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American Horror Story: Smoldering Children

"Hi, I'm Tate. I'm dead. Want to hook up?"

While this felt like the end for Larry, I loved the shades given to his relationship with Constance. Was there ever any love there? They make a fascinating pair, with so much hostility towards each other, crossed with Larry's passive willingness to do whatever Constance wanted. At the same time, both seemed to blame the other for their current predicaments. When speaking to his wife, Larry spoke of Constance as the party who tore their marriage apart; while later Constance seemed to only see Larry as the murderer who killed her precious Beau. The episode ended with Larry given something of a new perspective on things, his wife correcting that it was he who threw a spanner in the works of their marriage, and that he should probably be aware of it. Larry, unfortunately, was always weak, and Constance simply preyed on it.

The big twist had been hinted at for a while (though I was far too oblivious to notice, which probably says something terrible about me), but we finally got confirmation that Violet was in fact dead following her overdose several episodes back. I thought the show did a spectacular job of putting the reveal across, from the blind horror at seeing your own rotting corpse, to that stunning visual of Violet running back and forth into the house, completely unable to escape. It was true claustrophobia settling in. She's a little too oblivious to take it all in right now, but imagine how Moira must feel at this point. It must feel like being buried alive.

Jessica Lange continues to tear into everything she's given. She was hilariously melodramatic in that Ice Storm teaser sequence at the dinner table, and I loved her abject disgust at being interrogated by the police. She really conveys a laconic arrogance, presumably because she actually does know a lot more than anybody else, especially when it comes to the house. Jessica's performance has been scenery-chewing, sure, but it's always been a kind of knowing 'over-the-top' rather than something mannered. Very Norma Desmond.

Elsewhere, I think I'm finally ready for Tate to be sent into the ether. Or something like that. The show has long abandoned the whole 'sympathetic' vibe, culminating in a series of episodes where he's been exposed as a mass murderer, rapist and casual firestarter. The guy's nuts, and I'm struggling to see any depth there. They're seemingly going for a kind of doomed, gothic romance for him and Violet, but I'm counting the days until she hopefully sees the light. As evidenced by Travis, ghosts don't automatically become disturbed and evil, but instead exhibit the same tendencies as the ones they exhibited when they were alive. Violet can be petulant and whiny, but she's not a psychopath... right? Do the right thing, girl. Dispatch the wingnut.

"Smoldering Children" was another spectacular episode with gorgeous visuals and great acting, plus wonderful shock twists and inventive modes of conveying them. Only two more left, and I'm just as excited as ever...


- I guess it's only been two weeks, but Ben and Vivien really seem like observers rather than actual protagonists right now. I'm assuming they'll play a bigger part in the next two episodes, but I can also see those two hours being their last on the show. It doesn't feel like they have particular depth to them as characters, or any new avenues that could be explored for next season.

- I felt like barfing during the scene with Constance feeding her husband to the dogs. I think it was the licking noises. Ugh.


Constance: Those Koreans, they're so suspicious. Especially after Hiroshima.

Larry: They're sending me out of state to serve my sentence. Illinois. Though, I understand that the penitentiary there has a very fine theater program.

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.


  1. Even though I suspected Violet was dead, my jaw dropped when she ran from the house and kept going through that loop. I had my hand over my mouth up to the end of the episode.

    I feel so bad for Violet. I want them to find a way to resurrect her.

    As much as I can suspend my disbelief for horror and SF series, I find it difficult to believe that Tate could set Larry on fire and just walk out of the office (with no one trying to take him down) and make it to the school for the shooting. (That’s assuming the shooting took place AFTER the immolation. It’s possible Larry was attacked after the school massacre.)

    “Those Koreans, they’re so suspicious. Especially after Hiroshima” made me laugh out loud. Constance’s casual (Archie Bunker-ish) bigotry is hysterical.

  2. having Violet trapped in the house as a ghost is the perfect excuse for them NOT moving out... money problems weren't enough

  3. Take note Dexter current season....this is how its done!

  4. I'm inclined to believe the house is what drove Tate nuts, and once it started it kinda just snowballed. Remember Halloween Part 2? He had some remorse there. He can't be all bad.

    He's also not the first ghost to just up and kill someone. Hayden didn't give two shits about Beau.


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