American Horror Story
November 23, 2011
6 Months Ago
Apparently, it’s been 6 months since the Harmons moved in, which, really? Really? Because it was only two episodes ago that Violet was figuring out that her boyfriend was a dead mass-murdering ghost after meeting his victims on Halloween night — so throughout all of November, December, January, and February, nothing besides a little raw organ meat-eating and some Prince Farid-killing happened? Huh. Ok. So, six months ago, the Harmons moved in with all their Pottery Barn furniture and books and knickknacks which greatly upset Mrs. Alby, what with the tackiness of it all. She cries, because that’s what Mrs. Alby does when she’s not emasculating Dr. Alby, and suddenly there is a hand on her shoulder comforting her: what does she want, what can he do to make her feel better? Mrs. Alby wants her baby … where is her baby? Is that what Mrs. Alby wants? A baby? No problem! He’ll just run outside, grab the latex sex suit out of the trash, zip it up, run upstairs and have the sexyrapeytime with the lady of the house while her husband is in a weird stupor downstairs, and in 9 months, Mrs. Alby will have that baby!
And who is “he?” TATE.
TATE IS GIMPSY.
WHAT THE WHAT?
It would seem roughly a year before the Gimpsyrape, Sylar discovered via a little browser snooping that Boyfriend Patrick was taking side trips onto S&M sites and carrying on an extracurricular relationship with someone named Jungle Jim. Sylar’s hag encourages Sylar to fight for Boyfriend Patrick, and if some nipple clamps and a whip is what it takes, then so be it. Bolstered by this, Sylar heads, alone, to a leather shop to investigate further. And, nope. You encourage your friend to buy nipple clamps? You go with him to buy the nipple clamps. ANYWAY. The salesman explains to a completely novice Sylar that all relationships are a power play, and that perhaps Boyfriend Patrick is looking to be dominant with Sylar for a change. And to that end, Sylar should invest in a black latex suit, designed to dehumanize him and turn him into a submissive rubber sex toy. Sold!
So Sylar suits up, only to be laughed at by Boyfriend Patrick who finds Sylar’s gesture pathetic. And, also, Boyfriend Patrick’s into leather, not latex.
Sad Sylar is sad.
Sometime later, for reasons that aren’t particularly clear, Tate puts on the Gimpsy suit and attacks Sylar and Boyfriend Patrick as seen a few episodes ago, shoving a fireplace poker in places that a fireplace poker does not belong for consistency good measure. Tate drags their bodies into the basement to the shrieking displeasure of Mrs. Alby, to whom he explains that this frees up the house — now perhaps a family with a baby will move in. And this makes sense? I guess? Except that the first scene takes place after this one, so I guess what they’re getting at is that Mrs. Alby is REALLY TEDIOUS with all the crying and all the “WHERE’S MY BABY”ing and that Tate, having put up with 17 years of this, is just willing to do anything to make it stop, including stealing a gay couple’s gimpsy suit so as to murder them and then rape a woman twice his age.
And I was confused, but I thought Gimspy had broken Sylar’s neck in the attack? But maybe not? Because Sylar appears to still be alive and grasping for Boyfriend Patrick. To this end, Milk Eyed Moira brings Tate Sylar and Boyfriend Patrick’s gun, and essentially instructs Tate to make it look like a murder suicide, lest people come poking around asking questions. Also, Tate needs to deal with his compulsive need to make the women in this house happy. NO DOUBT. And so Tate shoots both men with their gun, and places the gun in Sylar’s hand. Now they’ll be together forever. Bitchily snapping at one another, forever and ever.
Vivien is not losing her damn mind: she knows she saw Mrs. Alby wander around her house making weirdo comments about the Tiffany this and wood details that. Martha Huber suggests that maybe it was the Alby granddaughter or that Vivien get her hormones checked, which ha! But whatever, Martha Huber doesn’t have time for this — Prince Farid hasn’t returned her calls, which is bad news for everyone, so she needs to go check on this situation, and if Vivien could avoid telling any potential buyers about these “ghosts,” that’d be awesome. Milk Eyed Moira, however, assures Vivien that there are some things that simply can’t be explained, things unseen. After all, in the end, they’re all lost souls. DRAMATIC IRONY.
