Spirits of vengeance chase after Tate and Ben and bring to light some of their darkest secrets in the conclusion to 'Halloween'

By Jeff Jensen
Updated November 03, 2011 at 10:07 AM EDT
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Robert Zuckerman/FX

American Horror Story

S1 E5
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  • TV Show
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  • FX

Halloween night at the Murder House. There will be tricks. There will be treats. There will be bloody dog in the microwave. (Although that might be a trick, too.) But more than anything, there will be masks. And by evening’s end, some of them will come off, exposing hideous faces underneath.

We begin where we left off last week. Larry Harvey is pounding on the door. He wants his headshots. He wants his thousand bucks. But what the scorched faced firebug with the dead kin and Broadway dreams wants most of all is Ben Harmon, and he wants him now. Trick-or-treating kids approach. Larry scares them away, pelting them with candy from the ‘TAKE ONE’ bowl Violet left on the porch. Scary-hilarious. If only Larry was willing to hire himself out as a haunted house attraction, he’d make his precious thousand bucks in no time flat.

On the other side of the devil-windowed door stands Violet. She sees The Burning Man through the peephole. She calls her parents at the hospital, where they wait for an ultrasound they’ll never get. Ben tells Violet to hang tight and promises to get to her ASAP. Violet listens to Larry huff and puff like a big bad wolf and she’s spooked. She backs away the door, as if afraid the monster’s rage might blow it down. She doesn’t see The Rubber Man behind her, shiny and lithe and waiting. But then the buzzing and pounding stops; Larry, it seems, has given up. And when Violet senses the presence of someone behind her, and then wheels around to confront it, the silent and sinister sentinel is gone.

Violet races to her bedroom. A pebble pings her window. She investigates, and as she moves, she eludes – and fails to see – the filthy hand attached to the pale arm stretching from underneath the bed and reaching for her ankle. (Infantata? Hayden?) Violet looks outside. It’s Tate. The bad boy of Murder House lane is here to take her on the proper date he promised to give her in the last episode.

Violet goes downstairs. She lets Tate in. He gives her a black rose – a symbol of black magic. He painted it himself. “I know how you don’t like normal things,” he says. She takes it. “You’re the first guy to give me a flower,” Violet swoons. Her father told her not to leave the house, but the instruction is either forgotten or ignored in the gaze of Tate’s dark eyes.

[Or maybe she thinks: “What would Nana do?” Nana – the heroine of the shojo manga that Violet was reading last week – would probably say: “I fell totally head over heels in love with him. If I had to pinpoint the moment when I blossomed into a woman, it was right then.” (Nana, Vol. 1)] [Or not. ]

Anyway: She goes.

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The Harmons barrel into the house like firefighters into a blaze. Fearsome thoughts crackle in their heads. Ben: Did Larry whack my daughter? Vivien: Did the Friends of Franklin invade anew? The embryo inside Vivien’s womb: I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE, AND MY ULTRASOUND PHOTO WILL SCARE THE S–T OUT OF YOU.

Vivien – upstairs — blows into Violet’s bedroom. No Violet. Ben – downstairs — barks out a bright idea: “Call her cell phone!” Vivien does; Violet answers. She’s at the beach. Tate is standing on the perch of a lifeguard station and throwing his arms wide, exposing himself to the black waters before him – his version of a Leonardo DiCaprio-in-Titanic impression. I’m the bogeyman of the world! (Next up: Coughing up ectoplasmic loogies.) Violet lies. She says the guy pounding on the door was just some jerk pulling a prank. She says she’s out with friends. Vivien is relieved that her daughter is okay, and that she’s finally making pals instead of enemies. “I want you home in an hour,” Vivien says. Violet agrees.

