Dan Birlew

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American Horror Story: Afterbirth

American Horror Story: Afterbirth

Posted December 21st, 2011 at 8:00am by Dan Birlew in Television. 3 Comments on American Horror Story: Afterbirth

“Afterbirth” airs tonight on FX at 9/10pm, providing the finale to an amazing first season of American Horror Story. The description according to Cox Communication’s Channel Guide reads as follows:

Constance schemes to raise Tate’s baby as her own. Season Finale.

While a lot of sites having been claiming that the episode will run 90 minutes long, my cable guide only has it slotted for 70. Perhaps they can cram 90 minutes worth of TV into that time if they don’t show commercials, but I doubt they’d show a season finale commercial free. After all, the season finale of AHS is going to be an “event” in many a household, and any savvy network exec would try to milk such an event for all its worth, especially FX, whose series’ tend to be hit and miss with audience popularity.

So the main issue we’ll be dealing with tonight (among many) is how Ben finally deals with Murder House and the baby that his wife Vivien gave birth to right before she died. The promo for this episode (view it here) shows presumed clips from the episode in flashes: Constance screaming at Ben in rage; Ben threatening Constance; Constance entering Murder House; Ben holding a gun to his own head; Constance hiding the baby in Addy’s mirror closet; the Rutger twins peeking from the dark; Vivien descending into the basement; and then (AND THEN!!!) Vivien in bed with Tate (in the rubber suit), shoving him away; the basement fluorescent lights flashing; Tate and Hayden staring through the living room French doors; Nora telling Vivien the baby is hers; Hayden, her throat slit (???) holding a bundle and threatening someone; Vivien picking up her baby; Ben seeing ghost Vivien for the first time and freaking out; Violet’s room full of packed boxes, Tate beating someone to the ground; Tate screaming he doesn’t want to hurt someone; Violet standing at a door; Vivien playing her cello at the bay window; Hayden holding the baby again; someone in a rubber suit chasing an unidentified woman; Constance confronting a seated figure in the basement; the word “RUN” in blood on the wall, a female running past it (one of Vivien’s screams from a previous episode looped in); Tate glaring; Vivien in the bathroom, Gladys surfacing in the bathtub; Rubber Man continuing to pursue someone; Tate punching someone; someone skateboarding in the house; two men watching someone fall from an upstairs banister; Constance speaking to Ben, “How can you still be so blind?”

We’ve also had two spoiler clips come out in the past week, one showing Viv and Violet saying goodbye to Ben (here) and pleading with him to flee Murder House with the baby, and another with Ben at Constance’s (here) trying to take the baby while Constance pleads with him not to take the baby back into Murder House. Other spoilers (here) quote AHS co-creator Brad Falchuk stating:

“I think the finale has, to me, the most shocking scene we’ve ever done. Every time I edit it, I literally have to cover my eyes. The finale really does have a couple shockers in it that I think people will love.”

So while we appear to have quite a bit of info to go on, we have to keep in mind that all promos and previews for previous episodes were taken from only the first few minutes of the respective airing. Therefore I firmly believe that the scenes with Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and then Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Constance (Jessica Lange) will occur in the first fifteen minutes or so. Ben starts the episode on the edge of sanity having learned his daughter is dead and then watching Vivien die. He considers taking up permanent residence in the house alongside them by putting a gun to his head. Viv and Violet will have to intervene and convince Ben that he must get the baby back from Constance and father it, somewhere far away from Murder House. Ben then goes to Constance’s house to collect the baby, and though Constance tries to convince him otherwise he persists in taking it with him. Constance then goes a bit crazy and threatens Ben, perhaps with a weapon, at which point Ben tells her to lock her door and pray he doesn’t come back.

