scrap their moving plans — moving is, after death and divorce, the most stressful thing a person can go through, and Vivian needs to not be stressed. And then Ben passes out, for laffs.
Martha Huber puts up the For Sale sign in the yard, as Constance waves at Tate, standing at a window inside the house. He disappears into the darkness before Martha Huber can see him, and Constance snarls at Martha Huber because that’s what she do.
Ben goes for a jog around the FlashForward lake, where Larry is waiting for him, hat not quite literally in hand, asking for $1000 so he can get some headshots made. Ben is not amused.
Ben heads home and continues looking for his digital recorder for about 2 seconds …
… before he finds himself passed out in the yard again, curled up with a shovel. Totally normal. Constance, who is just wandering around the neighbors’ backyard for no particular reason wonders what he’s doing down there, and attributes his behavior to stress. When Ben gets up and starts digging (?) Constance warns him against that: the ground here is contaminated, and anything planted would only bear poisoned fruit (SYMBOLISM). Instead, he should build himself a gazebo. It would just be heaven. Milk Eye Moira watches all from upstairs, disapprovingly.
Vivian is reading the real estate listings when there is a knock at the door. Vivian peeks out the peephole and sees Mrs. Alby! Who, of course, Vivian does not recognize. Mrs. Alby would like to see the house, and after a moment of hesitation, Vivian lets her in, believing that she is a potential buyer. Mrs. Alby seems to know an awful lot about the house: the chestnut wood, the Tiffany glass, etc. but she visibly recoils when she sees the fabulous modern kitchen with its microwave and pasta arm. Somehow the issue of children come up, and Vivian, who can not possibly be more than what, 6 weeks, 8 weeks pregnant IF WE ARE BEING GENEROUS, tells this perfect stranger that she’s pregnant. NOPE. I mean, maybe, but my experience is that most people wait until the first trimester to tell strange ladies that wander into their homes that they are pregnant. ANYWAY, Mrs. Alby sadly notes that she had a child, and as the camera wheels behind her, we see her head wound. Her sucking head wound, I think is the technical term for it. As Vivian turns back around with Mrs. Alby’s tea from the microwave, Mrs. Alby, she is gone.
Detective Foreshadowing returns to the house with news: they found Lettie Mae. She tried to kill herself with a bunch of pills in a dirty hotel, and is now in a coma. And for some reason, she took Dr. Ben’s digital recorder with her. Had Dr. Ben been a little more forthcoming with the cops, everyone might have been saved a little trouble. Dr. Ben is all, whaaa? And Detective Foreshadowing plays the recording for him. It seems that Dr. Ben went into some sort of catatonic state during Lettie Mae’s session, and frustrated with her doctor’s lack of attention, Lettie Mae slashed her wrists. Dr. Ben (sorta) snaps out of it, and Lettie Mae announces that she now knows what she has to do before leaving. Thus the bloodied hands and blood in the house. Dr. Ben protests to Detective Foreshadowing that he didn’t do anything wrong, and Detective Foreshadowing agrees that it’s not a crime to be a jackhole. And Dr. Ben needs to give some serious consideration to renting an office in a nice office building somewhere already.
Question: even if Ben had remembered and told Detective Foreshadowing everything, how would that have helped their investigation exactly?
Violet and Vivian go look at apartments, and Violet disapproves. Violet explains that she loves their house — it has a soul. And it’s the place where she and her mother survived. Vivian tightens her lips and Violet threatens to run away if they move because teenage girls are the worst.
Ben receives a call from Vivian’s doctor with the test results after his little fainting spell because his corset was on too tight. Everything is normal except for the early 20th century anesthetic drug they found in his bloodstream. Ben screams after Hot Moira that he knows she’s been drugging his coffee, and she gives him April face and dares him to prove it.
And then Hayden shows up. Because Ben didn’t have enough on his plate. It seems he forgot about their appointment, and she starts screaming for Vivian — who, fortunately for Ben, is busy bickering with their teenaged daughter in a cheap apartment somewhere. Ben, to calm Hayden down, agrees to schedule a lunch with Vivian and Hayden so that they can discuss Ben’s new responsibilities and obligations. They head out to the backyard as Hayden burbles about how she’s hungry and would like a big juicy SHOVEL TO THE FACE! WHAT? Larry just cold bashes Hayden in the face with a shovel again and again until she is dead, alarming an unsuspecting Ben. Ben feels for a pulse, but Larry assures her that she’s gone, and that he might not want to be rolling around in her DNA. As for calling the cops, Larry suggests this is a terrible idea, seeing as Hayden was Ben’s pregnant mistress. These are bad facts for Ben. So, what’s going to happen is that Larry will take care of the body — in this hole that Ben has conveniently started digging over here — and Ben will go get himself cleaned up. And it will only cost Ben that $1000 that Larry had asked for earlier. Sweet deal!
