This week’s American Horror Story did everything a quality television show should do. Mysteries were solved, more questions were raised and it made us all hungry for animal intestines and brains. From what I hear, The X Factor only accomplishes one of those goals. Last week, we saw Vivien finally kick Ben’s sorry albeit hot butt out the door. Hayden is on the loose. Constance is dealing with the loss of her special needs daughter and all the ghosts came home to rest after a long night of being among the living. We start this week at the Murder House in 1994. Constance is the resident at this time and we all know this is going to be a Tate-centric flashback…Sirens wail and the SWAT team is at her door looking for Tate.
Probably not here about tickets to the Policeman’s Ball.
The scene moves now to the high school library. Take a deep breath. Anyone who remembered Columbine very clearly when it happened would have a hard time watching this scene. If you are a goofball like me, I tend to ignore inevitable endings/events in movies and still root for good to come through. I wanted Jack to live and spend the rest of his life with Rose. I wanted Romeo to figure out the coma-inducing drug was only temporary. I wanted Bambi’s Mom to just have a flesh wound. So even though I know rationally it won’t happen, I couldn’t help but wish for the teens to survive and for Tate not to be the gunman. The kids we saw as ghosts on Halloween are alive and well in the high school’s library when they hear the shots ring out. The harsh reality of the pre-cell phone era hits when the teens and a teacher realize they are trapped. The yet unseen gunman shoots the teacher first through the door as the teacher attempts to block it. The students all cower and try to hide as the shooter makes his way to another, unblocked door.
Me: “The fire alarm! The fire alarm!” Her: “Were you even paying attention last week?”
Sigh. The writers either dropped the ball or gave us a break as they didn’t have the goth/punk girl plead to God before she was killed. The cheerleader, probably very realistically, lost control of her bladder as she cried under a table after her jock boyfriend was shot point blank. After she was killed, the camera pans up and oh, bummer…
Ben may be a lot of things, but he is SO not going to be okay with you and his daughter
Back at the Murder House, the police are covered in full armor with guns ready to fire and they burst into Tate’s bedroom where he is sitting on the bed. He looks at them, puts his finger to his head like a gun and pulls the trigger.
Present Day. Vivien is in her room, not-Googling the Westfield High Massacre and gets all the proof she needs that she is going 100% insane when she pulls up all the dead teens she saw from Halloween night and a lovely photo of her boyfriend, Tate, with the headline “Suspected Shooter Shot Dead”. Wow…there’s some good journalism. I guess, “Massacre Miscreant Met Match” was taken. Violet, who like her mother, usually stays calm in the absolutely weirdness cloud that hangs over this house, loses her mind. She runs downstairs, calling for her Mom but instead of Vivien, she finds Constance in her kitchen. Violet asks Constance where her Mom is and if she hurt her. Constance blows that off and says Vivien must be at the grocery store “buying something frozen to re-heat for dinner”. HAHA. Constance doesn’t waste any time and tells Violet she knows she found out about Tate and that for a while she questioned her own sanity, but this house made her a believer. What happened with Tate had everything to do with the house. Violet doesn’t believe her, but Constance snaps at her that she needs to accept the fact she’s only able to see one reality. And she has someone for her to meet.
In Constance’s kitchen, we meet Billie Dean who is a medium. Violet is skeptical, of course. Billie tells Violet she didn’t want any of this either, but when she was 25, her house cleaner showed up in her bathroom, naked and bloody. The house cleaner’s husband had murdered her with an ice pick. Best line of the night from Constance: “It’s hard to keep good help.” And we find out right away why Billie and Constance hit it off as Billie tells Violet she didn’t want a bloody Mexican in her bathroom. Canadian, sure, but…Billie had to make a choice: Get with the program or go crazy.
Typical girl talk: dead people, boys, ghosts, periods…
Billie tells Violet some of the dead feel angry about being horribly murdered and just can’t move on until they’ve received some sort of revenge. Others, like Tate, simply do not know that they are dead and wander around through the living, like a child. Which is why we need this lady:
This house is clean.
