Friday, November 11, 2011

American Horror Story, Season One, Episode Six: Piggy Piggy

I don't even know what to say about this episode, except that I absolutely loved it.  Piggy Piggy was filmed in the tradition of the best horror out there and I was thankful that I watched it during the day rather than at night. I am still scared.
The episode began with a flashback of the swat team knocking on the door.  When Constance answers the cops ask for Tate Langdon.  It goes back to 1994 and there are a few kids in the library and in the background we hear gun shots.  These kids are the same kids that appeared to Tate and Violet on the beach.  The kids manage to bar one entrance to the library but in their haste forget to lock the other entrance.  Tate bursts in wearing all black and proceeds to kill them all. The scene flashes back to the house and cops stand with their weapons pointed at Tate and on his chest we can see red dots. Ever so slowly Tate raises his hand to his head and pretends to shoot himself.  Believe it or not, this all occurs within the first few minutes of the episode.

Through a little investigation on the internet, Violet learns that not only is Tate dead but that he is a mass murderer.  When Violet runs downstairs to tell her mother she find Constance in the kitchen itself.  Constance tells her, "I questioned my sanity when I first found out, but this house, this house will make you a believer. Violet we were living here when Tate lost his way and I believe that the house drove him to it."  Violet immediately denies what Constance is saying but Constance responds, "You're a smart girl, how can you be so arrogant to think that there is only one reality that you're able to see?"  Constance then introduces her to Billie Dean Howard, a psychic that she met on youtube.  Billie Dean tells Violet that she has a gift and that she has to accept the truth of it before it makes her mentally ill. I don't know about you but I see this as ore covering up about the nature of the house.  Violet is not seeing ghosts outside of the house, only in the house.  It is to stop Violet from exploring how evil the place she calls home really is.

Luke shows up once again to check the house after Vivien calls to say that she heard some strange sounds.  Vivien tells him about Ben's infidelity, and of course Luke listens cause that's just what Black men exist to do.  He in turn tells Vivien that his wife cheated on him with another woman and points out that while some men may be into this sort of thing, he is not.  I don't know about you but it seems as though they included the same sex aspect to make it appear as though what she did was above and beyond.  The writers are so obviously setting up Luke and Vivien for a little swirl action and why not, Luke is played by Morris Chestnut, the king of the African American romantic comedies. Ben shows up full of concern to interrupt their little tête-à-tête .

Vivien clearly does not want him in the house, but he tells her that he needs a place to work, and that they need the money.  When she insists that he rent an office, he tells her again that they need the money and promises to leave when he has seen his last patient of the day.  

Alone in the bathroom, Violet is again playing with razors.  She cuts her wrist yet again and fantasizes cutting her own throat.  Her father is a psychiatrist, how is it possible that he is so unaware of his daughters pain? Ben and Vivien are so self involved that they don't have the slightest clue what is going on in their home.  Tate shows up briefly and asks her if she is scared now and then disappears as Violet turns to answer.

Ben's patient tells him that he is terrified of urban legends like Bloody Mary, Candy Man, Lady in White and Ben reduces them to children's ghost stories. The man tells him that nothing else scares him "just these stories that he knows are utter bullshit".  He says that he hasn't had the courage to look in the mirror in the last week because of piggy man. Apparently Piggy Man was a hog butcher in Chicago during the worlds fair in 1893.  He would go into the slaughter pen and put on a pig mask that he made from one of his other kills and he would snort like a pig to make them think he was one of them.  One day he slipped and fell and the hogs tearing him apart leaving no trace of the man. Shortly afterwards, his former customers started turning up dead, skinned and hung upside down to drain like a hog in a shop. They say if stand in front of a mirror and say, "here piggy pig pig that he will return for the slaughter."  He says that he has never called him but that there is something inside of him that compels him to do this and that scares the hell out of him. 

