Wednesday, October 19, 2011

American Horror Story: Home Invasion

After last week’s underwhelming premiere, I thought long and hard about continuing the recaps of American Horror Story. Unlike the Killing, my last foray into following a television series, American Horror Story, is a complete mess, and we're only 2 episodes in. It seems the creators/writers/whoevers simply have a list of famous horror movies that they then pay homage to, with little rhyme or reason. I’m have some faint hopes that a centralized story (other than “dysfunctional family moves into haunted house, bloody, improbable hijinks ensue”) will start to develop, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence of one.

The other reason doing the Killing recaps was fulfilling was the amount of familiar people I knew also watched it and commented. It made watching the show slowly devolve at least palatable. So far, no one I know is watching AHS. I would beg them to start but that wouldn’t be very nice of me.

Anyway, I guess the reason I’m sticking with this is I’m a masochist at heart, and the show is very sadist, so in a way we’re made for each other.

Once again we start with a flashback; our jaunty font says we’re in the year 1968. We’re in the house following 3 girls getting ready to go to a Doors concert. This is immediately unbelievable as one of the girls is black, and if I know anything it’s that black people hate the Doors. I mean, most white people do. Regardless, they head down the stairs off to their concert, making snide comments about two girls who opted to miss the Lizard King and study instead. Well, one of them is studying, the other one appears to already be a nurse. And…I have no idea of the dynamic of these five girls. I guess it’s not too important, as we’ll soon see, but it just seems like really poor writing.

The two shut-ins settle for a night of studying and Laugh-In just as there’s a knock on the door. It’s a guy who was in an accident and could he get some help? Help as in “I really need to kill some nurses because I hate nurses and thankfully I found a house that contained an actual nurse and a nursing student.”

No, really. He quickly overtakes them, makes the student dress up in a nurse outfit that I guess he brought with him? And proceeds to lay her out on a white couch, in her white uniform, and stab her. It’s quite graphic. Yes, if you want me to get specific she prays and he says that’s not going to help her, and he’s right. So is the house the devil? Good lord would that be annoying. We don’t see what happens to the other, actual nurse, but assume she upstairs masturbating. Although with this show…

Cue clichéd credits...

Ah, back in the present day…Ben is working with crazypants teen (aka Tate) and they’re verbally sparring. Tate tries to get under Doc Ben’s skin by telling the doctor his sexual thoughts about Violet, his daughter. Now call me crazy, but I doubt he would still be treating him. Remember, he already found him in Violet’s room. Anyway, before we come squirm out of that moral wormhole, he gets a call on his cell from a woman simply saying, “I’m pregnant.” Which I assume is the woman/girl with whom he had the affair that started this whole thing.

Next, we find ourselves in an abandoned pool with a bunch of skateboarding teens. Violet and her coke fiend girl nemesis are now a bit more chummy. Or at least not fighting. I guess demon attacks are a good thing to bond over. They talk about what happened in the basement. Violet tries to play it off as Tate just scaring her (even though she seemed pretty spooked last week about it). Crazy chick isn’t buying that though and shows Violet her now streaked, white hair. Kinky!

Cut to: Violet now asleep, in the house. And who shows up but Tate, watching her sleep? Because what says completely sane and normal more than creepily watching someone sleep? Unless of course Tate is a ghost. Which he totally is. Suddenly, the house alarm goes off. Ben grabs a bat and heads downstairs to find the front door open. Ben’s next stop? The basement…where he finds Addie, playing with a ball. And I realize that Jessica Lange is crazy, and Addie has down syndrome so she’s not a normal child, but seriously – it’s late enough where everyone is asleep. We can’t keep a girl with down syndrome in check? Obviously there’s a subtly hint of supernatural stuff (seriously, the ball Addie was playing with mysteriously rolls across the floor when no one is there – but more seriously, are we supposed to be spooked by that? We had a rubber suited man rape a woman last week. The ball-across-the-floor seems slightly underwhelming after that) before Ben turns off the lights and heads back upstairs.

He explains the situation to Vivian who promptly tells him she’s afraid for her baby. You see, this pregnancy seems different than the last one. And while I know next to nothing about pregnant woman, isn’t that uh, kinda normal? Like women who vomited a lot with their first child didn’t vomit at all with the second? Whatever, I guess we have to build some suspense for the baby here since it’s the product of a rubber-suited man demon.

