TV: American Horror Story 1.2

Three scary TV shows are premiering this month: Bedlam (Saturdays on BBC America starting 10/1), American Horror Story (Wednesdays on FX starting 10/5) and season two of The Walking Dead (Sundays on AMC starting 10/16). Every week I’ll post recaps shortly after each new episode airs. They’ll be a little different than my movie posts. I’m assuming anyone who’s reading the recap has already seen the episode or isn’t planning to watch. That is to say, *SPOILERS AHEAD.*

Just like last week, the second episode of American Horror Story begins in the past. This time it’s swinging 1968, when the house served as a sorority for nursing students.

Two girls stay home while everyone else heads to a Doors concert (in case you didn’t realize doors are important symbols in haunted house stories). They unwisely open the front door (see?) for an injured stranger and invite him in. His wounds turn out to be fake. The voices in his head urging him to kill, however, are very, very real.

Back to the future! Er, present! Ben is having another session with Taint, who graphically describes his hormonal impulses toward Ben’s daughter, Violet. Ben is a really shitty therapist. Not only does he bang his psychology students and leave his phone on during sessions, he gets pissed at Taint for telling the truth about his feelings. Taint says jerking off makes his visions of killing people go away, but Ben selfishly fixates on the object of said jerking. If I were Ben, I’d get this kid a subscription to Hustler and be done with it.

Do I want to split one? No, I do not.

We get a brief conversation between Violet and her disfigured former tormentor, whose hair is now turning white from the shock of her encounter in the basement. She thinks she saw the devil down there. Vi tries to sell her on a Taint-in-a-mask story she clearly doesn’t believe herself. As if to confirm her fears, Taint magically appears in the house in the middle of the night to watch Violet as she sleeps. The alarm goes off and Ben goes to investigate. Kudos to Viv for making herself useful instead of hiding in the bedroom. Ben never finds Taint, but he does find Addy playing in the basement. He doesn’t stick around long enough to see the ball she rolled across the room come back on its own. Yipe!

After all that we finally get back to Connie, who is cheerfully baking and dancing around her kitchen to smooth jazz. She’s such a charming, classy old gal, I can’t wait to see what sick shit she has up her sleeve today. Sure enough, she’s making extreme laxative cupcakes (the kind that can cause internal bleeding, she says) and just for good measure she has Addy spit in the batter. The brownies are for Violet, though I can’t recall what she did to piss Connie off. Later Connie tells Viv she can smell the pregnant on her so maybe Connie’s getting back at Viv for grabbing Addy but doesn’t want to hurt the baby. Either way I’m ready for some good, old-fashioned potty humor. Before Connie goes she mentions that her own womb is cursed. She’s had four children, all somehow afflicted, except for one who was “the model of physical perfection” until she lost him to “other things”. I wonder if that’ll be important.

This is appropriate.

Turns out those calls Ben kept getting were from his former mistress, Hayden, who reveals that she, too, is prego. Ben’s sperm cannot be denied. With a little convincing from the burned man, Ben decides the best course of action is to travel to Boston to support Hayden during her abortion and lie to his wife about it. Sounds awful but I dare you to come up with a better plan. There’s a funny little exchange here where Mr. Crispy, who is fast becoming one of the funnier pieces of the show, says it’s hard to avoid judging Ben. Even though he burned his entire family alive, he explains, at least he never cheated.

While Ben is away his newest patient, who came to him complaining of a recurring dream about being cut in half, shows up with some friends to reenact the murders from the opening scene with Viv and Vi as the victims. They set about recreating the crime scene and out of nowhere comes Taint, who instructs Violet to get the assailants into the basement. Addy shows up too but when she goes to Connie for help, Connie locks her in a mirrored punishment room where she proceeds to freak the fuck out. Connie does not like to be disturbed when entertaining shirtless man whores in her boudoir. Or is it possible this is that fourth child she mentioned earlier? She did refer to him as a model of physical perfection, and this half-naked Fabio asks her if she thinks he’s good-looking enough to be a model. That’s…interesting.

Moira is gonna be PISSED.

Back at the house one of the intruders eats the dosed cupcake and immediately gets all shitty. Just as she hauls herself off the pot, here comes Taint with an ax to the stomach. Even if I’ll never own a pet unicorn, I’m glad to see some dreams come true. Viv and Vi escape after luring the other two murder aficionados to the basement on a pretty thin pretext. The home invaders are summarily killed to death by the ghosts of the slain nurses. That basement seems to be kind of a supernatural garbage disposal for people you don’t want anymore.

My favorite moment is at the abortion clinic in Boston. Ben promised his jump-off he wouldn’t take any calls during her time of need. When he finally checks his phone, we get a big instrumental hit and a forced-perspective zoom as he discovers thirteen missed calls. It’s pretty startling because everyone can relate to the stomach-dropping feeling of finding multiple missed calls from the same person over a short period of time.

Goddamnit, stop being mean to Addy!

While Viv and Vi are running for help, Taint, Connie and old Moira stand over the intruders’ corpses. Connie asks if Taint was responsible, but he says it was “them”. He adds, “We have to get rid of the bodies if you want him to keep treating me.” To which old Moira replies, “You get the shovel, I’ll get the bleach.” These three obviously go way back and each has a lot going on beneath the surface. Is it wrong to hope Connie also has a young, sexpot version of herself hiding in there somewhere?

Ben gets back, apologizing profusely for his absence during the crisis. Viv calmly lays down the ultimatum I was hoping for: “We’re selling this house.” Good luck with that.

Um...not it.

Overall I enjoyed this episode more than the first one, though a few more scenes of young Moira wouldn’t have been unwelcome. The burned guy has a couple of great jokes, and of course Connie is her usual politically incorrect self. Ben’s weepy struggle with his unfaithfulness remains annoying as shit and as a psychiatrist he makes Dr. Phil look like Sigmund Freud. The jury’s still out on Viv, Vi and Taint.

But in stories like this I often find I don’t give two shits about what happens to the main characters. I’m always more interested in the origin of the paranormal forces they’re facing. We’re inching toward a more complete history of the house, but I expect we’ll never get a comprehensive timeline. The nursing students are the oldest deaths we’ve seen so far, followed by Russell Edgington (or whatever the burned man’s name is) torching his family a few years later. Addy and the dead redheads were there in 1978, but let’s not forget by that time someone was already canning baby heads in the basement. Not much of what happened after that has been revealed, except that the last owners – the gay couple – died shortly before Ben and family moved in.

What’s next?

3 Responses to “TV: American Horror Story 1.2”

  1. I’m with you on rooting for Viv to sell (or otherwise get free of) the house. We’re only 2 episodes in and even by haunted house movie standards, it’s pretty tough to find any justification for her to stay in this particular house….and she doesn’t even know she’s got a rubber fetus growing inside of her yet! If she didn’t at least suggest they move someplace safer – like say, the projects – I was ready to call a lazy writer foul and give up on this show. (Personally I’d torch the f**ker and collect the insurance money – Ben’s already playing with fire, so you’re halfway there!)

    But I’m in for at least one more episode. I’ve gotta see that rubber baby (buggy bumpers?) birth…I’m already reminded of the 80s “V” alien lizard baby.

    • Yeah I’m willing to reserve judgment until I see what methods Connie and co. employ to keep the family in the neighborhood. I’m really hoping Viv gives birth to a tiny Michelin Man.

  2. […] TV: American Horror Story 1.2 – This house is for sale. […]

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