Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Home Invasion"

Non Spoiler Review:
The episode begins with a disturbing flashback to 1968, then brings us up to date on Violet's surprising new friendship with Leah, who is suffering the after-effects of Tate's scare from last week. There is ongoing drama for the Harmon family, including a shocking call for Ben from Boston. Surprise visits from Connie bearing gifts lead to some odd results. And a variety of disparate plot threads merge for a horrific evening in the house for Vivien and Violet.

This show is just so much fun and Connie continues to deliver zingers and engage Moira in some venomous verbal sparring matches. While Ben's weaknesses make him hard to cheer for, he manages to evoke just enough sympathy from his horribly bad decision to continue to draw some sympathy.

Home Invasion is a frenetically paced episode that gets the blood pumping right up to the insane conclusion, answering a few questions along the way, and opening up a whole bunch of others. It manages to keep the energy from the first episode and continues to pile on the intrigue and disturbing elements. In fact, I find myself agitated after watching it, so it's certainly working.

Spoilers Now!
In a flashback to 1968, the house serves as home to several nursing students. When Maria and Gladys stay at home while their sluttier counterparts go out on the town, a stranger knocks on the door, claiming to be injured and bleeding from the head. Maria can't seem to find a wound, and then it's apparent he's batshit crazy and knocks out Gladys, then dresses Maria in her nurse uniform and ties her up. After a diatribe about what's going to happen to her, he appears to leave. For a moment, pious Maria thinks she's safe and her prayers have saved her, then he stabs her repeatedly in the back.

Back in the present, Ben has another session with Tate. The younger man taunts him by talking about his sexual fantasies about Violet. Tate jerks off a lot to make his visions go away. He also says Violet told him about the girl in Boston. Ben ends the sessions and then gets a phone call—from the girl in Boston. She's pregnant.

Violet is hanging out at the skater park with none other than Leah, who has turned into a chain smoker to cope with her experience. She knows Violet saw it too, and what attacked her wasn't human. Violet claims it was just a mask. Leah's hair is turning white, and she feels she's stared into the Devil's eyes.

At night, Tate appears to be standing over Violet's bed. The alarm goes off and Ben runs downstairs to find the door open. He follows a noise to the basement and discovers Adelaide laughing and rolling a ball across the floor. He ushers her out. When they're gone, the ball rolls back.

Vivien and Ben return to bed, but she's upset, worried that her pregnancy is going wrong. He assures her that's all very normal to feel that way, and can't seem to stop behaving as the psychiatrist when it comes to listening to her problems.

Ben's client the next day is Bianca, who fears being cut in half by an elevator. She's aware that they're living in the murder house, and wants to know where the murders happened. After the session, Ben calls Tate's mother to advise he can't treat him again, except Bianca is still in the house. He ushers her out, too.

Connie is baking cupcakes with Adelaide, and adds a special ingredient to cause violent stomach upset and (sometimes) internal bleeding. She gets Adelaide to spit in it, too.

Ben goes for a run to try to get the stress of his Boston girl out of his head, and runs into Larry again. Larry claims to be considering taking up an acting career. When Ben tries to get rid of him, he protests tha he may have killed his family, but he was never unfaithful. Larry advises Ben he's going to have to lie. So Ben tells Vivien a former client in Boston tried to kill herself and her parents are begging him to go there for a few days. Vivien understands.

Connie shows up with cupcakes as a gift for Violet. She wants to give them to her herself, but she's not home, so Vivien takes them. Connie comments she's with child, which alarms Vivien, and she wants to know if she can sense anything else about the baby, so Connie invites herself for coffee. Vivien takes one of the cupcakes and eats it. Connie comments that she never turned her back on her children—she had four, but three of them had Downs or other maladies. Only one was a model of perfection but she lost him to other things. She says the baby is fine as she gets up to leave.

Ben walks in, ready to depart out east. Moira is also there, and Connie directs her to clean up the mess. The two have a history, as Connie comments she even employed her for a time, and there's certainly no love lost between them. Connie leaves them with a parting comment about the promise of a new child and how heartbreaking it is when that's broken.

Ben leaves, and Vivien wants a girl's night with Violet, but she doesn't want to. She leaves the cupcake, and Violet sarcastically comments her mother is eating for two now. She has nothing good to say about her having another baby, so her mother leaves angry after Violet sends a parting shot that she's weak. Violet puts the cupcake outside her door.

Vivien tries calling Ben, but he's currently with his former fling, Hayden, who is apparently going to have an abortion. She just needs his support while she has it. Then she freaks out when he checks his phone and starts crying.

Vivien is watching TV as the doorbell rings and she sees a woman outside (with a very similar head wound) saying she's hurt and needs help. But she won't say what happened, so Vivien is much smarter than Maria and doesn't open the door. The woman gets very agitated and starts banging on the door. She tries to call 911 but her phone has disappeared. The woman has gone from the door, but there's someone else moving inside the house. The doorbell rings again. Violet can't find her phone either, and there's someone in her room too.

