American Horror Story 1.4: Halloween, Part One

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

The long-awaited Halloween episode, where some things are explained and other mystery boxes are opened and Zachary Quinto goes a-camping around.

OH MY ACTUAL GOD. I must state for the record that this is the first episode to make me actually gasp in shock. I don’t gasp unless I’m saying the word GASP to sarcastically express my non-surprise at something. I gasped tonight. Straight-up delicate intake of breath, accompanied by wide eyes and a hand to my heart. I’d have looked like a Victorian damsel who was just informed of her secret lover’s infidelity with the Comtesse de Lyon, if only I wasn’t pantsless, wearing a Thor t-shirt, and drinking vodka and OJ (vodka for strength, orange juice for vitamins) out of a dinosaur cup. Its tail is a straw! The head comes off for faster application of vitamins!

But enough of that nonsense. Let’s get all up in this episode’s guts.

2010. A set of eyebrows and sass named Chad (Zachary Quinto) bustles around a kitchen to ominous piano tinkles. He could be cooking meth. Just kidding, he’s decorating for Halloween, and is clearly going balls-out on this holiday’s ass. But dude, never multitask when it comes to cooking and chemicals. One minute you’re making pumpkin pie and prepping dry ice, the next minute your front porch is covered in raccoons and your tongue is stuck to your fork.

A hot slice of blond beefcake who looks like if Alexander Skarsgård lost some of his Skarsgårdery appears, wearing gym clothes. This is Pat (Teddy Sears), Chad’s partner, and is the Ben in this relationship–whiny, terrible as a person, but nice to look at. Chad tells him he needs help with all of the Halloween decorating, because those pumpkins aren’t going to carve Marie Antoinette’s face into themselves. Pat is baffled by the idea of a French-themed Halloween, and informs Chad that he’s going to the gym. He means “going to the gym” like Ben means “going to do anything anywhere in the vicinity of a vagina,” and Chad gives him a friendly reminder to wear a condom as Pat leaves the kitchen. Chad seriously gets through a whole monologue about apples before Pat finally comes back and is all “wat u mean ware kondumb!!! :(”

Chad: ”Maybe because you’re screwing that twink trainer of yours? And I need gourds.”

Pat, twenty minutes too late and very proud of himself, says “You know what? I am screwing my trainer. And he’s a power bottom. And he loves it!” Man, could you imagine hating being a power bottom? Put your wiener in my butt, but let me warn you that I WILL NOT LIKE IT, MISTER.

Everybody come to for all your classy and mature discussion of sexuality needs!

We discover that apparently Chad and Pat have a don’t ask, don’t tell arrangement with regards to fucking other people, but neither of them seem that thrilled with it. Pat is unfaithful and unhappy, and Chad is caustic and angry: “Is this crass admission supposed to…hurt me? At this point, with you, I’m bulletproof. And I need some dry ice.” And then he sips some wine. Does the house make people this way? Or does it attract these people and build on what was already there? Anyway, Pat gets mad and says he wants to be with a dude, not Martha Stewart. Fine, bro, more for me.

They fight some more. Chad informs the audience that all of their money got tied up in the house, which they were planning to flip and sell. I love that whatever evil is lurking there has a basic understanding of current economic conditions and uses them to trap people. Chad just wants the house off their hands so he, too, can find some young stud with muscles. Pat goes all hangdog and says that they wanted a baby and a great life once upon a time, then sulks off to go have sex with his trainer like a dude who has full rights to the moral high road in this argument. Chad stabs a pumpkin. I feel you, man.

Chad does some sulking of his own. His apples are the wrong color, even though the other apples were the wrong color, too. He sighs and sits at the kitchen table, but is soon joined by the Rubber Man! Who he assumes is Pat, which pretty much assures us that Pat is not in there. The Rubber Man stares silently at Chad as Chad smiles and talks to him, first flirty and then apologetic for everything from being angry to having no sex drive, and he’s going to see a doctor about stress or low testosterone or how he needs to find a better man. The Rubber Man, being a giant creeper, says nothing as he approaches Chad. Chad stands up and asks if he got the apples, and instead of banging Chad in a tender yet weird fashion, he just up and throws Chad into walls and furniture before shoving him facefirst into the apple-bobbing bucket and breaking his neck. Brutal, not least of all because Chad had to be thinking it was Pat the whole time. But seriously, why didn’t they have sex? This is an abnormal amount of restraint for a Ryan Murphy show, which–say what you want about him, but the dude will let things get as queer as they can on cable.

