MY REVIEW & SYNOPSIS FOR AHS EPISODE 4
My, my my my my…..
This week’s flashback hurtles us through space and TV time, back to 1983.
The camera moves through a lawn sprinkler ,then up to the house and then a bedroom. Moira the Younger is there, making the bed…or trying to, but the drunken Master of the house who’s horny and a car dealer is making advances. She’s trying to fend off his pawings, which is tough–I mean, hey..he does offer her a new Camaro, but temptation be damned, he overpowers her, throws her on the bed and the next thing we know, he’s on top of her, down to his tidy whities and she’s screaming.
We’re then treated to a silhouette of a woman slowly walking down the hall; a snub nose revolver in her hand. She enters the bedroom and fires a warning shot which hits the mirror and in its cracked reflection, we see that it’s Constance. The sound of the gunshot stops the would-be rape, but not Constance. She fires at Moira, hitting her. She’s given a classic Moe Green/Godfather shot right in the eye. She’s dies immediately. Then, Constance verbally berates her husband, telling him that she’s loved him since she was 16 and that he’ll never break her heart again. She makes sure of this by firing three slugs into his chest.
So, now we know how Constance killed Moira and her lifelong crush and what we’ve all suspected is confirmed: that Constance did in fact live in the house at one time.
And we now know how and why Moira the Elder got that funky eye.
It’s now present day.
We learn that on top of everything else, the Harmon’s are having money troubles and that’s going to make moving out of the house, as Vivien so DESPERATELY wants, a bit more difficult. They need to make back every penny they’ve spent on the place. She calls the realtor who sold them the house and in no uncertain terms, tells her that she knows she didn’t disclose everything about the house to which the realtor says she’s only required by California law to go back only three years of the house residential history. She says she was very forthcoming about the murder/suicide of the gay couple who’d lived there before. Still Viv says she knows there’s more to the house. It’s the vibe.
Ben is meeting with a new client in his home office. Her name Sally Freeman who’s going through a troubling divorce and Sally is a walking, talking yawn fest. She speaks in a boring, monotone and speaks, yet says nothing at all. Ben zones out in mid conversation and the next thing we know, he’s in the back yard, lying on a patch of dead grass and there’s blood on his hands. He washes up, then grabs a shovel and starts digging, though we’re not sure why. Constance happens to be in the backyard too and tries to dissuade him from digging, telling him that the ground is tainted; loaded with pesticides from careless gardening in the past. She tells him that he ought to build a gazebo on the patch of land. It would be “heaven”.
He goes in the house and encounters Moira the Younger, who’s on all fours in the hall, cleaning the floor, her nethers all exposed like a cat in heat. She’s sponging the hardwoods and implies that she’s been cleaning up “his mess”….”all that blood” .
Did he kill Sally????
Moira’s attitude angers him and he grabs her, starts shouting about this little game she’s playing, then screams she’s fired…. just as Viv walks in. This prompts a rather heated conversation between Ben, Moira and Viv in the kitchen. He claims he can’t stand being in the same room with her anymore. She keeps trying to seduce him and he’s tired of it, dammit!!!! There’s one thing to keep in mind: whenever Ben sees her she’s the young hot seductress in a short, sexy maid’s outfit. When Viv looks at her, she’s the old, haggard, one-eyed Moira and this obviously, confuses Viv because hot, she ain’t.
Meanwhile, Constance is back in the house, though as always, no one sees her and there’s no mention of how she got in or keeps getting in, but she’s in and this time, she’s pilfering the Harmon’s sterling silver flatware, which she hopes to sell on Ebay to make a buck or two. Moira the Older walks in on her and they have an interesting conversation. She tells Constance she wishes she were dead and that she hates it here; she wants to go home and oddly enough,adds that she misses her mother. Huh?? Moira gets mad, she yells at Constance and tells her that she needs to pay for ‘everything’ she done. It’s also the first time we see any emotion coming from Moira, Young or Old. Constance says she wants to go too; that she hates this world of death, but she can’t, and she reminds Moira, neither can she.