As he’s digging, Larry discovers a skull, and a piece of lace, as Milk Eye Moira watches and cries from an upstairs bedroom. Hayden’s body is then unceremoniously dumped on top. Plop.
Ben busies himself with a new gazebo, while Constance and Milk Eye Moira watch. Poor girl, pities Constance, and now you’re stuck here forever.
And then that night? Some other night? WHO KNOWS, Mrs. Alby sits on the edge of the sleeping Harmon’s bed. As she goes to reach for Vivian’s belly, Vivian rolls over at the last moment. And we get another good look at that sucking head wound. SLEEP TIGHT!
ALRIGHT. SO. The theme of this episode is the pain of being ignored, of being tossed aside. Poor Moira, brutally killed after being raped, takes her anger out on the Harmons, refusing to allow them to throw her away the way Constance and her terrible husband did. Hayden, similarly, refuses to slip quietly out of Ben’s life, choosing to confront him in his home. And Lettie Mae, tired of being ignored by everyone in her life, including her psychiatrist for crying out loud, takes drastic actions to be noticed.
They refuse to be ignored and this refusal might be what is powering Moira’s connection to the house. The writers make it fairly clear that she is trapped now, trapped beneath that concrete, trapped within the house. But there is also the suggestion that if she is going to be here, she will be heard. She will be recognized, and she will be treated with respect. (The revelation that Moira was buried in the backyard also helps explain why she is a constant presence in the house, whereas the other ghosts seem to be passing in and out at convenient moments — she is connected to the property physically, whereas they are presumably put to rest someplace else. If this is the logic, then what’s the story with Tate?)
However, Moira’s situation does not bode well for Ben and his Hayden situation. Hayden’s demise bears eerie resemblances to Moira’s, and so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before she starts showing up and giving Vivian a hard time. (Also, I called him “Detective Foreshadowing” because I don’t think that was the last we will see of the missing persons detective, considering Hayden will have gone missing, and he himself saw her leave Ben’s house.) Hayden might have gotten a faceful of shovel, but it’s not the last time we’ll see her. As John Locke said, “Things don’t stay buried on this island.”
There was also an interesting minor subplot regarding memory: Ben’s memory is tampered with by Moira, using drugs that Dr. Alby presumably used on his patients, and perhaps himself. In the first episode, Larry notes that he didn’t remember how he survived the fire he started, killing his family, and Ben wanders around the house, naked, starting fires he doesn’t remember. This issue of memory: the memory of the characters’ past transgressions, and particularly the house’s memory, is clearly going to be a huge element in this series.
SO. We can add to our Big Board of Recurring Themes: adultery, babies and pregnancy, abortion, I WILL NOT BE IGNORED, regret, money troubles, crimes of passion, memory, cleaning up other people’s messes. (Any more?)
Finally, lingering questions:
What happened to the Alby family? What is Tate’s story? How are Tate and Constance connected? (Probably mother and son, but it’s still vague.) Did Constance and her family live in the house, or did she just catch her husband with the neighbor’s maid? How’d Constance clean up the mess she made? Is Larry real, a ghost or some sort of figment of Ben’s imagination? Who is the basement goblin? Is it related to Dr. Alby and his experiments or his side business? WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE GIMP?
Also (and considering the liberties the writers take with time on this show, this might just be an enormous waste of time) I’m going to start something of a timeline to help me keep some of these stories straight. It occurred to me when thinking about Constance’s story and how it occurred after the events in the first episode.
1922: Dr. Alby (Montgomery) builds the house for his wife Nora.
1926: Something terrible happens to the Albys.
1968: The nurses are killed by Franklin.
1978: Twins are killed by the basement goblin
1983: Constance kills her husband and Moira.
Undetermined: Murder suicide in the house.
2011: The Harmons move in.
So, in 1978, Addy was already obsessed with the house, but her family was not living in it. In 1983, her mother kills her father in the house. Thus my question: did Constance and her family own the home, or have they always simply been its neighbor? Curious.
Thoughts, questions, theories?
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.