This episode toned down the supernatural insanity that made the pilot just as attention-grabbing as it was unbearable, but it's still clear that American Horror Story is focused on plaguing its central family with ludicrous levels of misery. It's something that too often affected Ryan Murphy's other series Nip/Tuck, which became over-reliant on terrible things happening to its core group of characters to keep things soapy and dramatic. But, if anything, the groundwork is being laid for a fascinating show mythology, and that ought to keep people tuned in for at least a couple more weeks.
Something that resonated with me throughout Home Invasion was the idea of evil being drawn to the house. 1968 saw a horrific Manson-style murder spree occurring within the property, something so infamous that it spawned its own pack of cultists, who here seek to re-create the carnage with the Harmon family.
With the knowledge of the '60s home invasion, are we so sure that Denis O'Hare's burn man was driven insane by the house? Or were his murderous instincts merely exacerbated by the place he called home? I have a theory that the house latches on to the characteristics of its inhabitants and maximizes them. As a result, we have a sexually-frustrated Ben fantasizing about the naughty housemaid and discovering a penchant for 'extreme' sex with leather and masks. Of course, I may be entirely wrong, but I think it's positive that the show is already forcing us to think things over and speculate.
With such a big cast, stories are unfolding all over the place. Being a Ryan Murphy show, most of it is pretty scatter-shot and confused. Ben's subplot with his former lover only enhanced his skeeziness, since there's something clearly vulnerable about her. Just that squeal of "Pizza!" showcased how young and impressionable she seemed. He should have known better. Then again, he seems like a crummy therapist: "Have you ever suffered from sexual abuse?" Was that just bad writing, or is he supposed to be that unprofessional?
The Constance subplot was more a random collection of unrelated 'moments' than anything actually revealing, but we did discover that Tate somehow knows both Constance and Moira and is integral to the house itself, and that Constance sometimes has a gentleman visitor who must be forty years younger than her. Get some, Connie! I also got major Rosemary's Baby vibes from Constance's homemade cooking, only it wasn't meant for pregnant Vivienne but instead Violet. Violet didn't eat it, but one of the home invaders did, who began throwing up and was later found cut in half somewhere. Were the slicing and the poisoning related? Or was her fate a result of her earlier nightmare?
I feel like I'm asking a lot of questions, but I'm also assuming that that's the intention. Home Invasion, while still wall-to-wall nuttiness, at least felt a lot more calmer than the messy pilot. I'm already finding myself completely intrigued by several of the characters, and I don't see how anybody can be watching this and not want to find out what the hell is wrong with this damn house. B+
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