“HALLOWEEN” PART ONE
Where in the hell do I begin?????
How about at the beginning with the flashback; how all good American Horror Story episodes begin.
It’s the kitchen at The Murder House, Halloween: 2010.
Chad and Patrick are surrounded by carved pumpkins and all have a French theme, from a bad carving of Marie Antoinette to fleur d’lys These two men are gay. They’re a couple. We learn very quickly that they live in the house, but they don’t “love” there. There’s trouble in relationship paradise. Patrick is probably having an affair with someone at Gay Church (the gym) and Chad, played wonderfully with slight over the top appeal by the wonderful Zachary Quinto, is pretty much over it all. They’re staying together because every cent they have has gone to into flipping the house. They’re miserable…they can’t sell it because of the economy, but they’re hoping that a fabulous Halloween party photographed by some glossy rag, will inspire someone to buy the place, so they can offload the house and ultimately, probably, each other.
Patrick says yes, he is most definitely having an affair…and with a power bottom he met at the gym (I won’t explain ‘powerbottom’. just think about it a bit) and feels completely justified. They’ve disintegrated as a couple, they’re broke and their dreams of having a baby are now kaput, too. He then storms out and Chad is left behind to contemplate the apple bobbing station.
He looks up and what does he see? The Rubber Man in the black latex S&M onesy standing in the doorway of the kitchen. Chad thinks it’s Patrick showing him his costume, so he begins to apologize for his role in the decline of their relationship. As he spoke, Rubber Man cocked his head in a movement reminiscent of Michael Meyers in all 284 Halloween movies. It was as if he was trying to comprehend what Chad was saying. As Chad moves towards him for an apologetic embrace, Rubber Man goes berserk and tosses Miss Chad all over that kitchen and ended the scene by giving Chad a swirly in the apple bobbing barrel. Did he drown? Not sure. Everyone tells me Gimps gotta grip, because they say he broke Chad’s neck underwater. They heard the snap. Twenty nine years of wearing headphones and IFB ear pieces prevented me from hearing a damn thing, so I’ll take every body’s word for it. Rubber Man (and obvious homophobe) pulls Chad’s head out of the water and plops him down on the floor, just as Patrick enters the kitchen dressed in this cowboy outfit (his actual Halloween costume) that is so completely West Village looking.
He sees what’s happening; a wet, seemingly lifeless Chad lying on the kitchen floor with a guilty looking man in a shiny black latex S&M suit hovering over him, but he has absolutely no emotion whatsoever. Was Patrick killed, too? Gimp-handled like, Chad?
Was this the gory murder/suicide of the gay couple, the very one the real estate agent spoke of in the pilot? Gory? Where was the gore? And didn’t she make a reference about finding the dead duo with a fireplace poker very strategically placed??? I didn’t see a fireplace poker anywhere.
That whole kitchen attack reminded me of the Death Tour seen last week. As the narrator was explaining famous LA area murder scenes, we were treated to the re-enactment of actor, Sal Mineo’s murder. He was rolled by a homophobe in some back alley…someone he thought was coming on to him. I wondered last week what the relevance of that was. I think there’s a connection with the flashback.
Ben and Viv are talking to their cheesy real estate agent. They’re mad that too few prospective buyers are coming by to see the house. The agents says the house has an image problem. She suggests using a gay fellow she knows…a fluffer…and not the kind who help prep a scene in an X rated movie. These are people who can punch up a house and make it more appealing to the buying public. The agent says she’ll call ‘him’…not them….him.
The next thing we know, Patrick and Chad are standing in the front yard, criticizing the landscape. Viv asks them if they’re the fluffers the real estate agent spoke of. They just exchange a glances and introduce themselves, not saying they are the fluffers and not saying they’re not. Viv invites them in and they go to the kitchen and immediately start to carve pumpkins. The four are carving away and Chad and Patrick are sniping at each other. Chad brings up the fact that Patrick is finally helping himwith all the Halloween prep; something he didn’t do year and he still resents him for it. Then, Patrick utters one of two best lines of the evening. He apologizes to Viv and Ben saying:
…. Halloween brings out Chad’s inner George and Martha…
A hilarious reference to the extremely dysfunctional couple in the movie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?
