American Horror Story: Dawn Heals Nothing

You know, when FX's nonsensical hour-long fever-dream nightmare montage called American Horror Story first premiered, I had no idea there would come a day when I would genuinely like it, or, more shockingly, be moved by it. But Wednesday's episode, "Halloween, Pt. 2," was just about as solid an hour TV as I can hope to experience every week. Now, nobody's saying American Horror Story is on par with something as unimpeachably great as Breaking Bad, but fortunately it's aiming to be something completely different. Growing less and less ludicrous by the week, this show has instead become an addictive exercise in dream logic and is in many ways just as upsetting, stressful, and fascinating as AMC's highfalutin' crown jewels. Believe me, I am just as shocked to be putting these opinions into writing as anyone else. Don't make me regret this, Ryan Murphy!

This week's harrowing, moving, and even cohesive episode picked up after last week's cliffhanger, when Ben and Vivien returned from a bizarre sonogram session to find Violet missing and an undead Hayden pounding on the door. Well, it turned out Violet hadn't been taken by the lurking gimp ghost and was instead whisked away to the beach for a romantic Halloween makeout session with Creepy Man Tate. Like a true goth heartthrob, he'd spray-painted a rose black for her and everything!

Back at the house, Hayden quickly disappeared, leaving Ben jittery and an unaware Vivien focused on (1) taking a bath and (2) divorcing Ben, in that order. This left Ben with some time to confront Burnt-Face Larry in the back yard, and by "confront" I mean "hit in the face with a shovel." For some reason Ben assumed that Hayden's reappearance was all part of some kind of scheme Larry was using to con Ben? Not sure. It involved several preposterous leaps of logic that American Horror Story would prefer we didn't dwell on. (Ben certainly didn't.) To Larry's credit, he DID laugh in Ben's face over Ben's refusal to face the supernatural reality of things... right before he begged Ben to kill him then and there "so I can come back and haunt you too." Ben apparently just thought that was a metaphor or something.

Then, in the episode's most amazing subplot, Tate and Violet were confronted by a handful of angry teens sporting highly realistic-looking gunshot wounds (not to mention some recognizable faces: Dexter's Brando Eaton, Awkward.'s Ashley Rickards, and Caprica's Alessandra Torresani). Now, we were already fully aware of Tate's school-shooting "fantasies," and it was also safe to say by this point we knew that Tate was definitely a ghost. So the creeping dread that these angry teens were in fact Tate's victims wasn't as surprising as it was just generally upsetting. Because it was Halloween, these spirits were free to roam and they literally chased Tate down in order to shout at him about what he'd done to them. These kids were angry, hurt, and confused about their fates and merely wanted to know WHY he'd done what he'd done? These scenes just skirted the edge of tastelessness (the subject of school shootings probably isn't the classiest thing to turn into a horror device), but they were surprisingly well-handled and easily as sad as they were terrifying. Also enlightening: One girl mentioned she'd be 34 today if it weren't for him, so now we have a better understanding of how long Tate's been dead (17 years or so).

The one bum note in this otherwise enthralling subplot was that Tate seemed to not remember the shooting and denied knowing who the kids were. It was understandable that he'd pretend to not know who they were when Violet was around, but then he continued to deny it when the dead kids had him all alone? They certainly seemed to remember the incident vividly (which included the infamous Columbine final question, "Do you believe in God?"), so at best Tate committed his crimes in a fugue state, but at worst he's lying. What is there to lie about? They're all ghosts! Anyway, this seemed like an emotional letdown from the intense scenes that led up to this point. Also, since all the important confrontations happened after Violet took off, she STILL doesn't seem to suspect Tate's dead (although his reluctance to let her feel under his shirt may have given her a clue that something's up).

The meat of the episode involved Hayden getting her revenge on Ben by attempting to inform Vivien that Ben had knocked her up too. At first this entailed creepy phone calls and messages written on foggy mirrors, but then Hayden enlisted Burnt-Face Larry to help her knock Ben out and tie him up in the basement so that Hayden could have her run of the place, which included setting bath towels on fire and also this delightful dog-related incident:

Don't worry, it ended up being tomatoes, but guess what wasn't fake? Hayden confronting Vivien with a shard of broken glass and offering to "cut the baby out" of her. Because the Murder House can't have that, it dispatched the original abortionist-homeowner's wife to untie Ben and let him intervene. However Ben is awful at intervening, so it was fortunate for everyone that the handsome new Security Company rep (Morris Chestnut) responded to Vivien's silent alarm and "arrested" Hayden just in time. (Fun fact: Ghosts can be arrested!) So then the immediate threat was over, but by that time all of the cats were out of all of the bags and it looked like Vivien and Ben were officially dunzo.

