American Horror Story Episode 8: Rubber Man: Review
Oh holy hell American Horror Story why do you do this to me? Every time an episode ends I am never sure if I hated it or loved it. But shouldn’t the fact that it elicits such a response be enough for me to surely love it? The following is my review of the latest episode of American Horror Story. It will be primarily opinion, recap, and some fun things to think about in response to it recent developments.
Episode 8 was the big reveal of the Rubberman. Within the first five minutes we get it. My initial reaction was on par with finding out a whiny bitchy bad acting Hayden Christianson is under the Darth Vader mask.
Seriously, this was the second time in this show I was verbally begging the TV gods for it not to be Tate. I had credited myself in forgiving the school shooting – in fact somehow that made him more interesting. Even when they showed Tate wearing the suit in “Halloween: Part 1” my immediate gut reaction was “It must be a red herring because you know its just not Tate it cannot be.” I was wrong and TV gods did not answer my earnest prayer. Sigh. Why Tate? Why are you making this so difficult for me as well as the audience? I blame Ryan Murphy for being mildly insane in both his storytelling and artistic direction. Bravo to Evan Peters for acting the shit out of this role that has solidly become the central point of this show with absolutely no real direction. My initial reaction to this was not pretty. I was mad. I felt betrayed. God damnit American Horror Story what are you going to do next? Join Rick and Shane looking for little Sophia on AMC?
I digress. I DID feel awfully angry until I realized I could not put it out of my mind all night. The entire idea of it threw my imagination into overdrive. A short sleep and Thanksgiving meal later I found both peace with the idea as well as some new sort of awesome insights.
Lets begin with Rubberman or should I say TATE.
Tate Langdon what in the bloody fuck are you thinking? Since episode 1 AHS has been making the audience fall more and more in love with Tate. You may not have trusted him completely or you may have doubted some of his meaning but ultimately he had won your heart. No matter the INSANITY that is this boys’ head, as an audience we felt bad for him. There is something inherently charming about his mass murdering sweetheart bad boy turned lover boy routine. He was actually one of the best developments of this show in my opinion. Now however we see Tate is in the Rubberman suit in the past and has been using it for sometime – starting with brutally murdering Chad and Patrick back in 2010. The viciousness of that was enough to sell me that Tate’s spirit being a bit of a violence junky. The increased sexual violation with the fireplace poker insertion is either showing how extreme he is or perhaps some sort of molestation in his past.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have shaken off the subtle hinting at his identity back in the pilot. Remember: Violet wants retribution on the bully Leah at her new school and Tate volunteers to scare the shit out of her. The scene ends with him saying, “that’s where I come in”. The next scene begins with the mysterious Rubberman suit creeping in on Vivian getting ready for bed right before he proceeds to have a somewhat violent sex with her. Tate you literally just became a motherfucker. Bravo you sicko. (Cute sicko)
This is just so wrong on so many levels. It is also made more wrong but an obligatory scene in which it in hinted that Tate has cashed Violets V-card. It seems like they could have been alluding to something else BUT we have to remember that Tarissa (Violet) is actually like 16 in real life and Evan (Tate) is 24. I do not think they could film something that graphic and this show is anything it is certainly graphic. Too bad they had to show him violently trusting in Violets mother though! I am flashing back to Violet getting turned down for sex by Tate on the beach during “Halloween: Part 2” during their date. He said she was the first “girl” he was interested in being with. I did not even come close to realizing he meant he’d only slept with older women (maybe more). KEYLY YOUR MOTHER VIOLET! That is what is so horrific about it though. This show is all about that and it has been forever since something has truly affected me so intensely. I get legitimately nervous or scared at times thrown by the oddities this show throws at me. Sure this show lacks logic, common sense, true character strength, but it never boosts that. It is a fever dream. It is a horrible nightmare where the idea of reality is certainly not linear. So I pushed the pissed off fangirl aside and truly digested what has become of the character of Tate. It is sort of beautiful in that devastatingly horrible sort of way.
He is an American sweetheart in everyway while also being a completely horrible individual. He is good looking, charming, clever, and utterly vicious. When he damasks during the big reveal we see both sides of Tate. One looking very evil and the other looking scared. These two sides are at war and Tate’s lost soul is forfeit. Unless his admissions about being sick of “hurting people” is true and he just honestly loves Violet.
Something else with episode did with Tate was let us see him interact with other ghosts the house both in the present and past. The way he spoke seemed to hint that his understanding is more detailed than any sort of real “childlike confusion”. I am going to pitch this now: What if Tate is pulling a long con? Knowing more than anyone suspects from the beginning? If it is not that apparent he definitely seems to know more than ever hinted. What if he seriously just does not remember the school shooting but know what he is and what he is capable of? He often uses the term “we” in terms to Violet. Violet. Sigh. A huge theory I’ve pitched before is that Violet has been dead for weeks. Tate’s use of “we” is yet another clue of that. Or we could focus on the more apparent clue: Violets spot being blown up by Ben concerning her not having been to school in two weeks.
Constance is consciously missing this week. Normally this is where I would whine and cry about missing Jessica Lange be unbelievable amazing BUT Hayden (Ben’s DEAD mistress) has re-emerged and taken some lovely steps in filling some of that Constance awesome moment shoes. I completely buy her crazy mistress turned crazy ghost mistress routine. Hayden was pretty crazy before now she is flat out lost everything. Besides she has done something I’ve been dying to see: introduce us further into the ghost world of the house as well as some Murder House ghost rules. We also catch her having sex with Constance’s dead husband, kill him with a basic instinct ice pick, and then him wake up as if nothing happened and leave to go make a sandwich. HA.