Later, Violet and Vivien are downstairs, and their captors are two women (one of whom is Bianca), and a man. They seem to be fanatics about the murder house and want to reenact the nurses' murders from 1968 by paying tribute to the original killer, Franklin. Violet won't wear the nurse's dress they give her.

Violet doesn't take no guff so starts a fight, and in the melee she runs out and is saved by Tate, who's also in the house. He tells her to get them to the basement. Bianca and the second girl, Fiona, go off in pursuit.

Meanwhile, the other man has tied up Vivien, but she sees Adelaide is also inside the house and standing behind him. She tries to subtly direct her to get help.

Violet puts on the nurse dress in the bathroom upstairs. Bianca walks in eating the cupcake. As it turns out, she's the one who stole the cell phones. But she suddenly gets very sick and runs off. Fiona tells Violet to get in the tub (as Franklin drowned Gladys there). Violet mocks her for not doing her research, because that's the wrong tub—the house has been remodelled and the original one is actually in the basement.

Meanwhile, Connie is entertaining a young man who wants to be a model. She's interrupted by Adelaide, who says there's a bad man next door. She shoes her away, but her daughter comes back to interrupt her again. Connie puts her in the closet, which is a room full of mirrors for her to look at herself. Adelaide screams and Connie returns to her business meeting.

Bianca is throwing up and tries to find Fiona as she gets increasingly worse. Tate hacks her up with an axe, leaving her to stumble down the corridor leaving a trail of blood.

Vivien puts on the nurse uniform, then tries to escape again and manages to bash the man's head in with the ashtray (they bought it on e-bay from the original murder). Violet takes Fiona to the basement, but the lights go off. Tate tells her to come over to the bathtub. Fiona looks inside and sees Gladys.

Vivien is searching for her daughter, and runs into Violet coming up from downstairs. They both flee the house. Connie suddenly hears the two of them screaming as they run by her house. And at the abortion clinic, Ben waits with Hayden. He finally checks his phone and see he has 13 missed calls.

Vivien's captor wakes up and makes his way downstairs where he sees Fiona with her throat slit and Maria and Gladys standing there beside the tub.

Next we see Moira and Tate standing over the two dead bodies, and Connie walks in. She asks if it was Tate's handiwork. It was them, Moira says. They have to get rid of the bodies, Tate says, "if you want him to keep treating me." They get shovels and bleach.

Ben returns home and the police investigate the crime. Bianca was found chopped in half several blocks away. The attackers were obsessed with recreating famous LA murders, so they assume Bianca's cohorts went after her and killed her when she couldn't go through with it.

Violet told Vivien Tate helped her escape, but Ben wants to know how he got into the house in the first place (It shouldn't be too tough given Moira, Connie, Adelaide, three murderers and a host of ghosts all managed it). Violet is glad he was, given her father wasn't. She leaves them with a parting comment to her mother that she thinks she's very brave.

Ben apologizes for not being there. Vivien decides she wants to sell the house.

The Verdict:
Home Invasion was quite the riveting episode and managed to continue the momentum from the pilot. The first half with Ben's sudden phone call had this erratic energy to it that effectively conveyed the chaos he was having to juggle managing his growing number of lies.

What was Ben thinking? Hayden's B.A.N.A.N.A.S.! And OF COURSE crazy bitch didn't have the abortion, so you know that's going to come back to bite him in the ass. Compliments to Dylan McDermott who still manages to exact sympathy from me despite him being such an ass. He really conveys how vulnerable and powerless Ben is when it comes to controlling his desires for other women.

I was particularly impressed that this week's threat (the home invasion) wasn't supernatural in itself, and just a bunch of crazies exploiting the reputation of the house. It's really setting a nasty trend for Ben's judgement when two of his clients have managed to ingratiate themselves into his home and damage his family.

Violet  is not so easily defeated, however, and she got a chance to show her stuff. Nothing like a home invasion to reforge the broken bonds between mother and daughter. But why was Connie so adamant that she get the cupcakes?

Speaking of the cupcakes, they played out a good deux ex machina, but it's interesting that Vivien never got sick, whereas Bianca was pretty much taken out of commission by them alone. Could Vivien's crazy demon baby be what saved her?

Connie's punishment for Adelaide was INSANE, and a thoroughly disturbing scene that shows just how evil she can be. Adelaide is showing some empathy for the Harmons in her attempts to warn her mother, but what is Connie's stake? Despite her ongoing threats to Moira, the two of them, as well as Tate are all working together for some larger conspiracy regarding the family to keep them in the house.

The 1968 scene reveals another set of murder victims (and adds to the ghost roster). Did the house remain abandoned after that until the ginger boys were killed in 1978? Did the nurses ever find all the little jars of baby bits in the basement that we later see in 1978? The murder prologue is an effective bit and I hope it continues, though a whole season will certainly rack up the ghost population if there are 90 years of murders in that house.

Finally, I enjoyed the very end when Vivien gets to speak what's on everyone's mind at this point—Move! Obviously that can't happen, so the writers had better have a valid explanation for why the Harmons remain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...