American Horror Story
This episode is called “Birth,” just like the creepier-than-a-jar-full-o’-babies Nicole Kidman movie, but it should really be called “Kramercrantz vs. Kramerstern Are Dead.” Except that there aren’t two but a half-dozen unfit parents fighting for custody of Murder House’s bi-dimensional nightmare moppet.
We open in 1984 and set the mood for horror with a clip from the television show Newhart. Specifically, the episode “I Enjoy Being a Guy,” in which Bob Newhart, paragon of machismo, explains “the guy code.” Chilling!
Good ol’ Constance is living our collective dream in Murder House, wasted drunk and enjoying some goofy TV (meta!). Tate, still a toddler at this point, takes an unsupervised jaunt into the scary basement. Is it just me, or do you guys spend the majority of these Basement Scenes yelling, “LENS CAP!”? I can’t see anything! It’s all for effect, obviously, because RAWRRRRR! It’s our old friend, Basementy, alias Thaddeus Montgomery. We get our first good look at him when he leaps out of the film-extra-noir shadows to reveal that he’s actually the son of Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Frank N. Furter.
Tate is rescued from Thad by ol’ Baby Crazy Nora, who teaches him the “shut your eyes and say ‘Go away’” trick. Cut to the future, where he explains to Nora that he can no longer give her the baby she wants. You know, because he’s in love with Violet and love changes everything, specifically the way you feel about rape and kidnapping (lyrics copyright: Andrew Lloyd Webber). Nora vows to get the baby herself, aaaaaand roll titles.
Back in Harmon times, Ben is finally taking some initiative as a dad and bodily dragging Violet to visit her mother. Poor Vy can’t bring herself to tell her dad that she’s dead and promptly disappears. But because Ben is Chairman Oblivious of the Senate Committee to Not Notice Things, he herp-a-derps his merry way to the psych ward to pick up Viv, who is gravid with more children he is stoked to neglect.
Vy goes back to her bedroom and Tate is trying to log onto YouTube, but spelling it wrong. You know, because he’s actually like 36 and in the AHS universe, Google does not exist (see also: RoundSearch). Old guys and the Internet, right? Ha. While he’s probably, like, e-mailing Vy some old-ass videos of Keyboard Cat (subject: LOL), she’s very reasonably contemplating an eternity in the house and the fact that it maybe doesn’t sound so appealing. But Tate Everlasting is all, “We have love,” blah blah blah. “We’ll never have kids,” she laments, but if there’s any genetic component to parenting, PROBABLY FOR THE BEST.
Speaking of eternal love — CHAD! Chad is here, everybody! Chad and Patrick are sponge painting a creepy undead nursery. (With YAMS, naturally. It’s too bad Chad is dead and Not Real because he and I would have so much fun going to the Union Square Greenmarket together. Maybe holding hands. Maybe skipping.) Violet comes in to offer decorating advice, which of course Chad is not having. Also, Chad and Patrick think they’re going to be stealing Viv’s babies. (1) Get in line, (2) Probably best! Probably best for those babies.
Tate (who apparently had not gotten to that adorable YouTube video with the two old gay guys that makes me cry EVERY TIME) counters, “You pathetic homos couldn’t steal the shit out of your own ass.” Uh. Wow. Did you die in 1991 or 1882, sk8r bigot?
Violet asks for Constance’s help, and they split a smoke in the kitchen. Vy wants to know if there’s any way to get rid of the Ghaysts, prompting the scene we’ve all been waiting for. Lang and Quinto, together at last, jamon y jamon, chewing the scene like two cartoon dogs splitting a noodle.
“For a man to lie with another man is an abomination,” she says, gliding into the hearse-ery.
“So’s that hairdo,” replies Chad.
“SPINOFF,” cries the world.
They proceed to have an amazing fight about gay adoption, and I proceed to shriek into my chamomile. Forget splitting the babies! How are we going to divvy the EMMYS? Constance accidentally reveals the two-babies, two-baby-daddies situation, which Chad of course only finds delicious. Oh, and by the way, you know when you’re high you’re like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a kitty that could stay a kitten forever and never age?” Chad and Patrick have the same idea: They’re going to smother the babies at their peak cuteness.
The parade of our favorite guest stars continues, and here is Billie Dean doing her “Ghost Adventures” routine. Constance and Vy want her to exorcise Chad (PLEASE NOT FOR GOOD!) and Patrick. Billie explains that the house is haunted because it absorbs negative energy, like a battery. Murder House uses ghosts as a way to transfer evil from this world to the next. Interestingly, she doesn’t like it when Tate comes around.
At the psych ward, Ben is NOT AT ALL FAZED by the fact that his daughter disappeared out of a moving car. JESUS. Viv, ever the practical one, is ignoring her doctor’s advice and still planning to jet off to her sister’s in Florida. A doctor recommends an emergency C-section, and explains to them that one of the babies is growing rapidly while the other one is getting weaker. Just like Jason and Jeremy London!!!!