Sorry—but that sounded awfully familiar. Because Tate is caught between the here and the there, Constance wanted Tate to see Ben in the hopes therapy would help him cross over. Violet is still not buying all of this. Then Billie grabs Violet’s hand and “channels” Mary, who must be Violet’s grandmother or great-grandmother, because we suddenly see a not too distant flashback of a very elderly woman in a hospital bed, saying close to Violet’s ear, “They don’t understand you. And they never will.”
Like that hat in what is probably an uncomfortably warm hospital room. You’re a mystery.
Then we hear some lovely cello music and hey! Is Vivien playing the cello again?
If playing the cello means “rubbing cocoa butter over the spawn of the devil himself” then, yes, she is!
She freaks as little feet push against her swollen belly and bam! Dream sequence only. She wakes up, takes off her wedding ring and hits the security system’s panic button.
We handle break-ins, hooligans and the anti-Christ. You should see our logo!
Officer Friendly is there to reassure her everything is safe in the house. They do their flirtatious small talk and she blurts out her husband has moved out because of his infidelity. Geez, Vivien, maybe you can just try and play harder to get. But I guess that is a little better than, “Does rubber against your skin cause a problem? Because if not…” Officer Friendly (who at this point should really be called “Officer-who-apparently-doesn’t-have-any-other customers) tells her he has also been a victim of infidelity. His wife left him for another woman. Ben comes walking in and stops short at the sight of Viv and Luke (yes, I finally remembered Morris Chestnut’s character’s name). He asks what the problem is now. Vivien looks pissed at the interruption and tells him she thought she heard something. Luke assures Ben everything is fine and Ben replies, “Thanks for filling in.” Instead of saying, “Well…I haven’t gotten that far with her”, Luke tells the couple that Hayden never made it to the police station after he took her into custody. She must have hopped out of the car. Ben’s pretty happy with that news. They’re paying a lot of money they don’t really have to be guarded by the modern day version of the Keystone Cops.
Did you drive her there in a slow moving convertible?
Luke leaves and Ben goes marching into his office. Vivien demands to know why he is there and he says he has to work. They don’t have the money for him to rent an office and until they sell the house, this is how it has to be. Vivien’s absolutely thrilled with this idea.
How am I supposed to get some security strange now?
She tells him he absolutely disgusts her and she wants to bash his face in and bonus: wants a divorce. Oh and she doesn’t even want to be friends with him. But he’s allowed to see patients in the house as long as he leaves after the last patient. Move over Google, this is a happy workplace environment!
Violet is upstairs in the bathroom proving the effects of relaxing Chamomile tea are not what they are cracked up to be as she surveys her old cutting scars on her arm and envisions doing even worse things. Like slitting her throat. Suddenly, Tate appears behind her asking, “Are you scared now?” and as she whips around, he is gone.
Hey, it is Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family! He is playing Ben’s patient who is scared beyond belief by urban legends. It seems his brothers would hold him down and force him to listen to scary stories when he was younger. Now those fears are affecting his every day life. He can’t date or sleep. He knows he looks terrible but he’s been too afraid to look in a mirror. When Ben asks him why, Eric tells him because of Piggy Man.
Nothing like a dimly lit cavernous gothic style library telling ghost stories to calm one’s fears.
The story of the Piggy Man is this: The Piggy Man was a hog butcher in Chicago in 1893. He would wear a pig face from one of his previous slaughters and go in to the pen. The pigs would think he was one of them, so they wouldn’t react violently. One day, the Piggy Man slipped and the hogs tore him to shreds. They didn’t find a piece of him left. Or so they thought. Soon after, his former customers would end up dead. They’d be gutted and hung up in their bathtubs, like a hog in his shop. So the urban legend goes that if you stand in front of a mirror and say, “Here, piggy pig pig…” that he’ll return for the slaughter. Ben asks him if he’s tried that. We see a scene with Eric chanting the “Here, piggy pig pig…” in front of a bathroom mirror and a huge bloody man with a pig’s head behind the shower curtain. He proceeds to slash the hell of our Eric. Of course, that is all in his thoughts and he responds to Ben, “No”, he hasn’t actually tried to summon The Piggy Man.
