American Horror Story: Episode 11 Review & Synopsis

 

This episode is called “Birth”, but I think   “And Then There Was One” would have been a more appropriate title.   More on that in a bit.

Here’s your flashback.

It’s 1984.

Constance is passed out on the couch in the den, gin in her system; The Bob Newhart Show in her ears. It’s on the TV and Tate is a youngster playing with a  large Tonka dump  truck. He makes a corner and sees that damn door to the magical, mystical basement open up. Tate and truck go down and he’s on the brink of being attacked by the blood hungry Thaddeus, the now 90 years old Hume Cronyn looking Chucky Demon Seed Basement Baby monster. But the ghost of his/its mama appears and saves  Tate  from being lunch. Tate relates to Nora. He falls for her sweet, maternal tenderness and tells her he wishes she was his mother. This pronouncement is completely understandable since the walking Vodka bottle with an up do that birthed him is such a paragon of sweetness, love and parental concern.

I’m being facetious.

Nora teaches Tate how to deal with all the monsters of the house that scare him–a technique he’d eventually share with Violet: he should simply close his eyes and say “go away”. And they will. For a while anyway. The next thing we know, it’s present day. Tate is holding his truck, now a bit rusty and beaten up, as he approaches a weeping Nora who’s doing what? Anyone? Anyone?

Yes, that’s right–crying for her baby, asking where it is. Odd because two scenes earlier she was in the basement with it, telling it to leave Tate alone.

Is it just me or does this make anyone else scratch their heads? I wonder if there’s more to this incessant crying-filled quest of hers than meets the eye.

Moving along, we learn that Ben wants to take Violet to see her mother. He grabs her by the arm and forces her downstairs, out the front door, into the car. She knows she can’t leave the house–she’s dead—so she tries everything she can to keep her father from finding out the reason why she can’t leave.  She pretends to be sick…she fights.  Ben throws her in the back seat.  She lies down, knowing full well the minute the two back Firestones exit the property, she’s going back in the house.   The next thing we know, Violet is standing in one of the upstairs windows,watching Ben drive off….alone. 

How is she gonna explain THAT to Pops????? 

Ben arrives at the hospital to fetch Viv. He learns that one of the chidrins that’s incubating in Vivian’s fleshy factory is usurping all the other baby’s nutrients and what not. This is the Alpha baby and its ready to be born… NOW.   As all this is happening at the nervish hospital as Mr. Slingblade would call it, , Chad and Patrick are back at Murder House  (as if THEY have any place else to go) decorating it and readying it for the twins that they want. Vivian’s twins.   Violet doesn’t like them and eventually seeks Constance’s help to get rid of them. Violet suggests that Billy Dean, the Hollywood psychic with a Lifetime reality deal in the offing, might be able to offer some assistance.

Billy Dean arrives at the house. Constance plies her with liquor and while she’s explaining ways to rid the House of ghosts, she gets a sense that Violet is dead. They communicate telepathically.  Violet  ‘tells’ her not to say anything, therefore, it becomes obvious that Constance doesn’t know Violet is a ghost. Anyway, Billy Dean proves her community college history courses have been worth the money by explaining the first exorcism performed in the US was by the an Indian chief against the Roanoke colonists, who back in the 1500’s, mysteriously vanished from their colony off the coast of one of the Carolinas. They all died, or so says Billie Jean and their ghosts haunted the tribe.  Really wreaked havoc with the natives apparently.  The chief then decided a special  a “Go On/Git Now” vanishing curse would do the trick, so he collects personal items that become talisman.  He  tosses them in a big fire and the key is a saying an extra special super secret  magic  word.

“Croatoan”.    

Yes….croatoan,  and here;s where AHS tries my patience..with silly “shark jumping crap” like Billy Dean’s take on history.  Anyway, Croatoan  is also the exact word which was found carved in the wooden framed fort the colonists had built.  It was a hint; a clue to future colonists.  But, what does the word mean?    I think it’s either the name of a tribe of Native Americans or a foot fungus or possibly, a volcano that erupted somewhere east of Java….not sure, but apparently Billy “Eye of A Newt” Dean seems to think uttering it and burning certain belongings of the ghastly gay ghosts will gladly get them gone from the grounds, Good God, ya’ll..

Violet suggests getting Chad’s watch (“What do ghosts need with a watch?”) and Patrick’s wedding ring.   Tate agrees to help.  He goes to the nursery where Patrick is painting and makes a lame attempt to seduce him.   He instead, ends up getting a knuckle sandwich and a couple of knees to the bread basket.  Guess Patrick is still a bit peeved about being murdered and used as  fireplace poker storage.   Tate comes up bloodied and bruised…BUT…with Patrick’s ring.   He gives it to Violent who somehow managed to get Chad’s watch.    She starts a fire, throws in the jewelry and screams “Croatoan” and nothing happens.  In fact, Chad even walks up to her and makes fun of her for trying a to use magic to create a vanishing act.  He tells her it doesn’t work…never has and never will.  Magic and spells only give the practitioner a sense of  “control”.     Chad then tells her that Tate’s a total tool and probably the father of her as of yet unborn half-brother.   