Pat (in a cowboy outfit) walks in and sees the damage/his dead partner. The Rubber Man is like “LOL, awks?” and presumably chokes Pat out with his ridiculous hat.

Credits. We return to 2011, where the Harmons are sitting at the table with Marcy. Good thing none of these people have jobs. Vivien is berating Marcy for her lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion Spooky Mansion, and tells her about Nora’s ghost visiting and leaving because she got scared off. Or was just totally a ghost, but Vivien doesn’t know that.

Marcy suggests that the problem is on the Harmons’ end, and that they would benefit from bringing in a “fluffer.” Ben perks up immediately, but it’s not that kind of fluffer. This kind of fluffer will bring an “élan” to the house by decorating it for Halloween. Vivien is offended by the accusation that they don’t have what it takes, stylewise, to entice people to buy the house. Apparently, having nice pumpkins on the front porch will direct a flow that looks like trick-or-treatersàtheir parentsàtheir parents’ friendsàprofit. “I understand you were egged last night.” Marcy says to Ben. We flash back to Ben heading downstairs in his robe to chase off the creepy dead ginger twins who are throwing ghostly eggs at the house. He doesn’t notice their gaping throats, and also doesn’t manage to catch either of them before they run off. He’s sad that Vivien shared this with Marcy. Why, because it makes you look ridiculous? Your whole life makes you look ridiculous.

Marcy offers them the expensive services of an English fluffer she knows, or the slightly less expensive services of a gay guy she knows. The Harmons choose the gay guy. Um, this is like a suburb of L.A. Give a design student a couple hundred bucks and the house‘ll end up on weheartit.

Constance’s kitchen. Her hottie boytoy (oh my god, he’s so hot! Like a Gabriel Aubry with personality!) from two episodes back, Travis (Michael Graziadei), reads to Adelaide from a picture book about the history of Halloween while eating chocolate chips from the bag. It’s a sweet scene, but enjoy it while it lasts because it gets fucking alarming from here on out.

Adelaide says she would never want to be a ghost, because it’s so sad. Travis asks what she’s going to be for Halloween, and she whispers in his ear and giggles. He teases her for blushing, and it’s at this moment that Constance enters the kitchen with a slightly murderous look on her face. Ohhhhhhh shit. She watches them for a moment before going to the counter and saying “I tell you you could eat all my chocolate chips? I was going to make cookies with those later, but now someone‘s gonna have to run down to the Korean to get more.” Travis stands up when he sees her (gentleman! Or fear? I don‘t know. Fearful gentleman) (he‘s kind of the perfect dude, so he‘s probably going to die) and says “I’ll go.” Constance turns and makes a face, and he gives her saucy eyebrows. There is a very sexy chemistry between these two actors that makes me want to be Jessica Lange when I grow up. Not that there is a moment I ever don’t want to be Jessica Lange when I grow up.

Constance and Adelaide share a loaded look, and Constance gives him a fifty, requesting a carton of Pall Malls. Travis asks if it’s cool if he fills up his bike with the change, and Constance turns away to hide a teeeeeeensy smile. He gives her a kiss and does a spooky laugh at Adelaide as he leaves. Aaw.

Not so aaw: Constance calls Adelaide out for “mooning” over Travis. Hey, Constance, SHE HAS EYES. Things get ugly with that weird jealousy-over-men thing that male writers occasionally think most mothers and daughters have going on. I am so, so glad I’ve never encountered anything like that with anyone I know, because wow, awkward. Constance basically stakes her claim and tells Adelaide that she would kill or die for her and has devoted thirty years to her, but she’s not going to share the men she brings into her home. She asks what Adelaide told Travis she wanted to be for Halloween, and Adelaide shows her an advertisement, saying she wants to be a pretty girl. Constance tells her that she’ll be Snoopy again this year, and that “the costume will still fit if you lay off those chocolate chips.” Adelaide, rightfully, does not want to be Snoopy. Seriously, what’s so fun about pretending to be a struggling writer? WHAT IS SO FUN ABOUT THAT, I ASK YOU? Watch your step, there’s a constant layer of tears on my floor.