On her way out of the room, she tells Moira that she’s a suck ass maid and that she’ll be blamed for the theft of the sterling flatware. Then she reminds her that she’s always been a theif, especially when it comes “to weak men”. Remember the opening flashback?????
Hours, maybe days have gone by and we see Viv in the front yard, pruning some roses. A bus pulls up to her house. It’s one of those famous death location tours and the bus is filled with picture taking tourists. She realizes–with garden shears in hand–that her house is not only on the tour, but apparently the major attraction. Tour officials have saved the best, most infamous murder location for last. The narrator at the microphone introduces the structure to his audience, by calling it “The Murder House”. Vivien realizes the only way she’ll ever find out about all the horrendous things that have happened in her house is to take the tour herself.
Meanwhile, back inside the house, Moira the Younger tells Ben his next appointment is waiting for him in his office. He acts surprised…he had no appointments that day. He walks into his office to see who it is and lo and behold, it’s Hayden, his pregnant lover from Boston. She tells Ben that she never had the abortion and has made a few decisions. Not only is she going to have the baby, she’s also going to move to LA and she’s also going to insist he support her and the child. Ben panics; this is the last thing he needs in his already overly complicated life. The doorbell rings just as he and Hayden make plans to meet the next day. She walks out, just as a detective comes in. He’s investigating a missing persons case: Sally Freeman hasn’t been seen or heard from in days. Ben tells the detective he had an appointment with her earlier in the week, but doctor/patient confidentiality prevents him from divulging what was discussed or what her issues are. Just then, Moira the Younger walks in and apparently, appears as such to the cop because when he lays eyes on her, he all but morphs into this ridiculous Tex Avery cartoon wolf—the horny variety. One look at Young Moira and BOING!!!!!! It’s yowzah time. His eyes almost pop out of his head. The only thing missing is the unrolling of the tongue and an enlarged heart, bulging out of his chest with every beat.
Interesting. The detective saw her as young and hot, too. Guess he must be one of those weak men Constance talked about.
Fast forward to Viv on the death tour bus parked in front of her house. He regales his audience with some background on the structure. We’re given a bonus flashback in episode 3. Turns out, the house was built in 1922 by Dr. Charles Montgomery, who was known as “the surgeon to the stars”. It was constructed for his wife Nora, a socialite from the East Coast. But Dr. Montgomery becomes addicted to drugs and falls on hard times. Drugs, plus financial woes weighs heavy on the good doctor and he develops a Frankenstein complex. He spends hours in his lab in his basement, specimens in jars everywhere (remember the red-headed, baseball bat wielding twins and the gross things they saw down there????). It looks as though he’s trying to sew other animal parts on to a pig, when Nora comes to the top of the basement stairs and tells him to come to dinner. He obliges begrudgingly. They sit down to dinner. “They” include Nora, Charles and a very androgynous looking baby. The couple starts to argue about money. Nora claims bill collectors are hounding them….BUT….she has a solution. She knows a girl who’s “in trouble” as they used to say and for $60 dollars cash, she promised the young starlet that Charles could take care of her little issue. Nora says promiscuous young girl probably has promiscuous friends—with cash. The Montgomery’s can turn performing abortions in to a cottage industry.
There’s a knock on the door. The first victim/patient has arrived. Nora opens the doors and sees a very scared young woman standing there. Nora preps her for the procedure and gives her a sedative dissolved in a glass of water. She escorts the woozy girl to the top of the basement steps. The door closes behind her. Nora clings to money tightly in her hand, then reaches in to a pill-box and pops a 1920’s version of a Valium….or a Mentos. The expression on her face is obvious. She’s satisfied. It’s all about the money.
The second flashback ends, just as Connie’s bleeding begins. She looks down and sees some blood pooling down around her nethers. Fearing another miscarriage, she hops off the bus, and runs into the house. I mean “Murder House”, is her home. It’s where she lives, right?
