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.”
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would be like to have Rob Zombie direct a CW teen drama, then this week’s “American Horror Story” is for you.
We got glimpses of the horrendous, Columbine-esque school shooting committed by Tate Langdon; more insight into Violet’s rapidly deteriorating sense of emotional equilibrium; and an inordinate number of references to both pigs and pork products.
Also, Eric Stonestreet guest starred this week as a patient of Ben’s with a fear of the Piggy Man, a killer who wears a pig mask, otherwise known as that dude Kramer kept seeing in the hospital in this episode of “Seinfeld. Cam’s presence on “American Horror Story,” almost compensated for the fact that the CMAs bumped “Modern Family” off the Wednesday schedule this week. Almost.
As usual, we have several questions about what happened on “American Horror Story” this week. Ten, to be specific. And we’re going to tackle them together now. So please — pull up a chair, pass the offal and let’s do this.
More “American Horror Story”:
Why didn’t Violet do an Internet search on Tate a long time ago?
Jen: In last week’s episode, I was willing to buy that Violet might not have known about the Westfield High shootings. That happened in 1994 — hey, my estimation of the year turned out to be correct after all — and Violet was either not alive or just born that year. (If she was born in the same year that Tate committed his crime, that could be a significant detail.)
But it is odd that she would never have Googled — or rather, “Roundsearched,” as that seems to be her search engine of choice — Tate. As a young girl in love, it seems to me she might have engaged in some attempts to track down her new boyfriend on Facebook, or perhaps to add him to her circle of friends via Roundsearch Plus or something. Is it just me? I don’t know, Paul, maybe we’ll have to R-chat about this later so we can debate it further. (You know, R-chat ... where the R stands fr Roundsearch.)
Paul: Sorry Jen, Roundsearch is Bing to Finder Spyder’s Google. Violet is just showing how alternative she is by using it.
Also, she’s been a busy kid since she moved to L.A. Home invasions, fights at school, mutant ghost baby in the basement, making over the disabled girl next door who hides under her bed, reading Camus — who has the time to research their creepy new boyfriend?
I will say that the classic dime-store psychoanalysis that deep down she knew something was wrong and didn’t want it confirmed, especially as Tate was really the only good thing to happen to her since the move, is certainly a possibility.
So why did Tate kill all those kids?
Paul: If you believe the librarian Tate shot who survived, sometimes stuff just happens.
The name of the episode, I assume, is a Manson family reference, as is Tate’s name — ie., Sharon Tate. And the murders echo the random nature of Manson’s killings. One of the show’s themes, to me at least, has been that the real-life American Horror Story is that sometimes terrible things happen, like adultery and miscarriage, and there’s no supernatural explanation or divine reason for them, even if we want one.
We see that, sorta, with what happened to Ben’s latest patient too.
It seems that the show runners want us to fall into one camp or another though — either things just happen, or the house, like the Overlook Hotel, preys on the fears of the weak and the frightened.
Jen: There may be something to the notion that the house made him do it. Obviously Tate had some issues, and it seems that anyone who resides in that house in a fragile emotional state opens themself up to its forces. If you’re of a steelier constitution — like a Constance or an Addie — you may get a little weird, but you’re not necessarily going to lose your mind and start killing people.
Paul: Except that Constance did start killing people. Which must have taken a toll on Tate as he grew up, on some level.
Why are Constance and Moira feeding Vivien all these pig parts?
Jen: Before I attempt to answer that, can I just say how surprised I was that Vivien ate that brain Moira served to her? Most pregnant women avoid soft cheeses; deciding to fork some good, old-fashioned raw brain into one’s mouth would generally be frowned upon, even if the brain does have a bay leaf on it.
But at this point, I think our Vivien is starting to be motivated by whatever is growing inside her — some call it a baby, traumatized ultrasound technicians call it The Beast — and she has to satisfy its appetites.
As for why Constance and Moira are giving her such, um, delicacies — I think they’re working at cross-purposes. Which is hard to believe since those two are usually so on the same page. We’ll talk about Constance in a bit, but as for Moira? I think she’s giving Vivien the bloody meat uncooked because she doesn’t want that baby to be born, either out of spite toward Constance or because she fears the ramifications of the child/thing’s arrival.
Paul: First, as you well know, eating brains is the new black.
I didn’t get the same vibe that Moira and Constance had opposing goals. I don’t think Moira has free will enough to oppose what the House wants. Ghost Young Moira, for instance, is much more evil than the actual Young Moira we saw in the flashback. Whether or not that means Older Ghost Moira is as influenced as Ghost Young Moira or not is an open question, I admit. (And it goes to show the craziness of this program that I actually just wrote that sentence.)
Do Constance and Billie, the medium, really only want Violet’s help in getting Tate to crossover?