But wait a minute? Isn’t this baby not Ben’s? Isn’t it Tate’s (Evan Peters) baby, fathered while he was wearing the rubber suit and pretending to be Ben? Well, if the flashes I’ve described above have any bearing, I think we may get a little more info we’ve been missing all along: if Vivien really did shove the man in the rubber suit off of her before climax, then his fathering of the baby may prove red herring. And since Luke (Morris Chestnut) ruled himself out in a confrontation with Ben (“Spooky Little Girl”) then we’re talking about an unknown third party impregnating Vivien. Is it possible that after throwing off the rubber suit man that she then ran around the house, bumping into the RUN sign written in blood and Gladys (Celia Finkelstein) in the bathtub? Funny that Vivien wouldn’t mention such an event; maybe she blocked it out. This whole theory is a bit unfounded at this time due to lack of any mention of a potential third party, and probably fueled by even more red herring.

Or… perhaps the images we see of Vivien shoving the rubber man off her and running around the house, bumping into the bloody RUN sign and Gladys in the bathtub… maybe that’s not Vivien. Maybe that’s yet another previous occupant (with a nightie identical to Viv’s) to be introduced in tonight’s longer episode. Perhaps what happened to that person will foreshadow what might happen to Ben or the baby tonight.

And if the baby is Tate’s, doesn’t that mean it’s the Antichrist? Well, I think Chad (Zachary Quinto) pretty much managed to cast a major dispersion on anything Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson, playing the “Craigslist psychic” as Violet calls her) says; she appears to be “interpreting” her psychic feelings and mixing it with a bunch of New Age mumbo-jumbo she’s pulled from outside sources. In other words, she’s making up what she doesn’t know as she goes along. So her whole story about the Pope’s box and a spirit/human hybrid signaling the end of the world may fit in that category. Or maybe not. This issue really could go either way at this point. I feel like if the child were raised in/near Murder House then it would definitely go the Antichrist route, but could be a truly angelic child if removed from the influence of evil.

While Ben is fighting to remove one child from the clutches of Constance, I believe Vivien will be fighting a very different battle with the ghosts of Murder House. I believe a confrontation over the stillborn baby (which would still be ALIVE in Murder House, given the metaphysics) will erupt between Vivien and Nora (Lily Rabe), and then I guess Hayden (Kate Mara) steps in. Unable to get the baby away from those “bitches” at the end of the last episode, I believe Hayden goes after the stillborn, and that’s what we see her holding in the previews. Now that Vivien is a ghost and the battlefield between her and Hayden has leveled, she will obviously try to take matters in her own hands by slashing Hayden’s throat. But she’ll soon learn that doesn’t work, in spite of what Constance said to Moira (Frances Conroy) in  the Pilot episode (“Don’t make me murder you again.”) We may also get some new revelations in regard to the ownership of the house: I believe it may be revealed that the money they used to buy it was Vivien’s, and that she insisted she be the solely named owner of the house. Which in terms of the house metaphysics would put her on equal footing with the likes of the most powerful spirits, such as former owners Nora and Chad. In spite of whatever setbacks she encounters, I believe Vivien will rise to become the new ghost heroine of the household and get back her stillborn baby. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moira step in to offer help in this endeavor.

Speaking of which, I doubt we’ll actually get the truth about Moira; in fact if we do, I think the show is probably over. But I do hope we’ll get to see a little more ancient history of the house and Moira’s connection to it, and perhaps we’ll see that Moira was already dead and a ghost in the house at the time Constance blew her eyeball out (…as I suspect. I mean, you don’t just REGROW an eyeball, even a blind one). Moira is a quizzical character obviously from another time and place, (such as, the 30’s) and her origins stand to explain a lot about the show. Even just a glimpse of this would be satisfying.