Ben arrives at the House with Viv to fetch Violet so they can all board a plane to have the baby in Florida. A very pregnant Viv stays in the car.

Ben is inside and he demands to know how Violet performed her little vanishing act.  She eventually tells him it’s because she;s dead and having died in the House, she can never leave.   He looks at her with the most incredulous expression.  As if for a few fleeting moments, he finds her explanation plausible.   As if he’s starting to ‘get it”.   As living father and dead daughter debate life in the House, Viv is outside of it, going into labor and screaming bloody murder.   Constance helps her inside.

The House then does what it can to ensure there is both a birth and death on its premises.  It rallies all ghosts with baby birthin’ expertise to come to the makeshift delivery room downstairs.

Roll Call:

Crazy Ass Dr Montgomery?   

Stabbed nurse from the 1968 murder?  

Chubby drowned nurse from the same crime scene? 

Ben tries to call for an ambulance.    The circuits are busy.   He then heads for his car and the evil, bat wielding red-headed twins who were killed by Thaddeus down in the basement during episode 1  are vandalizing the hell out of Ben’s car.   The lights go out.  He runs to be by Viv’s side and sees a candle lit room and two nurses and a doctor betwixt his wife’s legs.   He seems confused.  What is he seeing?  Who are these people?   Constance slaps him and tells him that the House IS trying to help him…go with it. 

Long story short:  Viv gives birth to a still-born child.  We didn’t see it,  but I would imagine it had bites taken out of it;  eaten by its more powerful womb mate.   That one survives.  We never see it but Constance seems to think its beautiful, as does Moira the Older.     As they clean the slime off of it, as Hayden so eloquently put it,  Dr. Montgomery announces that Viv is severely hemorrhaging and there’s little he can do.   Remember this spook went to med school in something like 1916.    What would he know?

Was it just me or when Constance was carrying the baby to clean it, did her face as she was walking morph into someone else’s face?   I could have sworn it did.

Anyway, Violet appears by her mother’s side and tells her not to fight the pain, just let go.  She does.  I wonder if Ben knew Violet was even there.

Viv dies with this odd sound effect, like water going down a drain.

And earlier, it was as if Constance knew it was about to happen, too.   She very quickly told everyone it was time to cut the cord, to ‘separate mother from son”.

Constance died giving birth to a boy.

But a boy what????

Sacrifice…sacrifice…sacrifice????    Viv was used….a birthin’ vessell.  Maybe the word surrogacy plays a bigger role here, too. 

Violet is upstairs to confront Tate.    She tells him she loves him but he has to pay for what he’s done.   He raped her mother and she died while giving birth to at least one of his offspring,  therefore he killed her mom, too.  Tate cries when she tells him he shot several of his classmates.  He knows he’s dead.  He knows how he died, but he can’t remember why he died.     Viv cries and wails and closes her eyes and screams “GO AWAY” and wishes good ol’ Tate to the cornfield.  She’s then consoled by the loving arms of Viv who tells her she’s proud of her.  Viv knows she’s dead.  Ghost mom hugs ghost daughter.

And with that,there’s only one Harmon left standing and with next Wednesday being the season finale, how long will he be a solo act living in a house that clearly either loves him or hates him.  I say that because Ben seems to be Teflon coated when it comes to the House.   He never sees any of the ghosts.   Hayden yes….Moira, too but still, he seems absolved from some of its terrors. 

Next week’s show will be 90 minutes in length.  I’ve read plenty of questions will be answered and typically, more will be formed as we have to wait months before Season 2 begins.   I’ll bet this branch of the Harmon family will go extinct.   Ben will be too depressed to go on: his wife is dead,  as is infant child,  his teenaged  daughter…his mistress and as best as I can tell, so is his psychiatric practice. 

If the Harmon’s all die in the House…that means they can stay in the House…which means they can haunt another family next season.     I have no idea how next week’s show will play out, but I bet its interesting.  

Speaking of interesting, I found one scene in tonight’s show to be potentially pivotal.  It was between Tate and Billy “The Lee Press On Nails Psychic” Dean.   As she was telling Violet and Constance about her knowledge of American colonial history, she sensed evil and stopped in mid sentence and said, “He can’t be here”.   She knew  Tate standing in the doorway behind her.   Constance introduced him as her son and Billy Dean slowly turned to face him but did so with a very ominous look on her face.   And just as she completely turned around, all she could see was his arm…a very darkened arm, move out of her range of vision.  

Ah Tate, you adorable spawn of Satan…..and to be honest, I don’t think I’m too far off the mark when I say that.    I keep thinking about something Leah said.  Remember she was the girl who harassed Violet at school and who Violet lured to the House to buy some blow and was instead attacked by Thaddeus in the basement???   A few episodes later when she and Violet were friends and having one of their empty pool side chats, the devil was the topic of conversation.   Leah said:

Leah: The Devil is real. And he’s not a little red man with horns and a tail. He can be beautiful. Because he’s a fallen angel, and he used to be God’s favorite. Have you read the Book of Revelation?
Violet: No.
Leah: In Heaven, there’s this woman in labor howling in pain. And there’s a red dragon with seven heads waiting so he can eat her babies. But howling in pain. And there’s a Red Dragon with seven heads waiting so he can eat her babies. But the Archangel Michael  hurls the dragon down to Earth and from hat moment on, the Red Dragon hates the woman and declares war on all her children.  That’s us!!!!

