After the insanely paced two-part "Halloween" episode, American Horror Story slowed things down by trudging its characters through a slough of despond. Pretty much everyone was tapped by the shit stick this week — ruining young love, work reputations and pregnancies along the way. We also got to meet the Pig Man, and started to learn to stop hating Violet so damn much.
While not as exciting as the last two episodes, I'm happy to report that "Piggy, Piggy" did not dip below the bar that was set before Halloween. Thank goodness. This is mostly thanks to a terrific cameo made by Modern Family's delightful Eric Stonestreet — plus thanks to Violet (I know I'm as surprised as you are Violet was totally great this episode).
First, let's hit the whole Pig Man side story. Stonestreet plays a man named Derrick who is just wrecked by his phobia of Urban Legends — which HA, but then again there are real people with face tattoos who are seriously scared of puppies, so whatever. Everyone has their own clown in the closet, we guess.
Derrick goes to Ben for mental help (first mistake there, Derrick) and being the great TV doctor that he is, Ben shuts Derrick up in his bathroom and demands he conquer his fear by calling for Pig Man in the mirror. Flash forward to Derrick actually facing his fear in his own bathroom at home, only to get shot in the head by another set of home invaders. Which first, damn — there are a lot of home invasions in this town, and second, yikes. The Pig Man story was actually kind of campfire tale, scary fun, peppered with excellent storytelling from Stonestreet (which we've included in the top). Plus that's the second patient of Ben's that has faced an early death (three if you count the friends of the blonde girl who came in for "treatment" but secretly wanted to kill his family but they weren't technically treated so...). Soon Ben is going to become the Murder Doctor of Murder House, or something. I'm wondering if this show will continue to kill off everyone Ben tries to help — because that would be kind of hilarious.
In other news, Vivian has a weird pregnancy nightmare, where her evil baby's fingers claw at her tummy while she listens to a cello and makes the Anime happy girl face. It's all pretty gross but also a real thing that happens sometimes (not the fingers part but the baby trying to escape from your stomach, much like a chestburster.)
Apparently all this baby stuff is making Vivian crazy for flesh, because Constance shows up with a plate full of offal delights and Vivian dives right in. No doctor or Googling required — the creepy, chain-smoking lady next door says Vivian should eat brains, so Vivian eats brains... raw. The whole raw brain thing was revolting, which was probably the point, but Jesus guys.
Vivian is really starting to change, and not just her eating habits. The best part of our time with Vivian is when she tracks down the ultrasound technician at a church, to find out why the sight of her unborn child made the technician faint. The answer... is not good. The woman tells Vivian that she's giving birth to the spawn of Satan, and she's seen his dirty hooves in the ultrasound to prove it. Vivian just stares at her blankly. It's pretty pitch perfect, she just totally rejects the crazy spewing forth with her own stone-face Vivian crazy. Her immediate denial — "Okay, it was a machine malfunction" — was pretty delightful (and a bit spooky) to watch.
Now let's talk about the hardest/best part of the episode, Violet and Tate.
But first, Cigarette Party!
Last night's big flashback is dedicated to Tate. The audience watches in horror as Tate silently makes his way into the library and executes the five ghost kids we met last week. It's pretty brutal. Not really scary, just horribly dreadful. I'm glad the show director decided to edit this scene without any music — the silence appears to fill the room with dread. Tate walks from person to person shooting each one, it's almost simple in its execution, which made it even more senseless. And that was the very thing that the SWAT team wanted to know after they fill Tate full of bullets: "Why?" He doesn't respond, he just dies. But then again Tate doesn't respond when the ghosts of his victims also hunted him down demanding to know WHY. Is there a Why? Is Tate just a horrible monster that killed his classmates for no good reason (not that there ever could be a good reason for this massacre), or is there something else at play? Constance certainly seems to think so — but of course she would, wouldn't she?
Speaking of Constance, how soul-wrenching is it listening to Jessica Lange scream while the SWAT team rushed into Tate's bedroom? "No, no no please, he'll go peacefully. Taaate — nooo, he's just a child!" Proving once again that this woman doesn't even need to be in the same frame as the action to steal the show.
So here's the rub: Violet, the "Emily the Strange" of this show, has just found out that the boy she loves is not only a psychotic mass murderer, but he's also dead and haunting her home. Sarah Paulson shows up as this amazing, arrogant medium who tries to connect with Violet, but when you just found out that your ghost boyfriend is a murderer sometimes you just need more time. Or pills. And that's exactly what Violet does — She heads back to her murder home with a fist full of sleeping pills. But there's no peace for Violet, the second she gets home ALL of the ghosts that live in her overcrowded mausoleum of a house are creeping around murmuring terrible things reducing Violet to a sobbing mess on the floor. In response she downs all the sleeping pills.
Cut to Tate freaking out in the shower with Violet. He's screaming and crying and shoves his fingers down her throat, saving her life. But the real terror comes from Violet when she comes to, and realizes she's in the arms of her dead beloved. She makes this whimpering sound of fear, sadness or helplessness, maybe all tied together. The whole thing just hollowed me out inside with a dirty spoon. She can't escape, why would she want to escape? Oh right, because he horribly murdered all of those kids.
Later Violet does the only thing she can, gives up. Tate stands at the foot of her bed professing his love for her and teling her he'll leave her alone forever, if she wishes, and Violet lets the monster back in. Snuggling up on the bed, this time it's her holding him. Has she really given up? Will she even do what Constance asks and help him "move on?" Is there anything even worth saving here? Was it the house possessing Tate all along? I don't know. But I do know that Tate and Constance are the best part of this show, and I'm glad to see their backstory getting the bulk of the screen time. Until next week.