Friday, November 25, 2011

American Horror Story, Season One, Episode Eight: Rubber Man

Wednesday night's episode answered a lot of questions.  We have seen rubber man from the very beginning of the of the show, but were never given any clues as to who he was until now.  Rubber man is Tate.  It seems that he is particularly moved by Nora Montgomery's desire to have a child.  He killed Teddy and Chad, when it become apparent that their relationship had disintegrated to the point where they would not be adopting a child, in the hope that a new family would move in, and provide Nora with the child of her dreams.  His rape of Vivien was to ensure that she became pregnant with a child.

The rubber suit was originally purchased by Chad, when he learned that Patrick was having conversations online about BDSM.  He was absolutely desperate to save his relationship and so he visited a store in the hope of finding something to turn Patrick on again.   He was clearly out of his element, because he did not know whether Patrick was a top or a bottom, but when he considers that sexually he always took the lead, he decided Patrick would be submissive for Patrick in order to mix things up a bit. Unfortunately, when Chad puts on the rubber suit to seduce Patrick, he is so clearly not into it and tells him that he does not like the feel of rubber against his skin.  They begin an argument, where once again Patrick tells him that he is sick of renovating, and tired of Chad holding the house against him.  As Patrick storms out in a rage, he tells Chad that he likes leather, and Chad crumples and begins to cry desperately.

In this episode, we watch as Vivien comes slowly unglued.  Hayden has determined that she wants her vengeance, and has set about torturing Vivien with Tate's help.  Vivien knows something is wrong, because she recognizes Nora Montgomery as the woman who came to see the house earlier, but Moira tries to tell her that everyone has a doppleganger.  When she looks up the side effects of the drugs her doctor gave her, she realizes that they could potentially be responsible for everything that she is seeing. 

We know that Vivien is not seeing things and that the house is in fact tormenting her.  Moira tries again by telling her about hysteria.  Vivien seems comforted by the knowledge that the medical profession has a long history of misogyny, but what I wonder is why she didn't consider for a moment that her OBGYN is female. Obviously, women are no strangers to internalized sexism; however, this should at least have been a consideration of hers.  Moira then goes on to tell her that malevolent spirits live in the house, and that she has to get out or Ben will assure that she is institutionalized. Vivien takes this to heart and runs upstairs to get Violet and leave.  As they are making their way out the door they are accosted by the spirits of the people who broke into the home during Halloween.

At this point, I completely believe that Moira is setting Vivien up, though she defended her to Hayden.  She fed Vivien raw brains and claimed it was to help the child, but as Ben would later point out, raw organs carry infectious diseases and could potentially be very harmful. Even during the 80's when Moira was alive, this would have been true.

The next day, Ben and Vivien have it out after Violet tells him that Vivien is losing her mind and eating raw offal. Vivien accuses Ben of setting her up and he tells her that he will go to the courts if he has to, to ensure that she does not leave the state with Violet or their unborn twins. Vivien tries to tell him about the break in, but he says that according to the police report no such thing occurred, and that he believes she has had some sort of psychotic break because she never dealt with the break in at halloween.

Upstairs in her room, Violet is alone with Tate. He asks her if she is in pain because they apparently just had sex.  I do not understand why Violet is in Tate's thrall. She knows that he is responsible for a vicious school shooting, but hey, none of that matters when there is true wuv to consider.  Does she think she can reform him?  What about the fact that she has been incontrovertible proof that he is not even alive?  Violet tells him that she wishes that she could tell her mother what is going on, but he says that she can't because they will lock her up and that means that they will be separated. 

Downstairs, Vivien tells Ben that every word she told him was true, and that he simply needs to ask Violet.  When Violet makes an appearance, she says that she told the police what she believed that Vivien wanted her to say, and that she was only freaked out because Vivien was freaked out.  Talk about selling your mother down the river. Vivien has a look of absolute betrayal on her face, and as far as Ben is concerned, this is proof that she has absolutely lost her mind. He tells Vivien that he is going to spend the night in the house, and when she tells him that she does not need protection, he lets her know that he is staying for Violet and for the sake of their unborn twins, not her.

