With Halloween part one ending on such a high note, the beginning of the second part of the two-part “American Horror Story” scare-a-thon was less than appealing.
The first episode ended with Violet backing away from the front door on Halloween in fear of a mutated visitor. As she walks we see the man in a black bodysuit behind her. The opening to part two shows Violet turning her head, and the man has disappeared. Fortunately for both the writer and the viewers, this was the dullest moment of the show.
The story quickly shifts to Ben’s rage against the mutated visitor, which is shown through a beautiful camera shot. One detail that made some critics confused was when Violet is shown going up to her room after she believes she is safe from intruders. It is the typical damsel in distress shot, complete with her walking backwards towards her bed, accompanied by a creepy slithering hand reaching out to grab her. She hears stones hitting her window, thrown by Tate, and walks away before the hand reaches her ankle. The problem with this scene is that it’s never mentioned again in the episode, making us wonder if it is something that will be referenced later or it was an error in editing.
The majority of the episode is meant to provide answers to the questions regarding the storylines of Tate and Constance. The episode includes a pseudo solution for Hayden and Ben, but the majority of the episode is focused on Tate.
His past comes to haunt him, literally. These ghouls are mistaken for trick-or treaters, when they are actually teenagers that Tate allegedly shot when he went on a rampage at his high school.
His deep-seated problems with high school have been repeated in many of the episodes, though it was subtle enough for the viewer to think it was just some teen angst.
The first episode shows Tate talking to Ben about his hallucinations, one being him dressed in all black with skeleton paint on his face.
This image comes back again, but it hints at the horrible events of that day instead of simply being shocking.
The dialogue in these scenes is extremely witty, having one of the dead girls actually compare Violet to the fat women that marry men on death row.
Violet doesn’t fully understand what they are, which is brilliantly shown through the back drop of a spooky Halloween night.
Remember, the dead can walk freely, we as viewers know this, but the characters do not.
Even Tate seems disoriented, though it is shaky whether it is real.
The reference to Columbine’s questions of religion gives the viewers a bite of reality, while still keeping it socially relevant to the story. The dialogue works perfectly to create a very hazy line between life and death.
This episode raises the question of if Tate is actually living or dead. Sure, he dresses like he belongs in Seattle, but that is also coming back in fashion. He states his obvious admiration for Kurt Cobain and Quentin Tarantino, who both were significant in the early 90s.
Is he one of those kids that grew up in the wrong decade, or is he reminiscing about what he enjoyed during his time on earth? And there is the obvious question as to if he wasn’t dead, and he did kill five students, wouldn’t he still be in jail?
The most powerful line comes from the girl who tells him she is supposed to be 34, married and with kids. Looking at this detail, and if she was a senior in high school, that puts the time of the shooting to the early 90s, while the show takes place in 2011.
As if this revelation isn’t hard enough to swallow, Constance comes into the picture. When Violet is calling the police about Tate being in danger, we see Constance grab Violet and drag her to her house, admitting that Addie is dead. Then the scene flashes back to Constance in the morgue making Addie a “pretty girl” one last time.
Then it flashes back to the present, where Constance reveals that Tate is her son, and Addie’s brother.
While we are left to mull over these new discoveries, we are thrown back into the ongoing story of Ben and Hayden. We all know she rose from the dead and is running around Ben’s house, terrorizing Vivien and the dog, but somehow the story line isn’t as effective as Tate’s. The only scene that draws any suspense in the house is when Vivien finds the kibble sprawled all over the kitchen floor, then discovers something in the microwave as it blows up and fills the inside of it with red mush.
When hunky Morris Chesnut, the security guard, saves the day and takes Hayden to the police station, he finds his back seat empty.
The episode should have ended with the dawn of All Souls Day, when all of the ghosts from the house’s past are seen wandering down the street from separate journeys, all coming back to their place of eternal rest.
Instead, the episode ends with Ben wearily packing his suitcase, kissing his wife on the forehead, and walking out.
The final shot shows Vivien looking back at him, and the screen fades.
Though it is emotionally dramatic, we would have rather kept watching depressed ghosts walk the streets like zombies.
To view Krenek’s review of the series episode by episode, select the tag “American Horror Story,” or type it into our search.