For those of you who don't remember 1968, here's what happened: the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars; Richard Nixon, a republican from California, declared his presidential candidacy; Martin Luther King Jr. spent a day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and would die there; Andy Warhol is shot by a struggling actress/writer; and a green Shelby Cobra pulled up in front of a familiar Los Angeles house.
And so begins AHS's second episode - Home Invasion. The house we know that had once been owned by a doctor to the stars now houses female students enrolled in nursing school. There's no little girl telling them "you're going to die in there," but the viewer can soon deduce it will be so. Two students pass up the chance to see The Doors in concert and stay home to study. One makes the mistake of opening the front door to a presumed-wounded stranger.
"Franklin" proves himself to the two nurses his aversion for women in that particular career field and shows us the first detailed crime to take place in our current favorite house. Both women die in particularly gruesome fashions and the stranger disappears.
In present day, we and the new owners of the house, the Harmons, are forced to again deal with the current invaders, Adelaide and Tate. Adelaide plays with the creature in the basement, while Tate eyes Violet as she slumbers. Both intruders appear tame on the surface, although exuding violent tendencies, yet to show any direct harm to the family itself.
Then we see Constance, the neighbor for which we have a love/hate thing, cooking in her own kitchen while explaining to Addy why she doesn't look like the magazine models. "You were born with...other gifts." We, nor Addy, aren't told exactly with those gifts are, but Addy is allowed to add to the recipe for cupcakes for Violet - her own spit and Ipecac syrup.
While trying to dissuade Vivian from eating a cupcake, Constance relates tales of being a mother, not only to Addy but to three other children - two of which had Down's syndrome as well, the other was "a model of physical perfection...lost to other things." This, including talk of her former screen-godlike husband, saddens Constance and we see the reason Jessica Lange was cast in that tortured, yet tormenting, role.
Ben takes on a new patient: Bianca Forest, a struggling actress, who dreams of being cut in half trying escape a Carpenters song playing on a stalled elevator. Ben suggests the dream represents some inner, unresolved pain. "I just think I'm afraid of getting chopped in half."
While on the phone with Tate's mother, trying to get out of that professional relationship, Bianca appears in the room with Ben. He thought she had left. She does leave, but after looking around the place.
For the first part of the episode, Ben avoids his ringing cell phone. After telling the caller about their pre-arranged agreement to not speak anymore, we learn who Ben had the fling with a year ago. Enter Hayden, a needy clingy psych student. We also learn the reason for her clingy need - she's pregnant. (PAUSE: Hayden is pregnant with Ben's child, yet they have not had contact in over a year - or have they? He lied to his Vivien to return to Boston to support Hayden's decision to have an abortion. Has he lied over the past year to continue to see Hayden?)
During his excursion, Vivian hears the doorbell in the middle of the night. She tells the dog to stay on the bed, which the ankle-biter doesn't seem affected by a late-night visitor. 40 years after the opening scene, another stranger needs help - with the same "injuries" as Franklin back then. Vivian appears smarter than the naive nurses of long ago and does not open the door for the wounded woman, yet offers to call 911 for her. It is then we see the outsider already has inside help. Two hooded invaders, one of which is Bianca, must have found Addy's way inside.
The three intruders intend on recreating the murders we saw at show's opening, because "Franklin was the first. Before Manson. He changed the culture." Vivien and Violet were to be tressed up like nurses. What the intruders didn't count on was a) the house was intent on protecting its current inhabitants on this night, and b) the current inhabitants are stronger women than the 1968 nurses.
Adelaide tries to save the family, by running to her mother, but Constance has plans to make "pillow talk" with her young new beau. She locks her daughter in a mirror-filled Bad Girl closet as punishment. "Look at yourself. Look at yourself hard."
Meanwhile, next door, Tate appears unto Violet and tells her somehow to get the intruders down to basement. Tate makes Bianca realize her worst fears and embeds an axe into her midriff - twice. Violet persuades her attacker to go downstairs - the original drowning tub is down there. Vivian escapes the male attacker, who thinks she has entered the open basement door.
The house takes care of the intruders, via Addy's playmate downstairs. Constance appears alongside Tate and the maid, asking if the intruders' demise were his handiwork. He says no. Regardless, the three have a mess to clean up.
The police have lost track of two intruders - one was found cut in half - but are confident in finding them. Vivian and Violet bond over all they've recently been through; Violet and her missing father, not so much. Vivian ends the episode with the threat of the family moving (again).
Writing/Directing/Editing: 8 (timeframe of pregnancy, choppy editing). Acting: 8 (the invaders muffle some words). Music: 9 (the Psycho nod was awesome).