Cut to: a new, blond woman patient with Ben, spouting some ridiculous nonsense about Karen Carpenter and an elevator. Unfortunately we aren’t just told though, we’re shown her freaky, “I’m gonna get chopped in half dream.” Then she turns it on Ben and asks about the murder house and tells him how his house is on the murder house tour. She seems obsessed about the murders. And the house. (Bianca)

Cut to: Ben calling Tate’s mom and telling her he can’t treat Tate – which at least shows the creators are trying to ground the show in a little bit of reality. Meanwhile, crazy blond patient wanders in lying about how she got “turned around” when she was leaving. And there we’ve effectively eliminated the reality because I can’t imagine any psychiatrist with a home office simply tells the patient to show him/herself out the door and leaves them alone. Well, I guess any psychiatrist with an office NOT in a haunted house.

Let’s go wander over and see what those oh-so-wholesome neighbors are doing. Why, it looks like they’re baking something! And spitting in it and putting ipecac syrup in it. How lovely. I can only imagine who that’s for.

Cut to: Ben running again in the apocalyptic valley and having flashbacks of what I can only imagine is his affair girl. Melted head guy shows up, and talks more about the house and seems to have a lot of Ben’s personal information. Ribs him a bit about the affair which, yeah – why not? He also gives the audience the cliff notes version of his story, just in case we missed it last week (plausible) or there are some new viewers this week (extremely implausible). He predicts Ben is going to lie to his wife and so we…

Cut to: Ben lying to his wife about why he is flying to Boston.

During the lying conversation, Constance comes over and brings the cupcakes with the explicit instructions that Violet eats them, which I don’t get, and can only assume will be revealed in the future as to why Constance wanted to make Violet sick. At least I hope it’s revealed, and not just a stupid way for the cupcakes to come up later in the episode. I really hope they explain why Constance baked yuckcakes for Violet, when we’ve seen little interaction between these two characters. Good lord I feel like I’m in for disappointment. I mean more disappointment.

Anyway, Constance non sequitors into a premonition that Violet is “with child.” Because she’s a ghost, right? And Violet, maybe because she’s losing 5% of her brain with the pregnancy, or maybe because it’s just shoddy writing, invites Constance to stay so she can talk more about her unborn child with her, all the while teasing the audience with the yuckcake in her hand. Will she or won’t she eat it? Will we care or not?

Constance doesn’t seem to want wife to eat the cupcake, but she also doesn’t go to too many great lengths to prevent it. Then Ben walks in. Then 6 Feet Under maid walks in. And it seems Constance and the maid have a history together. A prickly history. Constance also makes sure Ben doesn’t eat a cupcake. Like he was going to. He’s way too busy ogling sexy maid.

Cut to: Violet’s room With Ben gone, I guess mom and daughter have to talk. Of course as every mother/daughter conversation goes, Violet calls her mom “fat” and “weak.” You know, the usual stuff. Vivian leaves the yuckcake with her, but Violet leaves it out in the hallway, presumably to poison a rat. Or ghost. Or homicidal wannabe woman actress.

Vivian feeling rather glum, goes and calls Ben. Ben is of course with his little chirpy, sipping wine in her apartment. And its here I start questioning the timeline of everything going on. If we’re supposed to believe the that Ben’s affair chick’s unborn child is his…did he have the affair and then 2 weeks later pack up the family to move to California? I thought there was time in between the affair and then the move? Or, is this not his kid? Or, am I putting way too much thought into this? I

I think we know the answer to at least one of those questions.

Anyway, he makes the mistake of checking his phone in her presence, she goes all psycho, and then he apologizes and seemingly slips his phone into her pocketbook? I rewound like 4 times to see if I could understand what was going on, since that seems like the stupidest thing anyone could ever do in his situation, but that’s what it looked like. I mean, I realize she asked him for the phone during her tantrum, but he wisely said no and refused to give it to her. Then they hug, and he seemingly slipped it into her bag unbeknownst to her. And you wonder why I’m currently banging my head on they keyboard in frustration.

And now starts what may be one of the most ridiculous plot lines in a television show. And that’s saying a lot coming from a show based in fantasy: Vivian is laying in bed watching some movie, when she hears someone banging on the front door. It’s a woman employing the same tactics as the 1968 guy who killed the girls in the beginning of the show. Thankfully, Vivian isn’t a stupid nursing student and doesn’t fall for it. She looks around for her phone before screaming for Violet to get her phone and call 911. She goes back to check at the door, and glimpses the woman, now wearing a creepy black mask. Simultaneously there is a man in a black mask creeping up on Violet, who is frantically looking for her phone.

