American Horror Story 1.8 – Rubber Man

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(This program airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 PM on FX)

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful/delicious Thursday/Thanksgiving. I spent most of mine either working (retail!) or sitting dejectedly in a Denny’s. The latter experience is going to be great fodder for my forthcoming essay collection, In a Florida Denny‘s at Midnight. The former experience is going to be great fodder for the manifesto that the SWAT team pulls off of me as they forcibly remove me from my desert compound.

Before we begin, I would like to direct you to this article: It‘s interesting on its own, but it‘s also extremely relevant to this episode.

SIX MONTHS AGO. Movers take furniture into the murder house as Marcy places a SOLD sign on the lawn and stares dubiously.

Inside, Nora stumbles through the darkened house, upset and frightened, murmuring to herself in confusion as she touches all the new things that aren’t hers. She gets snippy about the design scheme (or lack thereof), and speaks to someone off-camera as she sits down, asking who they are and what they did to her house and belongings. “They picked the flesh off of my beautiful home and left the skeleton, the bare bones.”

A hand squeezes her shoulder, and a male voice asks how he can comfort her. She says her baby. Or a baby, even, she’s not that picky.

The rubber suit is pulled out of the trashcan outside, and there is a short version of the sex scene in the first episode. This time, when Ben sleepwalks back up the stairs, we see the Rubber Man pass by him, unnoticed. After the exchange of dead-voiced “I love you”s, the Rubber Man stands in the bathroom and pulls off his mask to reveal…Tate. I had a feeling, but it wasn’t a huge feeling and I mostly ignored it so I’m not counting this as a win for my perceptive skills, but still: nice to be vindicated.

Credits.

Vivien sits with Marcy and Moira in the kitchen, talking about the photograph of the Montgomerys that Violet showed her. Vivien insists that she’s not crazy, that Nora definitely showed up at the house, talking about it like she built the place. Marcy says she must have had a great-granddaughter, but Vivien reminds her about the murder tour info–they both died, and so did their only child. Moira quietly brings up the idea of doppelgangers.
“It just feels as if someone is trying to make me feel like I’m crazy,” Vivien says, exasperated. Marcy is skeptical, asking Moira to make Vivien a cup of calming tea. Vivien snaps at Marcy not to patronize her. “In fact, there is someone who wants my husband, who wants my life.” Vivien tells her. Marcy gets anecdotally racist.

Marcy leaves to stop by Escandarian’s office, because he hasn’t been returning her calls. Moira plays devil’s advocate (LITERALLY?) some more by telling Vivien she believes in things unseen. Vivien says she thinks she’s going crazy.

Cut to Chad saying the same thing, sitting in a cute outdoor restaurant with a woman (presumably his television-approved straight lady BFF, but she’s only there to give Chad awful advice and serve as a soundboard for Chad’s feelings about Pat). Chad talks about how Pat seems distant and unwilling to talk about painting a nursery and blah blah blah, and the straight lady BFF falls firmly on Team Pat, insisting that Chad shouldn’t be trying to include Pat in the peripheral planning of the biggest decision of both of their lives, and shouldn’t dump his ass for carrying on an explicit online relationship with other men in addition to the real-life meatspace relationship he is carrying on with another man (the timeline on this show is stupid, but Chad at least knows about the sexting at this point), and instead tells him that he should try and give Pat the kind of uncomfortable BDSM sex he wants, because “Pat‘s a great guy, and he‘s worth fighting for.” Even if that fighting includes a cat-o‘-nine-tails and titty clamps.

This is shitty advice. Do not ever listen to someone who tells you to try and keep your cheating partner by fucking them back into fidelity. That person probably learned about relationships from Sex and the City and cannot be trusted.

Sex shop owned by a skuzzy-hot Englishman with a ponytail and a flannel shirt. He shows a visibly disturbed Chad a spiky ball-spreader and an “apple of anguish” (it’s a pear of anguish, dude), but Chad doesn’t like pain. The shop owner suggests handcuffs. Chad explains that Pat has been in chatrooms, and the guy says “That’s always how it starts. Is he dominant, or submissive?”