Meanwhile, upstairs somewhere, Mrs. Alby is doing her whole exhausting sobbing, wandering around looking for her baby thing, when Hayden, who is trapped in this house with her, is all OHMYGODENOUGH. Look. You’re dead, lady. We all are. Hayden explains for the benefit of Mrs. Alby and the audience that the house is brimming with dead people: some are sweet, like Eric Stoltz from Mask; others less so, like judgey Milk Eyed Moira. But the common denominator is that they are all dead, and this house, and its powers, have a hold over them. Fun ghost facts: they can use the house’s powers to make themselves seen and unseen by the owners, which is handy when you want to terrify the living, and they can have ghost sex with each other, like Hayden does with Constance’s dead cheating husband, whom she stabs repeatedly, to no effect.
Mrs. Alby is still unconvinced, until Hayden makes Mrs. Alby touch the back of her skull — or the place where the back of her skull should be. Mrs. Alby wonders why she’d do such a thing, was it because of her baby? Where did her baby go? Hayden, sympathetic, understands — she lost a baby, too. But hey, guess what, Vivien is going to have twins, which means that Hayden and Mrs. Alby can each have their own baby. All they have to do is send Vivien to a loony bin. GOOD PLAN.
To this end, Hayden rolls Sloth from The Goonies‘ ball down the hall towards Vivien, blows out the lightbulbs and leaves Gimpsy’s mask hanging on the faucet in the bathroom. OOO-EEEE-OOO.
Ben, in the meantime, finds Violet playing with something in the goblin basement but is too distracted by the fact that Violet hasn’t been in school for two weeks to question why she’s rolling a ball around the basement by herself. Also: two weeks? Violet clearly doesn’t go to an HISD school, because, seriously, your kid misses one day, and they hunt you down: emails, phone calls, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOUR CHILD MISSED A DAY, BY GOD. Violet explains that she hates the school; it’s boring and she’s being bullied. Ben wonders is Violet has brought this up to Vivien, and Violet is all, I would but if you haven’t noticed, Mom’s totally insane and acting out scenes from Rosemary’s Baby, and it’s all your fault for being a terrible person. And with that, Violet storms out in a snit, and Ben sobs does nothing.
Vivien convinces herself that the anti-nausea drugs she’s been on have contributed to the insanity — they can cause “changes in vision,” which absolutely can account for having a conversation with a 1920s ghost, light bulbs blowing out and finding gimp masks in the bathroom. She shares this theory with Milk Eyed Moira who dismisses it completely and suggests that Vivien read “The Yellow Wallpaper,” instead. She’s not crazy, she’s being made to think she’s crazy: that’s what men do, to have their fun. After a long rant about the etymology of the word “hysteria” and about how doctors used to masturbate women in their offices (true fact), Milk Eyed Moira then casts aspersions on Ben for leaving his pregnant wife in the house alone, before asking if she can speak freely. THERE’S MORE? Milk Eyed Moira explains that she’s never told any of the previous owners this, but the house, it is haunted. Things break, doors open, etc. etc. and Vivien should get out while the getting is good. This can not possibly be a surprise to Vivien at this point, and yet? Somehow it is. Because she is not very bright, as we have well established.
Vivien grabs Violet, shoves her in the car, and makes to drive to Aunt Jo’s, because enough of this noise. Tate weeps. And that’s when Vivien and Violet discover that the dead murder fetishists, they are in the backseat. AACCKK! RUN AWAY! BACK INTO THE HAUNTED MURDER HOUSE! Wait, what? This is a plan? Go back into the haunted house to get away from some ghosts? This does not seem like a plan.
Ben arrives some time later, furious that Vivien was planning on taking Violet out of the state, but Vivien, she’s pretty sure he’s losing sight of the big picture here: MURDER FETISHISTS! IN THE VOLVO! Ben assures her that the cops found no evidence of Murder Fetishists, but there’s plenty of evidence that Vivien is losing her damn mind. FINE, says Vivien. ASK VIOLET, says Vivien.