I believe that the Pilot episode will play a big influence on the season finale. First off, we’ll be seeing Tate at his Tate-iest since the Pilot, after which he fell in love with Violet and tried to focus his murderous ways to protecting her from the house. Now that the relationship is over, we’ll see him go back to his basic instincts: stalking Ben and other living people through the house, trying to kill them, under Hayden’s influence. I think we’ll see Constance enter the house and try to intervene, since she has a way of causing Tate to revert to childishness. But given a particular clue from the Pilot, I think Ben has his own card to play against Tate: there was a moment during their first session where Tate saw himself standing behind Ben, covered in blood. While the co-creators have dismissed a lot of the “freak out glimpses” we see as merely externalizations of Ben’s emotions, can the same be said to apply to Tate and his emotions? Tate strikes me as a pretty rock-solid psycho, fully convinced that his atrocities are just and fair. For him to have this vision of himself in Ben’s presence (and the rattling effect it had on him) may show that Ben’s gifts as a psychologist may extend to the spiritual. And so, perhaps this may indicate an ace up his sleeve against Tate. Either way, there will most definitely be a showdown between Ben and Tate; there HAS TO BE, the producers can’t expect us to go nine months without it!

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3 Responses to “American Horror Story: Afterbirth”

  1. Okay, so we have a lot of answers and quite a bit of my speculation (only done for my personal amusement) was ousted by an upsetting scene about 17 minutes into the episode. But a lot of folks have DVR’d the ep and haven’t seen it yet, so let’s try to keep the discussion spoilers to a minimum, at least until this weekend.

    Final Thoughts: I think we all agree that the ending was pretty nice, and that all allusions to what will be happening next season are pretty chilling. And I’d just like to say: I called it early. 😀 However, I don’t think the show can go on forever with the Harmons instituting the “Beetlejuice” approach to all new owners of Murder House. So that means next season we’ll either pick up years after the Harmons have decided to stop manifesting in the home or someone new will have to move into Murder House that isn’t easily scared off, that wants to be there, that understands it is a source of power and wants to tap into it. Someone like Escandarian, but who’s not interested in bulldozing the place for construction.

  2. Further Update: Falchuk and company now admitting that the story of Murder House is completely over. The cast may return next year, but they will be playing completely different characters in a completely different location. Season two will not be set in LA. Each season (if there are more than two) will feature a completely different American Horror Story.

    Sources: http://m.celebuzz.com/pl/2011-12-22/will-evan-peters-tate-return-to-american-horror-story-creator-ryan-murphy-drops-clues-to-season-two/, http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/12/next-season-of-american-horror-story-will-be-in-a-whole-new-haunted-house.html

  3. Well then, I like the idea of new-house-new-terror. And I really like the concept of the cast being new people. It makes for some olde-tyme stuff, like a radio play, where each week you may have a different story, but the same voice actors. It’s very classic. I hope audiences can be OK with it, though. Typically innovative + general viewers = sadness and confusion = cancellation.

    I thought the finale was… meh. It was cool how the good ghosts and bad ghosts broke into delineated factions and went kinda West Side Story in the torment/salvation of the new family. I am glad we were spared another visit from Thaddeus. Still, it was a little weak compared to what had gone before. I suppose that this blah feeling was only to be expected as the story did a good job of explaning things. The imagery and characters that were sources of such tension in the beginning became the equivalent of those annoying kids down the block, or the creepy old guy who waves at traffic. The tension was unsustainable since it was rooted in mystery, and everyone wants a mystery solved (in the right way, not like Lost– ha!). They rode the horse to the end of the line with this season and did it right, I think.

    Looking forward to next year.

    In the meantime, Dan, you might want to check out Daybreak, which is on Netflix now. If you didn’t see it in it’s original run back in ’06, it’s worth a look. If you did see it in ’06, it’s still worth a look because the complete series, including the actual finale is available (ABC canned it before it ended). For one thing, I can’t get enough of Taye Diggs. His presence is like a comfy blanket of actorly confidence. Then, the story has enough false leads and dead ends to keep you guessing, and the actual finale is probably one of the most satisfying endings of a series I’ve seen in a very very long time. Like AHS, it couldn’t have been sustained in its current format for a second season, so it’s just as well it ended when it did. Just a shame the network didn’t give it a fair shot to wrap up the story during it’s premiere run.