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RECAP: American Horror Story Episode 5

As we spent most of the "Halloween Part 2" episode of American Horror Story (yay for a second season pickup!) waiting for something to happen, we were given ample time to contemplate all the things that have been previously inroduced and then never addressed. Where is Jessica Lange's kennel, for instance? Or that bitchy coke whore classmate of Violet's? And does Violet even go to school? Also, wasn't Violet a cutter in the pilot? At what point did she just turn dark and cool, like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice?

After last week's heartbreaking and rollicking first installment, the second Halloween episode focused mostly on Hayden, Ben's now dead mistress. And Kate Mara is... well, let's just say she's not her sister, Rooney Mara. Face it: This is the boring Mara sibling, and the entire episode dragged.

Picking up where last week left off, we see the Rubber Man standing menacingly behind Violet before simply disappearing--just like the fact that Vivien's nurse fainted while looking at her sonogram, which was never mentioned. Violet then takes the opportunity to meet Tate in her basement (and again, why would she go down there after what happened to Coke Whore?) and dash off to the beach for some over-the-shirt action. They can't go all the way, though, because first Tate can't get it up, then he has some John Hughsian monologue about the horrors of high school and then a bunch of stereotypically dressed high schoolers arrive, sporting various bloody bullet wounds, demanding to know why he killed them. Guess his recurring fantasy of massacring his classmates was more than just a fantasy.

Back at the Murder House, Ben is knocked unconscious by an annoyed Larry, who is shocked that Ben still hasn't gotten it: The house is haunted. Actually, we're a little shocked, too. Who knew we'd be forced to endure the whole, "But ghosts don't exist!" subplot in a show titled American Horror Story?

While Ben's out for the count, Hayden terrorizes Vivien by scrawling messages in steam on the bathroom mirror--hello, What Lies Beneath--microwaving tomatoes as if they're Viv's dog and coming at her with a giant shard of glass. Saved in the nick of time by Ben, whom original owner Nora untied, Vivien is nonetheless injured: by Ben's admission that he went back for one last fuck with Hayden, resulting in her pregnancy.

It's important to note that while Vivien is screaming and carrying on, Violet is also in the house, totally unaware. But not for long, because Jessica Lange drags her next door for tea and a lengthy monologue about poor Addie, along with the admission that Tate is her son and cannot know that Addie is dead.

At daybreak, The Maid(s), Maria and Gladys, Nora, and Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears' gay couple all wander back into the house, though where their quarters are is unclear. "I feel like I'm doomed to eternity in an adulterous relationship," Quinto sniffs at his lover, back from a night of blowjobs at the bar. "You are," Frances Conroy Maid deadpans. Inside, Ben has packed up and leaves, while the flirty African-American cop who seems to have no other job but manning the Harmon's panic button drives Hayden to the precinct, chiding her for doing such mean things to that nice Vivien. "You're going to jail," he says, before opening the door and discovering that she's gone. As if she had never been there!

The Dead Breakfast Club, as Violet dubbed them, try one last time to force a confession or apology out of a teary, terrified Tate, but to no avail. Bonus points go to the casting department for giving fans of MTV's Awkward a chance to see the wonderful Ashley Rickards as a cheerleader who would have been 34 now. Guess that answers any lingering doubts as to Tate's mortality.

Next week's preview promises a lot of action, including some icky scenes of Vivien's suddenly looming belly, distended as if from a talon. Jessica Lange, for her part, can't wait to have another "little one" around. I just hope the little one is more interesting than this snooze of a placeholder episode.
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Mark Peikert