If you haven’t been keeping up with American Horror Story by creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck), go get caught up on our previous recaps before proceeding any further. On last week’s episode, “Rubber Man,” we found that it was indeed Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) running around in the S&M suit. It seems that Tate is just as comfortable in the suit as he is without it, as he and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) took their relationship to the next level. Tate’s mom, Constance (Jessica Lange) was none too pleased with his behavior, as we found out in tonight’s episode, “Spooky Little Girl.” But Tate isn’t the only horny ghost running around, as Hayden (Kate Mara) continues to use her wiles to manipulate the living and the dead alike. Lots to talk about, so hit the jump for my recap.
[The following episode recap contains spoilers.]
Rather than a strict play-by-play, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the season of American Horror Story so far in the context of this episode. Let’s take them in the order of severity/biggest shock, shall we?
Our discussion begins the same way the episode did, with guest stars Mena Suvari (American Beauty) and Joshua Malina (The West Wing). The year is 1947 and the current resident of the Murder House is David Curan (Malina), a dentist who sees neighborhood patients. New to Hollywood is Elizabeth Short (Suvari) who has dreams on making it big as an actress and wants the dentist to fix her teeth. As she can’t pay him, she offers up sexual favors in return for his services. The dentist is happy to oblige, raping her after she passes out from the knockout gas. Things go awry as Miss Short does not revive after he removes the mask, so the dentist drags her body to the basement where, lo and behold, Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) appears, all too eager to help. He chops her up and gives her a Glasgow smile (or Chelsea grin, if you prefer). Though the body of the Black Dahlia is found mutilated, her spirit still haunts the Murder House.
Moving on, this episode was perhaps the strongest for Ben (Dylan McDermott) so far. We’ve seen him walking around in a daze, fantasizing about Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Hayden, oblivious to things going on around him. With Vivien gone off to the looney bin, Ben is starting to take things a little more seriously. We see this from the outset as he turns down Moira’s advances. Enter Elizabeth Short in ghost form, seeking the consultation of Ben as a psychiatrist. She nearly seduces him into infidelity again, but the phone rings and interrupts him. It’s Vivien’s doctor and she has news about the twins. Citing “superfecundation,” she tells Ben that his wife’s twins have two separate fathers. (Boom!)
Now this was an interesting twist. Not necessarily a blind-side moment, but more of an, “Oh, they went there? Okay!” This device was used throughout the episode to generate tension between the characters as each of them possesses different degrees of knowledge. Vivien thinks she was raped by the Rubber Man (true), while Ben thinks his wife carried on with Luke (Morris Chestnut), the security guard (false…mostly). Ben uses this fact to lord over her while she was assumedly unconscious in her hospital bed, calling her a stranger, a liar and a betrayer.
Although Ben now suspects his wife of having cheated, he still resists the urge to cheat himself, even when he sees Miss Short and Moira making out on his couch. As Ben is the sole person who hasn’t figured out the power of the house, he attempts to kick Elizabeth out while “firing” Moira. After a nice flashback to the night that Ben slept with Hayden before the Harmons left Boston (during which the title track, “Spooky” can be heard playing), Ben admits that he made a mistake and abused his authority. He admits to Hayden that he doesn’t love her and she takes it fairly well…only dropping a hint that Luke was fooling around with his wife. A quick chat with the security guard makes it clear that one of the twins isn’t his as he admitted to “shooting blanks.”
In one of the most transformational scenes for Ben in the series so far, he finds the S&M mask and Moira attempts to seduce him one last time. Ben resists and admits he made a mistake. Here, the true form of Moira (Frances Conroy) appears and tells Ben, “Congratulations. You’re finally seeing things as they are.” Perhaps Ben has a fighting chance after all.
Now, onto crazy Hayden who is quickly becoming my favorite actor/character on the show. Death hasn’t stopped her from manipulating people and it certainly hasn’t stopped her from sexing all over the place (if anything, it’s made that worse). She starts off by flirting with Constance’s boytoy, Travis (Michael Graziadei) which quickly leads to him committing necrophilia (though in his defense, Hayden looks very much alive). After the fact, Hayden admits that she can’t get pregnant because she’s dead and Travis seems to take this in stride (or thinks she’s kidding). This is a throwaway comment at first blush, but not when you take in the rest of the episode.
After her tryst with Travis, a knock at the Harmon’s door reveals Hayden’s sister, Marla McClane and Detective Jack Colquitt. They harass Ben as they’re looking for Hayden who’s gone missing. Surprising all three of them, Hayden appears looking no worse for wear and tells them she’s living in the house with Ben now. Not all of the ghosts seem to like this as Hayden and Moira are at odds; there’s only room for one manipulative hottie in this house, apparently.
Later, after revealing to Elizabeth Short the true nature of her death, Hayden welcomes Travis back into her bed (or, more accurately, the basement floor). After he finishes, Travis tells Hayden that he’s going back to Constance. She asks him for a hug and, when he obliges, stabs him to death. Hayden worries that the police will find the body and arrest Ben. As Travis bleeds out on the floor, his ghost appears alongside Elizabeth Short and Charles Montgomery. The good doctor offers up his services once more and Hayden says she knows someone who owes her a favor. The scene cuts to some kids playing basketball, who find the mutilated corpse of the wannabe actor, Travis, taking on the new persona of the Black Dahlia. (There’s a great shot of Larry (Denis O’Hare) creeping around, just out of sight.)
Now for the biggest arc of this episode: the twins! As Vivien is locked up, there’s not much she can do to progress the plot. So enter Constance, the nosy neighbor and “experienced” mother. After she suspects Travis of cheating on her, she barges into the Harmon’s house mistakenly looking for Violet (who was completely absent in this episode). Moira tells her in a roundabout way that Tate has been up to no good. Constance searches him out to see if it’s true. When he confesses to fathering one of the twins, she wails on him, lamenting that they finally had someone in the house that could help them.
After Constance proposes to Travis in the hopes of raising one of the twins together as a family (right), she visits Vivien in the hospital. Constance talks about togetherness and sister-hood and brings her flowers; Vivien confesses to her that she was raped. This confirms Constance’s fears. She is last seen in her kitchen having a discussion with the medium, Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson). Constance asks her what happens when a baby is born from a union of a human and a spirit. Billie Dean goes on to talk about the selection of the Pope. When a new Pope is chosen, he enters a small room known as the Room of Tears (true), in which lies the Pope’s Box (false?). Inside the box is apparently the secret to the end of the world, the true nature of the antichrist. “A child born of human and spirit will usher in the end of times.” As Billie Dean puts it, one of the twins is a perversion of the Immaculate Conception as “the Devil wanted a little more bang for his buck.”
This is the big closer at the end and it’s what most people have expected for some weeks now: a version of Rosemary’s Baby. But I like the way the other arcs are woven around it. Sure, we have a fairly predictable central arc, but the way the writers weave real life celebrity murders and pseudo-history into the narrative makes each episode enjoyable and unique. Where do you guys stand on American Horror Story at this juncture?
On next week’s episode, “Smoldering Children,” it looks like an exterminator gets an up close and personal look at the Harmon House, while the fallout from Tate’s tryst and Travis’s death hits home. Tune in next week for our recap!