Constance tells Adelaide to send Travis upstairs when he gets home, and to cut it out with the fake illiteracy. Adelaide tells Constance, agitated, that “The dead can walk freely on Halloween!” Constance stops and answers “Well, we’ve always known that.”

Murder house. Ben answers the door as the doorbell rings; it’s Larry! “Trick or treat!” Larry yells, holding up a bucket that is already full of candy, because he’s one of those people who participates in Halloweek. But how? Even if he says “my costume is a gross burny-face murderer,” he’s still clearly a grown man. I’d give him candy just to make him stop staring at me. Oh wait. Well played, Larry.

Larry demands his thousand dollars. Ben, having forgotten how the only reason Hayden died is because of his spawn in her uterus, manhandles Larry away from the door and threatens to call the cops. Larry reminds him about the baby, and how his gazebo might not have all the right permits. This is suburban horror at its finest, even if there wasn‘t a body buried under there.

Ben grabs Larry’s pumpkin bucket and dropkicks it into the yard, spilling candy everywhere. THAT’S HOW YOU GET ANTS. Larry looks heartbroken, but it appears that he mostly had gross Smarties, so this is a blessing in disguise. Ben tells him to get gone, because “I’m have a patient.” WHO HE LEFT ALONE INSIDE HIS HOUSE YET AGAIN. And who is a visibly upset Tate. SERIOUSLY? ARAARHARGHGHG. Ben wants to know why the psychiatrist he recommended for Tate called and said that Tate never showed up nor cancelled. Tate shrugs and says “I don’t want to see anyone but you.” I KNOW YOU LIKE THE ATTENTION, BEN, BUT KEEP YOUR PENIS OUT OF THIS KID.

Ben says they’ve discussed why that isn’t an option, yet here Tate is. Ben demands to know why Tate was in the house during the break-in. Tate says that he was throwing pebbles at Violet’s window, but she blew him off, so he went in through an unlocked door. I don’t know if he’s lying or what, but that makes as much sense as anything (unless he’s a ghost who’s tied to the house, of course). He says he knows it wasn’t cool. Ben tells him he understands, “But this is exactly why I can’ treat you. It’s inappropriate for everyone concerned.”

Tate starts crying. “I really need your help. I don’t want to be like this. I wanna be a good person, and I know that you can help me. You’re the one, okay? You’re the only one that I can trust!”

Ben’s boner for being needed is like “Hey, man, he seems cool.” So Ben says “I can’t see you in this house.” AND THEN HE GIVES TATE A NOTE AND A PROMISE TO MEET HIM FOR COFFEE AND MORE PSYCHIATRYING. Tate promises “No more weird shit.”

Kitchen. A freakishly handsome security guard/security specialist (Morris Chestnut) shows Vivien the ropes of the new system he’s installing. They’re sliiiightly flirty, which is good because he’s total husband material for when the Infantata eats Ben (a girl can dream). Watch him turn out to be a murder-ghost, too.

Vivien goes into the dining room, where Moira is carving pumpkins at the table. Vivien asks if Marcy brought them, and Moira hesitates a second before answering yes. She asks Vivien if she can have Halloween off, because she wants to visit her mother. Vivien tells her yes, and takes Moira’s first finished pumpkin out to the front porch. Chad and Pat are criticizing her garden–”Ugh, the roses have whitefly. What an eyesore”–while Vivien’s like “EXCUSE ME I HAVE HAD A PRETTY ROUGH COUPLE OF MONTHS” but really says “Hi. Are you Marcy‘s fluffers?” Chad turns and introduces himself: “I’m Chad Warwick, and this is my ball and chain, Patrick.” He’s doing a lot of sunglasses-acting. They go into the house.

At the kitchen table, everyone is carving pumpkins. Ben says “This is actually kinda fun. I never got to do this when I was a kid.” Chad asks why not, and Vivien deflects the question by talking about the fluffing business. Hmmmmm. “Style is so important,” she says, and Chad agrees: “It’s everything.” Pat gives a derisive snort. Everyone notices, but just in case they didn’t, Chad goes off on a tangent about how he loves Halloween and Pat loves Halloween, but Pat loves Halloween because he’s a giant cheating ho. The Harmons are like, whoa, awkward, and Vivien quickly asks if there’s anything else Chad would suggest doing with the house to make it sell better. He wants to tear down the gazebo, because the lattice is all wrong. I knew Ben was bad at everything! Including hiding his alarm, because he almost slices his hand off.