Okay, maybe I am silly and superstitious but I believe that there are things that you don't mess with and stories like Bloody Mary et al scare the hell out of me.  Now, of course they have not paralyzed by life but I do think that Ben was being dismissive of his fear and he did not take the opportunity to normalize what he was feeling.  There are plenty of people who would not have the guts to call on Bloody Mary. 

When the patient leaves, Violet shows up and tells Ben that she is sorry and that it's all her fault.  Ben reassures her by saying that he and Vivien love her very much.  She tells him that the darkness has her and he says, "no I have you." Okay, what kind of psychiatrist does not pick on a term like the darkness has me?  He has got to be the most self involved therapist ever to exist.  He does not even bother to ask what she means or what is really upsetting her.  Ben simply arrogantly believes that he knows exactly what is going on with Violet without asking a single question.  

Still concerned that Angie fainted during her ultra sound, Vivien tries to track her down.  When Constance comes in and Vivien makes a weak attempt at condolences to which Constance quickly shrugs off.  Constance tells her that she has heard that every times to leave the house that she is stricken with morning sickness and so she gives her some offal and asks Moira to saute them with sweet butter for Vivien's lunch.  Constance leaves saying, "we need that baby. We need another sweet child around them."

Frying the offal, Moira tells her, that cheating on one's pregnant wife is an unspeakable act on par with murder and that Dr. Harmon will cheat again if given half the chance.  When she hands Vivien the food, she tells her that she left the pancreas uncooked saying that it is the tenderest organ.  After eating Vivien looks at the offal and is clearly thinking about eating it.  I don't know about you but when I was pregnant, there is no way could I have looked at the offal, let alone thought about eating it without becoming violently ill. Later in the episode we see Vivien eating a raw brain served to her by Moira.  I know that in some areas of the world that this is a delicacy but for me it really increased the whole creep factor. It is clear that Moira and Constance are doing the whole divide and conquer routine and Vivien is falling for it, in her anger with Ben.

Throughout the episode, Violet becomes more and more unglued.  When she goes into the basement, she is confronted by the ghosts who are haunting the house. Unable to take it anymore she downs sleeping pills, but Tate dragged her to the bathtub and forced her to vomit screaming, "don't you die on me Violet". He tells her that he loves her and will leave her alone if that's what she needs because that how much he loves her. This is not nearly as romantic as it sounds.  What it reminds us is that Tate is still dangerously self involved, because if anyone told him to leave him alone, he should respect that regardless of how he fells about the person.

The question is, now that Violet knows about the house, will she tell her parents?  She has been told by Constance that the house made Tate violent and she knows that the house is the murder house.  

As for Ben's patient, the treatment he received was decidedly ineffective.  Ben brings him into the bathroom in the house, yes the house of all places and tells him that he is safe.  Of course, the moment the man starts to call on piggy man, the house obliges with ghost activity. In the end, he tries once again at home but what he does not know is that their are burglars in his home.  When one burglar responds by saying who you calling thief, Ben's patient drops dead of fear.  I suppose this was meant to be a moment of dark comedy but I am not sure that it worked considering that we are talking about a man that is mentally ill.

Finally, I am hoping desperately that the issue of Adelaide is unresolved.  Constance contacts her through a psychic and we learn that Adelaide died before her body was dragged to the lawn and that she is free.  She is thankful that she did not die on the lawn because she is terrified of Tate.  They have a moment in which Constance tells her how special she was and affirms that she really was a pretty girl, but I felt that the ending was too neatly wrapped up, considering the years of emotionally and physically abusive behavior at Constance's hand.  If Adelaide is really and truly not going to appear in ghost form again, this is yet another sign of how much her character was devalued.  It is very telling that not only did the only disabled character died but that she is not allowed to have a presence on the show like all of the other deceased characters.  What are your thoughts on this issue?

I am going to give this episode a five because I loved the drama of it.  The show kept me on the edge of my seat for an entire hour and I was truly scared, which is exactly what a great horror should do.