Meanwhile next door, a distraught Constance guilted Violet into joining her at the kitchen table for a cigarette and some reminiscing over the recently departed Adelaide. Call me a soft touch, but I started tearing up during her admiring descriptions of her daughter. It was a rare moment of decency for Constance. But then WHOOPS, that was nothing compared to the devastating montage of Constance crying while applying makeup to Adelaide's placid face in the morgue. If that wasn't one of the most insane and emotional images I've ever seen, I don't even know what to tell you. Give Jessica Lange all of the awards, Emmys, Golden Globes, Oscars, soccer trophies, ALL OF THE AWARDS. This was such good stuff, and then it was punctuated by the casual revelation that Tate IS HER SON.

Now, again, we more or less guessed this already, but the moment still packed a punch, particularly in that it finally explained Constance's bizarre connection to the Murder House and why she'd continue to live next door after having moved out so long ago (aside from her double homicide, that is). Also: I'm guessing that the reason Tate won't speak to Constance has to do with the manner in which he died in the house, post-shooting?

Then the sun rose, thus ending the Halloween-enabled big day out for the various housebound ghostfolk. In a chilling but poetic moment, they all trudged through the neighborhood, returning to their spectral prison, including the dead twin gingers (twingers?) and the perpetually bitter gay ghosts Patrick and Chad, plus Moira, the abortionist's wife, and even the teenage murder victims from the home invasion episode. Additionally, Hayden, riding in the backseat of the security guard's patrol car, mysteriously vanished just as he prepared to turn her over to real cops. Get back under that gazebo, young lady!

So all in all, what proved to be a particularly terrible Halloween for the Harmon family ended up being a fairly awesome episode for us. I don't know about you, but I'm already looking forward to NEXT Halloween. Hopefully by then Vivien will have remarried and adopted a better teen? Fingers-crossed!

QUESTIONS:

... How will the Murder House conspire to get Ben to stay?

... What DID the nurse see on that sonogram?

... Was Tate lying about remembering the shooting, or is there more to the story?

... Getting hit in the head with a shovel: Are you pro or con?

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"What DID the nurse see on that sonogram?"



I believe she saw the dead-born baby Vivien carried around for a few months, probably in some zombie-form !
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If Tate died 17 years ago (give or take) then why did Adaleide look the same age in that picture? Wouldn't she look much younger than him? Ps. I miss Addie. She was way too good of a character to die :( Also I enjoy all the great guest stars. Love seeing Zachary Quinto, Ashley Rickards and Albie (from Big Love).
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Wait so if Tate is a ghost who died 17 years ago why does the picture of him and Adeleide look like they do now. Since Adeleide isn't/wasn't a ghost why doesn't she look younger in the picture?

And is Constance a ghost too?
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Read KevinG87 below.
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Are we done with the "homages" to horror? Gremlins in the microwave, we heard Twisted Nerve again, crazy mistress in bathtub a la Fatal Attraction (okay thriller not exactly horror) and school shooting, Elephant (again, not horror but still a movie!)
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Great episode, the security guy will get nutts over the next few episodes and I had to laugh hard about the microwave scene. I think Tate knows hes dead but for how and why i, not so sure.

... It will have to try harder on his pregnant wife - by all means!

... maybe a baby in a gimp suit ?

... NO - he shutts down every single memory of that day - and when he remembers (or gets told his sisters death) he is going ballistic.

... according to Denis OHares character its quite a jolly fun for a chap - so: PRO !
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She wasn't pregnant in the first episode when she was being examined by the doctor? I thought she was, because I'm sitting here thinking: why do people think she was impregnated by the gimp?
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"You know, when FX's nonsensical hour-long fever-dream nightmare montage called American Horror Story first premiered, I had no idea there would come a day when I would genuinely like it, or, more shockingly, be moved by it."



Quite frankly, I'm surprised you understand it at all. Or that can even manage to use a remote, for that matter.

