For a show that virtually guarantees its main characters will remain fastidiously in place no matter what, American Horror Story sure moves fast! We're only four episodes in and already much of the backstory has begun to cohere into a, dare I say, logical series of events. Not only that, but certain rules have been established regarding the various supernatural phenomena, and the characters have been fleshed-out enough that their shocking deaths actually mean something. Strangest of all, did this show get emotionally compelling all of a sudden? And FUN? What is going on here? Don't worry, it's still ridiculous and insane, too. These are all compliments!
So what happens to a permanently haunted house when All Hallow's Eve rolls around? We found out last night in "Halloween Pt. 1" ("Halloween Pt. 2" airs next Wednesday), in which the veil between the living and the dead disappeared entirely. It was a ghost-a-palooza, basically, and it all began with a flashback to the distant year 2010 where we met the previously mentioned but not yet seen gay couple, Patrick and Chad (Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears), who owned the home immediately prior to the Harmons. We already knew things didn't turn out well for them, but would you be surprised to learn that they were awful people? So hateful and slutty! So while it wasn't exactly a surprise when our old friend Mr. Gimp Ghost showed up and murdered them, it wasn't much of a tragedy, either. (Aside: As it turns out, gay writers and actors are perfectly capable of creating and portraying offensive gay stereotypes all on their own! What a truly wonderful day for Hollywood! And yes, I get that the heterosexual characters are messed up too, but was it necessary for Chad to grab Ben's crotch? Or claim he changed his sexual orientation over a blowjob? Ugh, Ryan Murphy. /End rant.)
Anyway! Fast forward to present day, where the world's worst realtor was advising Vivien she should gussy up the house for Halloween in order to, I guess, convince people that haunted houses are cool to buy? Next thing we knew, Patrick and Chad were at the front door being mistaken for interior decorators, because sure. Elsewhere Ben was having another ill-advised session with Tate in which he expressed gratitude for Tate's intervention during the recent home invasion, despite how creepy it was that Tate was secretly chillin' inside the house at the time. For his part, Tate seemed intent on getting back in Ben's good graces, which is a pretty nice thing for a GHOST to do, because let's get real: Tate's a ghost right? I mean is this even in question anymore?
Meanwhile next door, Adelaide was getting her heart set on going trick-or-treating as a "pretty girl" this year, but Constance angrily dismissed this as impossible and proceeded to berate Adelaide for flirting with Constance's twentysomething lover. (Don't ask.) It was hard not to wince at Jessica Lange shouting full-drawl at a disabled actress about being ugly, but let's be real: Jamie Brewer was incredible! She stood toe-to-toe with Jessica Lange in one of the more emotionally complicated scenes I've seen on TV. Add to that a later scene in which Jessica Lange entered Adelaide's room in "forgive me" mode and presented her with a rubber "pretty girl" mask to make amends. So entirely F-ed up, yet still so moving?
It was established that the ghosts currently haunting the Murder House are able to go anywhere on Halloween night, so Moira used the opportunity to visit her mother at her nursing home and proceeded to euthanize her. Typical mother-daughter stuff. In a perfect blend of creepy and poignant, the spirit of Moira's mother immediately materialized and urged Moira to "come with me," to which Moira merely sobbed, "I can't." I think it's safe to say Moira's tethered to the Murder House in a way she can't control, which most likely has to do with the fact her bones are buried there. Something about the house traps the souls of all who die there, and they're all are under some kind of control by a higher intelligence within the house. That's my scientific opinion anyway! Call the Pulitzer Committee, I've cracked the case.
Then, in the show's most emotionally horrible moment to date, Adelaide was killed. It's almost too upsetting to describe, but she was trick-or-treating in her rubber "pretty girl" mask and was hit by a car while trying to make friends with some other trick-or-treaters. To make things even more heart-wrenching, a panicked Constance ran out and agonizingly dragged her daughter's body onto the Harmon's front lawn as though to transform HER into a ghost as well, but no dice. For a show full of gratuitous violence and shocking twists, this turn of events was absolutely brutal and well-done. As Adelaide, Jamie Brewer created one of the more singular characters in television history, so it's a shame we won't see her around much anymore (it definitely did not appear that Constance got her to the lawn in time). But it'll be exciting to find out just how this event will change Constance. I'm guessing not for the better.
Another major piece of the puzzle (specifically the one shaped like an evil, old-faced dwarf in a dress) was put into place when Tate told Violet the conclusion to the story of the abortionist we met last week. It turned out he performed an abortion on the wrong girl and her psychotic boyfriend sought revenge by kidnapping his infant son and returning a series of glass jars containing baby body parts (callback to the pilot!). Because the abortionist was an eccentric, drug-addicted maniac, he proceeded to sew the pieces back together and presumably reanimate the result into some kind of abomination! Wow. That's some intense stuff, American Horror Story, but I appreciate the explanation.
As for the human characters, a few important things happened: First, Vivien now knows Ben saw Hayden when he was in Boston and she'd like him to move out, please. BUT, the instant she tried to kick him out her abdomen began to hurt. Later, at the hospital, the nurse assured her that there's no way her baby's only eight weeks old; it's too big! It was our first major confirmation that whatever's growing inside Vivien is no ordinary human baby (also, the nurse literally fainted when she saw the ultrasound), and it also supported the notion that her baby simply won't survive unless they remain in the house as a functional nuclear family. Weird, right? But it's not as weird as the fact they've been there EIGHT WEEKS? For real? I thought it was like six days? I don't know. This show's timeline is officially in dream-logic territory. That's fine, I guess.
Then came the shocking cliffhanger (one unfortunately spoiled by the appearance of the Kate Mara's name in the opening credits)... Hayden's back! We knew it was only a matter of time once Ben buried her body under the gazebo, but her appearance at the front door was pretty effective. It came at the height of an almost unpleasantly stressful scene where Ol' Burnt-face Larry pounded on the front door while Violet was home alone. Ben and Vivien arrived home from the hospital to discover that Violet was missing and there was a bloody-faced harlot at the door. Explain that one, Ben!
It's to American Horror Story's credit that after only four episodes it's laid out so much groundwork and done it with such confidence. I have a feeling the fun's just beginning and I only hope this show doesn't feel the need to explain EVERYTHING too quickly. Don't get me wrong, I like knowing that the writers do indeed have a rational backstory, but things could get much less scary if they give too much of it away, don't you think?
... Is it always Tate inside the gimp suit, or just that once?
... Why is the house so horny to have a baby?
... Can we assume that Vivien and Ben are about to become fully aware of the ghost situation?
... Did the gimp ghost murder the gay couple because they couldn't be impregnated?
... Did you know Dylan McDermott just turned FIFTY? Holy moly.