Ben cuts his hand and Patrick, who’s apparently an EMT takes Ben upstairs where the First Aid kit is and in the midst of treating the wound, grabs Dylan right in his McDermott in a very cheesy come on. What’s odd is that Ben rebuffs his advances, but not with all that much force. He kind of gives Patrick “a look”, as if for a scant few seconds, he might have considered receiving one of a Patrick’s BJs…AND I’M NOT TALKING A BOUT A BOTTLE OF BARTLES AND JAMES, EITHER!!!! It was odd, really. I mean hey, we learned in a brief conversation with Tate that he too was a troubled bad ass when he was young. More on that I’m sure, in subsequent episodes.
As this is going down (or rather, as Patrick is ATTEMPTING TO upstairs), Chad and Viv are talking. He tells Viv that Ben seems uptight and dark. She listens. He shares with her that he caught Patrick cheating and did so by snooping; through cell phone records namely. You can almost see a lightbulb appear over Viv’s head.
Viv follows Chad’s lead and does a little snooping herself and finds proof on the bill that Hayden has called more than 20 times. Ben tells her that she’s no longer a problem and won’t bother them again…just as his cell phone rings. Viv checks the caller ID.
It’s Hayden calling.
Ben’s face turns eight shades of white with that little news tidbit. And with good reason. Remember, the last time Ben saw her, she had a shovel in her head and was taking a perpetual dirt nap underneath the new gazebo he built, which as Chad told us before his hissy fit, has the wrong lattice-work on it. He was awfully insistent that Ben remove it the day after Halloween.
Then, we mozy over to Constance’s house where we get to see a very different side to her relationship with her daughter. She’s actually kind of loving and appropriately maternal fir the first time. We learn that Addy wants to be “a pretty girl” for Halloween. Constance says no, she’ll be Snoopy…AGAIN. Addy says no, she wants to be a pretty girl. She then sneaks over to Violet’s room where she asks her to grab a little Maybelline and turn her into “a pretty girl”. Violet tarts her up. Addy goes back home. Constance sees her looking like a Max Factor reject and gets angry. She asks who put that gunk on her face. Addy tells her Violet did it and then Connie delivers the second best line of the night:
…That girl is just asking for another cupcake…
Well, grab the bottle of Ipecac and prime your salivary glands, Addy!! Mama’s gonna be bakin’ again!!!!
Tate makes a date with Violet in the basement. He tries to scare her by surprising her while wearing that black Latest onesy. She asks him to tell her what’s with the basement. Tate elaborates a bit more on what we learned last week which was that Dr. Charles Montgomery built the house for his wife, Nora back in 1922. He became a drug addict and got stranger in his thought processes and all of this was exacerbated by serious financial problems. This prompts Nora to suggest that he perform abortions for promiscuous little Hollywood starlets who’d gotten preggers. Lucrative gig…$60 bucks per procedure. But one young woman told her boyfriend about what the Good Doctor had done and he got mad. Apparently, he was looking forward to fatherhood. He calls the McDonald house one night. Nora answers and all she hears on the other end is, “an eye for an eye…a tooth for a tooth”. She realizes this is about revenge, so she runs up to check on her eye and tooth baby. His crib is empty, the window is open and in a scene eerily reminiscent of the Lindbergh kidnapping, there’s a wooden ladder propped up against the second story window.
Bruno Hauptmann’s handiwork, I swear to God.
So, Dr. Montgomery had “taken” his baby…revenge man would then take his baby.
The Doctor and Nora wait for a ransom call that never comes. Then, there’s knock on the door and two policemen greet Dr. M with a box marked evidence. Inside, is the baby…or parts thereof. Dismembered. The doc takes the box and the next thing we know, he’s down in his basement lab, trying to piece his child back to together with needle and thread, much to wife Nora’s over-acting.
