Happy Post-Turkey-work-week, readers! Though we took a small break to enjoy the holiday cheer (and stuff ourselves with turkey and well…stuffing), American Horror Storycertainly gave us something to be thankful for. Last week’s episode un-masks the identity of the “Rubber Man” right from the start. For those of you still frustrated by the two-season mystery of the identity of “The Carver” on creator Ryan Murphy’s previous series Nip/Tuck, this was a sweet sigh of relief.
So without further ado, the Man in Black Latex is…Tate! Ugh. I don’t know who had betting pools running on this, but this was at least slightly predictable (though I held out some very big hope that it would be Eric Close, Constance’s un-dearly departed. Come on, AHS! Use the guy more already!) Not only did the Tate revelation seem a little too easy, it’s downright gross. It means that the guy who fathered Vivien’s twins is the same dead man who massacred a high school, murdered other innocents, and took the virginity of Vivien’s daughter, Violet. (I’m not even sure how sex with the undead works. Tate might just be the most potent soul, living, dead, or otherwise.)
Much of the episode focused on Vivien’s emotional unraveling. After one sane decision – to actually leave Murder House – is thwarted, Violet decides to paint her mother as unstable so she can stay and be with Tate. Viv, understandably driven to paranoia, accuses Ben of trying to gaslight her. Eventually, she mistakenly shoots Ben in the gut (did he not need to go to the hospital right afterward?), leading him and security guard Luke (Morris Chestnut) to argue over Viv. If Luke and Viv are gonna do it, let them do it already. Except they can’t, because Vivien is then carted off to god-knows-where to deal with her hysteria. Can she find safety away from Murder House? Methinks not so much.
The rest of the episode dealt with flashbacks, essentially creating an A-cast for certain dead members of our cast, including Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe), Hayden (Kate Mara), and Chad (Zachary Quinto). They roam around the Murder House, wreaking occasional havoc but unseen by most mortals in some post-ironic version of Beetlejuice. The episode also seemed derivative of Rosemary’s Baby, as Tate decides that he will confiscate Viv’s twins so that each of his lonely ladies will have a random child to raise. (Again, I don’t know how any of this works). Though Frances Conroy has some lovely interaction with Viv, there’s nary a scene with Jessica Lange or Denis O’Hare in this ep. (And really? Just one quick scene with Eric Close?)
The flashbacks to Chad and his partner Patrick’s pending demise lend little to the ongoing story, given AHS’ penchant for quick editing and narrative jumps. Tate decided to off them since they opted not to try for a child, so another unfortunate couple could move in and get knocked up. He beat and sodomized Patrick, drowned Chad, and then shot them both in a framed murder-suicide. And how would CSI not have been able to figure out foul play here? Again, I don’t know. But as season one inches closer to the finale, the talk that subsequent seasons might perhaps keep introducing new characters to move in rather than keep the current ones on the canvas integrated is looking more and more likely. So basically, what we have a here is a season-long installment of a Tales from the Crypt episode, sexed-up and glossy for a modern-day audience. Which may make us intrigued in the outcome, but makes it ever less enticing to invest in any of the Harmons, who will likely disappear for one reason or another very soon.
What did you guys think? Was “Rubber Man” full of good stuffing or just talking turkey?
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