Vivien enters the kitchen to find Ben looking frazzled and holding a butcher knife. Seconds earlier, the secret-saddled adulterer opened the devil door and saw his Larry-whacked mistress Hayden standing on the WELCOME mat looking as bloody-dirty-mangy as a Pet Sematary revenant. Trick or treat, father of the dead child inside my dead body. Ben quickly shut the door on her Joker-smirky face. Hence: The Frazzle. The lie Ben tries to sell Vivien? Those damn kids! They wrecked the pumpkins on the porch! And Ben’s impulsive reaction was to… slaughter them? With a butcher knife? Vivien looks at Ben with eyes that say ‘You’re totally freaking me out right now.’ But she’s too pooped to throw his increasingly psycho butt out. She tells him she’s going to take a bath and go to bed. “We can talk about you moving out tomorrow.” Ben trembles and bellows: “I’m not leaving this house. And I’m not giving up on this family!” I am a guilt-wracked a—hole! Hear me roar!

Vivien ignores him and leaves him. Which, all things considered, is fine by Ben. One problem at a time. I’ll sweet-talk my way out of that one in the morning. But first, I have to play whack-a-mole with my peek-a-boo mistress.

NEXT: The Firebug begs to be squashed

Ben prowls the property with a shovel. He hears a sound, spins around, swings and WHACK! makes contact with the trespasser behind him.. but it’s only that darn Larry Harvey. The desperate men do their Cape Fear cave man dance. Give me my money! Leave my family alone! Grrrr! Arrggg! Ben accuses Larry of being in cahoots with Hayden, of staging her murder and pretending to bury her in the Moira hole so they can extort him. It’s the only explanation that Ben’s shrink mind can crunch for Hayden’s impossible return. Larry’s deadpan reaction: “Oh s–t.” Beat. Very dry: “Is she pissed?” He then takes a match to Ben’s conspiracy theory. “You really don’t get it, do you? Your narrow, clinical worldview doesn’t let you. Buddy, you are so screwed. You know what the thing about the dead is? They got nothing left to lose.” Remember that Larry used to own Ben’s house of spirits, so he’s probably speaking from some kind of experience, but I don’t think that experience includes being undead himself. I think the cancer-wracked ex-con is very much alive. For now.

Ben wants answers. Larry turns jazzy-taunty. “Baby! You don’t even know what the damn question is!” Ben punches Larry’s bloody mug – and Larry asks for more. “Do it. I’m begging you. Kill me, Ben! Please!” The bloody sheen makes Larry look more scary-satanic than usual. Last week, I told you I thought Larry’s master plan has been to manipulate Ben into murdering him, on the property, so he can be made forever undead — like Moira, like the Mischief Twins, like the Murdered Nurses, like Unhappy ChadPat, and, presumably, like Larry’s own wife and daughters, whom he incinerated at the direction of the house (allegedly). That theory’s looking good…

But if so, Larry isn’t getting his wish. Not this week. Ben has Larry pinned to the ground and seems primed to smite him with his Shovel of Wrath like some Mjolnir-swinging thunder god. Instead, The Mighty Ben drives his holy garden tool into the dirt near Larry’s head. He tells Larry to tell Hayden to buzz off, then tells Larry he’ll kill him – for realzies! – if he comes back again. “Promises, promises,” Larry sputters with a wry smile. I’ll get you (to kill me), my pretty. And your little dog (will fake die in a microwave), too!

Can we all agree that Dennis O’Hare’s appearances as Larry have become one of the best things about this show? That said, I think it’s time he’s given more to do than these “Give me my money!/I need my headshots!” cameos.

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Meanwhile: The Porch.

Ding-dong goes the doorbell yet again. Vivien answers. Gulp. Is it Hayden? Nope: Just Luke the hunky home security dude, played by Morris Chestnut, last seen pretending to be a lizard alien pretending to be a human in ABC’s doomed revival of V. Luke is here because the alarm he installed in the last episode was triggered by the Harmons’ panicked, clumsy arrival at the beginning of this episode. Vivien clearly digs the way Luke fills out his renta-cop togs. She: “Since we hired you, I feel…” He: “Safer? Good.” Flirty smiles and shiny eyes are exchanged. Chemistry simmers, soon to sizzle. I’m calling it: An episode or two from now, Ben will walk in on Vivien and Luke doin’ it in their bed — just like Vivien walked in on Ben and Hayden grinding away in their Boston home one year earlier.

