American Horror Story
December 21, 2011
9 MONTHS AGO
Back in Boston, Vivien has her bags packed and is headed out the door, because, SMELL YA LATER, CHEATING MANWHORE. Ben urges her to come with him to Los Angeles and try to make their marriage work. Look! He’s been playing on the internets and found this amazing super-cheap murder house in Los Angeles that they can move into and be a family again! If Vivien would just fly out to Los Angeles with him and take a looksee: Ben had a vision of them around the fireplace together, and Vivien was even holding a baby in her arms! Which is exactly what every 40-something woman wants to hear from her philandering husband — that he has had a vision of them having another kid together. But whatever. Murder House = Hope!
Everybody’s dead. Ben yells for Vivien and Violet, but they don’t respond because they are dead.
Ben then heads over to Constance’s house and is like, “Yo, give me my baby.” Apparently, Constance has been keeping an eye on Murder Baby for Ben while he’s been dealing with all the paperwork that is involved when your wife dies in childbirth in your living room because her ghost doctor couldn’t staunch the bleeding. But now Vivien’s sister is on her way to help Ben and he wants to bring Murder Baby home, and Constance, she’s pretty sure that’s a terrible idea. There are forces in that house that want to harm Murder Baby! The same forces that killed Vivien and Violet!
And that’s when Ben sees the photograph of Addy and Tate. Constance is all, “Yeah, he dead. Has been this whole time.” Ben grabs Murder Baby and tells Constance to lock her doors and hope that he doesn’t come back. OH, BISH, PLEASE. Constance’s not afraid of you. Why don’t you go home and cry some more, Dr. Sobsalot.
Which is pretty much what he does. As Vivien and Milk Eyed Moira discuss how Vivien’s “adjustment” is going, Ben putters around the kitchen, preparing a bottle for Murder Baby. Vivien assures Milk Eyed Moira that Ben was always a good father despite all his other flaws, and that she doesn’t want him to see her or Violet, because that would just make it that much harder for him to leave the house and raise Murder Baby someplace that isn’t filled with murdering ghosts. Also established: Milk Eyed Moira no longer takes orders from Vivien now that she’s dead, so quit asking her to make you some tea, lady.
Ben neatly lays out all his keys and relevant information — insurance, security codes, names of all the people who have died in the house — on the kitchen counter, and heads into the office to blow his brains all over the leather furniture. OH HAI, VIVIEN’S SISTER! THE MURDER BABY IS UPSTAIRS, SORRY ABOUT THE MESS. However, Vivien and Violet decide to violate their own “don’t appear to Ben” policy to stop him. Vivien urges him to not kill himself: Murder Baby needs a father, even if Ben isn’t his biological one. So what, who cares? And anyway, this family has had enough dramaz, so enough with the feeling sorry for yourself. Violet insists that every moment he stays in the house, he and the baby remain in danger, so, please, come on, get out already.
Convinced by his dead family, Ben goes back upstairs, straps Murder Baby into his Murder Car Seat, and is making to leave! hooray! when he’s stopped by Hayden who wants to know where he is headed with her baby, boo. The Murder Fetishists then show up, throw a rope around Ben’s neck and over the chandelier and then push Ben over the banister and that’s how Ben Harmon becomes a part of Murder House forever and ever.
Some time later, Martha Huber is showing the house to Los Ramoses, a charming hispanic family made up of Handsome Dad Miguel, Former First Lady/Space Alien Christina Martinez, and Muy Cute Son, Gabe. Martha Huber, after insulting their heritage for a while, because that’s what she do, offers in full disclosure that the house is so affordable because the previous owners died here tragically: the wife died in childbirth and the husband, desperate with grief, hung himself from the second story balcony. ¡Qué romántico! Los Ramoses laugh off the idea of fantasmas, and head into the kitchen to take a look at the pasta arm. Muy Cute Gabe however, chooses to skateboard around the living area until The Twins throw some poppers under his wheels, tripping him. No matter, Christina Martinez is en amor with the house, and soon enough, Martha Huber is putting that VENDIDO sign back up.
Meanwhile, next door, Constance is being questioned by Officer Roc and Partner again. They just need her to exposit explain what happened to the Harmon family one more time. Like Constance told them, she went by the house to check on Ben and his daughter, seeing that they had just suffered through a terrible tragedy. It is presumed she brought a casserole, but she does not make this explicit. When no one answered, she headed inside and that’s when she found Ben. What she neglects to mention is the part where she enjoys a celebratory cigarette under his body and how Dead Ben appeared to her and whined about Hayden killing him.