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Awesome episode and the writing is superb and the actors are perfect in their roles! I can't wait to find out the answers to the questions, and I'm pro shovel to the head. This show is definitely one of the better ones to come out in recent years.
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I loved the episode. I think this may keep me satisfied until Breaking Bad. The actors playing the dead teens were fantastic. They made the characters both moving and believable.
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To be honest, I'm not sure if Hayden was saying the truth... if the dog died in the house, it would appear as if nothing happened!
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The dog is not a ghost because there's no body in the oven. When you die and become a ghost a body is left behind, like Hayden's and Moira's bodies under the gazebo...
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Maybe not, if from reading the post below about regrets, the dog didn't have unresolved issues.
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Wow. This two-part sequence was a good mid-season clarifier. Some things are still without answers but that's a good sign as we still have six or seven eps to watch. I can't wait to see what the pregnancy is gonna give birth to and how will react the harmons when they'll finally understand what is happening to us. Because I think they will eventually figure out even though they're not really curious to know more about that damn house !
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As much as I liked this episode and the show in general, I strongly disagree with you. The show is not growing less ludicrous each week , quite the contrary...... sometimes it's so ridiculous and over the top that almost seems the writers of this show were doing meth while writing the scripts. Don't get me wrong though, I do love the show but it's so flawed.
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I agree the story lines aren't sustainable, there is already so much crazy where can it go from here?
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--- Ben will stay because as soon as he leaves the baby in Vivien will start to have problems again until he comes back



--- Maybe she saw a mini-gimp ghost baby?



--- I would say he blocked it out of his memory and only see's flashes



--- Pro, definitely pro. Mallet is a con though...
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First, let me just say I am loving this show. I can't believe how good it is, and after only five episodes it is quickly becoming one of my favourite shows of all time.



Now in your review you stated that Ben's belief that Larry and Hayden were in cahoots was preposterous and confusing, but I thought it made perfect sense. You have had an affair with a woman (and a patient, mind you, and a really crazy, possessive one at that) and gotten her pregnant and now she is wanting to move near you and for you to financially support her (and ideally dump your wife and move in with her). You also have a crazed self-confessed murderer, who is keen on money, constantly following you around. You then see crazed killer kill your crazed mistress and you bury her. You then have the crazed killer demanding money for the deed, and then your mistress turns up on the doorstep. Personally, I would think it would be an obvious conclusion to say that the crazed killer had conned you some how and was doing this simply to get money out of you, which both of them could split (cause we clearly know that both were in desperate need for cash). We as viewers know we are watching a show about a haunted house (and thus ghosts), the Harmons do not. 'She must be a ghost' is not going to be the first thing that comes to their mind - 'Those scheming money-seeking scoundrels have been playing me' is a more likely thought pattern.



As to Tate and not remembering his past actions, couldn't it be similar to what we've seen with Larry and Ben - that he was in a trance of sorts? That he legitimately doesn't know what he did? And that his mind has some recollections of the incident, and he simply believes that it is his fantasy and desire to kill his classmates? Tate has talked about the voices - something that Larry talked about as well. Tate thinks it's because he's crazy - maybe there is something much more sinister involved to it. Either way, I look forward to seeing more of Tate's past getting explored as we move along. And does he know he is dead? I tend to think he must (given the situation on the beach when Violet was 'wanting' him), but maybe he has no understanding of the circumstances of his death - and Constance has probably hidden everything she can from him (we already know she hid the truth about his father and Moira).



But seriously, how much longer can they stay in this house? Vivien wanted to move out and never set foot in the house again after the home invasion, and now has kicked Ben out while she is staying. If I were her, I'd be leaving and Ben can do what he likes (stay or go elsewhere).



While I now know it was a mislead, the scene with the microwave will forever be burned into my brain. While I am known for tensing up while watching horror, I have never screamed out before in my life until that scene (and I knew it was going to be something horrific - I just didn't know how horrific). But then, I haven't seen a good microwaving death since Gremlins!



I also loved the morning after scene with all the ghouls returning to the murder house, and while it was great to see all the players (including the twins and the teenage girls), I must say I would loved to have seen one or two 'new' ghouls walking back - something to whet our appetite for future episodes as we try and work out where they fit in.