Chad, hilariously: “I don’t know.”

Chad is usually the one that calls the shots, however, and the shop owner suggests that maybe Pat wants to be the dominant partner. But his chatlogs say otherwise?

WELL THAT IS CERTAINLY BLAZINGLY EROTIC

Chad says he never thought of that, and is drawn to a muzzle mask, saying that Pat complains he never shuts up. The shop owner brings him to the titular latex suit, complete with demonic red lighting and a scare chord. Chad says he understands precisely none of this. Me either, dude.

The shop owner explains that the suit is about dehumanizing the submissive, turning them into a sex toy. When Chad expresses more vain misgivings, he’s told that it’s very slimming, and if he doesn’t like it, boom: instant Halloween costume. HERE’S A TIP THOUGH: DO NOT EVER TAKE CANDY FROM SOMEONE WEARING SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

Chad makes his way into the bedroom while Pat clips his toenails and basically shoots him down, saying he hates the way the suit feels on his skin. Chad rips the mask off and asks why Pat is being such an asshole, then confronts him about the online dude (who is the JungleJim4322). Pat says “First my phone, and now my email?”

They argue some more, and Chad tells him to get out. They argue EVEN MORE, about how Chad wanted to have a baby and Pat hates decorating the house and also hates the house, period, and that he knows they’re basically upside-down, financially. He goes to leave. Chad asks where he’s going, and he says “Out. And for the record, I like leather, not latex.” Chad sits down on the edge of the bed and cries. We already know how this story ends but it still bums me out that Chad is stuck with this douchebag forever, just like it bums me out that Vivien’s stuck with Ben probably.

The next scene is Nora sitting at the edge of the bed and crying, too. Hayden walks in, all salty and sassy and delightful, and tells Nora to cut that shit out because it’s driving her crazy. Crazier. Nora’s confused as to why she’s there, and Hayden lays down the knowledge, telling her that they’re ghosts and stuck in the house because they died there. She’s weirdly calming, and seems to genuinely be interested in helping the other ghosts in the most sarcastic way possible. I like Dead Psychopomp Hayden; she even plays with Beau!

Hayden explains that there are other ghosts in the house, and also those who are “in on the game. They’re bitches.” It cuts to Moira–is she not a ghost? Is she a special ghost? I’M SO CONFUSED–telling Hayden that she doesn’t like her type and that Hayden isn’t half the woman Vivien is, and that she’s low and common, etc. Hayden tells her not to get all high and mighty, because “I saw you feed her raw brains!” Moira insists that the brains were for the health of the twins, because haha Creutzfeldt-Jakob is totally the best thing! Hayden knocks a glass over.

Back with Nora, Hayden continues telling Nora everything she’s figured out. “There’s a power [in the house]. We can use it to make ourselves unknown.” She knocks a book off of a shelf in Ben’s office. “And when we really need it, we can make ourselves known. I have such a need. Sometimes I vibrate with such rage, it terrifies me. I act out–”

Cut to Hayden having sex with CONSTANCE’S FORMER HUSBAND!!! Who tells her that Constance will kill them if she finds out. Hayden then stabs him like a thousand times in the chest, and he’s dead for about a second before getting up and asking if she wants anything in a fairly chipper tone.

Nora doesn’t believe her, so Hayden has her touch the exit wound in her head. She deduces that she died because of her baby, and Hayden tells Nora about her brilliant plan to steal Vivien’s babies, because a) it’s not fair that Vivien gets two and they get none and b) Vivien can’t raise the kids in the looney bin. Yeah, but if she goes to the looney bin while pregnant, you won’t get the babies anyway. Hayden, I like you now, but you haven’t thought this through.

Vivien gets ready for bed, and Hayden basically wreaks all kinds of hell on her sanity, making lights flicker, knocking things over, and laughing invisibly. Vivien goes back into the bathroom and sees the rubber mask on the counter, then slides down against the wall, shutting her eyes.

In the bathroom during a flashback, Tate puts the mask on.