It’s interesting that this was my initial thought the minute I heard about the Montgomery back story. The crazy ass doctor re-animated the baby, brought it back to life and it’s now close to 90 years of age and is, as Tate told Violet, still living in the basement where he was created. Violet isn’t buying it; says he’s full of crap and they make a date to meet the next day.
It’s now Halloween.
Chad and Patrick are back in the house and they’ve helped decorate it for the showing, but they end up having a huge fight with Viv and Ben. Chad angrily tells Viv that it’s THEIR house and the Ben and Viv don’t deserve it…they know it…even the house knows it. It’s THEIR house and they’re not leaving. Viv has a fit and starts destroying all the decorations. Then, you get a glimpse of the gimp suit guy shining in the corner of the room, Patrick and Chad see it, (I think) and Patrick says something, then he and Chad high tail it out of the house. I couldn’t tell what he says and I even watched the repeats after the initial showing. It was something “you don’t need to see this” or something.
Ben and Viv turn the fight with the queens into a battle royale over Hayden. Viv tells him she wants him out of the house…LEAVE!!!… and as she’s shouting at him, she develops major abdominal pains and doubles over. Just when we think she’s gonna give us a repeat performance of last week’s hematological method acting demonstration on the murder tour bus–you know, that bloody Carrie White High School locker room shower scene—she says the baby’s kicking…hard…too hard and it hurts. Ben says nah, can’t be. The fetus is just eight weeks old. He rushes her to the hospital.
As this drama is unfolding, Addy comes to Murder House to trick or treat wearing a ‘pretty girl’ mask that Constance relented and bought her. Addy runs across the street in an attempt to trick or treat with some ‘pretty girls” who she saw and she’s run over by a car that doesn’t stop. Paramedics arrive. Constance hears the ambulance and comes out and sees her daughter lying motionless in the street. She’s obviously very distraught. She asks the EMTs if Addy is still alive. They tell Constance that they’re doing all they can which of course, in Constance’s world isn’t enough. She screams at them, tells them to get out of the way, that Addy has to be taken to the lawn before it’s too late.
To the lawn of the Harmon’s house…
The Murder House…
And what’s so odd is that when she realizes that Addy died BEFORE she was able to get her on the lawn, she becomes hysterical. It was very, very ….very important that if Addy had to die, she had to die on that property.
Is the land on which Murder House is built, hallowed ground? Are we talking about a Stephen King “Pet Sematary” kind of scenario here in what’s buried on this property, doesn’t stay buried???
Ben and Viv are in the ER. An ultra sound tech preps Viv for a looksee into her womb and when she does, she faints. We can ONLY imagine what she sees on that screen. I’m thinking the baby is aging rapidly and even en utero, it’s probably wearing an Oshkosh b’ Gosh black latex S&M onesy…just like daddy.
Violet is home alone, in her room upstairs. The doorbell rings…always a problem at this house. Keep in mind that all day long Burned Guy has been bugging Ben about the grand he needs for the head shot; the one thousand smackers (literally) he asked for last week. All day long, Ben has been telling him to leave him alone, to get off and stay off his property.
But as you’ll see in this clip, Burned Guy gives it one more college try.
Then Ben and Viv rush back home, only to find the door open, the alarm on…and Violet no where in sight. Connie makes a mad dash through the house looking for her daughter. The bad news doorbell rings. Ben answers it and it’s either Avril Lavigne standing there or a very dead, very dirty Hayden, fresh from her appearance, six feet under the gazebo.
Ben takes one look what we all know will be his newest ghostly house guest-slash-pain in the ass, and just slowly closes the door.
