Saturday, January 7, 2012

American Horror Story, Season 1, Episode 12: Afterbirth

So, it is probably no surprise to anyone here that we’re not the biggest fans of American Horror Story. We’re largely of the belief that it contains a lot of unchallenged isms that serve no story purpose. So when the season finale happened we cracked open the good booze… buuut we left it unfinished! We had not reviewed the last episode… one of us had to watch it and recap it.
*High Noon Music*
Yeah, it’s me. Doubtless I shall have to think of some dreadful revenge, but for now, let’s dive in.

We begin with a flashback! Back before Ben and Vivian first moved to LA - and Vivian doesn’t want to give Ben a second chance which he combats by mentioning real estate. Yeah.. it’s you she’s not all that happy with Ben, you she can’t reconnect with – a shiny house isn’t really going to fix that. He continues to psychobabble at her to make her remain. Yeah, when the psychiatrist uses psychobabble on his family to try and manipulate them? Screw the affair, Vivian, this guy’s just not that great a catch, even if he is astonishingly in shape for a 50 year old. Run Viv, run! Don’t let the abs fool you!

Back to the present day and the house is empty (with this many ghosts!) and of course, just about everyone is dead. But worry not Ben, Constance is here to babysit your newborn child – really Constance? I wouldn’t trust her to raise a dog. However, for once Constance is right – and it’s a really bad idea to take the baby into the murder house. Ben finally starts to clue in on who Constance and Tate is and starts to blame all the bad things that happened to his family on Constance. Constance isn’t having that and says he’s paying for his sins. Damn, twice I’m forced to agree with Constance? Damn it Ben, you’re such a complete fool you make me side with Constance?

Back in the House, Moira is giving Vivien a ghostly induction (apparently the ghosts can only be seen when they want to be). Oh and Vivien finds it hardest to watch Ben – seriously Viv? Get your poltergeist on! You owe him at least a few spectral kicks to the yin-yangs. But no, she’s speaking his praise to Moira, defending him. I’m with Moira – I have no idea why she is defending him.

I have to say Vivien is taking this very… calmly. Talk about fast adjustments. But she does have a plan – get Ben and their child away from the house. We do have a good moment where Moira makes it clear that all the ghosts are equal and she doesn’t take instructions from Vivian any more. I like to see that assertion from the servant.

Ben then does an extremely neat inventory, puts his affairs in order for when Vivien’s sister arrives – and prepares to shoot himself. Y’know, I’m trying to sympathise with his pain here, especially since his loss and grief is really well displayed. But I’m having extreme difficulty not thinking “shame you didn’t care so much when they were alive”. Unworthy, unfair perhaps – but still. Vivien steps in to stop him (I’m with you there Viv, the rest of eternity stuck with him? He could at least go into the street or something to do the deed). 

Violet appears and ben has some more eye-opening about what a poor father he’s been while Violet and Vivian tell him he’s a nice guy and they want him to raise the child. Yeah, sorry “too little, too late.” But they both want him to get the baby out – every second he remains puts them both in danger.
Of course, the other ghosties, especially Hayden, aren’t letting him get away with that and hang him from the chandeliers. Now, I actually quite like that chandelier and there’s a severe chance they could damage the light fixture here. Murderous ghosties, I disapprove of your murder choice – it’s not like Ben hasn’t got out and loaded a gun for you already. Now the inhabitants of the house are officially in hell – doomed for an eternity in Ben’s company 

Moving on, the Bigot Estate Agent (hereby known as BEA) is still trying to sell the house by using lots of racism. BEA, you might want to work on your sales pitch there. Anyway, the new Ramos family is attracted by the cheap price, explained by the oh-so-romantic deaths of Ben and Vivien (hey, at least they weren’t murdered. Oh I laugh, yes I laugh) while the ghost twins through caps at the Ramos’ son, Gabriel. And it’s sold – we have a new set of victims!

Move on to Constance, who found Ben’s body (and concisely sums up Ben) – seems the baby has disappeared. Ben and Vivien’s ghosts have a very clam reunion (seriously, these guys accept death waaaay too easily. I like that their expression is rueful chagrin. It’s a facial expression more suitable for “oh darn, I just burned the souffle, silly me” rather than “I JUST BEEN MURDERED!!! AND YOU’RE AN ARSEHOLE!”. So I’m assuming the murder house comes with a hefty supply of marijuana for the new ghosties). And it seems they’re lovey dovey again (oh Vivien, Violet he may be dead, but that just makes him a dead arsehole). Hayden made a play for the baby but the kid’s now in Constance’s hands – kept in the same closet she locked Adelaide in.

Violet starts to set up a love triangle (oh gods, a whole season, I thought we weren’t going to get one of them) by crushing on (and haunting) Gabriel, the Ramos’ teenaged son. Tate is naturally jealous, so that speaks volumes for Gabriel’s life expectancy (like being a marginalised person in the murder house hadn’t already set the clock ticking)

And Vivien and Ben like to watch. Unfortunately, what they’re watching isn’t just the Ramos’ breaking in the new house – but also planning to have more kids. In the murder house – Ben and Vivien think this is a bad idea and Moira agrees.

The ghosts waste no time that night – Gabriel gets Tate being mopey (midnight teen angst haunting? Ye gods, I’ll take bleeding walls please) and wanting to kill Gabriel to make Violet less lonely (Tate, have you seen how many ghosties are packed into the house? Violet couldn’t be alone if she tried).  Violet steps in to distract Tate so Gabriel can run. Meanwhile, Ben, Vivien, Moira and many more ghosties get together to terrify Miguel and Stacy  Ramos into leaving. It’s actually really well done and you get such a snap shot into how many ghosts there are (and how many of them are “good” ghosts willing to try and save this couple). Also Vivien disembowels Ben which gives me a very happy feeling. I think it’s a great idea – but, again, Vivien  and Ben are freakily embracing this whole being dead thing. There’s no transition period at all. And the Ramos’ escape!

So on to business as usual – Ben and Tate have a heart to heart where Ben engages in some joyously ableistic shaming of mental illness and therapy but I’m glad to see that Ben isn’t accepting Tate’s apology and “remorse”. Tate begins a long confession and wants to hang out with ben. Really? *headdesk*

And the stillborn baby is a ghost – he took one breath in the house and for some reason is claimed by Nora Montgomery (that would be the wife of the Doctor who first built the house) and Vivian steps in to care for the child. Yeah I’m not sure why she went along with it either – but she makes Moira godmother and “part of the family” (awwwwwwww) and then they have an oh-so-touching Christmas scene. Really, American Horror Story is trying for twee? I’m vaguely creeped out by the whole scene
Skip forward 3 years, with Constance raising the child, Michael  and throw in some anti-Semitism (BINGO!  It must be Bingo) and… oh, little Michael has murdered his nanny. And icky icky creepy – yeah that kid has pushed all the creepy buttons

On the whole, it has some odd moments (why are Ben and Vivian so blasé about being dead) and ism failure –but it also brought the creepy pretty well. Oh and Ben got murdered and disembowelled. Which is a very very good thing.