[QUIBBLE: “Meanwhile” might be the wrong word. It was often hard to know if seemingly concurrent events were actually happening concurrently in “Halloween (Part Two).” For example, the cut from the Larry/Ben altercation in the yard to the Vivien/Luke flirtation on the porch suggested that both things were happening at about the same time, which means that Vivien and Luke should have heard/seen Larry and Ben. But they didn’t. Puzzling. Kinda bugged. But in the end, I rolled with it.]

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Meanwhile: The Beach.

Violet and Tate are on a blanket, macking. Violet the virgin is ready. She tells him she wants it. Things are about to go From Here To Eternity until Violet gropes for his Burt Lancaster. Alas, Little Man Tate is as soft as Casper the Friendly Ghost. Dejected, maybe rejected, Violet moves away. Tate is embarrassed. “That’s never happened to me,” he says. “With a girl.” Violet asks if Tate is gay, and Tate says no. He hastily blames the meds Ben has prescribed for him. We wonder: Is Tate’s impotence proof of non-life? (Maybe the wraith could apparate to Forks, Washington and hit up Edward for some of his undead Viagra.) A more relevant aside: Tate’s flaccidness would seem to rule him out as a Rubber Man suspect… unless The Rubber Man’s sexual encounter with Vivien in the pil0t was more spiritual/psychic than physical.

Violet wants to leave, but Tate begs her to don’t go away, to be here now, to abide in his oasis for a little while longer. Tate reveals he used to come this, his sand dune of solitude, when he was in high school, “when the world closed in and got so small I couldn’t breathe. I’d look out at the ocean and I’d think: Yo, douchebag! High school counts for jack s–t!“ Presumably, the “douchebag” in this analogy is not the Pacific, but Society. Or God. Or maybe Mommy and Daddy. (More on the issue of Tate’s parents later.)

Tate then rattles off a list of famous pop culture figures, all of them innovating rebel artists who defined various movements (method acting; alt rock; indy film) that each sought to produce work that was more gritty and relevant, more credible and real, than what the mainstream was offering. Inspiring, for sure. Except it sounds like Tate gleaned a different lesson from his role models: “Kurt Cobain, Quentin Tarantino, Brando, De Niro, Pacino – all high school drop-outs,” Tate says. “I hated high school. So I’d come here and look at this vast, limitless expanse. And it’s like: That’s your life, man. You can do anything. Be anything. Screw high school. That’s a blip on your timeline. Don’t get stuck there.” The irony of Tate comparing his future to the ocean before him: Here on Halloween night, all we can see of that vista is… well, nothing. Just a vast, limitless expanse of darkness, as black as the abyss, as endless as death itself.

And then The Furies arrives.

NEXT: The Breakfast Club, followed by raspberries and cream

The Cheerleader: Bloody hole in her chest. The Jock: Bloody hole in the forehead. The Geek: Unhinged jaw, drooling blood. The Goth: Half-scalped. The Punk: Face fragged. They come clambering over the sandy berm like zombies on the prowl for brains. They are gruesome, and they are pissed.

Violet assumes they’re teenagers in Halloween costumes. Tate tells the kids to beat it. But the ghouls won’t leave. They don’t care about Violet. They want Tate. They say they’ve been searching for him for years, and that he’s been hiding from them. They want to kill him, in all sorts of ways. Drowning. A bullet between the eyes. More. Violet wants “the Dead Breakfast Club” to buzz off. The feeling is mutual. The Goth wants to “waste” Violet. The Punk seethes with resentment. Why does Tate “get” a girlfriend? The Jock: “I haven’t had sex in a loooong time.” Clearly, these kids are not alright. And they blame Tate for it.

Tate grabs Violet by the hand. Time to leave. ASAP. The ghastly bullies watch the boy they know well – painfully well – run away. They don’t mind. After all: Now they know where he lives.

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Meanwhile: The Harmon House. Where another furious specter is about to make her move.