Violet is busy upstairs losing her virginity to a dead mass-murdering rapist, who is convincing her that is she tells the truth about the house being haunted, she’ll be called crazy and locked up. Good boyfriend! Tate is a very good boyfriend! The best boyfriend, even!
Ben calls Violet downstairs before returning to Vivien’s rantings about how he can’t force her to stay, and how he clearly gave Hayden the security codes, and that’s how she keeps getting into the house and ZOMG IT WAS A PLAN ALL ALONG! Ben and Hayden are in on it together! After all, it was while Ben was in Boston with her that the Murder Fetishists attacked them — it was all a plan to get Vivien out of the house and let Hayden take her place! And that’s why he left Gimpsy’s mask on the sink! To taunt her with their kinky night! Ben is all, whazza? But Violet comes downstairs so that particular conversation will have to wait until later. Vivien asks Violet to tell Ben what she saw the previous night, and Vivien is all, yeah, I lied to the cops, I didn’t see any Murder Fetishists in the Volvo, ha, sorry. And with that, Ben announces that he will be spending the night, because Vivien be crazy.
In the basement, Hayden sexually harasses Tate, and bosses him to do what he needs to do, lest Violet and Vivien leave. Tate sighs heavily.
Vivien comes up with Plan B: call Martha Huber over, yell at Martha Huber about Prince Farid not getting back about his offer on the house, fake fainting spell, steal Martha Huber’s gun while Martha Huber fetches glass of water. And while sure, OK, this at least helps explain why Martha Huber was waving a gun around at Larry for no good reason last week (SEE: Chekov’s Gun), wouldn’t Martha Huber notice that her purse were 3 pounds lighter when she left? Because I think I’d notice if my purse were suddenly, and inexplicably, 3 pounds lighter.
Vivien takes Martha Huber’s gun to bed with her, where she is immediately set upon by Gimpsy. Screaming screaming screaming, Vivien grabs the panic button, and then shoots Ben as he comes into the room. Well played, Not Crazy Lady. This will certainly go over well.
Soon enough, there are cops crawling all over the place, and Handsome Security Guy arrives to inform the authorities that Ben might not be telling them the whole story: Ben doesn’t actually live in the house and he has a crazy mistress who is on the lam. Ben, who has a psychiatric license, he’ll have you know, knows from psychotic breaks, and Vivien? She haz psychotic break.
Upstairs, Vivien, in a Valium fugue, is chatting with Hayden about what a crappy boyfriend Ben is. That agreed, Vivien begs Hayden to just leave her alone already. Alas, Hayden can’t do that, because what she wants are Vivien’s babies, so, sorry, nope. Vivien calls Hayden sick, and Hayden retorts that actually, she’s dead. And with that, she reintroduces Vivien to the father of her babies: Gimpsy! Who climbs all over Vivien until Ben and Handsome Security Guy come in and find her rolling around on the floor screaming about Gimpsy and raping and Hayden and dead people and taking her babies. Someone is doing a really good impersonation of a crazy person, and for her efforts, the cops are here to take her to a nice, safe, not-haunted, Gimpsy-free hospital, which at this point surely sounds ideal, right? If I, for one, had been confronted in my bedroom by my husband’s dead mistress and my latexed rapist would be yelling, “I AM MOST DEFINITELY CRAZY! ONE TICKET TO CRAZYTOWN FOR ME, PLEASE!”
Instead, Vivien sulks, and glares at Violet on her way out the door. Ben assures Violet that she did the best thing — the only thing she could do was tell the truth, after all — and then he leaves Violet alone in the HAUNTED MURDER HOUSE, AGAIN, while he escorts Vivien to the nuthouse. Because, sure. But no worries! Violet’s dead mass-murdering, mother-raping boyfriend is here for her!