She and Ben go to the doctor. Viv is fine…the baby is fine, but Ben passes out. The doctor orders blood work. Turns out, someone has been slipping Ben an arcane opiate/sedative that was once used as an anesthetic in surgeries about 90 years ago, but they stopped using it because it had a horrible side effect–severe memory loss. Interesting in that it was probably used right around the time when Dr. Charles Montgomery was performing illegal abortions in his basement. We also learned that he performed procedures on 22 young women, that is until, his and Nora’s “shocking finale” in 1926, whatever that is. Guess we’ll find out later. Plus, the sedative in his system would explain why Ben keeps waking up on that patch of grass in his backyard. We get a sense the grass ain’t the only thing dead back there.
And throughout episode 3, Moira the Younger seems to be making Ben a lot of coffee.
Viv goes home. There’s a knock on the door. It’s a prospective buyer—a woman; she’s pale and skittish and knows a lot about the house. She should….it’s Nora. Viv invites her in and they chit-chat about certain things about the house its lovely chestnut paneling, the Tiffany glass panels and the four Frank Lloyd Wright designed chandeliers. Nora scoffs at all the high-tech gizmos in the kitchen. The two women then start discussing family, Viv’s pregnancy. Nora looks terribly wistful when she admits that she once had a child. Viv offers to make her a cup of tea. As she starts microwaving two cups of water, the camera pans behind Nora and we see a massive amount of her head missing. Her gray matter is protruding slightly. When Viv turns around, she’s gone. Vanished. Not a trace.
Ben decides to go for a run where he encounters the Burned Guy. He sure knows a lot about the intricacies of Ben’s life; even its minutia. He knew about Ben’s recent trip back to Boston; about Hayden’s pregnancy. He oddly asks Ben for a thousand dollars for head shots, apparently he wants to try his hand at acting (?) Ben tells him he has no money and wouldn’t give it to him if he did. He then tells him to get the hell out of his life. They part company.
Ben is back at the house. The doorbell rings. It’s Hayden. Ben forgot their meeting. She’s livid and starts screaming for Viv. She wants to tell her about the baby. Ben tries to calm her down and as they walk out of the house, Burned Guy comes out of nowhere and bops her on the head with a shovel, killing her. Burned Guy tells Ben all his problems are over; she was going to ruin things by telling Viv she was pregnant. He claims he killed Hayden to help Ben. He did him a favor. Ben killed no one. He’s innocent. Burned Guy buries Hayden’s body in that patch of burned grass in the backyard–the same one Ben keeps waking up on top of. He jumps in the hole along with Hayden’s body. I could have sworn I saw a skull down there with him. Then Burned Guy dabbles in the dirt and pulls up what looked to me like a rotting bandana or a some piece of clothing had been buried there. I really couldn’t tell, the picture was dark. My 11-year old TV is dying and its first symptom is a major loss of contrast. But on a newer TV during a later repeat, it looked like the lace collar of a maid’s uniform.
Then, episode 3 ends with Ben taking Constance’s advice. He pours a cement foundation on top of the dead grass which is on top of a very dead Hayden and God knows who else, and starts to build a gazebo. As construction gets underway, Moira the Older is watching from a second floor window. She’s crying. Constance walks up to her and tells her, “How tragic. Now she can never leave”, which I would think it’s safe to assume that Hayden will be joining the ranks of undead haunting the house.
But the last scene? The very last scene was extremely telling. It’s nighttime, Vivien is asleep in her bed and we see Nora hovering over her. She places her a ghostly hand above Viv’s stomach. I’m guessing that Nora is there to protect Viv and the unborn baby, because I have a feeling Hayden is going to come back with a vengence and her ghostly target will be the pregnant Mrs. Harmon.
Oh yes, episode 3 was good. Damn good. It delved deeper into the history of that cursed house and its crazy cast of characters. It certainly gave me a tremendous amount to think about and ponder until next week.
But there are a couple of things I need to get out of my system before I put this bad boy to bed: for those of you playing the home game, Sally Freeman killed herself. When Ben zoned out in the middle of her session, she got mad and cut herself to get his attention. The blood he found on his hands when he woke up in the backyard was hers, but not because he’d harmed her. The entire session was captured on his digital recorder, which Sally stole from the office . The recorder was found with her body. Ben didn’t touch her. The recorded session exonerated him–in his mind, anyway.