Red dragon?    Interesting that so many of the characters in AHS have red hair–the twins, both Moiras, Hayden with her  strawberry blond tresses and even Viv has auburn highlights.      

Also, as Viv gave  birth, she was serenaded by the sounds of a very morose cello, one of the initial clues that we were teased with before the premier of AHS in October.    And when Chad and Violet are talking, he tells her that he and Patrick won’t be parents…that Viviens baby’s are ‘safe’…from ‘us’ at least.   Who’s ‘us’?   Patrick and Chad or the ghosts in the House??? 

And then there’s Ben.     I still think that quite possibly…maybe…perhaps…all this is about Ben.  That this is some surreal aspect of his sinister past that’s catching up with him.  Karma being played out before our.   Perhaps, like Tate, he has yet to grasp the evil he’s committed.   His dissociation with certain events (Violet’s telling him she’s dead; Viv’s dying before his very eyes) are all a bit unnerving and rather telling, at least in my world.    And it’s not like we haven’t been given glimpses of his Bad Assitude…from his affair to his almost homosexual dalliance with Patrick at Halloween to his confession to Tate in session, that he too had been a troubled kid.

Perhaps, Ben is the only on haunted here.

But beyond that,  there’s a reason why Billy Dean didn’t see Tate tonight.   I  don’t know why, but that long belabored turn to gaze on the evil she felt, but ultimately didn’t see  is significant.    Tate is more than a ghost.   Much more.

Here’s one of his quotes from an earlier episode:

“I prepare for the noble war. I’m calm, I know the secret. I know what’s coming and I know no one can stop me, including myself. I kill people I like. Some of them beg for their life. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything. It’s a filthy world we live in. It’s a filthy goddamn helpless world, and honestly, I feel like I’m helping to take them away from the shit and the piss and the vomit that run in the streets. I’m helping to take them somewhere clean, and kind. And there’s something about all that blood man, I drown in it. And Indians believed that blood holds all the bad spirits. And once a month in ceremonies they would cut themselves to let the spirits go free. Now there’s something smart about that, very smart. I like that. You think I’m crazy?    The world is a filthy place, It’s a filthy goddamn horror show. There’s so much pain you know?   There’s so much.”

Vivien bled to death and did so while in horrible pain.

Hhhhhhhhh’mmmmmmmm……

Next week’s show and next week’s post ought to be damned interesting.   Can’t wait.   

Oh and by the way,  the word “Croatoan” doesn’t rid your home of spooks…nor can it rid your ass of fat.   Chanted the word as I burned my butt’s favorite panties in my fireplace.    A few minutes later, I looked in the mirror— my butt is still there; still just as large.    In fact, slap some size 6 Florsheims on it and it would just like Danny Devito.

6 comments

  1. This review was great on American Horror Story! I wasn’t able to catch it last night since I was working late but I recorded it. I’m going to be sad when this season ends.

  2. 1) I LOVE your reviews of this show. I’m a GIANT chicken and can’t actually watch it due to bad dreams and such…but reading your reviews is the next best thing.

    2) Is Constance dead? I can’t remember (but I’m thinking the answer if NO) and I don’t want to reread everything.

    Thanks and Keep up the reviews…I’m counting on them.

  3. That’s entertainment! What a show! And so many great lines “it’s perversion.” “Yeah and so is your hairdo.” “What are you going to do – murder me?” Hilarious.

    And so much happened.

    Thoughts:
    – the birthing scene was sort of Rosemary’s Baby-like (I kept thinking someone would say “he has his father’s eyes”).
    – Doctor handed the first one to his wife who walked away smiling. Is this baby really dead? Can a born dead baby be a ghost (so she will perpetually have a baby)?
    – did Constance take the baby home or to the kitchen? Can she even take it out of the house?
    – poor Ben – all alone and nuts in a house full of ghosts
    – can’t wait for Constance and Tate to meet up and have it out
    – I keep wondering about Constance’s fourth child. I seem to remember her saying early on that she had four children – 3 imperfect and one perfect (and I assume her definition of perfect is Tate). Who is that 4th kid?
    – is season two is Vivian’s sister coming to find her and pack up the house? Good luck, honey.

  4. I am grateful for your thorough synopsis since my DirecTV went out five minutes into this episode. At least I can live it vicariously through your blog until it repeats next week. Thank you for the excellent work and happy holidays!

  5. Nice review. I like your thoughts that this is somehow all about Ben; I’ve been thinking along those lines, too. He’s just been kept so… I dunno exactly – wild card-ish? There have been allusions to a “troubled” youth but no reveals.

    However it all turns out, it has definitely been the TV event of the year for me!

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