And there is one thing that I have purposely not mentioned until the end, and that is by far the best part of this exceptional show; Jessica Lange. Ever since her first scene, I have been telling everyone I know that she should win the Emmy next year, and she's only gotten better with each episode. She does deserve every single award imaginable for this role. Even the soccer trophy.
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Didn't therapy guy have to call Tate's mam during the pilot, in order to recommend a referral?...Who did he end up chatting to?
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Yeah, they showed him on the phone, but not who he was talking to. I assume he was dreaming or sleep...calling. Whatever it is they have him doing.
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I caught this too and am still confused by it but have a couple theories. In this episode we saw Viv talk to Hayden on the phone even though Hayden was already dead. It's possible that Ben was talking to a ghost on the line and didn't realize it. Or he actually was talking to Connie which would mean he didn't recognize her. Since it was the first episode I guess it's possible that he wouldn't yet know her voice well, though it was mentioned that she was an actress at one point and she may have disguised her voice so that he wouldn't know it was her. Or maybe the house was messing with him and it was all just a hallucination on his part that the house made him have.
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I thought I was the only one who remembered that! He called and told her he didn't want to see Tate anymore because of Tate's interest in Violet. That's the one thing I'm still really confused about.
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Another Tate thought- remember during his therapy session he claimed his Dad had left the family and his mother was a whore? Clearly not the best mother-son relationship, but I think this must also mean Tate doesn't know about Constance shooting his father.



I think this episode had a big emphasis on why the ghosts are haunting the house-a factor of guilt and/or need for recognition ties in with almost all of the dead characters (Moira's guilt with adultery/need to be recognized she's really a good person; Nora's guilt for the basement abortion clinic; Zachary Quinto's regret over his partnership/need to be loved; Hayden's need to be recognized and important.) The house is haunted by the regrets and guilt of the previous owners, and there has been very little acknowledgment by the family toward many of the horrors which took place here. It's like an excellent metaphor for the unwillingness of the family to confront their own problems truthfully, and in response have little to no control over any normalcy in their lives. Out of need the house forces its owners to look at its horror and to either face it or be killed by it. Love this show.
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Wow, I like your idea of the guilt being the explanation of the restlessness of the ghosts. Nice catch if it's the case.
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But then... what about the twins and the thing in the basement?
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The twins regret going to the house to explore and then getting killed, not to mention making fun of little Addie. The thing in the basement regrets that it didn't get the right parts when it was being made.
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Does McDermott realize there are ghosts? Seeing Hayden should have been a huge clue to him, no? Shouldn't Britton begin realizing Quinto and his partner might be the previous gay couple? Him shouting "Get out of MY house!" should have begun to clue her in.



At what point do either of them begin investigating the house's history and start matching faces to previous owners from news reports and such?



If the show continues down this forced path of having its characters clueless about the constant spiritual forced being thrown at them, I may have to give this show up or I may continue watching as a guilty pleasure for its ridiculousness.



Glad to see the dog back finally playing an important part.



Here's a thought: What if McDermott, Britton, and daughter were dead and moving into that house was part of that afterlife happening - "moving on after death", so to speak? It's a cool idea, but likely untrue.
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I agree with you about the characters being clueless about what's happening to them. I think it was already you last week who said, quite logically, that Vivien should have started some research as soon as she learned that her house was on the murder tour !



Hopefully, the dots would begin to be connected by Violet as she will research the high school accident/mass-murdering as the dead teen told her. It seems that Violet is supposed to be the smartest character here so that's my guess
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Not me about the tour bus, but it is part of my point.
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I'm willing to cut them some slack in the clueless department. I've lived in a haunted house, and the mind just doesn't jump to the conclusion that your house is haunted until there is no other explanation. It's just not something you want to believe.
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I really doubt your house was like theirs! I don't think you'd be alive to tell us. It's one thing if subtle and gradual, but the moment they moved in they've been hit over the head with one weird, in your face happening or character after another and it's only been about 6 episodes.
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But I think we need to realize that the timeline jumps between episodes has been kind of big... we see all these events one after another, but we know that its been almost 8 weeks since Vivian got pregnant!
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No, my house wasn't haunted in the same way at all. We saw apparitions of five separate people, had things thrown all over, heavy doors opening and closed, heard voices, all standard haunted-house fare. But, nothing like they are facing. For example, none of us was impregnated by a rubber-wearing ghost
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This was the best episode yet! Each show just keeps getting scarier and more exciting, and richer, like adding spices to a soup. I'm hooked, big time.



i also wondered about the nurse fainting at the sight of the sonogram. But what bothered me about it is that Vivien and Ben just looked at her swoon, and then forgot about it. Are they just accustomed to people passing out around them?



