American Horror Story Review and Recap for episode 11: Birth

American Horror Story Review and Recap for episode 11

This was a reallllly great episode all around. This show is at its best when it lingers in that in-between space of dark comedy and gruesome realities. I am going to go out on a limb and say Tim Minear (of Buffy and Angel fame), writer of this episode as well as part 2 of the Halloween episode, is the reason these episodes were so good. We went many strange places and saw many strange things. Now let’s explore them:

“Life is too short for such sorrow”
This opening sequence features once again everyone’s cutest little sociopath, Baby Tate! It is 1984 and lovely 7-year-old Tate is getting accosted in the basement by Thadiuous. As I previously mentioned way back during the “Rubberman” episode recap, when we first saw Tate and Nora interact some theorized that it was some sort of sexual relationship. Turns out I was right to scoff at this as Tate obviously sees Nora as a supreme mother figure as opposed to Constance (who was passed out drunk on the couch). She saves him from his most likely death by leechmouth and teaches him the same trick he later teaches his dead girlfriend, Violet (“Go Away!”). We transition into the present with the eternal psychopathic 17-year-old Tate who once again runs into Nora in the basement. He tries to cheer her up the same way she did him; as I’m sure he has done most of his tenure in Murder House. This time scatter-bullet-brained Nora is not receptive and her attitude only gets worse when he tells her that he cannot get her the baby he promised due to that very baby being Violet’s brother. Tate, sweetheart, its also your son you ass.
“It’s an eternity. Endless days night of longing. Where’s my baby?”
FUN: Anyone else see all those dolls and/or doll parts in the basement? Constance? Addys? Mysterious fourth sibling? Houses? Previous owner? Who knows.

Ben is trying to physically drag a shoeless Violet to the car outside of the house to take her to pick up Vivien. Her “I don’t feel good” bullshit is not flying for him anymore and he refuses to leave Vivien in that mental hospital any longer (even thought he put her there). He drives off with Violet laying down in the backseat, and we flash back to the house to see her still standing ghostly in the window. Cool.

We begin with them discussing their future in the house together. Violet is obviously feeling the heat of an eternity. Violet if anything is not stupid and she knows what could be in for her in the house. She uses some great metaphors about technology.
In a wicked adorable move Tate is using Violet laptop (trying to look comfortable at least) looking up something on YouTube – probably to cheer Violet up. In a moment of hilarity Violet corrects his “YouTube” spelling from “UTube”. “Oh” he smirks. HA
“One of these days this computer will be obsolete. People will have microchips implanted in their brains or something. We won’t be able to watch YouTube. We’ll be like all the others here, prisoners in a windowless cell.”
Right when Violet voices her realization that their eternity together isn’t exactly going to be all “From here to Eternity” moments. She mentions how they will never be able to have babies. My initial womanly reaction is to object to her need for children to determine happiness but I’ll let it go as a transition to them hearing Chad and Patrick working on the nursery for the twins.
They enter to them decorating with the lovely RED AND GREEN theme. It seems they have found a new solution to their eternity of misery and that is THE TWINS! Dudes, take a number. The two couples bicker back and forth. Violet gets cynically insulting while Tate spews homophobic slurs and ass imagery. Tate, as a character seems either very bisexual or molested to the point of obvious mental issues – Or he’s just an uncaring ghost of an uncaring murderer.
Chad is not scared, getting in the face of her killer: “I’m quaking in my loafers. What’d you gonna do? Murder me?”
Violet realizes she needs to help her parents and getting rid of these two troublesome specters seems best. Tate wants to help too! As long as you stay out of the suit Tate I’m thinking you should be fine.

Violet asks for Constance’s help while smoking a cigarette for the first time in weeks (on screen at least). I get a feeling she may be trying to sell to Constance that she is still alive though and trying to show a very “human” trait. Constance is up for the challenge and approaches Chad.
This is a scene I heard about and thought I had perhaps built it up in my head a bit too much but these two actors are so talented and ultra amazing that it simply was too amazing to completely reenact. It is not forced but pretty forceful.
Constance is against homosexuality, playing the part of the homophonic bigot relying on religion to prove her point. Chad, wine in hand, is the pretty mouthpiece right back at it. Constance gets so involved in the argument, even offering the Harmon baby, but not her dear “granbaby”. Chad pauses computing that little truth nugget she just let slip. He refers to Tate as Norman Bates junior (HA) and denies her saying he still wants both. When he explains smothering them with hyboallogenic pillows at the age when they will “stay cute forever” I can’t help but realize that is what I like about this show. The horrible biting truths followed up with gruesome humor.

