Whoops! Everyone is awful! Seriously, have you ever seen such a sustained display of unlikability in an hourlong drama? What happened, American Horror Story? Is there no one left to root for? “Rubber Man” was basically a parade of bad times, but it also provided answers to some burning questions we’ve had about the Murder House, its ghosts, and what they want with the living. But while it’s nice that American Horror Story has been so generous with answers lately, it’s hard not to feel somewhat let down by this week’s revelations. Sometimes more information just makes things less scary, you know?
Take the Gimp Suit Ghost, for example. Since its introduction in the pilot, many of us wondered just who was wearing that suit, and why was it so intent on makin’ babies with Connie Britton? Was it a human embodiment of the house itself? Was he just a latex-clad Satan? Well, as we learned in the cold open, it was just Tate. Seeing as we’d already seen him wearing the gimp suit in an earlier episode, this was a reveal worthy of a face-palm. In retrospect that makes sense (except for the fact that Tate is clearly skinnier than the person who’d previously worn the suit), but that still didn’t mean this revelation was particularly scary. We already knew he was a mass murderer! Now we just knew he was a mass murdering, hate crimin’ rapist.
Speaking of redundant information, was anybody else as terribly incurious about how the gimp suit itself came to exist as I was? For a brief moment I held out hope that the gay couple had been wrongly fingered for having brought it home, and that it was perhaps older and more sinister than anybody imagined. But nope! Zachary Quinto’s character definitely bought the latex number in order to turn on his straying, S&M fixated boyfriend. So yeah, there’s no bigger meaning to the suit’s existence other than it was already in the house when Tate decided to murder the couple for failing to procreate. Because oh yeah, Tate promised Nora he’d find her a brand new baby to replace the one who’d been chopped into pieces back in the ’20s. Tate’s just a people-pleaser like that. (Quick question: Why was the fire poker thing necessary? Is Tate the worst, or are the writers?)
So yeah, many of American Horror Story‘s mysteries have now been revealed, but this episode’s revelations were almost universally less scary than what I’d imagined. So where do we go from here? The main purpose of this episode was to illustrate Vivien’s descent into supposed madness, hastened by a calculating Hayden who’d like nothing more than to steal Vivien’s babies for herself. Vivien was already hanging by a thread when she realized the weird blonde lady she’d shown the house to was probably a ghost. But then Ben started coming at her with weird psychiatrist-speak intended to make her question her own sanity. And THEN he and Violet had a competition to see who could be THE WORST. Ben himself had had his own supernatural run-ins in the house, so it was amazing to see him be so cavalier about Vivien imagining things. But later on, after Vivien and Violet had a run-in with the ghosts of their home intruders, Violet lied and said Vivien had imagined everything just so that she would be able to remain in the house with Tate (who then deflowered her, BTW). So yeah, Ben and Violet were both pretty despicable in this episode.
Which was not to say Vivien came off well either. She’s supposed to be the most sympathetic person in this story, but it’s incredibly frustrating to watch a character prove completely incapable of explaining herself in a rational manner or even make an effort to seem reasonable. Regardless of how true it may seem to you, everyone knows that you probably shouldn’t yammer about rubber rapists and evil ghosts to a group of skeptical police officers. And it definitely didn’t help that Vivien stole Marcy’s gun and accidentally shot Ben. Get it together, Vivien! You’re making it so hard to root for you!
The main problem with Hayden and Tate’s plan to drive Vivien crazy was it didn’t make any sense. Wouldn’t they want Vivien to remain in the house until she gives birth? So why terrorize her until she’s led away by police? Wouldn’t a wiser plan be to lay low and steal the babies once they’re born? Ugh, ghosts, am I right? I appreciated that Hayden just straight up told Vivien that she’s dead now, which in my opinion is a very helpful thing for a ghost to do. Come to think of it, Hayden also explained that ghosts can become invisible whenever they feel like it and then proved it with some classic poltergeist moves. Good to know! Also, how hilarious was it when Hayden teased Tate a bunch about being a wuss and then tried to seduce him? And the part where she stabbed Constance’s ex-husband with a screwdriver while they got it on? I’m starting to think Hayden isn’t exactly sane, what do you guys think?
Finally… Violet’s definitely dead, right? Ever since her “failed” attempt at suicide a few episodes back, some commenters pointed out that she hadn’t left the house at all, and this episode made that fact clear. First Ben mentioned that Violet hadn’t been to school in two weeks, then this episode teased us by having Violet get in the car only to run back to the house at the last second. Storywise, it would make sense for Violet to be dead; that would certainly be a legitimate reason for Ben and Vivien to remain in the house. But personally, I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with a Violet who can’t be killed anymore. I’ve never been a fan of hers and this episode definitely confirmed that fact.
So while this episode certainly had its highlights, it suffered from a lack of Jessica Lange and an overabundance of information (which verged on TMI when it came to the gay couple). Much like my previous objections to showing the school shooting, much of this backstory would’ve been more powerful if they’d simply implied it or left it to our imaginations. But regardless of this episode’s pervasive bummer vibes, it still set the stage for what promises to be an exciting final act for the season. Personally, I just hope there will be someone to root for, because right now Security Guard Luke is basically the only person who deserves our sympathies.
… Did you notice Tate didn’t have chest wounds? What was the deal with that?
… Is Tate really the villain of this season, or is there a larger force working through him?
… Is Moira really trying to help Vivien?
… Why does a ghost that can turn invisible need to wear a disguise at all?