In which Jen Chaney and Web producer/“True Blood” recapper Paul Williams join forces in their weekly attempt to figure out what the heck is happening on “American Horror Story.”
This week on “American Horror Story,” we meet another one of Constance’s children, Bo, who is severely disfigured and disabled and lives chained in the Murder House attic until Larry smothers him in 1994, providing our murder flashback of the week.
What’s that? you say. Larry would have been in jail in 1994. Well, it turns out Larry has been less than completely honest about himself.
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Through some flashbacks and exposition by Ben Harmon, whose lack of patients gives him plenty of time to do research, we learned that Larry lived next door to Constance in the early ’90s and fell in love with her. When he broke the bad news to Mrs. Larry, she responded by calmly walking upstairs and setting their children’s room on fire. Larry spent the next several years in a burn ward and then a mental institution. That is, assuming Ben’s information is accurate. We’re pretty sure he found it by using Roundsearch, though, so yeah, rock-solid stuff.
In other news broken during the episode called “Open House,” the Harmons have a prospective buyer for the house, one whose pants were quite literally charmed off by Moira, who had hoped he’d build a swimming pool and unearth her mortal remains from the backyard. But when Constance told her that the Armenian gentleman’s real plan was to bulldoze the place, the three amigos — Constance, Moira and Larry — teamed up to off him.
Vivien and Marcie went on the Murder House tour and found out the full story about the house’s first owners, Nora and Charles Montgomery. Turns out Dr. Montgomery succeeded in reviving their dead, dismembered child (victory!) but it wasn’t so into nursing (uh-oh). A horrified Nora failed to kill it by stabbing it with a letter opener, and instead had to make do by shooting Charles and herself in the head.
Oh, and Viv’s amnio results showed no sign of hooves. But she’s having twins. Surprise!
On to the questions.
1. Why did Larry lie about killing his family?
Jen: As Larry put it: “They’re not lies. They did die in that house.” In his admittedly twisted mind, Larry feels responsible for the deaths of his daughters and wife. So even though he didn’t literally light the match, he feels he did indirectly. So the previous flashback was misleading, but in his mind, not a lie.
Also, when he said he needs the house because “it’s the only place I have a chance to be happy again with her,” I assumed he was referring to Constance. That is supported by the fact that later in the episode he professed his feelings to the wonder that is Jessica Lange. But is it possible he meant Mrs. Larry, too? Because if his family perished in the house, they must be ghosts there, too, which also explains why he keeps hanging around there.
Paul: I took it he meant Constance. How are we supposed to reconcile his desire to save the house for her with him dousing it with gasoline on Halloween? Is Larry at war with himself or was that just inconsistent storytelling?
Props to Denis O’Hare, who often walks the line between being creepy and chewing on scenery. I thought he was effectively creepy this episode, especially while fondling the fireplace.
2. Why was Bo chained in the attic?
Jen: We know that Bo is Constance’s son. We also know he was still chained in the attic after Constance had moved next door. I am assuming Constance seduced Larry so that he would be more inclined to continue caring for Bo — who probably did not want to leave the house, since I am guessing the spirits of other dead siblings remain there. He stayed in the attic, perhaps, so Mrs. Larry would not know what was going on. Although it seems like the kind of thing one might pick up on fairly quickly.
Paul: I think this episode was just an homage to “The Goonies.” You have Bo as Sloth. You have the plucky gang trying to keep their house from being sold and torn down. We just need Anne Ramsey and the Truffle Shuffle and it’s all good.
Since Larry killed Bo in 1994, I think we can assume that Larry moved in after Tate’s shooting spree. I might be reading too much into this, but the football player and the cheerleader seemed to indicate that the shootings took place in the fall of 1994. If that’s the case, Constance sure moves quickly.
3. Why does Tate hate Constance?
Jen: Well, let’s see. She wasn’t very nice to Adelaide, who Tate loved dearly. She may or may not also have kept Bo chained in the attic. (Not sure if that was purely a post-Larry development or not.) And I am guessing she may have slept around a little, which is generally not becoming behavior in a mother. Of course, there could be other reasons, too. These are really starter reasons.
Paul: Also entirely possible that the ghost of Moira or his father’s ghosts told him that Constance was responsible for shooting them, which I suspect would not have gone over well, though it might have laid the foundation for his future approach to problem-solving.
