This review contains spoilers.
1.6 Piggy Piggy
Well, after Halloween’s run-in with Tate’s friends in the Dead Breakfast Club, Violet has finally started investigating her pseudo-boyfriend’s history, via Fake TV Google. Of course, when she realizes that her boyfriend’s been dead for 15 years or so, she understandably freaks out and heads to look for her mother, who has all the answers.
Mom’s nowhere to be found, but fortunately good old Constance from next door is there, and she’s got a friend named Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson), a psychic medium with a knowledge of ghosts. Billie Dean explains that some ghosts are vengeful and some ghosts just don’t know they’re dead.
As it happens, Tate is the second kind of ghost and Constance wants Violet to help her help Tate cross over to the other side. The question is whether or not Violet, the girl with the fragile mental state and propensity to cut herself to deal with her problems, can handle the knowledge that she’s been making out with a ghost for a few weeks.
Meanwhile, Constance is interjecting herself more and more into Vivien’s life now that she’s officially thrown her husband out of the house and taken to flirting with Morris Chestnut the security guard. For whatever reason, Constance says, “We need that baby,” and tries to pass it off as wanting another happy child around, but there’s enough of a pause there to make you wonder just what that baby is really needed for. The fact that Vivien’s ultrasound technician from a few episodes ago quits her job and refuses to meet Viv anywhere but a church – presumably to protect herself from Viv’s demon baby – makes you wonder just how Vivien’s amniotic fluid screening is going to play out.
I’ve noticed something with American Horror Story. While there are still significant sexual elements hinted at to the show, the graphic sex has been toned down in favor of more general weirdness. For example, the last two episodes have been noted for language and violence, not language, violence, and sex. (Of course, the last two episodes have featured little to no Young Moira, so bear that in mind.) Still, for what the show has removed in terms of sex, it has added in terms of disgusting weirdness. This week, it was Vivien eating offal by the bowlful, including raw bloody brains and pancreas. Yum!
As usual, Jessica Lange is the outstanding player this week, as she usually is. Her scenes with Billie Dean are impressive by themselves, but the work she does when bringing pig bits by for Vivien and her final scenes with Tate from 1994 are just heartbreaking. Yes, Constance is a character with some abrasiveness, but she really does love her children, no matter what she might have said or done to Addy when she was alive.
However, guest star Eric Stonestreet (aka Cameron Tucker from Modern Family, aka another Emmy winner) also has a great turn as Derek – one of Ben’s patients – who is petrified of an urban legend known as the Pig Man, a kind of pork-flavored Blood Mary who shows up and butchers folks if they do a pig call into a mirror.
Writer Jessica Sharzer has a pretty tough episode on her plate this week, given the sensitivy of America towards the Columbine school shooting (and the fact that Westfield High is named after the Westfield High School that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho attended). However, she handles it pretty well. Yes, it’s a very tense, scary scene, but it doesn’t glorify the violence. In fact, most of the shootings are handled off-screen, save Tate’s.
She also mines the book of Revelation for a great deal of speeches this week, which makes for an interesting addition to the world of AHS. The Bible quotations don’t have nearly the impact of Billie Dean Howard, though: the addition of a medium character to a show full of ghosts is going to definitely prove to be a lot of fun. Sharzer has also written one of the best lines in the show’s short history with Billie Dean’s incredible statement, “Do you think I wanted a bloody Mexican ghost in my bathroom?”
American Horror Story isn’t as tense or weird as it usually is this episode, but there’s a weird emotional resonance to the show and its characters that wasn’t evident from the show’s beginning. There’s still a great deal of tension (including some stand-out bathroom scenes in which Derek confronts his fear of Piggy Man, Piggy Man’s awesome ‘Motel Hell’ mask, and Violet’s abrupt ghost tour of the house’s hsitory), but more importantly, the show is providing all kinds of drama to ponder.
After all, now that the dirty details of Tate’s massacre have been revealed, we’re left to wonder just what caused Tate to turn from the sweet, if a bit off-beat, boy we see with Violet to, well… a face-painted, shotgun-toting destroyer of worlds.
And then there’s also the question of Violet, and whether or not she can give up her dead boyfriend to send him to the afterlife like Constance wants, or if Violet can even withstand the assualt of the very-haunted Murder House on her tender teenage psyche? The fate of the Harmon marriage seems secondary when compared to Tate, Violet, Constance, and Moira, who have become four of the best-written, most thoughtfully-written characters on the show. That’s not a bad thing, either: the more unhinged the Harmons become, the more weird and fun this show gets.
I’m not sure where it goes from here on out, but I’m in. No matter what, I’m completely on board with this show.