Vivien is running a steamy bath when her cell phone chirps. It’s Hayden, returning Vivien’s call from last episode. “Has he told you about Boston?” Hayden asks. Vivien doesn’t do what we might have done and ASK A DAMN FOLLOW-UP QUESTION. (“No, Hayden, Ben didn’t tell me what happened in Boston, why don’t you fill me in?”) Instead, Viv tells a story. Once upon a time, back when she was in college, she, too, fell for a married man. She, too, bought into all his “soulmate” lies. She, too, believed they’d live happily ever after… once he left his wife. He never did. “It doesn’t work out Hayden,” says Vivien. “It just never does.” Vivien tells Hayden that Ben will remain faithful to either of them, because he’s on a never-ending quest for… something. Something that’s “missing in him.”

Wise counsel. And Hayden craps all over it. “He found something in me he’ll never find in you again,” Hayden hisses. “He said my face was soft like a baby, and between my thighs, I tasted like raspberries and cream.”

Apparently, Hayden toilets with a scone.

Needless to say, Vivien doesn’t appreciate Hayden’s tasteless talk, and more, doesn’t like being poked in one of her most vulnerable spots – her feeling of being old, of feeling used up. She lashes back by sharing the one regret she has about the day she caught Ben and Hayden getting vertical: “That I didn’t rip your smug little face off.” Quips Hayden: “Way too late for any of that now, Mrs. Harmon. Ask him about Boston.” CLICK. Vivien growls with exasperation. Then she sees the words written on the steamed mirror:

ASK HIM

Vivien freaks.

Bypassing a transitional beat where the Harmons scream at each other some more (Viv: Hayden’s in the house! Ben: Chill, woman! Viv: Don’t shrink me!), we cut to a scene previewed just a few weeks ago in EW’s cover story about American Horror Story. Ben, armed with a butcher knife, descends into the basement, the Infantata-haunted underworld of Murder House. He’s hunting for Hayden – and she’s waiting for him. Ben wants to know what she’s doing here and what she wants from him. Is this some kind of bizarre extortion plot? Hayden fakes a come-on and tells Ben how she’s been “aching” for him. Then she spits up some bloody teeth. “I’m rotting from the inside out,” she says, so sad, as if she still thinks she’s alive and not Larry-murdered and undead. “What’s happening to me?”

Then: Gotcha! She does remember. Everything. “A gazebo, Ben? Not even a decent headstone! A gazebo?!” Hayden then screws on her best Glenn Close-in-Fatal Attraction impression (“I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!”) and accuses Ben of being the real monster of American Horror Story. “You thought I was gone and you threw me away, like I didn’t matter, like I never even existed! Is that what you think of women, Ben? That they’re disposable nothings you can sit on top of while you drink iced tea?!” Now that’s quite the indictment. Behold Ben! The Abominable Misogynist Man-Pig Gazebo Enjoyer! Run for your lives!

NEXT: Suffer The Fluffer Redux!

So what does Hayden really want? “I want your wife to know the truth about you.” Ben does what Ben does when women threaten him – he suggests that Hayden seek psychiatric help – when WHAM! Larry shows up and smacks Ben upside the head with a shovel. Of course, Scorch Face is the headshot hitman who did the dirty work of killing Hayden a couple of episodes back, so the moment between them is (cue high-pitched sing-song voice) awk-ward! Larry rises to the challenge of breaking the silence: “I really owe you an apology, so here it goes: I’m really sorry.” Hayden says she’ll have to settle the score later. First: Vivien. Larry begs to help. He flips open the lighter he used to kill his family. “I haven’t used this in ages.”

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Meanwhile: Upstairs. Where Vivien finds herself forced to put out a fire of her own.