According to the Official Story, Constance discovered that Violet and Murder Baby were gone — presumably, Violet ran away after her father died. With an infant in tow. Just like any 15-year-old would do. What Constance neglects to mention is that she actually went down to the goblin basement where she confronted Ben’s murdered girlfriend. Hayden has decided Murder Baby is hers, which Constance has issue with, seeing as Murder Baby is her grandson. The two women bicker until out of nowhere Ace Young appears, slits Hayden’s throat, and Constance is able to yoink Murder Baby away from the dead strumpet. CONSTANCE + MURDER BABY FTW!
And as soon as Officer Roc and Partner leave, Constance retrieves Murder Baby from Addy’s Punishment Closet, which is a perfectly reasonable place to keep a Murder Baby.
Back at Murder House, Muy Cute Gabe discovers Violet is in his bedroom, dissin’ his music. (Although, back off Butthole Surfers, Violet. BACK OFF.) Muy Cute Gabe and Violet banter a bit while Tate watches, which can’t possibly be bueno for Muy Cute Gabe.
Downstairs, Handsome Dad Miguel and Christina Martinez unpack the kitchen and start talking about how lonely the house will be once Muy Cute Gabe goes off to college … ¿maybe they should have another bebé? This makes Los Ramoses muy vivaracho, and they proceed to do the underpants salsa in the kitchen while Ben and Vivien watch, wistfully and dreadfully. Vivien lost two babies in this house; these bueno people, they don’t deserve to go through that ordeal. Milk Eyed Moira appears, and explains that there are some vengeful spirits in the house, eager to take out their anger on the residents. But there are also many innocent, kind spirits who don’t want to see any more suffering in the house. Time to come up with a plan, team!
That night, Handsome Dad Miguel wakes up to some susurro somewhere in the house. As he goes to explore, ¡he leaves Christina Martinez alone in the bedroom with El Cañutillo! ¡Dios mio! Christina Martinez wakes up to El Cañutillo hovering over her, which is no kind of way to wake up. Screaming screaming screaming, fight fight fight, and Christina Martinez goes running down the hall, only to have Eric Stoltz from Mask leap down at her from the attic. ¡AY YI YI! Christina Martinez locks herself in the bathroom with Gladys the Drowned Nurse, which is also unacceptable, so back down the hall she goes, gritando.
Downstairs, Handsome Dad Miguel finds himself playing with the stove, while Mrs. Larry whispers in one ear that she needs someone to feel her pain, and Vivien whispers in el otro that he needs to abre los ojos and see what Murder House is: a Murder House. Hot Moira appears to take Handsome Dad Miguel by el mano, and lead him through the house, past La Negra Dalia, cut in half on the dining room table and assuring him that he is wide awake. ¡Qué chalado!
Christina Martinez comes gritando down the stairs and past El Exterminador, and she and Handsome Dad Miguel both head into the goblin basement, which ¡Bueno Plan! There, they find Vivien screaming at Ben, El Cañutillo, for being a cheating pervert. Los Ramoses wonder who these people are in their goblin basement, and Vivien explains that El Cañutillo is her husband before she guts him. ¡AY! But Ben stands back up and shoots her in the head. ¡DIOS MIO! And as the Harmons laugh about how long they’ve been wanting to do that, Los Ramoses go screaming out of the goblin basement and into la noche.
And upstairs, while his parents are being Beetlejuiced, Muy Cute Gabe meets Tate who intends to kill Muy Cute Gabe so that he can be with Violet. Sure! Makes sense! The only problem is Tate has developed a conscience somewhere along the way, and can’t look at Muy Cute Gabe in the eye while he kills him. As Tate tries to get Muy Cute Gabe to turn around, or something, Violet appears to distract him. While Tate explains that he was just trying to give Violet what she deserves, a hunky skateboarder, Violet counters that what she wanted was him. And while she might have told him to go away, she never told him good-bye. This disarms Tate enough that she is able to draw him into one last kiss, allowing Muy Cute Gabe to make a break for it, and get downstairs and into el coche con his parents.
¡Adios, El Murder House!