So, this little cute fella is what’s been killing your dating life? Awww…
Ben assures him he can help him and sets up an appointment for another day. But Ben gives him an assignment. He wants Eric to shave. Yes, in front of a mirror. As soon as his patient leaves, a very upset Violet comes in the room and tells her Dad she’s sorry. And that it is all her fault. He thinks she’s talking about him being kicked out of the house and assures her it has nothing to do with her. And her friends are still just a little too young for him. (Okay, he didn’t say that part). And then what I think is possibly the most telling dialogue of the series so far. She tells him the darkness has her. Embracing her, he says, “I have you. Baby, I have you.”
Hello darkness, my old friend.
Vivien is in the kitchen on the phone while Moira is doing the dishes. Vivien is talking to the hospital and trying to track down the nurse who fainted during her ultrasound. I’m so glad they didn’t just drop that part of the story. She finds out the nurse quit, so Vivien leaves her information so the nurse can contact her. Constance walks in the door. Has she ever knocked? Vivien is just so used to it by now. Vivien hangs up the phone and greets Constance, offering sincere condolences for the loss of Addy. Constance blows her off. Constance tells her she knows that every time Viv leaves the house, she is racked by horrible morning sickness. So she brought something to help her out: Offal. Vivien is appreciative making the mistake that Constance cares about her. HA! Constance asks about Violet, saying she was so sweet and helpful when Addy passed. Vivien tells her she is upset, but she’ll be okay. Constance asks Moira to saute the offal in sweet butter, like she used to do for her. She exits with the line, “We need that child. We need another sweet child around here.”
So what’s the deal with sweetbreads? Not sweet…not bread
While Moira is cooking the intestines and stuff, she asks Viv if she can say something that may be out of turn, but is completely heartfelt. She tells Vivien a cheating husband will always be a cheating husband. Especially if the husband’s wife is pregnant. Moira equates it to murder. And she should not take him back. She serves up lunch and tells Viv she left the pancreas raw as it is the most tender organ and is best eaten in its raw state. Viv can’t wait for that.
Spoiler Alert: “I want to save room for brain, but thanks anyway.”
She eats her cooked offal and merely sniffs the raw pancreas. We now join Ben and Eric who are walking towards the bathroom in Ben and Viv’s house. Ben wants Eric to experiment the Mr. Piggy Man thing there, while Ben is right outside the door so Eric can see there is really nothing to be scared of in the bathtub. But this is Ben’s house, so everything scary either happens in the bathtub or the basement or in the bathtub in the basement. So yeah, this goes well.
I realize she doesn’t look great, but she’s not a pig—she’s big boned!
As Eric screams, Ben comes bursting into the room and just like that, the dead nurse is gone. Eric embraces Ben sobbing. So between Eric and Violet, Ben’s got a lot of damp shirts.
Vivien is at the doctor getting her amniocentesis. The nurse goes over all of the things this test can detect in the unborn child, but the top one on Viv’s mind is Down’s Syndrome. Ben comes rushing into the room, apologizing for being late. Viv doesn’t look thrilled about him being there, but as the needle goes into her stomach, she clutches his hand.
Violet is hanging out at the skateboarding rink with Leah, who was attacked in Violet’s basement in the first episode. She is still sporting a big hat to cover her newly gray hair and she has a huge bandage on her face. Leah asks Violet if “it” attacked her too. Violet says no, but she feels like she’s losing her mind. Leah tells her the devil is real. And he can be beautiful. He is not a little red man, but a fallen angel. She asks Violet if she has read the Book of Revelations.
No, but I have been watching Dexter this season. Does that count?