4. We can consider gun-totin’, tour-goin’ Marcie a non-ghost now, right?
Jen: While I am inclined not to assume anything about this show — is it really called “American Horror Story” or is this actually just “Extreme Home Makeover” in disguise? — I am fairly sure Marcie is real. My only rationale for this is that ghosts can’t enter houses in the MLS.
Paul: Agreed, I think Marcie is still among the living.
5. What was up with the odd, out-of-place dialogue between Tate and Violet?
Paul: Seriously, did Tate ask her if she believed in ghosts?
Jen: Seriously, he did. I guess the writers wanted to clearly establish that Tate has not come to terms with his spectral status. That, or he was asking that question for reasons that relate to our Question No. 6.
Paul: Thank you! That actually makes sense to me. Between that line, his behavior at his session with Ben and his comment to Violet about exploring the house after his sessions, I was wondering if this episode was shot before the last one and they were just shown out of order.
6.What does it mean that Violet is “evolved”?
Jen: Tate told Violet she was “evolved,” which meant she could see all the spirits in the house but that they also would go away if she told them to do so. This ties back into my theory that Adelaide’s spirit somehow entered Violet, embuing Vi with the same capacity to communicate with spirits that Constance’s daughter possessed. It also explains why Tate is so protective of her but in a way that, since Addie’s death, has seemed less romantic in nature. I could be wrong about that, but I am sticking with that theory.
Paul: Well she hasn’t evolved to the point that I didn’t feel the need to yell, “DON’T GO IN THE ATTIC!” Really, Violet? Really?
7. It seems — key word seems — that Larry is not a ghost or figment of Ben’s imagination, given that we’ve now seen his apartment. But should we revisit our assumption that Constance is a mortal being?
Jen: In keeping with my refusal to assume anything, I just want to raise this possibility. Evidence that Constance is not a ghost: She has a hot young boyfriend. She leaves the premises of her home and Murder House and speaks to other people. Evidence that she could be: She continues to breeze into the Harmons’ house despite the fact that the place is rigged up with a hardcore security system that should prevent her from just strolling in to chat with her son or orchestrate suffocations of potential homebuyers. And she’s still very tied to the property — I know, the ghosts of her entire family are trapped here. And that could explain it. Again, just raising it.
Paul: Yeah, I think you can discount her fling with Travis, who could be a ghost himself, for all we know. But her trip to give the Armenian a lesson from the Southern Murderess’s Historical Society handbook seems to mean she’s still alive. Of course, I think there’s about a 95 percent chance that those involved with the show aren’t really paying attention to having a consistent internal logic, so your mileage may vary.
8. Does the fact we heard an urban legend version of the Montgomery story from the tour guide make it less reliable?
Jen: Excellent question. That’s quite possible. I am sure there are elements to the story we still don’t know. I also assume — hope? — we get to see the actual baby before season’s end. I know, I’m a sicko, but I wanted a full look at that sewn-together little infant.
Paul: Oh, they have to draw that out a little longer. Plus one of the first rules of horror is that your imagination is worse than whatever they can show you.
I found it a little far-fetched that the tour guide wouldn’t mention that notorious high school shooter Tate lived at the house too. Isn’t it?
Jen: Great point. Seems like that story would have come up on the tour. Maybe Constance threatened to sue if her privacy was invaded by having that story spread?
9. Do the Harmons really live so close to Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo in Brentwood?
Jen: The Murder House tour stopped outside Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo to recount the O.J. story. Then it seemed like the tour drove a block down to get to the Harmons. If Ben winds up fleeing a scene in a Bronco at some point, don’t say we haven’t been warned.
Paul: Larry will be driving, on the phone with the cops. “This is Larry! You know who this is!”
10. Twins? What are we to make of this?
Jen: My initial thought is that one is Ben’s and the other is Rubber Man’s. Which will make Vivien increasingly bipolar during her pregnancy, a notion supported by the preview of next week’s episode. Man, it’s hard to raise just one baby. But one regular one and one demon one is just a nightmare. They never cover that situation in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Paul: Next the Emperor will seduce Ben to the Dark Side, he’s going to kill all the padawans, etc.
It does set up some interesting opportunities. They could be told that one of the babies died during birth, when in fact the creepy Dr. Hill gave it to Constance. We could have one “normal” one ... not (like with Tate/Bo). In fact, if they go that way, I’m going to call it: The “normal” one will turn out to be the demonic child.
Jen: Or the twins could be ... the reincarnated Weasley twins. Oh my God!!
What did you think of “Open House”? Share your thoughts in the comments.