It’s a home invasion, sadly without the Ice-T soundtrack. There are three invaders, and one of them is the woman patient from the beginning, this time with two of her goon friends…and they really are obsessed with the murders that happened in this house, so much so they’re going to recreate them! (Un)Thankfully Violet and Vivian aren’t so submissive and they fight back, as much as they can. Violet breaks away and runs upstairs. Tate shows up, and tells Violet to get the three of them into the basement. Makes a bit of sense, since we saw what he did with coke addled teen friend when Violet got her in the basement. And that was just to scare her! Meanwhile, Vivian is trying to talk herself out of getting murdered, when we see Addie creeping into the house. Guess there are some positives to leaving your door unlocked. Other than letting homicidal house invaders in. Violet Subtly tries to tell her to go get help. Meanwhile Violet is caught and is being forced into a nurse outfit where she is going to be drowned. Apparently that is what happened to the other woman in the beginning scene. Of course, why that was not revealed in the beginning, and held to this moment makes little sense, but at this point we just have to go with it. Right? I mean there’s no way to actively change a television show on the fly is there?

Just as we’re about to get on with Violet’s drowning, blond wannabe actress homicidal maniac comes strutting into the bathroom gnoshing on the yuckcake that Violet had left out in the hall. Because everyone knows murdering makes you hungry!

Cut to: Constance getting busy with a young man. A studly, young man. Unfortunately, before she can remove his trousers with her tongue, Addie upends the mood with news of what’s happening next door. But of course, since she’s a television character with down syndrome, we know where this is leading, right? Well, not where it eventually lands, but we can guess that Constance won’t believe her.

So yeah, Constance doesn’t believe her, and puts her in the “bad closet” to “look at herself.” The bad closet is a closet full of mirrors. And so I guess all the scenes leading up to this point is just to show off that one of the writers came up with the bad closet concept. Because seriously? This has nothing to do with anything.

Back in horror house, the blond murderer girl is vomiting. In a stupor, she’s looking for her crime cohorts, before Tate comes out of nowhere and buries an ax in her stomach. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, and I know it was something like five minutes ago, but weren’t we lead to believe a little earlier that Tate needed the three home invaders to go in the basement before he could “act?” I guess that’s out the window. But then why did he wait to act? Why didn’t he help them out before…oh just forget it. I blame myself for picking this show apart at such a logical level.

Downstairs, Vivian is getting prepped by the dude to get stabbed. But wait – there’s a struggle! and she gets the upperhand.

Meanwhile, Violet, per Tate’s implicit instructions, is leading the last remaining kidnapper to the basement. And there’s Tate with a tub. Vivian and Violet escape and run down the street, leaving Tate to handle these crazy kids anyway he wants. And how he does that is conjures up the nursing student ghosts. Because, of course.

Back in Boston Ben and his chirpy look like they’re waiting in a high school gymnasium sponsoring a blood drive. And maybe they are. We know she was/is a student. And I can only guess that he will get a phone call and have to leave, and she’ll be pissed. Which is pretty much what happens.

Cut to: Constance, Six Feet Under Mom and Tate standing over the bodies of the kidnappers. Tate suggests that if they want the doctor to keep treating him, they have to get rid of the bodies. Uh oh, careful here, we’re getting a semblance of a reason this show exists. Now don’t worry, I’m certain it will be forgotten about. They hatch a plan to get rid of the bodies.

The aftermath. Ben is home and the family is being interviewed by the police. The one girl was found down the street with multiple ax wounds; the other 2 haven’t turned up yet. Ben confronts his daughter about Tate being in the house. She snarks back. You know usual snark stuff after a home-invasion-almost-murder. Vivian ends the episode with “we’re selling this house.”

Something tells while she may have the best intentions, she isn’t going to get her wish.

So, what are we left with? Suggestions that Constance isn't a ghost (since we see her outside of the house) which lead us to believe that the house makes people go crazy internally. Tate also shows possibilities of both being a ghost (all the basement talk) and not being a ghost (actually stabbing a real life person with an ax). So basically, we know nothing.

I'm really dreading next Wednesday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to know someone else is as blase' about this show as I am. The first episode intrigued me, but the second one confused me. I guess I'll keep watching, but it might be like the first season of Lost. After a while, it became too much work to continue watching.