Flash to the drowning/neck-breaking of Chad. Tate puts the beatdown on Pat, jams a fireplace poker up his ass, and throws him down the stairs where Nora pronounces him dead. Tate comes down, and Nora asks WTF is his deal. He’s depressingly puppyish, saying that Chad and Pat were fighting and not going to get a baby anymore, and maybe a new family will move in and give Nora a baby! Nora is sweet with him.

Ben comes down the stairs to see Violet trying to coax the Infantata (or Beau?) out of hiding with the red ball. He pulls her upstairs for a failed therapy session, during which she turns all his bullshit concern around on him, saying he hasn’t noticed that Vivien’s going crazy and that he’s so gross about women, she’s surprised he hasn’t gone after her yet. She peaces, and he stands there ineffectually.

Vivien talks to Moira in the kitchen, looking haggard. Not haggard in a bad way, because they cannot make Connie Britton unattractive no matter how hard they try, but she’s not wearing makeup and she seems totally tired and cracked-out. She tries to theorize about what’s happening, thinking maybe it’s her nausea pills, but she breaks down and starts crying. She knows everybody (Ben) thinks she’s losing it, and she’s been too embarrassed to call Luke. Moira comforts her gently, telling her about the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, WHICH I LINKED TO IN MY RECAP OF THE FIRST EPISODE, BOOYAH. Here is the link again, if you‘re interested–it‘s a short, creepy read.

Moira also gives her a short lesson on hysteria, and seems to fall firmly on the side of “gross old doctors wanting to masturbate women under the guise of healing,” which is a side I fall on, too. Every psychology teacher I’ve ever had has seemed convinced that it was just a hilarious comedy of errors where male doctors didn’t understand, but just wanted to help! But they were so bumbling! It always seemed a lot more sinister than that to me, and not just in a “those noisy females need to be cured of their loudness“ sense.

Moira levels with Vivien, telling her about the ghosts, and telling her that she needs to get out. So I guess the babies are not going to free the trapped spirits? Man, I just don’t know what to make of Moira. She’s one of my favorites, both old and young versions. Later that night, Vivien wakes Violet up and tells her they’re getting the fuck away from the murder house. Violet is confused, and seems like she’s going to change her mind when she sees Tate wandering sadly outside, but gets in the car with Vivien. Unfortunately, the home invaders are creepin’ all up in there, so Violet and Vivien run back into the house.

Ben is the worst, and tries to yellow-wallpaper her by pointing out that the police said there was no evidence of the home invaders, and that her brain consumption levels are alarming. Even when he’s right, he’s still a shithead. Vivien tells him that if he tries to diagnose her with PTSD, she’s going to bash his goddamn brains in. She tells him to ask Violet what she saw. Uh oh.

In Violet’s room, she and Tate lounge postcoitally on her bed. !!!! THAT GHOST DICK WAS IN YOUR MOTHER, VIOLET! YOU’RE HAVING SEX WITH THE FATHER OF YOUR FUTURE SIBLINGS! Tate asks her if it hurts, because “The first time usually does.” How the shit would he know? She says it didn’t, but that it was intense. He agrees. They sap at each other a little bit, and Violet tells him about the home invaders in the car. She says she wishes she could tell Vivien about them, but Tate tells her she can’t, because they’ll lock Violet up. Ben calls for her to go downstairs.

Downstairs, Ben and Vivien argue some more. Vivien brings up Hayden, and Ben tells her she’s being stupid. Vivien asks if everything that’s happening to her was orchestrated by Ben and Hayden as a plot to gaslight her, so Hayden could take her place. Ben calls her crazy again. Vivien shows him the mask, asking if that was a part of it; Ben is confused, saying he threw it out months ago. Violet appears, asking what’s going on, and Vivien asks her to tell Ben what she saw. She straight-up lies, saying she told the police what she thought Vivien wanted her to say. At least she looks sad about it? Ugh.