Jen: No. Not at all. Constance said rather pointedly after her generous gift of thymus glands and pork pancreas that “We need that baby.” My guess is that she wants to somehow channel Tate’s spirit into the infant, and then take the baby so she can have a second chance to raise the boy. I also want to note Moira’s comment about how awful it is for a man to cheat on his wife while she’s pregnant. That made me think Constance was with child when she shot her husband and Moira — she wouldn’t have been carrying Tate (the years don’t synch up) but like Vivien, she may have become pregnant with an unusual child while living in that house.
Paul: Oh, I like this! But how does that jibe with the appearance of Our Dark Fetal Overlord? Does Constance not know about that, or would infusing Tate’s spirit somehow neutralize the whole horns-and-cloven-feet situation?
I wonder if it’s a more general arrangement where the birth removes her debt to the House. I had also suspected that she was going to use Violet (still a virgin, remember) as some kind of sacrifice during the delivery, but I’m not sure if that fits with Constance’s line about Violet trusting them.
Is the Piggy Man real?
Jen: I think the story Eric Stonestreet’s character, Derek, told was just a ghost story. But the notion that someone in the “American Horror Story” realm might have worn a pig mask and done some bad things — possibly Charles Montgomery — isn’t out of the realm for me.
Paul: I said his name into the bathroom mirror while eating a plate of ribs last night, so I think we’re safe.
Seriously, what did Angie see on the ultrasound? Also, why is Dr. Hill so darn chipper?
Jen: Re: Dr. Hill, I think she’s going to get a lot less chipper when she tries to analyze the results of Viviem’s amnio. That tests for spina bifida, but how does it do in terms of assessing the child’s level of satanic beastliness? Oh, she’ll find out.
As for Angie, I believe she saw exactly what she thought she saw: a beast. She also mentioned hooves. Which for some reason — I’m not sure since absolutely no one in this episode mentioned anything pork-related — made me think: pig.
Paul: Clearly this is all a just a shoutout to the mad ham cooking skillz of one Ben Linus.
I think Dr. Hill, like the doctors in “Rosemary’s Baby,” is in on it somehow. It would not surprise me to find out she lived at the House, or had relative who did.
Why did Billie say that Addie had not made it to the lawn?
Jen: The medium — during a scene that actually made me a little teary — told Constance that Addie said she was glad she didn’t make it to the lawn because she doesn’t want to stay in the house with Tate. Either Billie is full of it — which is quite possible — or maybe Addie’s spirit had already left her before Constance could get her over there. But that piece of information certainly alarmed Constance.
I also wonder if it’s possible that Addie’s spirit somehow got into Violet, which is something that Addie might not realize? It was interesting Tate said he could sense something different about Violet. And her sudden ability to see every ghost in the joint suggests an ability to commune with spirits that Violet didn’t fully have before.
Paul: I’ve been trying to avoid outside commentary and analysis of the show, but I did see Ryan Murphy tell EW that he didn’t think Addie made it to the lawn.
Why did Ben refer to Violet as Vivien?
Jen: While hugging his daughter, Ben murmured “Vivien, I have you.” Which was creepy. And further proof that he’s going crazy. As for a more descriptive “why” than that, I am not sure I have one. I’m stilll trying to figure out why the only therapeutic advice Ben had for Derek, a man afraid he’s going to die after looking in a mirror, was to go home and shave.
Paul: Oh, not half as creepy as Violet saying the darkness has her, and Ben saying “no, I have you,” since Ben is totally teh darkness at the moment.
Frankly, I think Ben could be forgiven for being even more off his game than usual after the complete and utter evisceration that Vivien gave him in the kitchen, which was a triumph of awesomeness on her part and a great scene for Connie Britton. I mean, that was the harshest bloodletting in this episode.
Who is Mary and what do her last words to Violet mean?
Jen: I assumed Mary was Violet’s grandmother, purely because of her age. The “they don’t understood you” could refer to her parents. I think that moment was more significant to Violet for what it signified emotionally: that someone connected with her and understood her suffering. For that private moment to come back again, at a moment when she’s clearly on the mental brink, was too much for her to bear.
Paul: Kind of an odd choice of last words though, no? “Hey kid, before I go, one more thing — your parents suck.”
On the other hand, if that was Ben’s mom, it might explain some of his troubled childhood.
Wait, we’re already at the tenth question and we haven’t talked about all that Book of Revelations stuff — do we still have time to do that?
Jen: Unfortunately, no. My brain can’t take a heavy Biblical conversation right now, but I will say the important, obvious thing: that what’s going on with the Harmons is either leading up to a mini- or major-apocalypse.
Paul: Agreed — that whole scene will probably require its own post, help from our friends at the On Faith blog, some holy water and incense and advice from Max Von Sydow to properly digest.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Raise your own questions and answers — or argue with what we’ve posited here — by posting a comment.