To pinch ! Panch ? Punch !? As long as I can conjugate this review should write itself just fine. The moment Ben's therapy session began I had two options. The first was that I was losing my mind and needed to take an ice cold shower. The other was that Murder House could actually reveal that the pilot and Home Invasion were just the tip of an iceberg actually melting boiling lava. This third installment should convince any drug addict that the best trip is 100% clean and artistic ! After watching the second episode I still had a slight doubt about the show potential and its format but not anymore. The season is going to wow our highest expectations !
Ben's journey in Gardenland was really confusing and sadly I'm not literate enough to associate it with the many references that populate the series apparently. What I enjoyed the most was the writing. They definitely don't underestimate our intelligence and the characters couldn't be more realistic, if life was an asylum. This is not Scream, there's no doubt about it ! The decisions they make are the right ones and if they change their mind it's really for a good reason, like material or health constraints for instance. The contrast between the way Vivien and Violet dealt with the invasion was specially thoughtful because the second proved she's no screaming brunette. As for the mother I'm not sure if she's ready to share a cup of tea with the basement's devil but this time she proved her strength by handling situations like a true modern housewife warrior ! From the realtor to her husband she won't let anyone strand in her way. You go, mummy !
But now it's hard to separate the Harmons from their house because it seems the last has found the perfect odd inhabitants. That's why learning more about its past was enlightening but also quite exciting because visiting a spooky house is a child's dream. Moreover the scene where Vivien cuts yellow roses was cleverly staged as she wasn't the only left speechless by what she saw in the street, the whole audience was. Don't you have a Murder House in your neighbourhood ? As for the Frankenstein arc it's promising but I think its development in the present was far too anecdotic. At least it allowed us to take a closer look at the house's wonderful decoration, from the stained glasses to the vintage chandeliers. Like Violet said, the house has a unique identity.
Otherwise even if all these parts were fantastic my favorite was by far the one involving the Moiras. Alex Breckenridge incarnated the ultimate French maid fantasy in the pilot but it was only her first lesson. The second one ? How to welcome your employee while cleaning a wooden floor with a moisty sponge. More seriously it makes things even more ambivalent when other people see her, beside Vivien and Ben. As for Frances Conroy waiting two episodes for her to finally unleash her tremendous talent really paid off because her scenes with Constance and the couple were shattering. In fact the episode was heavy on character development in general and pivotal for Moira. It also revealed a whole new side of her personality and I wonder how her employees will handle her from now on. Things are relatively complex considering her young self drives Ben crazy when Vivien needs her as no one else would probably want to take care of their home. In the end she's a dual persona hard to resist as the emotions she makes us feel couldn't be more extreme. From attraction to disturbing empathy my opinion about them couldn't be more conflicted.
To sum things up this third session with American Horror Story was as excellent as the pilot but traded its scary bestiary for a nutsy circus. It's specially true considering pretty crazy Hayden made an unexpected comeback. As Kate Mara's performance is both frightening and moving I can't wait for her next appearance ! Again it proves that the show has found the right balance between developing its main story, the Harmons lived happily ever after, and warming things up with some episodic wicked stuff. My only complain would be Larry Harvey because the actor's make-up has a terrible plastic aspect. It's specially disappointing considering Denis O'Hare's acting has been convincing so far. An explanation would be that The Walking Dead airs on Sunday, so three days before the show, and as it features the best horrific visual effects on TV it's nearly impossible not to compare his burns to the rotten walkers. In my opnion his character designer should have just gone wild and injected him some of Freddy Krueger's DNA !
Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.