Pat rushes over to help, and Chad does a hilarious eye-roll as he says “Pat’s an EMT.” Viven says “I thought you were a fluffer.” Chad goes “You’re hilarious, Vivien. And I love your hair color, I can barely see any root.” Viven shrugs: “It’s my natural color.”

Pat asks where the first-aid kit is, and he and Ben go to the bathroom to fix him up. They admire Pat’s handiwork, and then Pat’s hand works its way onto Ben’s dick. Ben’s like “What are you doing?” and Pat starts in with “We’re the same! We pretend to be the dutiful husband, but in reality, we like getting our cocks sucked all the time! Because those are two mutually exclusive things and also they are both personality descriptors!” I hate everyone in this bathroom. Ben says he’s not gay, but his heart doesn‘t sound in it. Nevertheless, he lets Pat down pretty easy. I guess we’ve found the thing Ben’s good at, and that’s kindly convincing a guy not to blow him while their respective spouses are downstairs cutting out paper bats.

Pat asks Ben not to tell. Ben does the brofist of douchebag solidarity and commends him on his life choices, because lying to loved ones has worked out so fucking well for him thus far.

Chad and Vivien discuss Ben’s handsomeness/nervousness, and Chad tells Vivien that he and Pat are having problems because Pat can’t keep his dick in his pants. Vivien asks how Chad caught him cheating, and Chad says “Cell phone bill. You can delete a text, but you can’t delete the bill.” Vivien’s like, hmmmmmm.

In her room, Violet pulls her hair back and looks at herself in the mirror. She hears a noise and steps back–nobody ever turns around when they’re walking in this show–and a hand shoots out from under the bed and grabs her ankle. Adelaide crawls out from under the bed, and demands that Violet make her a pretty girl. Violet busts out the purple eyeshadow, red lipstick, and bright pink blush, and admits to Adelaide that she’s not very good at makeup artistry. She asks how old Adelaide is, and Adelaide says that a lady never reveals her age. Adelaide seems okay with the clashing makeup, and asks if Tate is Violet’s boyfriend, telling her that Tate thinks Violet’s a pretty girl. Adelaide asks if she’s a virgin. Violet is, but Adelaide answers with a resounding “Hell no,” then catches sight of herself in the mirror, saying “Wow. Violet, I look beautiful!” Violet smiles. This is a cute scene too, but once again, it gets alarming.

Constance chases Adelaide into the kitchen, yelling at her to “Wipe that smut off your face!” She wants to know who did it, and Adelaide says it was Violet. Constance says “She’s got another cupcake coming!” They yell at each other some more, and Constance says all the horrible things you never say to your child. Adelaide runs off, pulling away from Constance as Constance tries to make her stay, regretting what she said just as soon as it’s out of her mouth.

Violet goes down into the basement, saying Tate’s name. The Rubber Man is down there instead, creepin’, and pins Violet against the staircase railing. He starts laughing, and pulls his mask off. It’s Tate! Violet slaps his chest and calls him an asshole. He looks kind of rad in that suit, it must be said. They kiss, and he asks if he scared her. She says no. He says “I bet I can. You just have to put your fingers on the other side.” HEY. NO NASTY TALK.

He lights a couple of candles, and they sit on the floor. Violet wants to know what’s in the basement, and Tate says what he’s about to tell her might scare her…TO DEATH.

He tells her a story that leads into a flashback to the 20s, when Charles and Nora were running their abortion business. One girl couldn’t keep it secret, and told her boyfriend. Late one night, Nora gets a call from a creepy whispering dude, who only says “An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth,” and hangs up. Nora looks back at her drugstoner husband, who’s looking like those weed PSAs where the person just flops all over furniture because marijuana dissolves your bones. She suddenly realizes what the call meant, and runs upstairs to find her child’s crib empty and a ladder propped up against the open window. She screams for Charles.