Flaming-mad Chad is on the porch, smashing pumpkins with a Louisville slugger. Last week we wondered what was motivating former owners Chad and Pat to come back and bedevil the Harmons with their fearsome fluffing. This week, Chad spells it out to Vivien. “All I wanted was one night with my guy, some Halloween fun, some crafting in a house I love and have bled for and you ruined it! And he left! And now he’s out at the bars, he’s probably on his fourth unprotected [DELETED FOR THE SPACE NECESSARY TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING TWO POINTS].” 1. Zachary Quinto, I know you’re busy being Spock and starring in indy gems like Margin Call and serving as an awesome, inspiring role model for your generation, but please: Haunt this show often, will you? Because you’re lighting it up. Sylar the scene/show stealer strikes again! 2. Chad’s thundering reminds us of an idea that’s essential to the story, one that was explicitly spelled out last week in Part One of “Halloween” but left assumed here in Part Two: On Halloween, the dead are allowed a one night furlough from their afterlife prison/haven to roam the Earth. Hence, Chad’s line: All I wanted was one night with my guy, some Halloween fun. My question: Assuming that the house has a mind of its own and uses its tool kit of spirits to service that agenda, then how do we interpret the actions of those spirits during this two-parter? Were they serving The Victorian’s interests? Or were they pursuing their own interests, per the rules of Halloween?

Vivien yells at Chad to go away. He won’t (“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”), so Vivien seeks Ben’s help. As she searches, she walks by the bathroom, and realizes that the door is locked. And when she hears a sound from within, she has a Goldilocks epiphany. Somebody’s sloshing around in my bathtub! She’s right. It’s Hayden, soaking the grave dirt off her skin, enjoying a Calgon moment of humanity, indulging the illusion of being “Mrs. Harmon” for at least a few minutes. But the rattle of the doorknob – Vivien, trying to get in – reminds her of everything she isn’t, and her carriage turns back into a pumpkin.

Vivien goes down the hall, punches the panic button remote, then returns to the bathroom to find her dog Hallie yelping at smoke. The door in now unlocked, and upon entering, Vivien sees that the bath towels are ablaze. Vivien stomps them out. Her cell rings. It’s Hayden. She’s downstairs in the kitchen. “Come over here, girl,” she says. Vivien thinks that Hayden is taunting her, but she’s not: Hayden is talking to Hallie. Vivien arms herself with a golf club – the fashionable weapon of today’s furious Tiger-wives – and heads to the kitchen. No Hayden. And no Hallie, either. But she does see that the pooch’s food bowl has been overturned. The microwave is beeping, too, and when it hits zero, something that looks as big as a small dog explodes and SPLATS the window with chunky red stuff. Dear Ms. Close: I’ll see your dead rabbit and raise you… OR DO I? Vivien makes an assumption, and she screams.

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Meanwhile: Violet’s bedroom.

Amid all the Hayden & Larry & Chad Horror Show Chaos, Vivien fails to notice that Violet has quietly returned home. Which is understandable. What’s harder to believe is that Violet is utterly oblivious to her parents’ drama. But never mind. Violet brings Tate into her bedroom and pumps him about The Dead Breakfast Club. Why the Tate hate? “They’re just high school a—holes,” he says. “The world’s full of them! Popular kids who get off on being mean and cruel. I thought you understood that?” They hear sounds outside. Guess who? Violets see the queer quintet of teenager wastelanders trespassing on her property and gets pissed. She’s dashes off to confront them, and a suddenly, suspiciously alarmed Tate fails to stop her. And with that, the charade begins to unravel.

Down in the courtyard, Violet demands answers, and the high school horrors haze her for being Tate’s dopey thrall. “She’s like those lonely fat chicks who marry guys on death row. You’re deeply disturbed.” Why exactly would Tate = death row inmate in this analogy? Violet doesn’t ask. Yet bit by bit, the kids fill in their complaint against Tate. Example: The Jock had a scholarship to play football for Georgia Tech, but Tate took that away. Violet finally breaks. What did Tate do to you? They mock her ignorance. “How do you not know about Westfield High?”

NEXT: Tate runs away, Ben comes clean

Panicky Tate interrupts before the bitter brood can fill Violet’s head with the enlightenment that would scare her away from him for good. “Karma’s a bitch, Tate,” says The Goth. “You want to talk to me?” asks Tate. “Let’s see how fast you can run.” He sprints away, faster than a bullet. The Furies chase.