Back at Murder House, Bille delivers an equally grave prognosis: The last successful exorcism she knows of was around 1590 … in Roanoke. Yay, I love when we get American Horror Historical Channel Reenactment. Apparently, using a talisman and shouting the word “CROATOAN” — found carved on a tree at Roanoke after the colonists mysteriously disappeared — can banish old-timey ghosts. Well, cool, good to know, could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights at historical register B&Bs.
Vy and Tate plot to steal Patrick’s wedding ring and use it as said talisman. Tate tries to have a talk with him about fatherhood, but as Tate once sodomized him with a fire poker, Patrick is like, “Thanks, please go back to being Christian Slater in Heathers.” Tate tries to come on to him and gets straight-up head-butted, which in this case is definitely the appropriate response. Patrick is yelling about leaving the house to be with the guy he was leaving Chad for, and of course, Chad overhears. POOR CHAD. But, during their skirmish, of course, Twink Golem managed to grab Patrick’s Precious.
Viv and Ben arrive back at Murder House, and he goes in to fetch her bags. Of course, she goes into labor in the car.
Inside, Vy reveals that she’s also stolen Chad’s Rolex. “Why does a ghost need a watch?” she asks, and because I eat a lot of those Popsicles with jokes written on them, I paused here and spent a few minutes trying to come up with a funny answer. (Q: Why do dead people wear watches? A: Because they’re “late.” I’ll let you know where to send the check, Good Humor Corp!)
Ben tries to collect Violet, and poor kid, she’s having a hell of a time trying explain why she disappeared from the car and why she can’t come to Florida. Bens will be Bens, though, and he just keeps demanding to know what pills she’s on. Hope he remembered to pack that No. 1 Dad mug with his swim trunks.
Violet finally just comes out and tells him that she’s dead, which is not helping her whole, “I’m not on drugs” case. Again, he tries to bodily take her out of Murder House, which is around the same time that Constance is trying to drag her in.
While Ben tries to get reception on his phone(fucking T-Mobile, am I right?), Constance the Super Midwife exhorts Vy to “CROATOAN!” those yam-loving babynappers into the next dimension. We can magically disappear people but not place outgoing calls? Aveda ke-CELL-PHONE SERVICE!
Around now is when the Ginger Twins, Troy and Bryan, show up to total Ben’s car, which is right when he notices that they’re like, 90 percent beheaded. It’s when the lights go out and Dr. Charles and the Dead Nurses (opening soon for Danzig at the Troub) arrive to aid in the birth that Ben is kind of like, “I’m beginning to think the house may be haunted! Wish my phone was working so I could call the Doi police at 1-900-DuhDuhDuh-DuhDurpDoiDuh.”
This is where we get an amazing, Vaseline-lens montage of all the ways in which Ben has been drunk Okie ignorant to the fact that 90 percent of the people living in his dumb house are dead. Viv is in horrible labor pain and Dr. Charles gives her some ether. SAVE SOME FOR US, DR. C!
Sadly, the first baby is stillborn and goes directly to the loving arms of Mama Nora. Down in the basement, Violet is burning the ghayst talismans and shouting “CROATOAN!” at Chad, to seemingly no effect other than making him giggle (works for me!). He tells Vy that he’s not going after the babies because he doesn’t want to bring kids into a loveless marriage, and warns her that her own boyfriend is a murderer and rapist. What are gay friends for, after all?
Viv delivers the second twin but starts bleeding out. Moira appears, and she and Constance coo and admire the unseen but supposedly very beautiful baby, juuuust as Hayden pops up to steal it. As Ben encourages Viv to hang on to life, Vy tells her it’s okay to die and encourages her to let go. One neat camera trick later and she’s gone. Never thought I’d say this, but: poor Ben.
Upstairs, it’s time for Violet and Tate to have the awkward “You impregnated my mom and now she’s dead” talk. Turns out Tate has known all along that he’s dead and also a pretty prolific killer (if a dreamy one, I’ll say it). Violet, once again my favorite character ever, tells him that she thought he was cool and goth like her, but it turns out, he’s just an a-hole. She says she loves him, but that he has to pay for what he did. PREACH. Croatoan his ass to the curb!
She closes her eyes and makes him go away.
Aw. And just like all good moms of heartbroken teenage girls, Viv shows up to hug her daughter and this scene is actually very touching and NO! NO! NOOOOOOT going to get choked up over American Horror Story. NOPE! Not going to happen, Ryan Murphy! Dangerous Liasons-ly jamming a fork in my thigh!
Needless to say, I loved this episode, and not just because of the deus ex monster birth, myriad guest stars, and awesome capital a-Acccctinggggg, but also because this show is starting to make sense, and I feel like I’m actually in capable hands.
Also, man! This cast! Can I be really lame for a moment and just congratulate this show on (1) being very, very fun and (2) manufacturing the perfect environment for high-profile actors to be part of a huge ensemble drama. Now that most everybody on the show is dead, they can pop in when it’s convenient to the plot AND their shooting schedules on Alexander Payne films/Broadway rehearsals. Brilliant stroke, Murph and Falchuck.
Okay. Off to peroxide my fork wound and curtail my sentimentality by remembering that the title of next week’s episode is “Afterbirth,” which means we’ll soon be back to gory, Gorey business as usual.