Tate says that the boyfriend kidnapped the Montgomerys’ baby in revenge, and that they waited for ransom demands. Nora tells Charles that this is all his fault when the police show up with a box of evidence. Charles answers the door, and the cops show him what’s in the box. We don’t see it, but it’s separated into jars and one of the cops runs forward to stop Nora from looking into the box. Charles looks like he’s about to vomit.

Tate narrates that Charles used all of his surgical skills to try and cheat death. Nora comes down the stairs, holding what looks like a chrisom gown, saying she wants to bury the baby in this. She stops when she gets closer to Charles, and demands to know what he’s doing. Oh my god, he’s trying to sew the baby’s corpse parts back together. Nora starts screaming and sobbing.

In a cool shot, Tate walks out of the desaturated flashback, Charles visible behind him, and sits down in front of Violet in full color once again. “What he created was ungodly. Monstrous. And even after their tragic end, that thing remained down here, to this day.” Thanks for blowing all of my theories out of the water, b-hole.

Violet tells him he’s full of shit and that she doesn’t believe a word out of his mouth. He looks a little hurt by this, but she stands up and asks why they always have to meet in the gross basement. “Why can’t we go somewhere? Like on a real date?” Tate jumps up and says okay, they’ll go tomorrow night. If he can only leave the house on Halloween, that’s going to be awkward for the relationship. Violet sneaks him out of the house. Something blows out the candles.

The next day, in a park full of children dressed in costume, Ben talks to Tate on a bench. Tate is cute and friendly, returning with coffee and marveling at all of the flavors available. It would only make sense that he’d be amazed if he could only leave the house once a year, so maybe he’s stuck there?

Ben catches sight of a little girl dressed as a witch. Tate notices and says “She reminds you of Violet, doesn’t she?” There’s a flashback to a younger Violet dressed as a dracula. Ben says “She had to be scary. My fierce little girl. Just like her mom. Smart, and beautiful. No need to be like anyone else.” He starts crying a little bit, and tells Tate that he used to be a troubled kid, kind of like Tate himself. He says he didn’t hold out much hope for himself, and neither did anybody else, so everyone was really surprised when he went to Kinko’s and printed that psychiatry degree off the internet.

He smokes a cigarette and throws the butt on the ground. In a public park. He’s really upset, so Tate reaches awkwardly across the table and pats him on the wrist, saying “Hey. It’s gonna be okay, Dr. Harmon.” Every time I think Ben can’t be a worse psychiatrist, he takes it as a personal challenge and reaches lofty new heights of inappropriate and bad. I admire your dedication, dude.

Constance goes to Adelaide’s room and asks why she isn’t in costume. Adelaide says she’s not trick-or-treating, because she’s too old. Constance says that’s nonsense, and Halloween is the one time a year where everyone gets to be someone else. “I thought you wanted to be a pretty girl.” Adelaide smiles slightly, and Constance reaches into the brown bag she’s carrying, pulling out a creepy-ass human mask. It looks like someone ritually murdered and skinned a RealDoll. She sits down next to Adelaide, saying “Now you don’t have to worry about makeup and all that.” It’s so fucked up but you can see that Constance is being genuinely loving in the only way she knows how. They hug-wrestle on the bed. Constance stands up and says “Let’s go see if Mama’s got any clothes that’ll fit you. Maybe one of my old maternity dresses.” The creepy mask rests on the bed, creepily.

Ben fixes his own dracula costume in the mirror, and requests his fangs. Vivien hands them to him, and he says “Faaaaaaangs a lot.” Stop being cute immediately. Vivien is pissed–she’s gone through the phone records, and found at least twenty calls from Hayden. Ben lies lies lies, saying he doesn’t talk to her and didn’t see her in Boston and that he was forceful with her last time, so she won’t be calling back. Vivien says she might, because she just left Hayden a message. Ben’s like “Hayden is over.” THEN WHO WAS PHONE?! Because Hayden calls at that exact moment. Ruh roh.

Wolves howl downstairs. “What is that racket?” Vivien asks. Chad turns around from where he’s fixing an amazing display in the foyer and is like, what the hell are you wearing? It’s a normal witch dress, but Chad hates it. “Let’s see, the very first impression that anyone is going to have, before going to my meticulously appointed Candy Scare Station, is going to be you answering the door in that…Rite-Aid witch outfit! Ugh!” Ben comes downstairs, and Chad continues. “But never fear, Count Jockula is here to really add some class.”