Violet wants to give chase, too. But she’s held up by another uninvited guest: Constance, looking distraught and lacking any of her usual glamour. “Come with me to my house,” Constance says. “Now.” Violets pulls away, call her a bitch, says no. Constance changes Violet’s mind with one simple line: “Addy is dead because of you.” Violet is stomach-punched shocked, and Constance takes her away for smokes and revelations.

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Meanwhile: The Master Bedroom.

Rocked by the apparent nuking of her pooch, Vivien retreats to her bedroom and pounds the panic button yet again. She hears something in her closet. Vivien is a brave woman – she confronts, she doesn’t run away. She throws open the door… and Hallie scampers out. Vivien is baffled. So the dog’s not dead?!

Enter Hayden. Ben’s scorned women, together again, in the bedroom, sans the sexing. Hayden wants Vivien to know the truth about her husband. “If you’re trying to shock me,” says Vivien, oozing sarcasm, “or show me how enlightened you are about my ‘perfect little life,’ you’re a little late.” But Vivien doesn’t know everything she needs to know about Ben, and neither do we. And neither does Hayden. She wants to talk about “the pregnancy.” Hayden’s pregnancy. But Vivien mistakes the phrase to be about her pregnancy, and that’s when it hits Hayden like a shovel to the head. Ben supported her “choice” to get the abortion, but “there was never any other ‘choice.’” Hayden smashes a Harmon family photo. Sharp shards of glasses clatter to the floor. “He didn’t want me to keep my baby, because he already had yours.” As Hayden comes to grips with clarity, Vivien reels from confusion: Waitaminute. My husband knocked you up? WHEN?!

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Meanwhile: The Living Room.

Larry Harvey showers the furniture with kerosene. He picks up another can and is about to dump more when Chad saunters in. “What do you think you’re doing to my house?” We do not see what happens next, and Larry disappears from the remainder of the episode.

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Meanwhile: The Basement.

Ben is tied up, knocked out, slowly waking up. “You’re a disgrace,” says a female voice. Not Vivien. Not Violet. Not Hayden. It’s the first lady of the house, the woman who turned The Victorian into an underground abortion clinic: Norah Montgomery. “Is that all the fight you have left in you?” she says. “How can you allow that ghoul to take the only thing that gives your pathetic life any meaning at all?”

Ben tries to squirm out of his bonds. Norah helps. “Hold still,” she says. “I will not permit another failure in this house.” An interesting choice of words. What do you think she meant by them?

Ben wiggles. The bonds loosen. “Save the baby,” Norah whispers.

Ben is free. Norah is gone. As if she was never there.

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Showdown. The Bedroom.

Hayden grabs a jagged piece of glass from the broken picture frame. She tells Vivien that Ben will only hurt her and the baby. Hayden wants to help Vivien avoid the misery… by cutting that baby out of her womb. Ben enters. Ben tells her to stop. Hayden says there’s only one way: He needs to tell Vivien about Boston. And by now, Vivien wants to know about Boston. Ben tells her he lied about his recent trip back east. He didn’t go to Boston to see a patient. He went to see Hayden after he learned she was pregnant. But how could a woman who Ben had supposedly not seen in over a year be pregnant with his baby? “I went back,” Ben confesses. Months after Vivien caught him in bed with Hayden, Ben cheated on his wife again, with Hayden. We’ve surmised as much, given the timeline incongruities we’ve noted over the past few eps. But the confirmation lands like a bombshell. “There,” Ben says. “Now she knows everything. Put that down, please.”

Forcing the issue: Future Vivien Love Interest Luke, stepping into a bedroom, gun drawn and cocked. Hayden drops the jagged glass. Was she seriously going to use it? Or was it a bluff designed to achieve the outcome she got: Exposing Ben, destroying his marriage?

NEXT: We Need To Talk About Kevin TateMeanwhile: Constance’s kitchen.

