RECAP: 'American Horror Story,' Episode 6

11.10.2011

By Mark Peikert

More gore, less Quinto but plenty of Jessica Lange-style crazy this week

Let me first apologize to Messrs. Murphy and Falchuk regarding last week’s American Horror Story recap: I’m sorry for carping about all of the things that were introduced and then never again mentioned. This week saw not only the return of Violet’s cutting, but also the welcome return of Violet’s scarred classmate, the Coke Whore that Tate terrorized in the basement. Even better? Coke Whore is now a fire and brimstone Bible-thumper.

That being said, most of “Piggy Piggy” was about set up and making sure less-than-observant viewers were all caught up. To that end, the opening murder, set in 1994 when Jessica Lange still lived in the Murder House, tells us what we already figured out last week: Tate shot up his high school and then was shot to death by a SWAT team in his/Violet’s bedroom.

Fifteen years ago, Violet would have discovered the truth about Tate at a dramatically scored visit to the microfiche at the public library, but now we just get multiple camera angles as she reads about the high school massacre on the “RoundSearch” search engine. Teary and terrified, she runs downstairs looking for Vivien, but finds Jessica Lange in the kitchen instead. “You found out about Tate,” Jessica Lange says, before dragging Violet next door for more tea and a session with medium Billie Dean, played by a tightly wound Sarah Paulson with candy-apple red nails and a loungey way with a cigarette. “If you have the gift, you learn to live with it or you go crazy,” Billie Dean tells Violet, in one of the sanest pieces of advice yet dispensed on this show. Turns out, Jessica Lange needs Violet’s help in letting Tate know that he’s dead. As if that wasn’t enough, Billie Dean recounts the words Violet’s dying grandmother whispered in her ear (“They’ll never understand you”). Thoroughly freaked out by the two chainsmokers, Violet runs out and Jessica Lange turns to Billie Dean—who is in talks with Lifetime about her own show—and asks, “Can I trust her?” Billie Dean isn’t sure.

Viv, waking from a nightmare that involves the talon-in-her-belly we saw in the preview last week, looks around her empty bedroom and resolutely hits her panic button for more flirting with the sweet African-American cop. After he gives her the all-clear, she starts babbling about how her husband cheated on her, and he counters with how his wife cheated on him with another woman. “I know, you’d think a black guy would be into that,” he says. Um, what? Why the qualification there? When Ben arrives for a session with a patient (Viv is allowing him to work in the house but not live there), the cop nonchalantly tosses out, “That woman I arrested her never made it to the precinct. Keep your doors locked.” Thanks, Deputy Dewey.

Ben’s patient turns out to be Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family, whose character suffers from a paralyzing fear of urban legends. Why he’d choose to have therapy in this famous Murder House isn’t mentioned. Why Murphy and Falchuk felt the need to write a bizarre new urban legend for the plotline is a question better left unasked. This whole plot’s payoff is so forced and unbelievable that we’re going to pretend it never happened. Sorry Eric Stonestreet. You’re no Zachary Quinto.

At home, Violet thinks she sees Tate running down into the basement, so of course she follows him. She doesn’t see Tate, but she does see a who’s who of Murder House victims, from the man and woman who terrorized Violet and Viv to the ginger twins of the pilot to the mad abortionist. Upstairs, she shakily swallows one of the sleeping pills Coke Whore gave her before downing the whole damn bottle. Tate rescues her with a well-time shower and some purging. Hasn’t Violet learned that this house is not the place to die?

Addie, Jessica Lange’s dead daughter, knew that it was better not to die on those grounds. During a heart-wrenching scene, Jessica Lange gets the chance to ask Addie’s forgiveness through Billie Dean, and tells Addie that she was the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. It’s easily the best scene of the episode, and one of Jessica Lange’s most poignant in a season that has thus far turned her from Gladys Kravitz to the series’ dark, scary heart.

Speaking of organs, Jessica Lange offers Vivien some offal to aid in the gestation process. Viv is slightly put off by all that raw, bloody meat, but Frances Conroy Maid fries it up with some sweet butter—just like she did for Jessica Lange—and Viv scarfs it down. Later, she even eats the raw brain (from an organic farm, no less) that Jessica Lange brings over, and god bless Connie Britton, whose dreamy expression totally belies the fact that we are watching a pregnant woman devour a brain. Only when she’s done does Viv allow herself to be disgusted. And yet, we know she’d eat another one if Jessica Lange had provided two.

As for the sonogram that caused the technician to faint, Viv tracks her down at a church, the only place the technician says she feels safe now. “I saw the little hooves,” she whispers dementedly. Despite having vividly dreamed of talons on her fetus, Viv easily dismisses her as a loon and stalks out.
Next week is allegedly the “most sexual episode” yet. The last two episodes haven’t really been delivering on the primary characters, but hopefully Dylan McDermott will be partaking in that copious sex.

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