And let’s talk about the Dr. Montgomery and the connections he and Ben share. There’s more than just the house. They’re both doctors. Both have one child, both have money problems. And both of their lives have been complicated by pregnanices…lots and lots of pregnancies. But let’s delve beyond the commonalities. What if Constance is actually nuch…much….much older than we think and she was young starlet back in during the silent movie era; the 1920’s Let’s say her husband, the cute drunk Car Dealer Reprobate who tried to rape Moira in the basement (soudns like a part of the game, “Clue”) is also an old soul, was sher boyfriend at the time and he got her pregnant . Remember, she did say she’d loved him since she was 16. Well, what if she went to Dr. Montgomery (he was the surgeon to the stars back then) to take care of the abortion. What if THAT was the one child that she thought was perfect and taken from her “by other means” as she told Viv in the kitchen last week. Maybe she feels the abortion was what caused her uterus to be “cursed”. Remember, of the four children she bore, three had Downs Syndrome. If Constance were around back then, that would make her….what??? About 112 in reality, but 42 in Hollywood years???? Maybe this is a Dorian Gray kind of thing happening here.
And what about Nora? Her ghost came back to the house where she was once the mistress. It was her house; one her husband built for her. What if she lost the child, the androgynous looking one at the dinner table and her crazy husband tried to recreate, then reanimate he dead baby ( a la Frankenstein) and what if the Chucky Demon Seed murderous creature that lives in the basement IS her child??? What if he tried to build a child for his grieving wife, just as he built the house for her?!!?!! And what if all the ghosts in the house are actually the fetuses the doctor illegally aborted there? What if all the ghosts in the house ARE grown up versions of the fetuses? I mean, Moira did say she missed her mother. But how could they possibly explain the aging process of ghosts? Some still look so young.
Lastly, what if Dr. Montgomery aborted the fetuses BUT managed to keep them alive somehow? Perhaps, they’re part of “the others”, along with all the miscreant fruit from Constance’s tainted loins haunting the place.
Okay, I know that’s going waaaaaay out on a limb, but it was worth a mention.
And as for that baby monster specifically? Here’s what AHS Co-Creator, Ryan Murphy said about the Chucky/Satan’s Seed Reject child in the basement:
I loved the design of that creature. I love the influence on it. When we designed it, it was sort of a pastiche of different ideas. The mouth of it, which you see for two brief milliseconds, is based on a leech mouth, a picture of a leech mouth I found. I have a lot of reference books. There was a picture I was obsessed with of a child with progeria which is that aging quickly [disorder]. The gown our costume designer Lou and I worked on really closely is sorta closely modeled after the one worn by the Lindbergh baby.
That conjures up a very unsavory image, does it not? One can only catch fleeting, damned near subliminal images of the monster/child right before it attacks its victims. But I did some digging. I went on a veritable vision quest to find a still photo of the basement monster.
Well, I found one and God forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, but frankly kids, I took one look at a pic of this critter and was immediately reminded of the late character actor, Hume Cronyn. He was married to Jessica Tandy, with whom he co-starred in the movie, Cocoon.
Here are the best photos I could find of this horrendous monster ‘pastiche’ and its very dead Hollywood doppelgänger :
See what I mean?? The resemblance is hilariously uncanny. Separated at birth, practically.
Well, there you go.
I must say that as every episode airs, I find myself falling in love with this series. I’m usually quite the iconoclast, running from anything that could be construed as ‘water cooler fodder”, but this show has me hooked. I love the plot and its strange twists and turns and I also love the characters…especially Constance. In fact, I’m thinking about going as her for Halloween.
I just need a bouffant wig, a slight accent, a nicotine addiction…and a board up my ass.
Speaking of Halloween, F/X will air a special Halloween marathon of AHS, featuring the first four episodes of the series on Monday, October 31 beginning at 10:00 ET& PT/9:00 Central. Now, in addition to the Halloween marathon, series Co-Creators and Executive Producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have produced a special two-part Halloween-themed episode in honor of the horror-filled holiday. From what I understand, at least one of these two shows will be a whopping 90 minutes long and check this out: Young Moira will actually reveal herself to someone else OTHER than Ben or the horny detective…and this time, it’ll be a female.