Violet sits at the table as Constance serves tea. On the counter behind them: The “pretty girl” mask that Addy was wearing when she was struck by a car and killed last episode. We meet them as Constance is recalling about how she went to the morgue, with its “harsh, energy efficient lights,” to fluff up Addy’s lifeless face – lipstick, eye shadow, blush. It’s a makeover that looks similar to the one that Violet gave Addy last week — the makeover that Constance despised and wanted to wipe away; the one she replaced with the mask that got Addy killed. “They say when a parent dies, a child feels their own mortality,” says Constance. “But when a child dies, it’s immortality that a parent loses.” Given the mysteries and speculation swirling about Constance, it’s tempting to ponder hidden meanings in her statement, or consider the implication of taking her literally. What if, by some black magic, Constance was promised unnaturally long life, as long as her children remained alive?

Violet says the weird thing that people say when they feel for someone’s pain – “I am so sorry” – and Constance accepts the apology, since she holds the Harmon girl partially responsible for encouraging Addy’s pretty girl obsession. (Never mind Constance’s own awful, degrading influence. See: The Bad Girl Room; the constant reminders of her “little monster’s” appearance.) But Constance does confess that she was the one that sent Addy out into the world. “And it did what it will do,” she says. The line reminded me of what Constance said a couple of episodes ago, after Moira broke down and cried about not wanting to be “here” anymore. Constance: “You think I want to stay? In this world of death and rot and regret?” I’m really looking forward to getting more specifics about Constance’s exact spiritual relationship to the material world.

Constance tells Violet to drink her honey tea. Did you wonder if it was poisoned? Violet asks if she can have one of Constance’s cigarettes instead. Constance speaks of more “children” and Violet inquires about them. Another bombshell – and another theory confirmed: “Tate’s my son,” Constance says flatly. She shows Violet a photo of Tate and Adelaide in happier times. Constance begs Violet to keep Tate ignorant of Addy’s death. Seems Tate “doesn’t react well” to certain things. “He’s a sensitive boy,” Constance says. “A young man of too deep feeling, with the soul of a poet, but imbued with none of the grit or steel that would act as a bulwark against these horrors. This world.” Constance gives Violet a mission: “We must protect him.”

Lingering Question: Just two episodes ago, Constance was trying to feed Violet poisoned cupcakes. Now, she’s building an alliance with her. Do you trust Constance’s change of heart? And why exactly was she trying to poison Violet again?

Meanwhile: The Beach. Where Tate could use some protection, now, more than ever.

Tate leads his furious pursuers to his Sand Dune of Solitude. He cracks a joke. “I used to run track.” Yeah, they know. They also don’t laugh. The Goth with the half-scalped head asks: “Do you believe in God?” Tate, again with the funny: “Is that what this is about? You’re with Campus Crusade?” The Goth tries to jog his memory by elaborating. “You asked me if I believed in God and you held a gun to my head. I said yes. It wasn’t even true, but I said yes.” (An atheist gloss on one of the fuzzier footnotes to the real-life American horror story that was Columbine High School Massacre. The story goes that one of victims was asked by one of the two Columbine killers if she believed in God. She said yes, and then she was shot and killed.) We remember the pilot episode, in which Tate told Ben that he had a recurring dream of dressing up Halloween scary – skeleton face make-up, black clothing – and shooting up a classroom. The Dead Breakfast Club’s allegation/revelation: That was no dream. That happened. They know this, because they were the victims of Tate’s killing spree. And even since their deaths, some 16 years ago (based on The Cheerleader’s claim that she should be 34 now, married with children), they’ve been searching for Tate, to get him to take responsibility for taking their lives and denying them (and the world) the fulfillment of their promise, and to get him to answer the question that haunts all catastrophes of this kind: Why? Why did he do this?

