AMERICAN HORROR STORY 1.09 ‘Spooky Little Girl’

Hayden convinces Ben that Vivien betrayed him as Constance fears the consequences of Tate's unearthly child....

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Spooky Little Girl"

Writer: Jennifer Salt
 
Director: John Scott

Previously on "American Horror Story":

Episode 1.08: "Rubber Man"

Story:

Flashback to 1947, as Elizabeth Short (Mena Suvari) drops by the Murder House, where Dr. David Curan (Joshua Malina) is practicing dentistry out of his own home. Elizabeth says that she wants to be a star, but she can't afford to pay for her dental care. She offers to come to an "arrangement" with Curan before he gases her on the chair and puts her under. Some time later, Elizabeth's body is discovered severely  mutilated with a hideous Glascow smile; which reveals that Elizabeth is the infamous Black Dahlia. In the present, the young incarnation of Moira (Alex Breckenridge) once again tries to tempt Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) when he asks her to prepare a sandwich for his daughter, Violet Harmon (Taissa Farmiga).

In the next house over, Constance (Jessica Lange) drunkenly berates her lover, Travis (Michael Graziadei); even when Travis is just trying to comfort her. Frustrated, Travis leaves and he finds solace in the arms of Hayden McClaine (Kate Mara); whom he is unaware is a ghost. The next day, Detective Jack Colquitt (Geoffrey Rivas) and Hayden's sister, Marla confront Ben about Hayden's disappearance. All three of them are stunned when Hayden walks into the kitchen and blows off her sister's concerns. After Marla and the detective leave, Hayden tells Ben that she knows she was acting crazy on Halloween and she says that she aborted their child. 

Ben is later taken by surprise when Elizabeth shows up in his office, asking for therapy without an appointment. Ben feels sympathetic towards her and takes her on for the next day even as he fights the urge to kiss her. Ben then gets some very bad news from Vivien's (Connie Britton) doctor: her twins each have different fathers, Ben and an unknown man. Later Constance drops by and demands that old Moira (Frances Conroy) tell her where Violet is. Moira taunts Constance by saying that Violet didn't sleep with Travis as she suspects, because she's in love with Tate (Evan Peters). Moira also mentions that Tate impregnated Vivien as the Rubber Man.

Constance finds Tate's ghost in the basement and she confronts him about the allegation. When Tate confirms it, Constance starts slapping him and he begs her not to tell Violet. In his office, Ben finds young Moira and Elizabeth kissing each other on the couch as they invite him to join them. Finally fed up, Ben dismisses Elizabeth as a patient and fires Moira. After she is left alone, Elizabeth is distraught about never finding fame until Hayden appears and reveals that Elizabeth gained posthumous fame as the Black Dahlia. In flashback, we see Curan rape Elizabeth before realizing that he accidentally killed her with a gas overdose. 

In his panic, Curan brought Elizabeth to the basement where the ghost of Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) introduced himself and dismembered Elizabeth's body for transport. This story actually makes Elizabeth feel better. At the mental hospital, Ben enters Vivien's room and says he would do anything to get her out… if she hadn't betrayed him with another man. He scoffs at Vivien's delusion about being raped by the man in the rubber suit. In flashback, we see how Ben and Hayden first hooked up while he was having difficulties with his marriage.

In the present, Hayden tries to reignite Ben's feelings for her, but he refuses her advances. In retaliation, Hayden suggests that the man who fathered Vivien's other baby was Luke (Morris Chestnut), their security patrol officer. In the next house, Constance proposes marriage to Travis and suggests that they adopt a child (meaning Tate's baby); which freaks Travis out. At his reluctance to commit, Constance mocks Travis' dreams of fame and he leaves to sleep with Hayden again. But after sleeping with Hayden, Travis realizes that he loves Constance and starts to head back to her… until Hayden kills him in a fit of rage.

As Hayden wonders what to do with Travis' body, his ghost appears and he laments that he will never be famous. Have no fear, Dr. Montgomery is here! The good doctor dismembers Travis' body like that of the Black Dahlia and Hayden arranges for Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare) to dump the body where it is quickly discovered. At the hospital, Constance visits Vivien to offer her support, but Vivien clings to the idea that she was raped despite trying to fool the hospital staff into releasing her. Back at the Murder House, Ben lures Luke there with a false alarm and he accuses him of fathering Vivien's other body.

However, Luke's denial and admission about being sterile is so convincing that Ben starts to doubt his understanding of the events. And when Ben finds the rubber suit back in the house, he realizes that someone must have worn it during Vivien's encounter. Young Moira appears one last time to tempt him, but Ben steadfastly insists upon answers about the Rubber Man. Impressed, Moira shows Ben her true self and says he is finally seeing things as they are. Next door, the medium Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson) visits Constance and tells her what would happen if a spirit impregnated a living woman.

According to Billie Jean, the child would be the anti-Christ who would usher in the end of the world. Horrified, Constance realizes that she may be the grandmother of the anti-Christ, who is already well on his way towards being born.

Breakdown:

At the rate that the Murder House is being tied to famous Los Angeles area murders, I half expect to see Infantata get some tenuous connection to the O.J. Simpson case. "American Horror Story" may be pushing it a bit by suggesting that the Black Dahlia dismemberment came from Dr. Montgomery. Although Matt Ross was at his creepy best in the role, Montgomery's depiction as a ghost remains inconsistent both with his previous appearances and his state of mind when he died. Right before his wife blew him away, Montgomery seemed almost childish and relatively harmless. It's hard to reconcile that behavior with someone who took so much joy in dismembering Travis and Elizabeth. 

Although Constance isn't likely to take Travis' death well, it says a lot about him that Travis' very first thought after death was that Constance was right… and he will never be a famous model or actor. Travis was kind of a male bimbo, whose lone saving grace was that he truly seemed to love Constance despite her mistreatment of him and her various other faults. On the other hand, Hayden has become the most vicious villain on this show. Travis wasn't even the first man she stabbed after sex, he was just the first one who happened to be alive at the time. She's also the main architect of Vivien's current mental issues.

For a character who has been pretty clueless throughout most of the series so far, Ben finally got a chance to make a moral stand against Moira's advances. Ben's curt dismissal when he fired Moira was sublime and while he doesn't seem to believe in ghosts it's going to be hard for him to explain to himself why he saw two Moiras. But then Ben has been seeing things ever since he moved into the house. The one thing that Ben should be doing is freaking out more that so many people get into his house so easily. It's one thing to hide his reaction when Hayden showed up in front of the detective and her sister, but Ben should have also reacted more strongly when Elizabeth appeared in his study.

Connie Britton was a lot better in this episode with a more subdued performance. It turns out that less of Vivien is more. And the only reason that Vivien didn't reach out for the lifeline that Constance offered was… that she's still Constance. Even drugged up and barely coherent, Vivien seems sharp enough not to trust her neighbor. The one disappearance that didn't really work was the complete lack of Violet in the show. It's almost as if the "American Horror Story" writers are intentionally trying to make it appear that Violet secretly died weeks ago.

Regarding the legend related at the end about the anti-Christ, it feels like a mistake to elevate the stakes of this show to a possible end of the world apocalypse. Also, Vivien's babies from two different fathers is about as soap opera as you can get. I'm just not convinced that these angles are a good idea.

Despite some issues, this was an entertaining episode. But "American Horror Story" still has some kinks to work out with its main characters.

Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.