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RECAP: American Horror Story Episode 7


Dennis O'Hare's burn victim character gets a re-write

American Horror Story is starting to feel a little like listening to a child recount a dream, sensing fairly early on that your attention is flagging and inventing wild scenarios to keep you listening. The story he's telling may or may not make sense, but there's a weird fascination to it. And at no time during the series has that been truer than in this episode, which finds the backstory of Dennis O'Hare's burn victim former owner of the Murder House partially rewritten.

As it turns out, Larry was having an affair with Jessica Lange (yeah, yeah, her character's name is Constance, but she is nothing so much as Jessica Lange) while he lived in Murder House. Larry would do anything for Constance, including killing one of her sons, the deformed Beau, in the attic in 1994. That's the opening flashback, then later in the episode, we discover that Larry's wife is the one who set the blaze that killed both her and her children, and not Larry, as Larry told Ben in the pilot. Maybe the creators had planned this twist all along, but it sure felt like a sudden revision that came about one late night in the writers' room, which is basically how most of the twists on this show feel.

Desperate to sell the house, Vivien and her realtor host an open house, which attracts an Armenian developer who wants to demolish it, one with a pronounced fancy for Alexandra Breckinridge Maid. He might install a pool, he leers at her. "I like it deep," she pants back. Before long, she's blowing him in Violet's room ("I like something to gnaw on," she tells him as she unzips his fly), and we're treated to an amazing shot of Frances Conroy wiping her mouth afterward. Jessica Lange isn't as excited about the prospect of losing the house, though, and pays the developer a visit that requires he serve her a double vodka, no ice. Although he greets her in a bathrobe, let's be kind and claim that it's not first thing in the morning, and she's just paying him an early evening call.
Without any tasty brain to snack on this week, Viv must content herself with discovering that she's carrying twins (or is she?) and taking the murder bus tour with the realtor. Since she doesn't flee halfway through with cramps, Viv gets to hear that the original owners of her house died when Nora (the always welcome Lily Rabe) shoots first her mad scientist husband and then herself. That would explain the giant hole in the back of her ghost head.

Violet continues falling for the dead Tate, who is still convinced he needs just a little therapy with Ben to get him through the rough patches. Tate also seems to seriously hate Jessica Lange, which pretty much flies in the face of the end of the second episode, when he stood beside her and Frances Conroy Maid and said that he was leery of tipping Ben off, because then Ben might refuse him treatment. But whatever, as long as the show looks pretty and is relatively entertaining, right?

Unable to face the prospect of losing the two dead children who have stuck around, Constance explains to The Maid(s) that the Armenian plans to raze the house, which might leave all of its "inhabitants" homeless. "What do you want me to do?" Frances Conroy Maid asks. Take him to the basement, of course, where she bites his dick and Larry holds a plastic bag over his head while Jessica Lange watches.

As for Viv, she's "evolved" enough now that the ghosts are starting to manifest themselves to her. But don't worry, Tate says, all she has to do is yell go away and they will. And they do! Magic. Tate also gives her a box containing old pictures from when the house was first built, which is why Viv suddenly realizes the weird blonde woman who didn't like microwaves a few eps back was actually a ghost! And yeah, it's taken this show this long to clue one of its central characters in to the fact that she's living in a haunted house.

Next week, the Rubber Man is revealed, Zachary Quinto returns and it seems as if every ghost lady in the house is after Viv's offspring. Serves her right for not realizing something was weird before this.

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Mark Peikert