Unfortunately for Vivien, the ghosts of the house are not done with her.  When it is clear that she wants to leave, Hayden approaches Tate to deal with her. She tries to seduce him, but he rebuffs her claiming to be in love - heaven help us all.  Tate gets dressed in the rubber man suit and starts off by scaring Vivien. Hayden appears at her bedside and Vivien tries to tell her that she can simply have Ben, and that he is not a good man, but Hayden will not be appeased. It seems that she no longer wants Ben, and instead desires Vivien's unborn children. The fact that Vivien is pregnant with twins, means that there will be one for her and one for Nora. In a conspiratorial tone, Hayden tells her that Ben is not the father of her baby, and asks if she would like to meet the dad.

Vivien hops out of bed, only to be attacked by Tate. He spreads her legs wide and attempts to rape her.  Vivien manages to get away from him screaming and grabs her gun, but when Ben walks into the room, she confuses him with Tate and shoots him in the shoulder.  

Obviously, because he has been shot, Ben has to call the authorities.  The police tell him that he should go to the hospital, but big bad Ben says that it is a through and through, and that he will be fine.  Luke is not satisfied with Ben's explanation, and demands to see Vivien, but Ben says that he sedated his wife, and that she is not capable of talking.  Luke pushes even further and tells the cops that Ben has been cheating with a woman who has a criminal record, and that they are currently separated to cast doubt on Ben's version of events. This of course pisses Ben off and he forcefully reminds Luke that he works for him.  Yep, Negroes got to learn their place and stay in it.

When they go upstairs, Vivien seems confused as she tries to tell them about almost being raped by Tate and seeing Hayden. She looks in the closet for them, but when she cannot find them, she asserts that they are hiding in the house.  At this point, it is clear that Luke agrees with Ben, that Vivien has had a mental breakdown.  Ben holds Vivien close and tells her that he is sending her to the hospital and that he didn't want to do it, but felt that he had no choice because she is now a danger to herself and others.  Two men arrive and one brandishes handcuffs, but Ben tells him that he won't need them.  Vivien asks for her coat, but when she reaches for her purse, she is told that she won't need that.  Luke, Ben, Violet and her escort slowly walk Vivien out of the house, and she says, at least I won't be in this house anymore.

Violet tells Ben that it is all her fault, but he reassures her that she did the right thing by telling the truth. Great, now he wants to listen to what Violet is saying. The truth is, Ben wants a simple explanation about everything that has gone wrong since moving into that house.  

We take another trip back in time and see Tate killing Chad and Patrick.  What is most disgusting is that Tate makes a point of pulling down Patrick's pants and anally raping him, before dragging both men into the basement.  When we consider the ongoing homophobic nature of this show, it is clear that this act is gratuitous. What exactly drove Tate to rape Patrick in the first place?  In the basement, Moria hands him their gun and tells him to shoot them but to be careful because Patrick and Chad have people that will come looking for them and asking questions.  Tate shoots Patrick first and then shoots Chad before dropping the gun. 

You pick the ism, and it has been used as a plot point on this show.  This supposed breakdown by Vivien is yet another stroke of ableism.  Of course she is a danger to herself and others, isn't that what is always said about people who are neurologically atypical?  Even though we know that Vivien is absolutely telling the truth about her experiences that does not negate the rush to institutionalize her.
I also think that it is worth pointing out that once again, the people who are most likely to die, or face some sort of violence on American Horror Story, are historically marginalized people.  Vivien has actually been raped twice on this show and Patrick has been raped once.  They would never dream of allowing this to happen to Ben because he is after all straight, White, and cis.  The more vulnerable you are socially, the greater the chance that you will be violated on this show.  American Horror Story emboldens isms each and every single week, without a single indicator that what is happening is wrong.