Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Spooky Little Girl"

Non Spoiler Review:
As American Horror Story races to its conclusion, Spooky Little Girl raises the stakes (nothing short of world-shattering ramifications, actually), and some characters move towards a glimmer of redemption. A new (infamous) ghost is introduced with a tie to the murder house, and Ben, now back in his home, finds himself dealing with the weirdness that drove his wife crazy and a whole lot of temptations thrown his way. Meanwhile, Connie and Travis try to work out their troubles.

Jessica Lange more than made up for last week's absence with a few new memorable diatribes. Noticeably absent, however, was Violet (in her room). The final five minutes pushed the series into new territory. I really have no idea how the season will end, but I'm really pleased with just how outrageous and bold the writers feel they can go.

My only critique—more damn ghosts. There are so many in the house now that I wonder why only some show up each week (aside from the obvious logistics of the show). Where do they go when they're not around?

Spoilers Now!
1947. A woman, Elizabeth Short, arrives at the murder house to see its current resident, dentist Dr. Curran running his practice out of the house. She's an aspiring actress and heard he sometimes makes special arrangements with girls short on cash. She also wears a dahlia in her hair. Later, a woman and her daughter find the girl mutilated and cut in half in the grass.

Ben walks in on (young) Moira making the bed. She asks for his help and comments how hard it must be with his wife indisposed. But she promises to keep the fact that he desires her their little secret. He muses that she must have low self-esteem given he doesn't want her, and rebuffs her advances. He just wants a normal, boring family and no more bullshit from her. Moira goes off to make Violet a sandwich, but comments it's just a matter of time.

Connie is in the midst of painting a demonic scene (similar to the painted wall in the murder house), when Travis comes in. She's a bit drunk and berates him for not walking the dogs, so Travis goes out to get cigarettes and takes the dog for another walk, but runs into Hayden as he passes by the house. Their flirting results in a romp inside. Hayden's disappointed he won't tell Connie that he just cheated on her, given the only point of sex is revenge. But Travis thinks he loves Connie. Hayden's still in love with Dr. Harmon, too, and wanted to see if she could still do it with a guy who's alive.

The cops show up to talk to Ben with Hayden's very angry sister, who knows all about her being pregnant with Ben's child. The detective remembers Hayden was there the last time he was there (regarding Ben's missing client), but her sister is out for blood. Then Hayden abruptly shows up in the kitchen, saying what's the big deal, and she didn't answer her sister's calls because she thought she just wanted money. That solves Ben's problem.

Later, Ben is furious she's back but Hayden is contrite and tells him she was upset about the pregnancy. She even had the abortion so he doesn't have to worry anymore. No more screaming and yelling for her.

Then Elizabeth shows up wanting to see Ben, telling him she's afraid something terrible is going to happen to her. Ben diagnoses acute anxiety. She confesses she does things with men but just wants a break in Hollywood. She seems to suffer from the same sex addiction Ben does, so he books her in for the next day. She can't afford to pay, but attempts to offer her services to him. Ben manages to send her away (not without a little fantasizing).

Then Ben gets a call from Vivien's doctor who tells him she's in no state to take the news she's about to tell him—that her twins have different fathers—a very rare situation. Vivien must have slept with two different men within a 48 hour period.

Connie confronts Moira that Violet is fooling around with Travis, given he smelled of something other than canine when he finally came home from his dog walk. Moira is smug and says she's too enamored with Tate right now, so that's highly unlikely, and even that won't last long once she learns the truth. And by the way, one of Vivien's babies wasn't fathered by Ben.

A shaken Connie heads down to the basement to find her son. She wants him to tell her that it isn't true what she's heard. He won't. He asks her not to tell Violet. Connie beats him and asks him if he knows what he's done.

Ben walks in on Moira and Beth fooling around on the couch and they invite him to play. He tells her to leave and says he can't treat her anymore. And he fires Moira on the spot, telling her to sue him if she wants. Beth says Moira told her this is what he wanted, but Hayden appears and tells her Moira is using her. 

Beth's worried her dreams will never come true. She wants to become famous. Hayden is incredulous that Beth isn't aware who she really is—cut to flashback with Dr. Curran having sex with an unconscious Beth and then realizing she's died in the chair. He takes her down to the basement where he sees Charles Montgomery, who takes over the situation and proceeds to disembowel Beth and cut her to pieces. 

Beth remembers how they found her, cut in half with a grin carved on her face. She was the front page news for months. She really did become somebody. Yes, she's none other than the Black Dahlia.

