Image credit: Ray Mickshaw/FX
Burning Up For Love: Firebug Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare) opened up to Ben Harmon about what really happened to his wife and kids in "Open House." But how much of his story did you believe? And how much more is there left to tell?
Ben smokes, scary Larry fumes, and a pair of very bad men get blown away by two lethal ladies in 'Open House'| Published Nov 17, 2011
Inside the library filled with nightmare murals, Constance Langdon schemes a dreadful plan and tries not to weep. It is 1994. It’s the same year that the one-time wannabe starlet’s son Tate went ballistic inside Westfield High School and murdered 15 classmates before committing suicide by cop. The phone is off the hook, bleating disconnection. A man hangs up the receiver and kneels at Constance’s feet. The glow of the fireplace lights up Larry Harvey’s face, not yet half-scorched from another blaze that looms in his future. The clean-cut square basks in the countenance of Constance’s blonde beauty like a film noir sap in the thrall of a femme fatale. She tells him that she’s going to be charged with criminal neglect. She tells him that her other boy is going to be put in an institution. “You know how he is,” she says, “You know how he suffers so when he’s not with me.” Larry says he loves her, that he’s willing to do anything for her. “Then do it,” she commands. “Like we discussed.” Larry should turn away. No woman is worth this. Even Constance. Has he actually tried her cupcakes? The things we do for love, and to keep love. Forever.
Larry climbs into the attic. A Psycho light bulb dangles. We don’t see a black rubber suit mounted with chains, but we do see a rocking horse, and I couldn’t help but recall the classic D.H. Lawrence short story about the boy who chases after his cold, materialistic mother’s affections by riding a cursed rocking horse that can predict the winners of real horse races, so as to please her with the happiness of riches she craves. The story doesn’t end well for the lad. Larry pursuit of Constance won’t end well for him, either.
“Beau?” Larry calls.
A grunting, giggling life leashed to a chain darts into the shadows and pushes a red rubber ball toward Larry, like a dog wanting to play fetch. We once saw Adelaide (God rest her so-glad-I-didn’t-die-on-the-Murder House-lawn soul) roll that same red rubber ball to an unseen playmate in the basement. We said “Infantata.” Now, we say: Brother? We know that, with the exception of Tate, the children that came from Mrs. Langdon’s “accursed womb” had Down syndrome. (Also Down’s Syndrome, named after British physician John Langdon Haydon Down). Beauregard – “beautiful gaze” – appears severely affected. Cranial dysplasia. Flat nose. Jutting jaw and jagged teeth. Beau’s also got the hidden away/feral child thing going on, a classic horror archetype, and a cousin to the mad woman in the attic trope. His hair is mangy. His face glistens with froth. He does not walk. He drags himself on his hands and knees. Yet he does not vibe ”monster.” He could be a child that a mother could love. But alas, Beau has Constance. And to think the Murder House madwoman is actually stung by the charge of criminal neglect…
“You want to play,” Larry says. Friendly and frisky, Beau claps in the affirmative. Larry rolls the ball back, then swallows hard. “It’s too late for games. Come on.”
Beau jumps into bed and pulls a sheet to his face. Larry says it’s time to sleep, and more, “perchance to dream, and in that sleep of death, what dreams may come.” Larry makes the phrase sound bedtime story soothing, but this bit of oft-quoted Shakespeare comes from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, in which the angst-wracked Dane mulls a suicide solution to his travails yet fears the potentially worse horrors (those “dreams”) that lurk in the afterlife, “the undiscovered country, from whose borders no traveler returns.”
Unless they die in Murder House.
“Close your eyes,” Larry says gently, coaching Beau with a friendly blink. Then: “God help me.” Larry closes his own eyes, the chicken, and smothers the life out Beau’s beautiful gaze with a pillow. The Undiscovered Country of Murder House gains one more soul thanks to a hideous coward without a conscience.
At least we know he'll burn for it.
Later in the episode, Constance visited her undead sons in The Victorian for what she feared could be the last time. When she asked Tate if he was making any progress with Dr. Harmon, Tate got mean. “We’re really getting to the root of the problem,” he said. “Turns out I hate my mother.” Over the past couple weeks, we heard a plethora of characters, living and otherwise, seek an explanation for Tate’s furious rampage at Westfield High. If Larry suffocated Beau before the massacre, you have to wonder if Beau’s death – and maybe his spectral return – helped to mess with Tate’s muddled head. What if we learn that Tate actually witnessed Beau’s murder, too? The “Why?” of Tate’s awful taint must surely have its roots in the sins of Constance Langdon.
NEXT: Is honesty the best policy? When it comes to selling Murder House, maybe not...