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American Horror Story: Birth

"Please tell me you're slitting the throat of a chicken next because I've always found that very dramatic."

Labor is hard enough already. You're entirely exposed, surrounded by masked strangers, you're bleeding, you're experiencing pain like you've never felt before, and someone's literally coming out of you. With all that in mind, Vivien had it rough tonight. Strapped to a table and flanked by bloody ghosts and Dr. Frankenstein, in a room bathed in red light with decor that can only be described as 'cult chic'. She loses a baby, has the other immediately taken away by a crazed wingnut and, oh, then goes on to bleed out and die. I think we can all agree that she's had one horrible six months.

But, after the death and despair, we actually had something of a happy ending. Violet had finally gotten herself a clue in regards to Tate, and called him out on the fact that he's a rapist murderer sociopath. She screams at him to stay away from her, and she's left alone in the house. Then, out of the shadows behind her arrives Vivien, now just as trapped as her daughter. The ghostly inhabitants of Murder House are all so lonely and bitter, even the ghostly couples stuck within the walls seem to despise each other. But at least Vivien and Violet now have each other, a mother-daughter bond strong enough that any tensions they experienced in their previous life immediately dissipate, leaving two against the world. It was a really tender closer to the hour.

The prior forty minutes were all about the unborn babies, and the designs each ghost has on them. Pat and Chad were your typical gay yuppie surrogate parents... right until Chad announced his plans for a little light smothering right around their second birthday. Ugh. Constance sees the child as a second chance, another person to add to her lineage that may work out a lot better than her previous attempts. Nora needs the child to fill that hole in her life, while Hayden just wants to create chaos. At least I think that's what she wants.

There were some blistering moments here, notably the campy interaction between Jessica Lange and Zachary Quinto. A bitchy queen and the God-fearing faded actress he's stuck in a house with. I smell a sitcom! I also love the continued presence of Sarah Paulson's Billie Dean, who speaks with so much conviction about spirits and rituals, all so casually undermined by a cackling Chad later on. That's what I love about this show, that the writers constantly rely on genre trademarks while simultaneously satirizing how ridiculous they are.

On paper, this was just as nutty as every other episode, with the colonial flashbacks and the Infantata in the basement. But there was actually something pretty restrained here, gothic horror with a real humanity to it. For Vivien, you really felt that sense of everything completely falling apart, her life rapidly fading into oblivion. Violet, too, experienced the sadness of a relationship turning out a different way than she had previously thought. And Ben had that sudden epiphany where he realized what's been happening and how he's lost everything in the process. This poor family. That's the real horror here.


- Rosemary's Baby has inspired many of the themes this season, but one of the most notable allusions arrived with everybody cooing over the demonic baby, hidden off-camera to rattle up additional tension. Do you think we'll actually see the thing next week?

- So I guess the same characters will be hanging around for season two. Only with Ben, I imagine, on the outside trying to either destroy the house or bring back his deceased family. I can't see Ben killing himself in the finale, if only because that would probably make the show a lot more claustrophobic next year.


Constance: Man shall not lie with man. It is an abomination.
Chad: So's that hairdo. But I figure that's your business.

Chad: Are you telling me that Norman Bates Jr. is the baby-daddy?

Hayden: Hey, bitches. You get all that slime off my baby yet?

Violet: I used to think you were like me -- you were attracted to the darkness. But Tate, you are the darkness.

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.


  1. I hope we get to see both babies, I don't think the first one was totally still born - maybe dead and back again?

  2. I wonder if the first baby was stillborn. If it was, then perhaps the babys "ghost" will be trapped in the house. This way Nora will be satisfied with having a "baby" forever.
    I don't think Ben will die this season. I think he will stay in the house and perhaps with Viv's & Violet's help he will try to rid the house of it's other ghosts???? I don't see him being able to sell or abandon the house.
    Not sure what plans there are for the other baby.

  3. I’m wondering if Constance has some type of “Mark of Cain” on her.

    We know the ghosts in the house can do physical damage to the living beings.

    Constance killed Hugo and Moira. Tate, the son of Constance, murdered Chad and Pat.

    In the exchange this episode between Chad and Constance, I would have expected him to go after her.

    All the times that she’s been in the house – I’m sure there are others that either she killed or were killed by Tate on the property – the ghosts never seem to go after her.

  4. Good point, Constance has to have some sort of protection on her i would think? I think the series is based on Billie Dean's show about Constance, blogged it of course ;-)

  5. I've noticed that the general lack of focus on certain things (namely everything going on in the house) is reaching points almost as bad as the first episode. I don't think Ben once mentioned getting beaten and drugged by the man who raped his wife... who also happens to be his patient whose banging his daughter... whose been dead for days. Likewise, Violet appears distraught at what is happening to her mother before and after she died, but for some strange reason tells her to let go while her desperate father is begging her to live. And yeah, let's just start handing off your newborn children to the mad diva and ghostly strangers. I know I'm probably nitpicking, and this IS a horror story, but still. It's not like common sense has gone out of fashion. However, I will give props to Pat for doing what I couldn't believe no ghost was doing. Getting revenge or, at the very least, having resentment toward the ghost that killed them.

    Still, the show still manages to be absolutely entertaining.

    VIvien's had probably the most bizarre and yet oddly moving birthing scenes I've seen. It was in large part to Ben, literally holding onto his sanity for his family. Gold acting stars everywhere in this episode.

    I am interested in the fate of this apparently beautiful demon child. Also impressive is how Hayden can remind me how big of a bitch she is just from one line. This is probably the best role I've seen Kate Mara in.

    I'm not sure where I place Charles and Nora Montgomery anymore. They both seem like monsters with good intentions. But still monsters.

    No wonder Tate is so screwed up, his mother fed his dad to dogs and left him to be raised by dead people. Despite his confusion, Tate is still the most horrible of the spirits. Still, him disappearing after being told go away like he was told to do with the monsters in his basement was really tragic. That 'you are the darkness' line is surely destined to be a fangirl meme.

    Of course, yes, my favorite part was the scenery chewing contest between Zachary Quinto and Jessica Lange, which Quinto amazingly won. Epic stuff.

    I honestly don't know how the show will continue past this season. Of course, I anxiously look forward to it.