I’m beginning to cobble a few things together. Namely, underlying themes that seem to be common amongst every resident who’s ever lived in this house. They are:
- Relationship strife
- Pregnancy issues of some sort
- Emotional unbalance on many levels
- Financial issues
Just for grins, let’s take a look at something. What if the house is only haunted by the demons of its residents? No, not the Underwood Deviled Ham kind. I’m talking about the emotional ones that can, in a weakened state, compel us to do all the wrong things, at all the wrong times.
- Not trying hard enough to thwart relationship strife
- To procreate for all the wrong reasons; to not value life; to use a pregnancy to manipulate
- Emotional issues
- Making irresponsible and/or impetuous investments; living beyond one’s means; employing unethical attempts to correct the situation
And let’s talk about all the psychological issues at work in AHS and this is going waaaaaaay out on a limb here. What if Burned Guy was at one time Constance’s husband? I do believe she said she was married a few times and one husband movie star good looks and that probably contributed to their curse. Well, what if he killed Constance and the children in that fire that left him so terribly scarred? The scarring was his “big get even for being so damned handsome and arrogant about it????? Maybe, but I’m becoming increasingly more convinced that Burned Guy is Ben or to be more specific, a physical manifestation of Ben’s skewed subconscious. It’s either that or he’s a ghostly contract employee, hired by the house to drive Ben crazy….or get him to do its murderous bidding.
And really, that notion wouldn’t be so far-fetched, either. Burned Guy mostly pops up when Ben is alone. Now true, Violet heard him pounding on the front door, but if you go back and watch the video, he puts his fingers over the peep-hole. She doesn’t actually see his face. She even calls Ben and describes him as “one of his patients”. This is about perspective. Let us remember what Moira told Viv and Ben in the last week’s smack down in the kitchen, “Men only see what they want to see.” So, that could possibly….maybe….mean that Burned Guy is nothing more than an imaginary friend. Like the one Phoebe Cates had in “Drop Dead Fred”. In this awful, AWFUL movie, Phoebes conveniently blames Fred for the mischief around the house, though Fred is really the one emptying cereal on the table and coloring the walls with a one of Crayola’s cadre of green shades. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if was really Ben who bopped Hayden over the head with that shovel. I mean, Hayden’s removal makes life easier for good old Bennie. Last week, we learned Hayden didn’t have the abortion and instead chose to keep the baby and move to Los Angeles where she fully expects an already financially strapped Ben to support her and the baby. She’d become a problem; Burned Guy took care of it. He’s just a form of dissociation. His face is scarred and ugly because Ben’s thoughts are. They’re actually one in the same.
And what’s with the implication that Burned Guy wants to become an actor? We’re assuming that since he asked Ben for a grant for head shots. Head shots??? My friend, Eddie Gomez (of the Raymondville Gomez’s) pointed out that his asking for a grand for a head shot, could have actually meant it would cost Ben a thousand dollars for him to kill Hayden by smacking her in the head with a shovel. “Head shot”, get it? What happened with Hayden could have been a professional hit; an outward cry stemming from Ben’s desperate financial situation.
Interesting, Mr. Gomez. Interesting, indeed. And if Burned Guy is a warped aspect of his personality, his urging Ben to run lines with him for the play, “The Odd Couple” last week is some right tasty irony, folks.
