AMERICAN HORROR STORY Recap: “Halloween Part 2”

     November 2, 2011

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Hopefully you took our advice last week when we told you FX would be re-airing episodes of their new hit American Horror Story and that you should check them out. If you haven’t yet, I’d advise doing a little background on the series before reading on, otherwise you’ll be woefully lost. We’re going to try an episode recap, like we do for Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. If you like it let us know and we’ll keep bringing them to you as new episodes air. Since FX ordered a second season of American Horror Story, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Last night, a new episode aired, which was the conclusion to the two-part Halloween special. It answered some questions both explicitly and through some deductive logic. Hit the jump for my review.

dylan-mcdermott-american-horror-story-image“Halloween: Part 2” is not the most original title on the block, but it did act as a sort of soft finale for the introductory arc to the series. We know the players, we have a pretty good idea of who’s dead and who’s alive and I think it’s safe to say that there is going to be something very, very wrong with Vivien Harmon’s (Connie Britton) baby. Moving on.

Part 2 opened up more or less where Part 1 ended. Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare), the burned-face shovel-wielder is pounding on the Harmon’s door and demanding money from Ben (Dylan McDermott). Since only Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is home (aside from all the creepers that live in the basement), we get a real sense of dread right off the bat. That sense is validated as S&M man (or The Gimp) creeps on Violet from behind. Then, surprise! He disappears.

When Violet gets to her room and we see the hand reaching out for her from under the bed, we’re reminded of Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) doing it in a previous episode. Problem is, Addy got run over by a car and Constance (Jessica Lange) couldn’t get her onto the house’s property in time to “save” her. So, was that Franken-baby reaching out for Violet? (Seriously, if you’re still reading at this point without having seen any previous episodes, you must think I’m psychotic.)

american-horror-story-imageAnyway, at this point good old Tate (Evan Peters) shows up again and whisks Violet off on a hot Halloween date at the beach, complete with black, spray-painted rose. Let’s follow this line of the plot now for simplicity’s sake. Violet and Tate are getting all hot and heavy until a group of teenagers dressed as the undead spoil the party. (I’d call them the Coolsville gang, but they’re wearing Westfield High jackets, so we’ll go with that.) They start threatening Tate, eventually following the young couple back to the house. When Violet stands up to them, we start to get the sense that maybe the kids aren’t wearing costumes…maybe they’re actually dead.

(Fun fact: on Halloween night, the dead can walk freely!) Or run, as it seems, since Tate leads the teens on a merry chase through the neighborhood. They track him back to the beach (must have been a budget shortage) and demand to know why he killed them. There are flashbacks to the pilot episode where a masked assailant, assumedly Tate, shoots up the school. Tate repeats that he doesn’t know them and never hurt them. As we’ve only seen Tate leave the house on Halloween, it raises the question of whether or not Tate is actually dead. (One of the ghosts says she should be 34, which puts her out of live-Tate’s timeline, but possibly in dead-Tate’s memories.)

alexandra-breckenridge-american-horror-story-imageWhile Tate’s off playing Psycho Beach Party, Violet is having a heart-to-heart with Constance. Constance reveals that Addy is dead and makes Violet promise not to tell Tate, who turns out to be her son. (A lot of people saw this coming, but it’s nice to have a show that actually answers questions fairly quickly.) Jessica Lange does her usual immaculate performance at switching between a mourning mother and selfish harpy. She does have a great line however, when talking about Addy’s death:

“When a parent dies, the child feels their own mortality. When a child dies, the parent loses their immortality.”

More fun times await Violet and Constance in the next episode as the previews suggested. More on that in a minute.

The really interesting plot line in this episode was the climax of the Ben/Vivien/Hayden (Kate Mara) love triangle. Hayden, who has proven herself to be quite dead in this episode (“rotting from the inside out”), has shown up to attempt a reunion with Ben. Failing that, she resolves to at least tell Vivien the truth about her cheating husband. Mara really channels a great undead succubus and psychotic ex-girlfriend. She was the most terrifying part of this episode: writing “Ask Him” with phantom fingers in Vivien’s steamy bathroom mirror while on the phone with her, hiding under the water in Vivien’s bathtub and then leaving a pool of blood behind, pretending to microwave that yappy annoying dog. All classic, yet effective, horror shtick.

American-Horror-Story-imageEqually creepy was O’Hara’s performance as Larry in this episode. He was nearly beaten to death by Ben at the outset and we’ve confirmed why. In a scene that reminded me of Heath Ledger’s Joker performance, Larry begs Ben to kill him “so he can come back to haunt him.” Ben threatens that very thing and Larry replies, “Promises, promises.” Larry repays the favor later on and whacks Ben with his ever-handy shovel to knock him unconscious and attempt to burn the house to the ground. (Only to be stopped by Chad (Zachary Quinto) who seems keen on keeping the house just the way he wants it.)

But back to the love triangle. Ben is laying in the basement unconscious until resident ghost Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe) shows up to save the day. She chides Ben’s lack of fight as he lays there, bound with rope. “I will not permit another failure in this house,” she says. She whispers, “Save the baby” while untying Ben’s ropes.

Meanwhile, Hayden finally confronts Vivien in the flesh, so to speak. In the best moment of this episode, the phrase “pregnant pause” takes on a new meaning. Both women learn of the other’s pregnancy. (Hayden’s is definitely by Ben. Vivien’s could be by Ben or the S&M man.) In Hayden’s twisted sense of justice, since Ben wanted her to abort her baby, she should do the same with Vivien’s. She attempts to cut the baby out with a shard from a smashed picture. Ben arrives just in time to stop Hayden and confess everything (except the minor murder of Hayden and the burying of her under the gazebo).

American-Horror-Story-imageActual-hero Luke (Morris Chestnut) from Heirloom Security swoops in to neutralize Hayden and take her to the police. Surprise, surprise, but when he gets to the police station, she’s disappeared from the squad car.

Back at the Harmon house, the sun has risen. House ghosts, including Moira the Maid (Frances Conroy), all gloomily return home, unable to leave the premises until the next Halloween. (Okay maybe it’s just me, but I loved that they chose the gay Chad to see the older version of Moira instead of the younger version, played by Alexandra Breckinridge. Obviously, her charms would be useless against him.) Inside the house, Ben is packing and Vivien is brooding. We end with Ben leaving the house.

Then some nice previews roll which lead us to suggest the real meat of the series’ plot is yet to come. Vivien’s baby is “neither innocent nor human” and Constance is insistent that the birth go off without a hitch. “We need that baby,” she says. “We need another sweet child around here.” Creepy.

So, would you guys like to continue these recaps? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to spout off with some of your theories. (Like who’s really in the S&M suit? Is Tate really dead? Who ran over Addy? Will we see Larry’s family? Can we expect any of Chad’s partner’s partners to ever show up?)

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Key Art. CR: FX.

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