“They don’t follow our physical laws”
MEDIIUM FROM LIFETIME Billie Dean comes by the house. She actually sells me on her “powers” when she actually communicates with Violet and knows she is dead. She then explains the house the way of connecting it to an “evil” force, or nature that wants to get into our world. Essentially it’s the island on Lost. It’s the graveless graveyard in Poltergeist. It seems like some serious notions but Constance comically cuts in all “That’s Great but how do we get rid of the gays”. LOL
Billie gives them some incite into a supposed ritual to banish a spirit. It was another cool way this show ties our own Americanized culture into the culture of the House lore. This is a supposed Native American method. Get a talisman of sorts from said ghost, burn it, scream “Croatoan” and BAM ghost no more.
Tate, like us, calls bullshit on this. Which is awesome. Also Billie Dean totally knew when Tate appeared to them in the house declaring that he is no to help them. She seems scared. Is this just because she knows who he was in life for real? Or because he is scary fucking bad ghost? LOL
This entire legend was butchered like much of the “history” on this show. The colony was never known as the “ghost” colony and all the people simple disappeared which is much scarier if you ask me.
Violet wants to try it though because she believes Billie so her and Tate set out to steal talismans from Chad and Patrick. Tate’s encounter with Patrick is too fabulous to not talk about. Tate master plan, as the rest of his plans, as usual is lacking sanity logic and empathy. He is set to either seduce Patrick into a sexual encounter to steal his ring or piss him off with said method to elicit a brutal (but needed) beat down to still skillfully steal said ring. Patrick goes for door number three head butting Tate instead of kissing him. Fangirls everywhere sob. Tate seems to actually like though which is all the more entertaining. As an added bonus Patrick reveals mid-fight that he wasn’t just cheating on Patrick he was planning to leave him. “I was going to get out!”
Chad of course is standing in the doorway hearing the secret. He books it. Patrick follows. Tate lays bloody and mangled on the floor clutching the stolen ring looking like Gollum.

Needed AN EMERGENCY C-section but that was too nuts for her to take seriously no matter how big her belly was getting. I love how the evil baby essentially was stealing the nutrients of the other baby and therefore killing it. Vivien was too stricken to take back control of her own life and decisions to realize the gravity of what was happening inside her body.
She is forced to endure looking at Murder House waiting for Ben to get Violet so they could leave and get the hell out of California. Contractions begin abruptly and Vivien ends up forced into the house by Constance as she is going into labor (at only six months!). As soon as she crosses the doorway her water breaks. “It’s too soon!”

QUESTION: Is this the house (the force, Billie spoke of earlier) pulling at some willing conduit? Or is this destiny simply playing out like the fickle bitch it is?
Constance gets her into the house that wants to help Vivien deliver her babies. The “help” comes in the form of Dr. Montgomery and the dead 60’s nurses helping Vivien deliver her babies. Is the house so willing simply because it wants to help it’s “lady of the house” or does it want to get that sweet little ANTICHRIST out.
As she moans she flashes in her mind to a better time: Violets happy birth. Everyone is all smiles, happy and health.
First baby, assuming it is Bens, is stillborn and Dr. Montgomery doesn’t even pause in delivering that DEAD bundle of joy to Nora. My question is now is Nora going to be strutting around with a DEAD baby in her arms for the rest of this series? Now that would be cool. Or did the baby die as soon as Vivien was back on the property and is not a little ghost? I vote for Nora to eternally be carrying around a dead baby, like those crazy women who carry dolls. That image is best. EVEN BETTER – What if that baby wasn’t stillborn? It was deadly silent when it was onscreen but we never saw the permies mute little face. I guess we will have to wait and see.
The next stronger baby, most likely Tate’s offspring, essentially truly rips Vivien poor body ragged and she essentially bleeds out right there on the property after getting the little devil out of her uterus. Her howls of pain morphing into its vicious baby cries was awful powerful. Constance takes off right away with the baby promising to merely wash him off – but she’s got crazy baby eyes so we know that isn’t quite right. She is cleaning him off when Moira joins her with happy tears in her eyes. They marvel at his beauty and perfection until Hayden interrupts all: Hey Bitches! You done with my baby yet? (I can’t wait to see more of this next week)
After Chad tells Violet the truth about her monster-boyfriend (Below!), Violet visits her dying mothers bedside. Blood is everywhere. GRUESOME. Here Violet utters her first very human sounding lines (of the entire series). She addresses her dying mother and kindly invites her to stay with her if the pain is too great. It is bitterly sweet in contrast to the horribly sad Ben’s “we can still live a life together’ bedside speech.
Vivien passes away admitting to not having a choice in her death and with that phrase it also goes from most of her decisions in the last year of her life.

Violet tries her big ritual to exorcise Chad and Patrick from the house in the basement at the furnace. Chad appears freshly painted red crib pieces in hand. As she dumbly chants Croatoan he convulses as if being lit on fire but then laughs mocking her attempt. “The Roanoke spell is bullshit”. Awesome. I miss Sylar… like early seasons of Heroes Sylar. He explains that it, like any other rituals or chants are designed to make people feel in control but that truly aren’t. He calms her nerves announcing she hasn’t nothing to fear from him or Patrick anymore because of the horrible secret he heard earlier. “I am doomed to spend eternity with a man who doesn’t love me. Of course, it could be worse. Your man loves you.” With this dig he out Tate from being the monster he essentially is. Violet insists that he has changed – but Chad tells her the sad truth that since his little school shooting Tate’s violence has only intensified if anything: raping Vivien and murdering Chad and Pat. Violet goes to watch her mother die while helping her then she pays her boyfriend a visit.