Leah tells her in heaven there is this woman who is in labor, howling in pain. And there is a dragon with seven heads who is waiting so he can eat her baby. But the Archangel Michael hurls the dragon down to earth. And from that moment on, the red dragon hates the woman and all of her children. Maybe Violet should join the pep club or something. She kind of needs a new spin on teen-age life. They talk about how life has gotten so rough for the both of them lately and Leah tells her she takes sleeping pills. Violet would like to try a few of those, thank you very much.
Violet is now in the high school library where the shooting from 1994 took place. The teacher who was wounded in the attack is there, bound to a wheelchair. He sees her looking around and calls her a sicko and he usually gets about 4 or 5 sickos a year. She tells him she’s not like that. She knows Tate…well, she knows his Mom as she lives next door to her. She asks if he knew Tate. He said he didn’t know him well. He didn’t seem like a bad kid. He was in the library a lot. He liked to read Byron and books on birds and random stuff.
Gun assembly and bullet storage. You know…random stuff.
She wants to know if he was bullied or whatever. She wants to know why he did it. He says he would like to know that too. He wheels away from her and she yells at him to quit bullshitting her. He tells her that sometimes shit just happens. She’s not buying it and tells him that good people just don’t start shooting other people. His response, “Maybe he wasn’t a good person.” Oh…zing, dead Tate!
Vivien walks into the kitchen with some bad news for Moira. She tells her they can no longer afford her services. It is expensive having hot Luke come to the house all the time, you know. Moira tells her there is no way she is leaving a pregnant woman in her time of need and she will stay at no pay until the house sells. With that, she asks Vivien if she’s hungry. So let’s see…tacos or roast beef or…
This is what happens if you don’t stay on top of your grocery shopping.
Constance dropped this off for Vivien and Moira encourages her to eat it. For the baby. Okay, the little parsley garnish on it was cracking me up. Because that sure makes it look more appetizing! Disgustingly odd, Vivien digs right in and eats the entire thing, until there is nothing left but a bowl of brain blood. Is she that concerned with the health of her baby that she would just dig right into that with nary a hesitation? Vivien just doesn’t seem like the type who would so naively accept this as a way to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Is it blind trust in Moira who encouraged it or did the eating of the earlier sauteed offal cause a hunger for more of the same type of food? Is Vivien going to be the host of “Top Chef: Hades”?
Violet comes home and sets the alarm behind her. Tate is appearing and disappearing in front of and behind her in a weird paranormal game of Hide and Seek. He heads down into the basement and Violet unwisely follows him there. And wow, look, the gang’s all here. We have the ginger twins, the dead nurses, the home invaders and even Dr. Montgomery, the abortion doctor. The only thing missing from this awesome family reunion is the potato salad and the drunk uncle.
Did someone call for a drunk?
Violet runs back upstairs and as she nears her room, she hears her MP3 blaring. She sees “I love you” written on her chalkboard and that really puts her over the edge. She takes all of the sleeping pills Leah gave her and lays her head down. We then see Tate crying and dragging Violet into the bathroom, screaming, “Don’t you die on me!”. He gets her into the tub and turns the water on both of them.
This would be kind of a hot scene if a) they were adults; b) she wasn’t overdosing on sleeping pills and c) he wasn’t a homicidal maniac turned ghost
I have never seen a bathtub get so much use! She vomits up the pills and starts crying as Tate kisses her head. I know I give Jessica Lange so much credit for her acting in this series, but Taissa Farmiga absolutely kills it as Violet, especially in this episode.
Ben is back in session with his patient, Eric. Whose character name is Derek. Finally! Ben is asking Derek if he has been doing his cognitive exercises and Derek is telling him they are just not helping. He’s met a girl in the accounting department that he really likes but he is scared to ask her out. Ben starts pushing him. “You’re doing this to yourself!” As Ben is talking, we see a side scene where he’s lurking outside the house and can see Vivien having a cup of tea with Officer Friendly Luke. “The more you fear something the more power you give it.” He gets all fired up and starts shouting at Derek to go home and say those words in the mirror. They’re not magic words. There is no Piggy Man. Once he can face that, he can deal with the real issues in his life. Ben is the very embodiment of “Do as I say and not as I do.” Derek agrees to give it a try.