Hitting someone in the head with a shovel I think is something I might enjoy; getting hit in the head with a shovel, not so much.
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Yeah, that thing about the nurse bothered me too... I can understand a lot of things people are complaining, like they been clueless about the ghosts and such... but not going to check why the hell the nurse fainted? That was really strange!
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here's what i'm not understanding.. Tate obviously is dead or it wouldn't be 17ish years later, so how is he in a picture with Adelaide, who looks the same age? and i think maybe he had something happen with his brain and has the classic "i'm dead but don't know it" syndrome ghosts tend to have.
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Maybe they were twins.
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It was said last week (when constance yells at her) that Addy was 30yo. But her syndrome (and both her and constance's behaviors) makes her appear as a teenager. So that picture could have 17 years.



Anyway, it was never said in the show that ghost can't get on a photograph so maybe this pic was recent.
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My thought is that the picture of Addy & Tate was taken shortly before he went on his rampage. I think one of the symptoms of Down Syndrome is that a person may appear younger than their actual age which would explain why she doesn't seem to age in the next 17ish years. (Wiki doesn't have anything listed about this specific symptom though so if someone can confirm it would be appreciated.)
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I have some personal experience with this, and yes, you're exactly right.
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1. Doesn't seem like the House wants Ben in there, or else why would dead Chad drop that major hint at Vivian last ep and why would the house allow Hayden to bring about the truth, which would obviously mean Ben being kicked out....



Although I do think some "residents" are at odds with the House, if in fact the house itself has an agenda, because dead Nora helped Ben.... but maybe just so he could save Viv's baby....
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Right! Nora helped Ben, and Patrick "saved" the house from Larry.
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I really liked the whole bit about how on Halloween ghosts can wander freely. They should definitely roll with that idea in season 2, "Halloween, Part 3" (and 4...)
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AWESOME show. After the first episode, I was worried I'm never going to get into it, but man did those writers prove me wrong. This is officially the best new show of the season! Let's hope the rest doesn't disappoint (there's always the feeling that it will when Ryan Murphy is involved.)
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1. I think something happening to Violet, Viv certainly doesn't seem like she'll call him back for any other reason at this point.

2. A demon baby, which may explain why the nurse said that it was bigger than the 8 weeks that Ben/Viv thought it was if it's growing fast. Specifically I think it could be the Frankenstein baby that the doctor was putting together from the pieces of his son. This could explain why his wife told Ben to "save the baby".

3. I don't think Tate was lying about the shootings, I'm thinking that he doesn't realize he's dead. When Constance & Violet were sitting at the table, Constance said that Violet couldn't tell Tate about his sister being dead because he doesn't react well to things like that and that he's too sensitive, & without enough steel or grit to handle some things. Also in the Home Invasion episode at the end, when Tate, Constance & Moira are in the basement with the bodies, Tate mentioned that they would have to dispose of the bodies if Constance wanted Ben to keep treating him. It seems that he hasn't yet realized that the recurring dream of killing people actually happened.

4. Con, but if it's the only weapon for self-defense available I'd go with it. It certainly seems like it would work better than the golf club that Viv had at one point.
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I'm with you on the 3. but I beg to differ on the 2.

I think The Frankenstein baby is the monster that we saw in the pilot. The one on the basement who killed the twins. But Vivien is definitely "hosting" something of the same kind !
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This show is brilliant! I cried like a baby during the scene when she put the make up on her daughter. I thought it was brilliant how they had her show good side within her.
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I can kinda buy that Tate is in denial over the murders, to the point that he's blocked it out of his memory.
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This show makes me feel ridiculous and stupid and I love it. My brain spends most of the episodes repeating any given combination of the following: "huh? wait... what? but I thought... huh? whaaaat?" Golly, murder houses are complicated.



1. Murder him. He would definitely stick around after that. At least until Halloween. I think. Wait... what?

2. A map of the Gettysburg battlefields. That place is the worst. DO NOT go on the battle re-enactment tour. You'd pass out too.

3. He seemed so sincere! And yet still so creepy! I'm confused again. Huh?

4. I consider myself pro con. Like, I loooove convicts. So much. Gooooo prisoners!
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