Tate lurks in the basement. Hayden comes down, calling him Little Lord Fauntleroy, quoting Keats at him, and telling him he’s like a girl. She says he knows what he has to do if he wants to keep Violet around, and he says he doesn’t want to hurt people anymore. But he’s going to do it, he just has to prepare himself. Hayden sits on his lap and asks if he wants to fool around while he works up the nerve. He’s not interested. She asks what it is about being dead that makes her so horny, and he shoves her off of him, stomping away. She yells that he’d better find his balls before he goes in there, because “That bitch is tough!”

Vivien lets Marcy in, telling her that she and Violet are leaving and demanding to know where Escandarian’s escrow check is. Marcy says he hasn’t returned her calls in two weeks. Vivien pretends to feel sick, and when Marcy goes to get her water (“Don’t have the baby now. That’s the last thing you want to do.”), Vivien takes the gun out of Marcy’s purse and hides it.

Vivien says she’s going to lie down, and Marcy says she’ll show herself out.

Vivien checks her whole room before getting into bed. She wakes up shortly after, and is terrorized just slightly by Tate in the suit. She grabs the gun, and fires it when the door opens. She shoots Ben. I laughed, and rejoiced, but apparently she just winged him.

He talks to police and Luke downstairs, telling them that he gave her a Valium and that’s everything that has to happen apparently. Luke tells the cops that she’s separated from Ben, and that Ben has a violent, missing mistress. Because nobody in this show knows how to do their job, the cops don’t remove Ben from the house.

Vivien is awoken into a Valium haze by Hayden, who smashes her panic button. Vivien tries to reason with Hayden, echoing all of her condemnations of Ben, but Hayden says she wants Vivien’s babies. Vivien calls her sick, but she corrects with “I’m DEAD!” and tells her that the father of her babies is there. “You enjoyed it so much the first time, he’s back for round two.” She fights Tate hard when he grabs her, knocking them both off of the bed, but he pins her down. Before he rapes her (I don’t know if that was the plan or not), she realizes she’s screaming into Ben’s face, and Ben is the one holding her down. She stops fighting, asking where the rubber man went, but nobody in the room–Ben, cops, Luke–sees any evidence of him there. Violet comes in and says “They’re ready for her.” UGH, VIOLET, I EXPECTED BETTER FROM YOU.

Police come in and escort Vivien out of the house for a 5150. Ben tells her he’s sorry, but she shot him. She says she wasn’t shooting him, she was shooting the rapist in the rubber suit. Her face falls, and she resigns herself, asking Ben to get her coat. I hope she doesn’t actually think she’s crazy.

The cops tell her she won’t need her bag, and take her out of the house. Violet says it’s all her fault, and Ben tells her it’s not, because she told the truth. He then leaves her alone in the house. FATHER OF THE FUCKING YEAR. Tate comes up to stand with her.

Flashback. Tate pulls Chad down the steps. Chad’s still alive! Moira tells Tate to come up with a better way to kill him. Tate says he’s open to suggestions, and Moira suggests he quit with the compulsive need to serve the ladies of the house. She gives him their handgun, and Tate shoots Pat. He then places the gun in Chad’s hand and fakes a suicide. Chad reaches for Pat the whole time. Tate remarks, “It’s kinda romantic, isn’t it? Now they’ll be together forever.” I wonder why he went so insane on Pat, but was actually kind of gentle with Chad (compared to all the other murders he’s responsible for). I also wonder how the ME is going to explain Chad’s murder of his partner and death due to self-inflicted gunshot when his lungs are full of water and a few vertebrae are snapped, but I guess nobody at the police station is going to look too closely at the reports. THEY’RE TOO GOOD AT THEIR JOBS FOR THAT.

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  • Samantha

    Well, I had about 50 flashbacks to sitting in classes at the all-women’s college I attended while watching this episode lol. (I’m also probably way too excited that I got the Fauntleroy reference.)

    I’m so disappointed in Violet. She was probably the only character on this show who had mostly good qualities and whose Bad Decision Meter was still working. Although I feel like it can’t be all her fault – her dad pretty much sucks. I can’t believe that she still boned Tate even though she knows he’s dead. (Or at least I think she knows he’s a ghost, right?)

