We're now about halfway through American Horror Story's debut season and thankfully things are picking up. Last week's Halloween conclusion was the best episode yet and this week more or less kept up the quality; surprisingly, they didn't try to match or outdo the insanity, instead opting for a quieter (by this show's standards, at least) episode that succeded on some fronts and failed miserably on others.
Finally, One Of The Harmons Wakes Up And Smells The Undead Stench
"Piggy, Piggy" follows up on what we started to uncover about Tate (Evan Peters) last week, opening with the most disturbing (successfully so) scene that the series has attempted yet: Tate's high school rampage in 1994. All the Westfield ghosts from last week are in attendance as they fearfully, and futilely, hide from him in the library before getting systematically murdered. Cue the police kicking down his and Constance's (Jessica Lange) door, that of the Murder House. As one might assume, given his ghost status, he doesn't go quietly.
Violet (Taissa Farmiga) proves that she's the smartest member of the Harmon family by finally exhibiting some common sense and connecting the dots. Constance is conveniently right on hand to guide her through the hard truth: Tate wasn't acting brand new with the Westfield ghosts; he really doesn't remember. Apparently since his death Constance has been working with a medium, Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson), to try and ease Tate through his trauma so he can pass on.
Understandably, this is way too much for Violet to process, and with her already established history of wrist-cutting, the knowledge that her boyfriend is an undead mass murderer sends her over the edge. Cameo appearances from Doctor Charles (Matt Ross), the nurse, the twins and the recently slaughtered home invaders don't help, either. While her oblivious parents hash out their marital problems (more on that later), Violet fantasizes about suicide and then almost accomplishes it with some pills courtesy of the coke-fiend Fang Baby victim, now Revelations-quoting bully from the pilot. Tate intervenes, though, and his proclamation of love for her overpowers Violet's better judgement and she unwisely resumes their romance.
Vivien Eats Brains...Seriously
Connie Britton is a consistent source of great acting on a show that's often over-the-top, but that doesn't make her character any less one-dimensional and silly. Seriously, just eating everything Constance and Moira (Frances Conroy) throw at her, no questions asked? Pancreas? Brains! That's a pretty hard contrivance to swallow, no pun intended.
What's way more interesting is the new development about her and Rubber Man's seed. She's been having freaky, Rosemary's Baby-esque dreams, and the nurse from Halloween returns to confirm what we already knew: She saw some hellified shit on that ultrasound. Hooves, son. We can't wait for the birth.
It was also great to see some subtler influences for once. Anyone can draw parallels to countless other horror movie demon-spawn stories, but it was refreshing that we weren't beaten over the head with say, the Rosemary's Baby score. In other news, Morris Chestnut's security guard is coming by to check on every little bump and creak Viv hears and she doesn't seem to mind one bit. You mad, Ben?
Beware The Incredibly Lame Swine
Ben (Dylan McDermott) is still in the dog house this week, but now with Hayden finally gone he has nothing better to do than contend with the Pig Man. Yes, you read that correctly, and it was absolutely as stupid as it sounds. It started promisingly enough, though. This week's patient is Derek (What's good, Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family fame?) who has a deadly fear of urban legends. Rather then spin something fresh out of the plethora of established legends, AHS gives us the Pig Man, which is basically Bloody Mary in a pig-face mask.
You can get a lot of mileage out of someone with a fear of ghosts being treated in a house that's traffic-jammed full of them, and there was that fun moment in the Murder House bathroom where Derek saw the nun (at least we think) in the tub. But then the episode ended with him pulling back his own shower curtains to see a burglar randomly there, who proceeded to shoot him dead. We were happy that the show opted for a more nuanced, breather episode after last week's Halloween madness, but if this pointlessness is the best they can do with filler, then just bring back the Rubber Man, guys.
Questions Still Left Unanswered
-- Tate's Colombine spree was a decade after Constance murked her husband and Moira. How did she get away with that?
-- Where is Ben staying?
-- So just what does Tate know about his current state? He's salty towards his mother, in league with her and Moira about gaming the Harmons, and knows about Fang Baby. Does he know that he's a ghost and just can't remember the how and why?
-- There was a nice scene between Constance and Billie Dean, speaking on behalf of Addy, that brought that story some closure. Will we see Addy again?
-- Morris Chestnut thinks that Hayden just opened the door and rolled out without him noticing?! C'mon, son.