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RECAP: American Horror Story Episode 9


When Vivan's away, the ghosts will play

Oh, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. It's just one thing after another with you two and American Horror Story, isn't it? This week found Violet MIA (camped out in her room, Ben said) and Vivien basically out for the count in the loony bin. What we did get was a visit from the Black Dahlia (Mena Suvari), which felt as random and forced as Sal Mineo's murder a few episodes back. Oh, and a plot point ripped straight from Guiding Light.

Since Viv is clearly... not all there, her OB/GYN has no choice but to tell Ben that the twins she is carrying are from two different men. That's right, one of them is Tate's! Yawn.

Hayden popped up a lot, playing lady of the manor in Viv's absence. During her tenure, she fucked Jessica Lange's boy toy Travis; appeared in the nick of time to shoo away her nosy sister and a snooping cop who suspect Ben murdered her; explained to the Black Dahlia that she is, indeed, famous (because not a single other ghost in that house ever did?); told Ben she saw that black security guard leaving the house early one morning; and ultimately killed Travis for hate fucking her and then not getting her off. (Does anyone else spend whole episodes praying that annoying characters won't die in the house? No such luck this time. Travis is sticking around.)

Ben is apparently a sex addict now--did you know that? I didn't--so the first half of the episode is all about The Maid(s) trying to get his pants down, the Black Dahlia trying to fuck him and Hayden trying to get him to fuck her and whatever other lady ghost is willing to join. Ben manfully resists them all, even as he goes to visit Viv in the nuthouse and, mistakenly assuming that she's been cheating on him, cruelly tells her that he wouldn't lift a finger to get her out. But after confronting the security guard, Ben starts thinking that maybe Viv really was raped by a man in a rubber suit. Resisting the temptations of The Maid(s) once more, Ben is "rewarded" with the sight of Frances Conroy Maid, congratulating him for seeing things as they really are. I'm sorry to see Alexandra Breckinridge's wearily horny maid go, though.

Jessica Lange, however, is resolutely staring at the silver lining of Viv's unborn babies. After learning from Frances Conroy Maid that Tate is going to be a father, she wails and flails at him in the Murder House basement (presumably it's sound proof). But then she realizes this could be her chance and decides to raise Tate's son as her own, even bringing Viv flowers in her padded cell, where she congratulates Viv on retaining her "girlish charm." Sometimes, I think Jessica Lange is pretending that Viv is her younger self.

But her dream of being a mother again is shot to shit by Sarah Paulson's psychic Billie Dean--"I think Lifetime is close to picking us up!"--who whispers that the offspring of the living and the dead would usher in the end of days. This is the big finale, which intimates that we are supposed to be shocked. But haven't we seen this coming since, like, the pilot? Still, few things are tastier than watching Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson sit around a kitchen table, smoking and snapping genteelly at one another.

Next week a lot of stuff happens that seems to involve a shirtless Dylan McDermott, so at least we have that.

PS: Why do some ghosts bear the wounds from their deaths (Lily Rabe's Norah, that poor drowned nurse Gladys) and some don't (um, Black Dahlia anyone)? It feels like a sloppy convenience thing more than a plot construct.

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Mark Peikert