    I also had a very strong belief that Tate was the Rubber Man. I have a friend who is completely enraged by this development and has totally given up on Ryan Murphy having any talent. I feel like this reaction is over the top lol. Tate isn’t supposed to be likable. He’s done horrible things. My theory is that the house has been manipulating him. There’s so much emphasis on the power in the house. I guess my question is, WHY?! Was it built over an ancient Native American burial ground or something? Is it because the Montgomerys committed unspeakable crimes in the house? But then wouldn’t there be a reason why they were trapped there after death? And where IS the good doctor, anyway?

    It cracks me up that this show gets away with terrible plot holes, like how it would be obvious that Chad had other damage besides the gun shot… and who shoots themselves in the chest, anyway? I think that Murphy gets away with it because by the end of the episode I’m just like, “WHAT THE FUCK?!” rather than understanding that there are problems with the plot lol.

    • harmonyfb

      I can’t believe that she still boned Tate even though she knows he’s dead. (Or at least I think she knows he’s a ghost, right?)

      Hey, she’s probably thinking, “I’m still a virgin, right? Ghost sex totally doesn’t count.” ;)

      • Samantha

        lol oh Violet.

        Also, I totally forgot – the preview for this week? What the hell? Now the Vatican’s getting in on this shit?! I think this week’s episode is gonna be a giant clusterfuck.

    • Sam H

      Good flashbacks or bad flashbacks? Honestly, as much as I genuinely enjoy this show, it is so unbelievably inconsistent with how it approaches its female characters that I can only flail my hands and sigh.

      I think she knows he’s a ghost, but is past the point of caring and just wants to experiment/test the boundaries of her new knowledge? Also, I have a tiny insistent theory that she’s a ghost, too–a couple of things aren’t really adding up about her. Then again, nothing really adds up in this show. Just when you think you’ve got it down, turns out you’re not doing arithmetic, you’re doing calculus, and there are weird letters and shapes popping up for NO REASON WHATSOEVER.

      Haha, yes! I love that they take the good-looking kid who constantly looks on the verge of tears and make him a psychotic killer and rapist and just present him as he is, take him or leave him. I don’t know if you’re on tumblr, but one look at the Tate-adjacent tags for the show will give you a flurry of I LOVE HIM BUT I KNOW IT’S WRONG or like HE’S A GOOD PERSON AT HEART!

      Charles is off huffing ghost ether somewhere! I really wish we knew what was going on with the house already. Charles either harnessed some kind of energy that was already there to bring baby Thaddeus back to life, or the process he used really jacked up the land’s energy and made it into what it is today. I mean, the characters seemed convinced that Moira at least would still be trapped if Escandarian tore it down and built apartments, so maybe it’s not about the house, and just the land?

      HAHA THE RYAN MURPHY GAMBIT. “Quickly, throw so much insane bullshit at them that they would literally have to also be insane to question me on plotholes!”

      • Samantha

        Ghost!Violet would be insane! I wonder how she would leave the house, though? Or maybe she became a ghost after the last time we saw her leave? TOO MANY QUESTIONS.

      • Geeka

        Maybe Moira would trapped with the land because she’s buried there. Constance was sure she’d loose her family with the house.

  • Geeka

    Inconsistancies aside…. I love this show. And, I think I fell in love with Tate’s hand when he was comforting Nora. And, question…. Is black latex slimming for everyone? Masks of any kind freak me out. How does his hair not get caught in the zipper? I’m just curious…. Oh and I’m on cold meds… :) thus the rambling.
    Thanks for the recaps. I had to postpone viewing, and these get me by till I can watch.

    • Sam H

      Me too! Sometimes it makes me furious, but other times I’m like hey I can’t stay mad at yooooou.

      I have a feeling it is not slimming on everyone, but it’s possible that this is a journey of discovery one must undertake on their own. The masks scare me too! Especially that one, claustrophobia kicks in just looking at it.

      Yay, thanks for reading! Glad to be of service :)