Furthermore, after the home invasion from episode 2, Viv no longer wants to live in the house. She contacted a realtor who put the house back on the market. The doorbell rings and it’s a prospective buyer, but not just any buyer, it’s the ghost of Nora Montgomery, the wife of the crazy abortion doctor. who unlike Moira, hasn’t aged at all. And we know she’s a ghost because A) we recognized her from an earlier flashback the minute Viv answered the door and when she and Viv are talking in the kitchen, the camera pans behind her and we’re treated to a gaping hole in the back of her head. Okay, but how and why did that happen? Who did it? Well, last week we learned as Viv did that her house is a macabre tourist attraction. Viv is tending to her roses in the front yard when the Infinite Darkness tour bus stops in front. This bus takes the morbidly curious to all the infamous murder scenes throughout LA . Viv overhears the narrator, Craig (Lois’ supervisor from “Malcolm In The Middle”) telling photo snapping tourists that her house is the last stop on the tour and it’s known as “The Murder House”. Vivien then takes the tour herself to find out what she can about all the things that have happened in her home. That’s how we learned that the Montgomery’s had built the house nine decades earlier and it was a place where “an estimated two dozen women went under the crazed doctor’s knife thanks to his wife Nora insistence. (The abortion game was a mighty profitable one in 1922) But the souls of the little ones must have weighed heavy upon them as their reign of terror climaxed in the shocking finale in 1926.” We know about what happened to the Montgomery baby but what happened to the Montgomery’s themselves?? Nora has a gaping head wound as we saw in the Harmon’s kitchen, but what exactly happened? Who did it? Why? Huh???? Don’t leave us hanging, Craig Feldspar!!!!!!!!!!!!
The past four episodes have made me realize that AHS is most definitely as much about perception as anything else. It’s about how we perceive others and how we perceive our own values and prejudices. The young and old versions of Moira exemplify that and probably the way Ben perceives the Burned Guy; possibly even the way Violet sees Tate and vice versa.
The Gay couple, even.
Let’s elaborate further: what if the Rubber Man is a shiny black personification of motivation? Maybe he is, at any one given time, an anthropomorphic form of the Seven Deadly sins. He appears during seductions, jealousy….rage. What if he was actually Patrick’s rage? It was a very angry and resentful Patrick who drowned Chad in the apple bobbing vat, but it manifested itself as the Rubber Man. What if Ben actually killed Hayden in a fit a rage but that emotion manifested itself as Burned Guy????
I think AHS’s creators won’t have to jump the proverbial episodic shark for a very long time. I think they can keep the subject matter fresh and very much alive while focusing so much on the dead. And using Jessica Lange as sparingly as they do, plus giving her wonderful zinger-like exit lines (and you have to admit, she ends almost all of her scenes by tossing out a smart ass barb, then exiting sound stage left), will keep us wanting more. And more episodes like last week’s, in which just the right amount of conflict and drama emerged and then was hit in the head with a shovel, then buried, then covered over with a cement slab and ultimately, with a cute little cedar plank gazebo, make for compelling television.
There’s one thing that bothers me about AHS, it’s that the writers have included and are adhering to a sense of isolation among the Harmon family members.
- It took three episodes for Ben to tell Viv that Moira the Younger sexually toys with him. Considering his philandering past and the fact that he seems to wants to reconcile with his wife, he surely would have or should said something to her, just to reiterate that the trust is back
- We never see Viv tell Ben or Violet that their house just so happens to be the pièce de résistance for the morbidly curious on a murder location tour bus, nor does she tell them that she took the tour to learn all about its very violent past. We have yet to hear her share any details she found out: of Dr. Montgomery’s illicit womb tinkering in his basement lab. Now, maybe it’s just me, but if my home was known as “The Murder House” and it had once been an erstwhile abortion clinic and the scene of God knows how many other murders and acts of debauchery, I would think she’d want to share that with her family. Leave a voice mail. A few carefully placed Post It notes….SOMETHING!!!
- Viv has also kept mum about Gaping Headwound Nora, the ghostly prospective home buyer who did the vanishing act in the kitchen
- Ben never talks about his visits with Burned Guy
- Violet never says a word about Tate’s constant appearance in the house. Nor does she seem bothered at all when he shows up in the backyard, on her bed or peeking through an A/C vent at all hours of the day and night
And this also bugged me; pregnant Viv along with her daughter, narrowly escape being murdered during a very strange home invasion, yet when
she tells her OB/GYN that she wants to move, the doctor tell hers NO!!! Moving is too stressful. At no point does Viv or Ben tell the doctor one thing about the attack. Gee, in my simple, little ROCK/PAPER/SCISSORS world, I would think the stress level of almost being murdered in a house I hated, especially one that has evil lurking under every floorboard would top the stress of moving on any given day!!!