This episode, right? How crazy was that? SO CRAZY. It’s a difficult episode to deconstruct or find some sort of theme that we can analyze because it is a “move-it-along” episode. Its purpose was to answer questions and move the plot forward into the second half of the season. That said, the episode did tie together some of our prevalent themes: motherhood, loss of a child, murder/suicide, insanity, the things the people we love drive us to do, all of these come together in Hayden and Mrs. Alby’s plan to steal the babies. I’m now understanding why we have so many dead children, so many mothers who have suffered that loss, and how it drives them to madness. And it is interesting that a young man with a difficult relationship with his own mother — a relationship I hope they will explore more — would try to help a mother within the house find some peace by giving her a baby … at extreme cost.
As for Tate being Gimpsy, despite the collective “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” from the 15-year-old fan girls across the internet, I dig it. As Sylar learns at the sex shop, the rubber suit is intended to make the wearer submissive. Obviously rape and murder aren’t particularly “submissive” behavior, but he wasn’t being submissive to Vivien and Sylar, he was being submissive to Mrs. Alby and Hayden, he was obeying them. As Moira correctly points out, Tate wants to please the women in the house — probably because of some damage from his relationship with Constance — and he submits to them.
The other thing the sex shop salesman says about the suit is that it dehumanizes the wearer. Tate has said that he wants to be a “good” person, and yet he has done these horrific things — interestingly, often while wearing a “mask” of some sort. In his imagined vision of the school shooting, Tate dons the skeleton makeup, and when Tate attacks both Vivien and Sylar and Patrick, he dons a suit that completely covers his face, his persona. He becomes someone else when he turns violent, someone that he doesn’t recognize as himself. It’s interesting that in “Piggy Piggy,” it’s revealed that when he actually committed the school shooting, he was maskless: the disconnect between how Tate sees himself and who Tate actually is, what Tate is actually capable of, is revealed in this discrepancy.
Speaking of dualities, how about them twins? I didn’t go into my symbolism spiel in the last entry, but yeah! Twins! HEAVY DUTY SYMBOLISM, Y’ALL. Twins represent duality, balance, harmony and tension, conflict or contradictions, both in the universe (light-dark, heaven-Earth) and within the individual (spirit-body, action-thought, supergo-id). Many cultures regard twins as such an exceptional occurrence that they are revered and/or feared. Interestingly, in myths around the world, twin characters are often born of human mothers and divine fathers — and sometimes have dual paternity, like Castor and Pollux, Helen and Cassandra, and this dual nature makes them special, divine. This duality and the question of the paternity certainly is relevant to this series: the house seems to bring out its inhabitants darker side, their darker twin, their evil doppelgänger (a word that was used in the episode regarding Mrs. Alby’s inexplicable appearance); and, of course, the paternity of the twins is questionable. Vivien had sex with both Ben and Tate in the same night. So what, exactly, is she carrying in her womb — is it even human? Interestingly, twins have been with the series since its first scene, and met an unfortunate demise; an early clue, perhaps, to whatever dark conclusion is in store for us.
Timeline so far:
1922: Dr. Alby (Montgomery) builds the house for his wife, Nora.
1926: Baby Alby is kidnapped and dismembered. Dr. Alby revives him. After attempting and failing to kill Baby Alby, Mrs. Alby shoots and kills Dr. Alby and herself.
1968: The nurses are killed by Franklin.
1974: Addy is born.
1978: Twins are killed by the basement goblin.
1983: Constance kills her husband and Moira.
1994: Tate goes on a school shooting spree. Tate is killed in Murder House by a SWAT team.
1994: Larry kills Constance’s son Beau in the attic.
1994: There is a fire that kills Mrs. Larry and Larry’s daughters in Murder House.
October 2010: Tate, as Rubber Man, kills Sylar and Patrick in the house.
Summer 2011: Hayden’s baby is conceived.
September 2011: The Harmons move in.
September 5thish, 2011: Vivien’s baby is conceived after Tate dons the Rubber Man suit and rapes her.
Fall 2011: The Murder Festishists are killed inside the house by Tate and the Nurses.
October 2011: Larry kills Hayden.
October 31, 2011: Addy is killed.
Presumably early 2012: Prince Farid is killed by Larry and Moira.
March, 2012: Vivien is institutionalized.
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.