American Horror Story recap: The Murder House Rules

Ben digs himself into a hole and Vivien excavates secrets about her bloody home in 'Murder House'
Ep. 03 | Aired Oct 19, 2011

THIS PIG CAN'T FLY, EITHER. Rehabbing adulterer Ben (Dylan McDermott) can't escape his obsessed former lover or the aggressive attentions of his two-faced maid in "Murder House." 

Ray Mickshaw/FX

When it comes to stories about relationships ruined by horndog infidelity, the blonde bombshell wrapped in red is usually the other woman, not the woman destroyed. But American Horror Story is not a show to indulge conventional thinking. The year is 1983, five years after the Infantata shredded the redheaded twins in the basement of chopped up baby parts. The house was derelict then. Now it is restored, home to a car salesman and his wife. Moira the housekeeper is not yet a female Janus with a dead right eye. She’s Moira Jr. young, though Moira Sr. weary. She’s smoothing the sheets when the man of the house bumbles in drunk. He's a handsome rake with a Schwarzeneggerian regard for The Help, and since the episode doesn't give him a name, let's call him The Man. The Man suggests they make a mess of the newly made bed. Moira refuses The Man. She says the one time they fooled around was a mistake. “I was just lonely,” she says. The Man, a smidge hurt, sweetens the offer. “You want a new Camaro? We got a new shipment in yesterday.” Moira doesn’t want the wheels, and she probably doesn’t like being treated like a whore, either. She just wants to do her job, and more immediately, she wants out of the room. That’s a no-go for The Man. He pushes her down and forces himself on her. The Man is writhing on her in his tighty-whiteys when the woman in red enters. The lady of the house. The Man's wife. Constance. Looking 30 years younger than we know her via Benjamin Button Botox. And she has a gun.

Constance sprays the back of Moira’s head against the wall with a bullet to the eyeball. Two mystery birds fall with one stone: Now we know how the maid’s right socket went ghostly gray and the meaning of Constance’s pilot episode quip: “Don’t make me kill you again.” Do you think Moira had to clean up the mess after she -- what's the terminology for this? -- "came back"? More seriously: Was this the first time Moira died in the house? Or was she cursed long before '83 to live and die on a loop, the pain and injuries of one life rolling into to the next with each expiration, over and over, maybe forever?

Of course, murders come in pairs inside the house. Maybe it’s The Murder House Rules. And so Constance turns her furious attention to her husband. Last week, Constance told us that the husband who fathered her four children was "the spitting image of Van Johnson." Van Johnson had red hair; The Man -- played by Eric Close -- does not. But for now, let's assume The Man is the man Constance was talking about. “I have loved you since I was 16!” says the born and bred Virginia gal, who came west in a failed bid to become a star. “You broke my heart for the last time.” There were other times? Did they all end like this? The Man pleads for a conversation. She gives him three bullets instead.

Constance plops, looking stunned. The bombshell, shell-shocked. She takes off one earring, then the next. She begins to tremble. For a second, I thought she was going to give herself a headshot. Did you? But no: She weeps instead, overwhelmed by the horror, the horror of what she had done, and what she may have become in the process. What Nietzsche said about a confrontation with evil: Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Constance grabs The Man's hand and slumps against his corpse and grieves the end of her marital union. But we know that inside the house, “death” is an ambiguously dynamic state of being. Moira herself is proof of that…

Which is why, my fellow American Horrors, I present to you my new prime suspect for the man behind The Rubber Man’s mask. It’s The Man. That’s his baby growing inside Vivien’s womb. And that’s his soul inside the child’s gestating body. Reincarnation via Rubber Man -- an abominable artificial insemination. Now if you’ll excuse, my theory brain needs to throw up and take a shower.

NEXT: Rrrrrrreoooooowwwwww!

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