There comes a time every few years when a series rolls around that sets up a web of mysteries and secrets that leave you more or less banging your head against a wall. We are attracted to these stories regardless of how revealing they ultimately are because they are essentially a perpetual cliffhanger. An addicting drug that leaves you craving for more.
Thankfully, not all episodes need to create more questions. This week’s instillment of “American Horror Story” did just the opposite, giving us juicy bits of sweet closure to questions we have been asking since the pilot.
In the last episode, the Harmon’s had rushed home after getting a distress call from their daughter. When they got there, she was missing, and we were left to believe that she had been brutalized by one of the many things that night that had the intention of hurting her. As it turns out, she had followed up on her date with Tate (there was no way around that guys), and had simply left the house on her own. Rather than pulling the TV trick where everyone is looking for the runaway kid and assuming the worst, Violet is responsible and calls her mom. She of course, doesn’t say she is with Tate, but lets her know that she is spending time with friends and that she is safe. Well it’s good that she is half honest anyway.
As I said, a few probing questions were answered this week, including whether or not the increasingly lovable Tate was the same Gimp that had essentially raped and impregnated Vivian. Tate fans can breathe a sign of relief, because the answer appears to be no; seeing as he was throwing rocks at her window when everyone’s favorite leather bound creep was reaching for Violet’s legs. I’ll admit, I am a bit smitten with the little brat and his impossible crush on Violet. I always look forward to his scenes the most because they tend to be the most revealing, both in terms of character and story development.
The two settle on the beach where Tate talks about his high school experience and how horrible it was. Coincidentally, his monologue is followed up by a group of high school students who ambush the couple and appear to know Tate. Hints seemed to suggest that they hold a grudge against him, and Violet catches onto that pretty fast.
Oh yeah. Then there was that little thing where Ben’s dead ex lover came to the door, leaving Ben a little frazzled. By a little frazzled I mean ready to hunt down Larry to beat him repetitively for answers. Instead of the extortion conspiracy he was expecting to hear, he gets a bunch of nonsense dribble about ghosts and haunts. I mean, who believes that sort of stuff after weeks of being stalked and hunted by a bunch of dead people? Who?
Hayden is far from done with Ben, and that means she is far from done with Vivian. The crazy lovestruck ghost seems to have a deep desire to break the pair up even in death, calling Vivian and floating around the house leaving signs of her being there. Ben tracks her down in the basement and gets a full dose of her crazy before getting beat in the back of the head by Larry’s shovel. If the two were’ working together before, they most certainly are now, and something tells me that extortion is the least of their concerns.
The ghosts are all in an uproar with Hayden leading the charge, playing the goriest version of hide and seek that the Fox censors will allow. When Vivian finally catches up to her, Hayden reveals the secret of the pregnancy and comes at her with a piece of broken glass.
Ben is unconscious in the basement. When he comes to, Nora is standing over his body encouraging him to save his family. She unties him and tells him to “Save the baby”. Her characterization is a little confusing, because it seems like she was obviously not a terribly sane or “good” person in life, yet she seems quite concerned about making sure that Ben’s family is safe. Once he is untied, he rushes up to Hayden, who is trying to cut the baby out of Vivian. Ben is able to diffuse the situation just time for the cops to arrive…but how do you arrest a ghost anyway? The answer is you don’t.
Violet confronts the teens stalking Tate, whom at this point are best assumed to be ghosts of people that Tate has either killed or contributed to their deaths. Tate manages to lure them away before they get violent, and the group chases him down to a park and asks him why he killed them. At first, you get the assumption that he is being coy, but as things take a turn for the worse, we realize that he really doesn’t have a clue who these people are. The ghosts are upset and demand answers. They aren’t even interested in revenge, they just want to know why he killed them. As the ghosts push him, Tate begins to have the same flashbacks as we saw in episode one. Unlike the first time this sequence is shown, he is no longer proud and confident in what he is imagining, but horrified. One of the ghosts then tells him that they should be “34 years old” by now. It is left up to question whether Tate even realizes that he is dead and or stuck in a time loop. The fact that any of this had even transpired seems completely over his head. The ghosts leave Tate in tears, disappointed but still not seeking revenge.
Violet is taken to Constance’s house. While I wouldn’t normal even suggest this, it is probably one of the safest places around right now. It is then that she learns about Addy’s death, as well as the fact that Constance has other children, and one of them is Tate. It was a popular theory, but now that it is set into motion, his behavior makes a lot more sense. Why Tate was involved with Constance in the beginning of the series, why he is so unhinged, and why he is so attracted to the Harmon’s house. Yes, apparently it runs in the family.
Though Constance had been pretty hostile towards Violet in the past, she was actually quite civil with her through all of this, and seemed supportive of Tate’s feelings for her. Her only wish was that Violet not disclose to Tate that Addy had died because he is fragile and wouldn’t be able to handle the news.
But what is the deal with this family, and why is the only time we have seen them together when they were standing over a dead body? Ben would have realized that Tate was Constance’s when he was treating him. The bills had to go somewhere. It could be scratchy Glee style writing, but so far, “American Horror Story” has actually done a pretty great job tying up loose ends, so there is probably a lot more to it that we realize.
As morning breaks, Ben begins to park, realizing that this is likely the nail in the coffin for Vivian. He kisses her on the forehead before he walks out the door, but we probably haven’t seen the last of him by a long shot.
I would go so far as to say that this episode has been the most rewarding on yet. Rather than introducing new characters, 1×5 did the exact opposite of the standing formula, utilizing and developing the characters that they had. Instead of a million plot lines running at once, they really only focused on two, with that small sprinkle of Constance’s reaction to Abby near the end. I had initially been attracted to this show because of how unique it was, but this episode gave it another reason to shine. For the first time, It feels like these characters are sympathetic instead of being chess pieces to move the story along. Being able to see the weakness in characters like Constance and Tate managed to humanize them and make them relatable and interesting instead of creepy, looming crazy people. Now that the Halloween season is over, perhaps Ryan Murphy is looking to take a more character based and dramatic tone to the show.
– It is possible that Constance is not a ghost and just has a good relationship with them. Addy dying broke her heart, and Addy HAS been aging and is was taken care of by somebody. Perhaps the only ghost in that family is Tate.
– Most of the ghosts have their death wounds, but so far, Chad and Tate do not.
– These ghosts are walking around all over the place able to interact with anybody they want. If it’s that easy, why isn’t the entire world seeing dead people?