NEXT: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless, Mass Murdering Mind

But Tate can offer no solace, no satisfaction; no justice, no peace. Somehow, Dead Man Tate — and yes, I do believe he’s as dead as Moira, Hayden, and the other house wraiths — can’t recall, or won’t permit himself to remember, this particular part of his Westfield High experience. Even as The Furies pepper him with reminders, even as bits of memory flash-bomb his brain (Tate in the skull make-up; Tate with a gun), the troubled young man refuses to acknowledge their claims. With dawn fast approaching – the end of Halloween; the end of the annual furlough for the dead – The Cheerleader drops the threats and makes an impassioned, personal plea. “Please. I need you to say it. Say what you did. You don’t even have to say you’re sorry…”

“I don’t know you,” Tate says, terrified and teary. “I swear, I don’t know you.”

And with that, the victims of tragedy return to their graves, unacknowledged, unanswered, unavenged. The Punk gives Tate the finger. Big whoop. Tate faced his Furies and won. But has Tate’s comforting denial-delusion survived the fight, or has it been it irreversibly tainted? The limitless expanse roars in the dark, yet offers no hint of hope.

THEORY! Given that American Horror Story hit the Columbine allusion pretty hard on the nose, let’s remember that two warped boys, not one, perpetrated that slaughter. So… do you think Tate acted alone at Westfield High, or do you think he had a partner in atrocity? Also remember that the Columbine killers capped their murder spree by killing themselves. My crazy theory? After the Westfield High murder spree, Tate and his friend (most likely the more dominant — and more vile/violent — personality in the partnership) committed suicide together inside Murder House, and when they did, they fused into one soul. Tate – a “sensitive” soul, lacking the “steel” to protect himself from corrupting influence — is tainted with his kill buddy’s identity. The Rubber Man? It’s Tate, but Tate controlled by his ride-along alter ego. The sex scene between The Rubber Man and Vivien in the pilot? What was being dramatized there was an act of spiritual possession. When Vivien and Ben had sex, they conceived a child biologically. When Vivien and The Rubber Man had “sex” (which I’m guessing was more of a psychic affair), The Rubber Man was inserting a soul into that nascent life – in this case, the soul of Tate’s (currently hypothetical) accomplice/bad influence.

Like I said: Crazy. And the fact that I’m taking cues from Columbine for inspiration makes me feel kinda icky. But that’s American Horror Story for you.

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Epilogue: The House.

The day after. Dawn. We see the dead bound to the house return from their Halloween R&R, pulled toward The Victorian like filings to a magnet, as if caught in a tractor beam. The Mischief Twins. The Nurses. Norah. “How was your night?” Chad asks Moira. The housekeeper – appearing to her gay former employer as Moira Senior, not Moira Jr. – tells Chad that her mother died. “I couldn’t go with her,” Moira says sadly. Then Chad’s lover Patrick shows up, full of guilt and apology. Spent his free night binging on twinkies, I guess. A cheater at death, a cheater forever. Chad: “I feel like I’m doomed for all eternity to be trapped in an unhappy, adulterous relationship and working on this goddam house that’s never going to be just the way I want it.” Moira: “You are.”

Epilogue: The Police Station.

Luke is driving. Hayden is in the backseat. The Heirloom Security renta-cop is going to turn the girl over to the authorities. Except when they arrive at the station… Hayden has disappeared. But at least she told us one secret before she vanished: She used tomatoes to pull off the exploding Hallie stunt.

Epilogue: The House.

Ben packs a suitcase. He kisses Vivien. He goes. Perhaps in his exile, Ben Harmon can find his “missing piece.”

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Your turn to opine verbosely about “Halloween (Part Two).” I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories. If you wish, you can also discuss the implications of that preview for the next episode, entitled “Piggy Piggy,” which looks to be NSFESPW (not safe for easily spooked pregnant women). Be sure to check out this week’s Q&A with American Horror Story exec producer Ryan Murphy – it’s a particularly illuminating installment, especially the stuff he has to say about Tate.

See you next week — or sooner on Twitter: @EWDocJensen

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Episode Recaps

American Horror Story

An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 9
rating
  • TV-MA
creator
  • Ryan Murphy
network
  • FX
stream service

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