As Martha Huber hangs a “reduced price” sign in front of Murder House, the Murder Tour swings by, having added the Harmon’s tragic tale to its long history. Martha Huber, however, is not amused. Inside, Tate approaches Ben, wanting to chit chat, but Ben, who — somewhat rightfully — blames Tate for his family’s untimely demise, is not interested. Ben recognizes that Tate is a sociopath and a monster, and therapy will never help him, not just because therapy is a bunch of meaningless hooey. Tate is a bad person, and Ben knows this because he’s a bad person, too. This gives Tate hope: if the people Ben hurt have forgiven him, perhaps Violet can forgive Tate, too! But Ben explains that Tate can only be forgiven by the people whom he directly hurt, like those 15 kids he killed, but since he can’t even admit what he did … And so Tate rattles off his multitude of crimes: He set Larry on fire, he killed a bunch of kids at school, he murdered Sylar and Sylar’ Boyfriend and he raped Ben’s wife. And, you know, some other things … so now can Ben just hang out with him sometimes? Lonely psychopath is lonely.
Vivien has taken the cello back up again now that she’s dead, and while she practices, she hears a baby, crying, somewhere. Vivien follows the crying to the goblin basement where Mrs. Alby is sitting, exhausted with Vivien’s non-Murder Baby. Mrs. Alby assumes that Vivien is the nanny, to which Vivien is all, “Uh, sure, whatever you need me to say, Crazypants.” Mrs. Alby son realizes that Vivien is the baby’s mother, and explains that the non-Murder Baby wasn’t stillborn, as everyone assumed, but only took one tiny breath before he died. As Vivien soothes Ghost Baby, Mrs. Alby is all, “You know what? You can have him. Imma take a nap. Ok goodbye.”
Vivien brings Ghost Baby upstairs where she finds Milk Eyed Moira busy cleaning. As she shows Moira Ghost Baby and explains the whole Mrs. Alby situation, Milk Eyed Moira notes that Mrs. Alby is just not cut out to be a mother — she was just stuck on that idea. Vivien mentions that she is going to need help with Ghost Baby, and Milk Eyed Moira protests that she’s trained as a maid, not a nanny. But that’s not what Vivien had in mind: she was hoping Milk Eyed Moira would be his ghostmother, she thinks Moira would be a great addition to the family even though she spent all of her time while Vivien was alive waggling her little tramp behind in Vivien’s husband’s face BUT WHATEVER. SURE. ONE BIG HAPPY DEAD FAMILY.
Who decorate a ghost Christmas tree? I don’t understand the tree? Where’d they get the tree? I know Ben said he chopped it down himself, but from where? THE POINT IS, now Ben and Vivien and Violet and Ghost Baby and Milk Eyed Moira are all together and happy and singing Christmas carols forever and ever and they needn’t pay any attention to Hayden and Tate who are watching them from the back yard, plottin’.
THREE YEARS LATER
Constance swings by the hairdressers to get her hair did, and explains to her stylist that she’s been too busy to come in of late thanks to a baby boy she has been raising. A distant cousin of hers died in a tragic car accident, leaving an orphaned child behind. Constance was the only one available to raise the little boy, but she thinks it was destined to be. For Constance’s entire life, she knew she was destined for great things: she had thought she was supposed to be a star, but now she understands — she was meant to raise this extraordinary little boy. And all the pain and tragedy and death that she has suffered in her life, it was merely preparing her, shaping her to be a remarkable mother to this remarkable child.
With that, Constance dislodges the scenery from her mouth, and heads home — where her nanny, Flora is nowhere to be found. But there is an omninous trail of clues … from the smear of blood on the fridge, to the upturned cookie jar … to the trail of blood in the upstairs hallway … and there, in Michael, the Murder Baby’s room, is one very dead Flora, and one delighted, tow-headed Murder Baby, gleefully covered in blood. Oh, Murder Baby, what is Constance going to do with you?
I, for one, loved this finale. I loved that the house was, as Ben had hoped, a second chance for his family, a place where they could find redemption and come back together. It’s an unexpected, but ultimately positive conclusion — even though they’re all dead. I also deeply appreciate that Constance remains — she is a survivor above all else, and I love that Murder House destroys pretty much everyone else who comes within its walls, but for Constance. Constance is constant.