Then again, real life–it ain’t.
Or does AHS reflect it perfectly???
An African-American colleague of mine says she enjoys the show, but her family can’t understand why white people like the Harmon’s, never leave haunted houses. “Black folk”, she tells me, “would have walked out the minute the realtor told them that the previous owners died there in a murder/suicide.” We laughed at that. Then, the more I thought about it, I realized that while this show is total fiction, there’s a lot of zeitgeist permeating its many layers. The Harmon’s can’t afford to move. They’re broke and like so many other people in this country, they’re stuck in a miserable situation. Even in a primo housing market, this home would be a tough sell due to its sinister reputation. And even if you remove the supernatural aspect from this story line, people would still be able to relate to the problems this family endures. While it’s true that most Americans aren’t haunted by ghosts as the Harmon’s are, they do know what it’s like to be tormented by specters of bill collectors, service termination notices, IRS liens, threatening lawyers and negative balances in their bank accounts. Then add to that mix a very troubled teenaged daughter, a miscarriage and a marriage damaged by infidelity, and you’ve got a show that mirrors all kinds of very real American horror stories. Nothing is scarier than trying to exist for one hour of one single day knowing you’re on the verge of bankruptcy. The Harmon’s are standing perilously close to that fiscal abyss.
And then again, perhaps they can’t leave the house…..because they’re dead. Yeah, throw THAT one into your salad of confusion, people.
Here’s why—when Viv spoke about her miscarriage in the pilot, she mentioned it involved so much blood. Perhaps she bled to death. Violet has the scars of a cutter up and down her arms. Perhaps one is from her suicide. Maybe Ben died in one of the very fires he keeps dreaming about. Perhaps the Harmon’s themselves are a part of the ghostly contingency that haunts the home and completely stuck there, too. And here’s something else I’ve noticed: so far, every patient sees in his practice ends up dying–Bianca was one of the home invaders from episode 2; she was killed in the basement and Sally Freeman from episode 3, ended up killing herself. Perhaps, the only patient who isn’t dead is Tate. Could it be possible that he’s one of those people in the house that I mentioned before? Just terribly human and very troubled, trying to deal with his demons in his life that when triggered, bring out the monster in him????
And lastly, just where in the hell is Violet?????? Was she kidnapped as some sort of eye for an eye revenge deal? The Burned Guy wanted his thousand bucks so badly that he snatched Ben’s daughter? Will she be returned to Viv and Ben in about 12 pieces in a box marked “evidence”, just like the Montgomery’s baby? Not unless actress, Taissa Farmiga’s contract with F/X is up and she’s got superb lawyer AND a whopping three picture deal at Paramount pending. Otherwise, her character is too important.
No, I’ll wager that Violet’s strange absence from the house is fairly easily explained. I bet Rubber Man scared her and she ran out of the house, security alarm blaring. She probably somewhere with Tate…at least she can be with him out and about, until 11:59 pm Halloween. As my reader, Wickedly Rose reminded me, Halloween is the one day that the dead can walk freely among the living. It’s why Tate was seen outside the house for once–why he was able to meet Ben at a Food Court; how Violet was able to hear Burned Guy banging on the front door (providing he’s a ghost or maybe as we said, he’s Ben’s warped subconscious magically brought to life for one brief 24 hour period like a very dangerous, angry, heavily keloid Frosty the Snowman); how the gay couple arrived on the Harmon’s front lawn; and even though I didn’t mention this in the body of my post, it’s how Moira the Older was able to leave the house and go to the hospice to see her dying mother and and lastly, it’s why we won’t see Addy return as a ghost and the reason is simple: despite Constance’s DESPERATE efforts to ensure that her daughter die on the lawn of the Harmon’s house; on the lawn of “The Murder House”.
It’s about a certain form of Restoration, I do believe.
Despite its faults and all the sadness, tragedy and evil that has and always will permeate its very core, this house just might represent the damnedest of second chances.