Ben visits a sleeping Vivien who's been restrained for attacking one of the orderlies. Ben starts off calmly by saying he'd move heaven and earth for the Vivien he thought he was married to, but she's not that person. He proceeds to tear a strip off her by calling her a sociopath who lied and betrayed him, and he wouldn't lift a finger to help her right now. He leaves, while Vivien has been listening the whole time.

Flashback to the innocent days when Ben is sharing a drink with Hayden at a bar in Boston. He's bitching about his marriage. She admits to having a crush on him. Ben tries to gently brush her off, but it's obvious that he's flattered.

In the present, Hayden tells him he was meant to meet her, but he admits he crossed the line and abused his authority. He corrects her by saying they were never meant to be together and he doesn't love her. Hayden manages to take that news without freaking out, but she wants a hug that turns into a kiss. She says she's been hanging around for a reason, given it concerns his family—she's seen the black guy leaving in the morning before Vivien was taken away. She has no idea how long it's been going on.

Connie confronts Travis and apologizes for her earlier behaviour. She asks him to marry her. There's going to be a child and she wants to bring it into the home and raise it as their own. Fatherhood is a little much for Travis. He's thinking of his career, which causes Connie to launch into a harsh attack on his dreams of stardom, given she had the same dream. After a lot of vicious words Travis storms out and goes to have sex with Hayden again to let out his frustrations.

Hayden is preoccupied with what Ben said. She wants to go again, but Travis wants to leave to make some peace with Constance given he realizes he still loves her. That's too much for Hayden, who wants a hug. She stabs him to death. Travis looks over his dead body. Then Beth appears, too. Hayden wonders what she'll do with the body. Charles appears and suggests the body doesn't have to be found there. Hayden realizes she knows someone who owes her a favor. 

Beneath an overpass, some guys are playing basketball when one stumbles upon the cut up body of Travis in the grass. Larry looks on from a distance.

Vivien gets a visit from Constance, who piles on the charm. The babies are growing very fast and Vivien has been ravenous. Connie's there to help her and knows herself how hard it is to be a single mother. Vivien admits she was raped and didn't hallucinate any of it. Connie tells her she believes her, and won't tell a soul. 

Ben sets off the alarm and awaits Lucas' arrival. He's smoking (!). He confronts him about having an affair with Vivien and getting her pregnant, but wants to hear it from him. Lucas tells him if it was his baby he couldn't keep him away, but he's sterile. He berates Ben for how he's treated his wife and suggests she's safer where she is. 

Ben later muses over the rubber mask as Moira walks in. He asks her what she knows of it, given she knows everything that goes on in the house. He wants to understand what really happened with Vivien because he thinks he made a horrible mistake and she was truly attacked by someone. Man-hating Moira seems to see some hint of an epiphany in him because she backs off and says "Congratulations" as she leaves. Ben suddenly sees her as her old self for the first time.

Connie has a lot on her mind as she entertains Billy, and asks what happens if a human copulates with someone from the spirit world. Billy says that's extremely unlikely, but brings up the Pope's box—every time a new Pope is chosen he's given a key to a box in the Room of Tears that contains the secret of the end of the world. The paper inside reveals the precise nature of the Antichrist—a child born of human and spirit who will usher in the End of Times, the essence of evil, a perversion of the immaculate conception. Uh oh.

The Verdict:
Travis took his death quite well, all things considered. He's such a nice guy, I'm kind of glad he's stuck in the house. But that scene with all the ghosts appearing really hammers home just how stuffed the house has become. The tie in with the Black Dahlia was a novel touch, but what happened to Dr. Curran after the murder? Did he eventually die in the house, or is that just a stupid question to ask at this point?

Ben's evolution seemed a little quick, but is it genuine? My thoughts are it is, given he's reached a point where he's seeing Moira as an old woman, and that in itself is going to make him question everything that's going on in the house. He was so horrible to Vivien and suddenly did an about face, which could just show how messed up and unstable he his. But Ben seems to be a smoker now, too—is he turning into Larry?

Really, the last five minutes with Connie and Billy had me in stitches. This show really knows how work such insane elements and pull them off. The Antichrist angle is back on (despite my fears that naming Tate the father meant that was off the the table), so I'm guessing the finale of the season will result in his birth. But what about his twin? Will he be normal (not really an enviable position, being twin brother to the Antichrist). And is Tate acting as some version of an unholy ghost?

After my thoughts on Violet last week, not seeing her at all doesn't bode well for her life among the living. One final quibble. Vivien's dog is nowhere to be found AGAIN. Where is it? In Violet's room having a nervous breakdown? This is probably the most egregious error from the writers—introducing a pet in the first episode that freaks out the moment it's inside the house, but we only see when plot points warrant it.

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