American Horror Story episode 8 review: Rubber Man

The origins of the Rubber Man are explained in the latest American Horror Story. And it's a show that continues to get on with things, writes Ron....

This review contains spoilers.

8. Rubber Man

It’s finally here. It’s like Christmas for American Horror Show fanatics. We finally find out who the Rubber Man is this week. Perhaps just as important, we find out a lot of information about just how the Murder House works, even if we don’t know why the Murder House works the way it does. As always, AHS cheerfully answers our questions, while still raising new ones.

This week is the origin of Rubber Man, one of the more fascinating minor characters on AHS. As it turns out, the latex suit which gives RM his name is brought into the home by Chad and Patrick, the home’s owners before the Harmons. Patrick’s been exploring himself on the Internet, and Chad wants to spice things up. After a hilariously weird trip to the sex shop, he comes home with a rubber bondage suit. Turns out Marcy was right about those two being into some strange things (though Patrick isn’t impressed by the latex, since he’s more into leather).

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Meanwhile, in the modern day, Vivien’s pregnancy is getting a little tougher on her. Twins are hard to handle even in the best of times, and an older mother going through a messy separation, a move, a rebelling teenage daughter, and a brutal home invasion doesn’t help matters. Turns out Constance’s brains ‘n’ entrails combo platter is helpful, but not too helpful, when it comes to helping babby form. So so she’s vulnerable and she wants to leave Murder House. As it turns out, Hayden and company are not going to let her get very far.

For the past few episodes, the Harmons have been taking a back seat, but this week’s episode hinges on Vivien Harmon. Most of the interactions are either with Viv or concerning Viv, and the episode’s biggest psychological horror concerns Vivien’s descent into what she (and the world) thinks is madness. She has a great descent into paranoia this week, complete with an emotional break down, self-rationalization, and a thrilling confrontation with Ben, who she blames all her problems on.

Speaking of thrilling confrontations, it looks as though Moira and Hayden are going to end up butting heads before this season is over, and the person at the center of their confrontation? You guessed it, Vivien and her twin babies. Apparently, they’re very important, as Mo, Hayden, Lily, Tate, and pretty much everyone else in the show’s cast of spirits seem to be obsessed with children, either procreating them, protecting them, stealing them, or mourning them. Obviously this has been an ongoing concern for the show, but it seems like it’s getting more and more important, but why? I have my theories, which I will keep to myself. It’s a credit to the show’s many skilled character actors that this week’s episode featured absolutely no Constance or Crispy Larry, yet was still wonderfully acted (especially by Kate Mara) and very entertaining.

I will say that one of the things I love about this show is that it does not screw around or make us wait a whole episode for answers. We were promised the reveal of Rubber Man, and boom, before the first commercial break, we’ve got Rubber Man’s identity revealed. It wasn’t a shock – generally you just pick the craziest possible outcome and it tends to be right – but man, it was well done, and Rubber Man’s actions this week were stunning in their brutality.

Another stand-out moment this week is the fact that we keep getting glimpses of the after-life of the spirits trapped in Murder House. Just watching Tate interact with Lily, the house’s broken soul, or watching Moira and Hayden have a bitch-off was awesome. I love the idea of these folks trapped in a house together forever, especially when you consider just how fractious the relationships between these ghosts can be (or is). I’d imagine bickering lovers Pat and Chad are trapped in their own personal hells by being stuck together in the very house that ruined their lives. Getting the gist on the rules of how the ghosts operate—they can appear or disappear at will, interact with physical objects or people, and ghosts can bleed or even temporarily die, but not permanently die—was also interesting.

It answered a lot of questions, that’s for sure, but it was mostly hows. We’ll get the whys next week, I assume. If not then, then soon.

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Read our review of the last episode, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is stunned at this new ‘No Constance, no problem’ attitude on AHS. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.