Baffled at how and why Violet somehow got out of the car on the way to pick up Vivien he is pissed at her upon returning to pick her up (leaving Vivien outside). He accuses her of being on drugs; he thinks he should know considering who he is. Violet wishes. She just drops the bomb to him. His mind quakes at the ridiculousness of her statement. In his everyman mind she is saying the impossible and that is something he just cannot accept. Before he can deal with this further he hears Vivien cries of pain. After finding out the phones are dead, the car has been ruined (courtesy of the red headed twins), and the electricity goes out.
His mindset sways into more of a dream as Constance comes into view telling him it is time. We are reminded of when she stopped him from burning himself up earlier in the season when he was sleepwalking. She leads him toward a screaming Vivien who looks like she is some sort of satanic sacrifice. Three ghosts are working on her, stab marks visible. Ben’s mind literally separates from itself as he sees himself screaming and crying in the corner of the room. “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?” It is truly a great sequence of both scary and powerful showing his rational actually unraveling on the floor.
Constance slaps him back into the moment and directs him to help his wife. He does putting his own sane mind off. But no matter what he tries Vivien fades with his push and pain. Kudos to Connie who must have screamed herself mad during this scene. There is so much blood. Vivien passes. Ben sits alone in the dark with his dead wife’s body.

This episode opened with an episode of Bob Newhart playing on the Langdon household in the 80s.
We hear “You always give a guy a second chance. That’s like the golden rule of guys” – “It’s hell to be a guy, isn’t it Dick?” – “It’s no picnic”. The ideas the entire Bob Newhart Show, as well as what that dialogue evokes connects to both Ben and Tate in my opinion. While Ben is the everyman surrounded by the illogical in an unfamiliar environment, Tate is the (newly) good guy with an extreme need for a second chance.
This entire exchange also got my mind thinking about how the Bob Newhart Show ended. SPOILER!
The entire thing was a dream.
Was this whole show a dream? Is the family still safe and unhappy in Boston? Did they actually die in Boston? Is Ben sleep walking/dreaming more then we have seen? Am I veering off on a tangent? You bet.
Now the confrontation we all needed.

Violet then confronts Tate in her-their bedroom. She knows the truth and now her mother is dead because of it. Violets missing family love and fierceness are now back full force. Tate sees her pain and reaches out to comfort her. She steps back and his face splits into a slight panic.
She confronts him on a multitude of his crimes: The shooting. The murders. The rape. Her emotional capper is the rape now resulting in Vivien’s death.
Violet admits that she thought he was like her, attracted to the darkness. The problem is that Tate is the darkness. Importantly Tate does not disagree with her but he insists Violet has changed him. It is because of her. For her. Teary he admits that she is the only light he has ever known. Tate wants redemption and his vehicle is Violet. (The guy code on Bob Newhart).
However Violet becomes one of my favorite teenage characters ever in recognizing that his redemption is not possible without justice and that is something Tate has never submitted himself to. She admits that he has changed. I agree. I do not think Tate would have given a shit about all this drama if he didn’t. She also tells him she loves him, which gets an actual vocal sigh from Tate because this is the first time she has ever actually said that back to him. You can see his insides tighten with elation before deflating in a mess of sadness. “But I can’t forgive you” She says, “You have to pay for what you’ve done”.
With Tate in hysterics Violet enacts the very same trick Tate taught her and Nora taught him: “Go Away!” He wails and disappears. A hand, then arm, then shoulder appears belonging to ghost Vivien. She comforts her crying daughter admitting how brave she is and how proud she is. She has a strange glint in her eye though like she’d much rather be discussing her daughters horrible taste in men.
Instead we get an organic real emotional connection. Violet apologizes for Vivien dying and losing her baby. Vivien in all honestly told Violet she has not lost her baby. Violet wails in the perfect way she does as the screen cuts to black.

Will Ben join his family in the house permanently?
What about the baby? Babies rather.
How will Tate be mentally the next we see him? Tate don’t you know there are some sacrifices you have to make for love?
So Violet and Tate really done because you know eternity is a long time…
Vivien better get a chance to beat the shit out of him first.

Also what if the Alpha and/or Antichrist baby isn’t Tate’s… what is it is Bens?
What if the question isn’t will Ben kill or not kill himself but what did Ben really do? There is something dark there that this show never directly confronted and I am not buying the whole sex addiction thing.
I think back to the still alive Violet sobbing to her father about the darkness having her and Ben holding her telling her its all okay because HE “has her”.  Perhaps I am just being like Violet and blaming dear old Dad for all the problems-sins-evils but I also feel like it has been pretty heavily hinted.
One more to go… Who wants more blood? Me!


~ by ATOM on December 15, 2011.

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