Vivien, hilariously: “He doesn’t like our costumes.”

Chad says there’s nothing to be done about it now, because there’s no time and they still have to decorate the bobbing station. Which is once again filled with exactly the wrong apples. Chad rips Ben a new one for getting Gala apples at Gelson’s when he should have gotten Granny Smiths from Pedro at a fruit stand. IS EVERYONE IN L.A. REALLY LIKE THIS?

Vivien says that Chad is overreacting, and Chad loses his shit, telling Vivien that the Harmons need to GTFO. When Vivien protests that it’s her house, Chad says it isn’t, and that they all know it and the house also knows it. Vivien tells Chad and Pat to get out, and they argue back and forth until Vivien starts throwing stuff and knocking stuff over and yelling. Pat pulls Chad away, saying Chad doesn‘t need to see this. Chad catches a glimpse of the Rubber Man standing in the background before they leave.

Vivien stops destroying the house. She tells Ben that she doesn’t believe him, and she doesn’t want to live with this suspicion anymore, so she wants him to leave. She seems sure, but then something happens and she can feel the baby kicking. But it’s only eight weeks old! Creepy! Ben rushes her to the hospital, telling Violet to stay there and not answer the door. “Don’t answer the door? It’s Halloween!” Ben is even bad at remembering dates with tons of visual reminders around.

Violet turns her music up loud and reads a graphic novel I can’t identify, so she can’t hear Adelaide ringing the doorbell. A bunch of girls in sexy costumes come up and get candy. The sexy pirate tells Adelaide that the sign says to take one. Adelaide tells her that she wants to show Violet her costume, which is really scary and I kind of have to not look straight at it, and the sexy pirate sneers “Short bus?” before walking back to the street with her friends. Adelaide runs after, asking them to wait for her. And she gets hit by a car as she crosses the street. (This is where I gasped.)

The girls scream, and one of them says to call an ambulance as Adelaide lays motionless on the street, one leg bent up behind her.

At the hospital with the Harmons, a brisk yet friendly nurse comes in to do an ultrasound on Vivien. She assures them that it’s probably just gas, since the fetus should be the size of kidney bean and kidney beans are notoriously weak at kicking. The nurse stares at the screen, and asks if they’re sure about the timeline. She says that the baby seems to be a lot bigger, then says “Okay, here we go” before taking a closer look at the screen. She goes still, then collapses. We don’t know if it’s shock or some kind of evil baby unconsciousness magic, but the nurse is out. Ben goes to find help.

In the middle of the street, two paramedics try and load Adelaide into the ambulance. Constance appears, dropping to her knees next to Adelaide and asking what happened. She tells them to let her get Adelaide to the lawn, while she’s still sort of alive. She yellss and hits the EMTs until they step back and let her pull Adelaide away, onto the grass. Constance screams when Adelaide doesn’t wake up. Damn. I just realized, on the second rewatch, that Constance was pulling her so she’d die on the property, I think, so that way she’d be stuck there. :(

Moira goes to a home for the elderly, where her mother is attached to a respirator. She apologizes, crying, saying she should have been there, and detaches the breathing tube from the machine, waiting until her mother passes away. Her mother appears behind her, asking Moira to come with her, but Moira can’t. Her mother disappears. Moira stays, curling herself down over the body.

Violet hears loud pounding on the door, and goes to check it out through the peephole. It’s Larry, yelling about the thousand dollars. A group of kids comes up, and we hear him scare the crap out of them. Violet calls Ben, WHO TELLS HER NOT TO CALL THE POLICE. He is not in any way a sympathetic character, and I am actively rooting for him to die horribly at this point.

Violet backs away from the door when Larry seems to realize she’s in there. Standing in the doorway just behind her is the Rubber Man, but she doesn’t notice him. I hope it’s just Tate.

Vivien and Ben get home. The lawn is trashed (skeleton figures have been posed doggie-style), and the front door is thrown open, alarm blaring. Ben turns it off, and they search the house, not finding anything. There’s a knock at the door. Ben answers it, and it’s Hayden, looking rough. He shuts the door in her face. FADE TO BLACK.

The conclusion of this episode is next week, but I think I’m going to break into the FX offices and steal it so I don‘t die waiting. Anybody up for the most shallow spy mission in history?