We now join Vivien at a church. The nurse who fainted at her ultrasound and ultimately quit her job contacted Viv and agreed to meet with her. Why? I have no idea, because this chick is absolutely scared stiff. She won’t let Vivien sit too close to her. Vivien says she is concerned about the ultrasound. The hospital told her the machine malfunctioned. Vivien wants to know what the nurse saw. She can sense (haha) that it scared her. Unless Vivien’s used to people who just randomly faint, I think that would be a very fair assessment. You are what you eat. Well, nurse lady tells her she saw “the unclean”.
Oh yeah, she went there.
Simmer down, Moira. Not the house, the baby. It is not either a boy or a girl. It is the plague of nations. The beast. Hooves and all. And probably colicky. Vivien is not buying this and tells the lady to get help and storms out of the church while the nurse screams Bible verses.
So not invited to the baby shower.
We now see Derek in his own bathroom, testing himself against the fears of the Piggy Man. He stands in front of the mirror, holding a flashlight and begins chanting, “Here piggy piggy pig…” He does it a few time and starts to realize he can do it. All of a sudden, the shower curtain goes flying open and a man with a gun says, “Who are you calling a pig?” and bam! Derek gets shot and killed. A second man comes running into the bathroom and yells at his partner they are supposed to be robbing, not murdering! They leave quickly, with Derek dead on the bathroom floor.
So Derek’s fear manifested itself somewhat because Ben pushed him into facing his fear. Okay, a couple of things here. Derek is most likely some kind of worker bee/cubicle dweller based on his comments about being interested in a girl in the accounting department. He is most likely not the head honcho or any big boss because dating an employee in most cases would be taboo. So, let’s just assume he’s not wealthy and based on the moderately sized and somewhat sparsely decorated bathroom, he doesn’t really live in a palace. What in the world would two armed robbers want with him? That seems like overkill for some DVDs.
But more importantly, let’s talk about how Ben is actually earning money. He’s not exactly racking up the paychecks with a bunch of referrals. Let’s look at his track record:
Gee, I could have used this little talk 17 years ago.
Does this sweater make me look boring?
Speaking of unlocking fears…can we talk about that deadbolt on your front door?
They weren’t even Blue-Rays…thanks a lot, Doc
“Why yes, I am part of your HMO Health Plan.”
Ah, that explains it. I sure hope Ben doesn’t rely on referrals.
We join Constance and Billie the medium in Constance’s kitchen. They’re enjoying a little wine and Billie tells Constance she knows that Addy is mad at her. Constance wants to talk to Addy. She has one last thing she wants to say to her. She misses her so much. Addy (through Billie) tells her she should have told her that one she was alive. Constance continues. She is so sorry. And she is so proud of her for what she was able to overcome. I’m not going to transcribe the scene. It wouldn’t do it justice. Constance is crying, Billie is crying and it is truly a heartbreaking scene. At the end of the conversation an important point comes out. Addie, through Billie is telling Constance she is grateful for not being put on the lawn of the old house. She doesn’t want to be with Tate. She’s afraid of him. Now that she knows the truth.
And now we get the end of the opening scene, where the police have stormed Constance’s house and ended up in Tate’s bedroom, where he calmly waits for him. He does the finger gun thing to his head, but then tries to pull out a real gun and the cops shoot him down. This week ends in the present, with Violet flipping through a book about birds and Tate shows up in her room. She sees the old fashioned library check out slip in the book and see Tate’s name on it. He tells her he likes birds too. Because they can fly away. He asks her if she’s going to tell her parents about the pills and she says no. They both say they are sad. Tate says something in her is different. She is distant and cold. He doesn’t know what he’s done but he cares for her so much that if she wants him to leave her alone, she will. She decides to stay with them and we close it out with them laying side by side in an embrace.
Well! Less action and more back story. A very good episode, I thought. I think it is interesting Ben doesn’t have any patients who aren’t either dead already, homicidal maniacs or future victims. Is he the darkness??
Thanks for joining me!
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