AND I LOVE MURDER BABY. I love the threat of this tiny, murderous Damien being raised by Constance within the shadow of this terrible, powerful house. (And I loved the nod to The Omen with the nanny’s death. The question is how did Murder Baby murder Flora? Or did he?) And I love that they remain ambiguous as to what Murder Baby’s true nature is. Is he the Antichrist or is he just a precocious version of his sociopathic father? It’s a solid storyline that can (if Ryan Murphy doesn’t spin too far off the rails) sustain through many seasons of this series.
And speaking of consecutive seasons, now what is Ryan Murphy going to do with you, Show?
Look, I know the Internetz are abuzz with hate with Ryan Murphy for killing off the Harmons, and deigning to make the next season about an entirely new family. But I don’t understand the problem? Because the thing is, thanks to the nature of Murder House, once you die within its walls, you remain a part of it. This, storywise, grants the writers all sorts of creative freedoms: it allows them to tell an entirely new story, while also bringing back favorite characters without compromising the integrity of the story itself. This means characters’s stories can be told in an abbreviated season of 13 or so episodes, allowing their stories to remain coherent and not be exhausted with increasingly ridiculous storylines. See: Sean and Julia from Nip/Tuck, pretty much everyone on Glee.*
Additionally, changing the leads every season allows the actors involved with show the opportunity to return to the show as guest stars, freeing them to do other projects — meaning, it’s a brilliant strategy to attract some great acting talent. While the Harmons might not be the focus of Season Two of American Horror Story, they will, I’m sure, be back to play some sort of role next season, so what’s the problem? The Violet/Tate shippers might be disappointed, but personally, I felt their story was given its due and nicely concluded. Oh, and also? Tate is a monster, you guys. Seriously. He’s horrible. It’s time to move on.
My one gripe about the episode was that Ben’s death came so suddenly that it felt rushed. I suspect this was the result of a condensed shooting schedule that reduced the finale from two hours to under an hour and a half, but it felt like Ben’s death should have had a bit more build up. I will say this: I didn’t see it coming. In fact, even as he was hanging there in the stairwell, I wasn’t entirely convinced he was actually dead, so points for surprise!
I also wish there were a bit more to analyze and dissect about this episode. Seeing as it was the finale which needed to tie up a number of plot points and had to dog so on a restricted schedule didn’t leave the writers much room to get all fancy and symbolic. Still, a couple more embedded visual clues about the nature of Murder Baby wouldn’t have hurt. Something to look forward to for next season, I suppose. (And I’ll just save my new brilliant thesis on the spate of films about demonic babies that sprouted up in the 1970s until then. Or for my PhD thesis on pop culture. Either or.)
So, what did you think? Love it or hate it? Did it satisfy your questions or did it tie everything up too neatly? Will you watch next season?
*As noted by commenter KDLM, next season will, in fact, feature a new house altogether. (This was made public yesterday, while I was drafting my entry, and I had no idea.) However, I don’t think that this changes my original point. While Ryan Murphy is a creative and fun television producer, he has a tendency to lose focus on characterization. Allowing for new families and characters each season is good both for the writers, and the actors who want to participate in the show, but don’t want to be stuck in a 6 or 7 year-long commitment.
I will miss Jessica Lange, however. Although somehow I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of her.
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.
1947: Dr. Curan kills The Black Dahlia in Murder House.
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.
1984: Young Tate meets Nora and Basement Goblin in the basement.
1994: Larry kills Constance’s son Beau in the attic.
1994: Mrs. Larry sets a fire that kills her and Larry’s daughters in Murder House.
1994: Constance, Tate and Addy move into Murder House with Larry.
1994: Tate sets Larry on fire. Tate goes on a school shooting spree. Tate is killed in Murder House by a SWAT team.
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.
Late 2011/early 2012: Violet overdoses on pills and dies inside Murder House.
Presumably early 2012: Prince Farid is killed by Larry and Moira.
March, 2012: Vivien is institutionalized.
Spring 2012: Hayden kills Ace Young in Murder House.
Spring 2012: Tate kills the exterminator in Murder House.
March 2012: Vivien delivers the twins and dies in childbirth. One twin dies shortly after childbirth, the other is taken by Constance.
Spring 2012: Ben is murdered by Hayden in Murder House. The Harmon family is reunited, including Ghost Baby.
2015: Constance raises the other twin as her own child. He murders his nanny.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.