She confronts a crying confused Norah – and hatches a half assed plan to drive Vivien insane and take her babies. It’s a bad plan but seeing it in action was worth it for me. Connie, Mrs. Coach, Vivien has come a long way since trying to get off with her pocket rocket. Her tailspin into madness is epic and utterly believable.
When this episode wasn’t exploiting Tate as a character it was following and comparing three of its past owners: Norah. Chad. And Vivien.
Norah Montgomery is much more confused than she was before. However perhaps it just seems so in retrospect with her spirit when she was alive. This is a Norah who hasn’t wished she were a widow yet. This was a lost soul just searching for her missing baby. If only she could remember trying to stab her “baby” with a letter opener.
Here comes LATEX TATE all wanting to please Norah. Some people saw his interaction with Norah as sexual. I saw a little boy trying to please some sort of mother figure. From a past conversation with Moira we hear Tate joke about having mommy issues. Moira insists he must get over his “compulsive need to please the women” of the house. I cannot wait to get some of his childhood with Constance as well as the house to find out why Tate is so… insane.
Hayden approaches Tate for help in operation SCARE THE FUCK OUT OF VIVIEN. Their interaction is interesting to watch. She mocks him and his demeanour and general mooniness for Violet. She also tried to seduce him which ends with him choking her while proclaiming his love for Violet. Sigh. If you love her Tate you really shouldn’t try to rape her mom again – oh okay – He just went for it again. But in all fairness ghost Tate sees this as his only option for keeping Violet by his side and in the house. If only we knew for sure he wasn’t using Violet for some untimely end. Perhaps killing her in order to crossover or even killing her so they can “be together forever”. He even saw the romance in the notion of being in the house forever after he brutally murdered Chad and Pat in the basement together.
A popular fan theory for Tate is the idea of him having some sort of dark twin. For example Tate A paints roses black for Violet and Tate B viciously assrapes someone with a fire poker. I totally can see credence in this but isn’t this further proof of my love of the character? He truly seems to be able to do no wrong. How is Evan Peters making Tate still even slightly sympathetic? Sigh. Thoughts?
Chad loses control of his love, his life, and his house beginning with him buying the Rubberman suit to help improve his love life with Pat and ending with Tate shooting him literally through the heart. Norah remains blind to the insanity and sadism of this act and is touched at Tate’s declaration that he killed the couple so a new family could move in an hopefully have a baby for her. She touches his face, seemingly touching his facial scars (I suspect from infantata), giving him some sort of affection he is absorbing like a small boy being rewarded with a treat. Am I crazy for sympathizing with this psychopath?
As this episode speedily jumped from year to year and scene to scene you actually found yourself a bit disoriented. This actually works beautifully as it follows Vivien’s dive into losing her mind a bit in a full down breakdown. Actually her dive into more like a nervous breakdown about her knowing someone was trying to drive her insane. Her own use of the phrase “Gaslight” explains this as it reflects the 1944 film Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman. Except in this plotline Ben would have to be in on the takedown and unfortunately he is not. After being confronted with a cruel but somewhat truthful Violet Ben confronts his (exish) wife concerning what he sees as a mental break and an attempt to separate him from his children. This idea is hinted at in an earlier scene between a tearful Vivien trying to scientifically explain what she is experiencing and Moira giving her a semi-feminist sermon while trying to keep Vivien’s mind intact. Frances Conroy really hit this scene on the head between her referencing The Yellow Wallpaper (albeit somewhat paraphrasing unless she multiplied the women in the wallpaper because she herself is split into multiple women…hmm) as well as explaining how doctors used to prescribe ‘hysterical paroxysm’ to women. Frances pauses, leans forward and translates: “Orgasm”. AWESOME. She goes on to tell Vivien she is not wrong about what she thinks she is seeing. She says she believes (or compares herself too) in “lost souls” and “things unseen”. She confirms that the house is possessed. Where the hell is Zelda Rubinstein when you need her? Will Billie Dean fill that role?
Vivien takes Moira’s advice to “get out” while she still can and literally drags a half -asleep Violet out of the house in the middle of the night. Her and Tate share of a look reminiscent of pained lovers being untimely separated. Of course they never get out of the driveway – and we never see Violet truly leave the property.
In fact the one time we catch Violet without Tate she is trying to lure Beau out to play in the basement. She actually has a real “I’ve sort of lost my mind” vibe but when confronted by Ben she flips back into wicked overly angry Violet. It seems too much but I do not think Violet is in much control of herself right now. As we have previously learned the “darkness has her”, she could even be dead; I do not think it is making her any fluffier. Violet takes a further step into unlikeable territory at the end of the episode by lying to both Ben and the police about seeing the ghosts Vivien saw therefore condemning her to being taken away for psychiatric testing. In all fairness though Vivien has already shot Ben (WTF!) with a gun she cleverly stole from Marcy (HA!). I love how Ben is like fine after this. Wouldn’t the EMTs not take no for an answer in reference to taking him to the hospital? If he is seemingly all better by the next episode I’m calling shanagins unless Ben is really dead now or something.
Violet was put up to this betrayal by Tate right after they seemingly had sex for the first time. Unlike some viewers I don’t see this as horrible. If anything her mother is now out of the house and Violet is staying with her fluffy cuddly murdering psychopathic sadistic ghost boyfriend, which is exactly where she wants (or needs) to be.
UGH Ben was still taking some steps toward being a better father in my opinion but of course he had to ruin it at the end. Ben did you seriously just leave your traumatized admittedly depressed vulnerable daughter alone in that house.
Violet is sad – knowing what she did was pretty bad. Tate is all “No worries I’m here”! She leans into her dead boyfriend because he is indeed really there. I do not know about you guys but I do not think this relationship is going to end well. If it truly has an end at all. Romeo and Juliet indeed – you know if Romeo impregnated Juliet mother.