Episode Title: "Piggy Piggy"
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Previously on "American Horror Story":
In a harrowing Halloween at the Murder house, Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) were stalked by the ghost of Ben's former lover, Hayden (Kate Mara); who was killed just a few weeks before by Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare) before Ben hid her body in the backyard. During the night, Larry knocked out Ben and tried to burn the house down while Hayden tormented Vivien. However, the sympathetic ghost of Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe) awoke Ben so he could save his wife and child. But in his last confrontation with Hayden, she forced Ben to admit to fathering a child with her after he had gotten back together with Vivien. The Harmons' security specialist Luke (Morris Chestnut) then arrived and took Hayden away.
Meanwhile, the Harmons' daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) was on a date with Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) when they were confronted by a group of teens with grizzly bullet wounds. As Tate led the teens away from Violet, Constance (Jessica Lange) dragged Violet into her house and initially blamed her for the death of Addy (Jamie Brewer). But Violet and Constance ended up bonding as she revealed that Tate was her son. At the beach, the teens caught up to Tate and demanded to know why he killed them years ago in a school shooting. But he denied doing it and may not even consciously remember it.
As Halloween ended, the ghosts of the Murder house returned and Luke was stunned when Hayden disappeared out of the back of his car at the police station. Back at the house, Ben reluctantly moved out.
Flashback to 1994, as Constance is stunned when several SWAT officers storm the Murder house while looking for Tate. They find Tate in his bedroom and instantly point their weapons at him while he raises his hands and mimes shooting himself. Tate then goes for a gun; which causes the officers to blow him away. Hours earlier, we see the teens from the Halloween episode back when they were still alive. One kid runs in from outside and warns the group to barricade the door from a shooter. But the shooter gets in through a second door and shoots the Librarian before mercilessly killing all of the teens inside. And of course, the shooter is Tate himself.
In the present, Violet finally does a google search about the killings and she recognizes all of the teenage victims she encountered on Halloween. She also finds a picture of Tate from 1994 listed as having been killed by the police. Freaked out by the ghostly visits, Violet tries to find her mother and instead discovers Constance waiting for her now that she knows the truth about Tate. Constance takes Violet next door to her house and introduces her to a medium, Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson). Billie and Constance explain to Violet that they need her help getting Tate's spirit to crossover to the next world. She doesn't believe them and when Billie repeats the last words of Violet's grandmother, the young girl flees.
In the Murder house, Vivien has a disturbing dream about her baby clawing out from within her, so she uses a security alert to bring Luke back to the home. She begins telling him that her husband has moved out, but Ben arrives soon after to treat his patients at the home. The Harmons are also warned by Luke that Hayden is at large. Ben agrees to leave the house after his last patient, who happens to be Derek (Eric Stonestreet), a man terrified of Urban legends… especially the legend of "Piggyman." Derek makes Ben look like the picture of perfect mental health.
After Derek leaves, Violet has a vision of her own suicide and of Tate before she runs into her father's arms. At school, Violet goes to the library where Tate killed his victims and she encounters the Librarian, who survived despite being crippled in the attack. Violet tries to understand why Tate did what he did, but the Librarian suggests that Tate just wasn't a good person and that "s*** happens." Back at the Murder house, Vivien is given "sweetbread" and later chilled pig's brain by Moira (Frances Conroy) and Constance. More surprisingly, Vivien seems to develop a taste for the food; which disturbs her.
Ben tries to ween Derek off of his fear of mirrors, but an experiment in the house leads Derek to witness one of the ghosts and he freaks out. At school, Violet compares notes to the mean girl whom she and Tate scared in the basement. The other girl gives Violet a pill to help her sleep. That night, Violet goes back to the basement and she sees several ghosts of the people who died in the house, as well as an "I love you" message from Tate waiting for her in the bedroom. Overwhelmed, Violet overdoses on pills and attempts suicide. However, Tate forces her to puke and puts her under a shower to save her life.
Later, Vivien tracks down Angie, the former nurse who fainted while performing an ultrasound on her baby. Angie claims she saw the hooves of the child and that it is the beast of the Apocalypse, but Vivien just thinks that she's crazy. Meanwhile, Ben makes a breakthrough with Derek even as he begins to suspect that Luke is getting too close to his wife. At his home, Derek is finally able to finish the "Here little piggy…" chant without fear of supernatural occurrence… when a robber emerges from behind the shower curtain and blows his brains out. The kicker is that the robber thought that Derek was insulting him by calling him piggy.
Back in the Murder house, Tate tells Violet that he loves her and that he will leave her alone if that's what she wants. But she invites him to get into bed with her and she comforts him. At Constance's house, Billie gives Constance the chance to speak to Addy one last time. It seems like a fake at first, but Addy finishes by relaying the message that she's glad that Constance didn't succeed in letting her die on the Murder House property, because she doesn't want to be trapped with Tate now that she knows the truth.
After a very strong Halloween episode, "American Horror Story" finally seems to be building some momentum. The opening flashback to 1994 was very powerfully done and a good callback to the previous episode by showing how all of the teens were killed by Tate. It's also interesting to note the much more innocent Constance who seemed to have no idea about what her son had done or why he did it.
If anything, "American Horror Story" seems to be more about Violet than anyone else. And if Violet is an emerging medium, that's a more intriguing hook for the series. The scene in which Violet was confronted by the ghosts in the basement was a little comical, but it still compellingly conveyed her plight as the only member of her family who is aware of the supernatural around her. There was even a great father-daughter scene between Violet and Ben when he tries to comfort her. That was the first time in the entire series that Ben actually seemed like a father.
I'm undecided if Ben is actually any good as a therapist. He made some good strides with Derek, but with so many patients ending up dead it's amazing that Ben still gets any business. Maybe Violet shouldn't have been so hard on Billie Jean for being a "Craig's List Psychic." That might be where Ben is getting his clients from too. Eric Stonestreet was also really funny as Derek, who seemed like a perfect foil for the Murder house. I enjoyed the way we were led to believe that a ghost had followed Derek home, only to find a robber killed him instead. If "American Horror Story" had more of those darkly hilarious moments in the first four episodes, I would have been onboard with it a long time ago.
Is there anyone who takes what Constance says about the Murder House at face value? She may really want to help Tate move on, but Constance clearly has an unnatural interest in Vivien's hellbaby. I'm still not very high on Connie Britton's constant blank stares at the insanity around her, but the current story has my interest. I guess we're moving into "Rosemary's Baby" territory and just assuming that her baby belongs to the Rubberman. This must be why the Murder house keeps cycling through owners. My new theory is that the spirit behind Rubberman wanted to impregnate a woman for some dark purpose, with Moira and Constance complicit with its agenda. If that's the case, why didn't it use Constance when she lived in the house years before?
Or maybe Tate was the house's first attempt and it didn't work out so well. Evan Peters has been getting better as Tate and while I still don't have any sympathy for him, it does feel like we understand his character a little better at this point. When he was alive, Tate wasn't capable of love or empathy. But with Violet, Tate actually seems to care about her. If he had let Violet die, she would have been damned to spend eternity with him in the house. Then again, Tate may not have thought that through if he doesn't realize that he's dead.
I was also convinced that Billie Jean was a fake until she relayed the last message from Addy. That's the kind of detail that Constance would have left out of her conversations with Billie and the older woman seemed genuinely unnerved that her daughter feared her son now that she knew the truth about him.
There's now a greater sense of foreboding within the series about the nature of Vivien's baby and whether the Harmons will survive past this season. In short, there's some actual horror in "American Horror Story" and I'm starting to care about some of the characters. For the midpoint of a season, that's not a bad place to be.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.