American Horror Story recap: What Child Is THIS?!

The satanic advent of a miraculous yet unholy pregnancy comes to a bizarre and unblessed head when tormented Vivien Harmon gives "Birth" to...
Ep. 11 | Aired Dec 14, 2011

"A LITTLE HELP HERE PLEASE!"  For Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton), "Birth" was one bloody show.

Mike Ansell/FX

Constance bottom-lined it. “I will not have you put your filthy hands on my grandchild,” she said. Chad did some mental math and came to an enlightening sum that left him tickled. “Are you telling me that Norman Bates Jr. is the baby-daddy?” said Chad. “You gotta love this house.” Constance offered Chad a trade. He could have the Harmon-sired child. She wanted the Langdon twin. Chad nixed it. He wanted the blonde-and-brunette matching set. “God, you are vile,” said Constance. “You are not suited to raise children.”

“Raise them? Oh, honey, no no no,” Chad said, ratcheting up his inner Sylar to Maximum Diabolique. “We’re going to wait until they reach that adorable age -- about a year or year and a half -- and then we are going to smother them with hypoallergenic pillows. That way they’ll be cute forever.”

Like I said: SOMETIMES easy to sympathize with them.

Chad and Pat had to be ghostbusted from the Victorian. Whoyougonnacall? Billie Dean Howard! The reality show-ready medium accepted the challenge of helping Constance and Violet “ferret out the fairies” and sweep the freaky fluffers out of the house. Back in “Rubber Man” two weeks back, we questioned Billie Dean’s bona fides, what with her hysterical eschatology and muddled understanding of theological ideas like the immaculate conception. (True confession: I was equally confused about the latter concept, as those who haunt our message boards know.) But “Birth” breathed some legitimacy into the kook. She knew Violet was dead. Even communicated with her telepathically. And she had a sixth sense for Tate’s unholy presence in the library of paper-over painted myth without seeing him or hearing him. “He can’t be here,” Billie Dean said, shaking from fear by being in such close proximity of a spirit she believed to be the father of the Antichrist. Tate: “I want to help.” Billie Dean: “You’ve helped enough.”

And so, with her credibility bolstered, we kinda-sorta believed Billie Dean when she offered one of the more expansive explanations yet for the Victorian’s sinister power, or as she characterized it, “paramagnetic grip.”

“The what?” Violet asked.

“The evil,” Billie Dean replied, nervously eyeballing the door to the basement, as if the Victorian’s Infantata-haunted underneath happened to be the seat or source of said “evil.” She continued, sounding like Obi-Wan by way of Zelda Rubinstein: “It’s a force just like any other pure physics. Real and powerful. Created by events, events that unleash psychic energy into the environment where it’s absorbed, like the way a battery stores energy. You see it all the time in places like prisons and asylums. Negative energy feeds on trauma and pain. It draws those things to it. The force in this house is larger than its many individual traumas. And it has a need. It wants to move in our world. It’s using those trapped between this world and the next as conduits.”

Constance’s slightly exasperated, can-you-just-get-the-matter-at-hand-already? response was LOL funny as it was all kinds of wrong: “That’s all very interesting, but what do we do about the gays? I mean, how do we get rid of them?”

Billie Dean tackled the question by offering her version of Roanoke, a.k.a. the Lost Colony, one of the great unsolved mysteries in American history. (I couldn’t corroborate Billie Dean’s claim that Roanoke also came to be known as the Ghost Colony, which sounds like the name of a great comic book if you ask me.) “In 1590,” Billie Dean said, screwing on her campfire storytelling voice, “on the coast of what we now know as North Carolina, the entire colony of Roanoke, all 117 men, women and children died inexplicably.” [Actually, according to most accounts, colony leader John White returned to Roanoke after three years away to discover that the settlement had been abandoned. Those 117 people? Never found.] “It became known as the Ghost Colony because the spirits remained. They haunted the native tribes that lived in the surrounding areas, killing indiscriminately. The elder knew he had to act. He cast a banishment curse. First he gathered the personal belongings of all the colonists and burned them. The ghosts appeared, summoned by their talismans, but before the ghosts could do any more harm, the elder completed the curse that would banish the ghosts forever by uttering a single world, the same word found carved on a post in the colony: ‘Croatoan.’”

Billie Dean’s creepy chronicle played like a mythic retelling of the true life horror story that helped found this country, albeit with the happy ending of indigenous peoples successfully casting out blue-eyed devils. “Croatoan” is not some black magic curse word. It’s the (alternate spelling) name of an Indian tribe native to the North Carolina area, as well as an island not far from the Roanoke colony. Or so Wikipedia tells me. (“Croatoa” is also the name of a famed short story by Harlan Ellison that deals with sex, abortion, and personal responsibility. It sounds like the kind of horror yarn that might mean something to Ben Harmon…)

[One last tangent: Billie Dean told Violet that the Murder House dead “don’t follow our physical laws” and are not “affected by time.” I’m calling it now: Season 2 of American Horror Story is going to be season 5 of Lost, a.k.a. “the time travel season,” with Vivien and Violet visiting different periods of the Victorian’s history. Ben could take the trip, too – provided he punches his ticket by dying in next week’s season finale.]

Allegedly enlightened, Violet shared her Croatoan learning with Tate, who gave comic voice to our incredulity: “That sounds like bulls--t.” Still, Tate played along to make Violet happy. Violet went off to swipe Chad's watch. Tate took the task of stealing from Pat an equally loaded talisman -- a wedding ring, the tie that bonded him to Chad, for better and worse, 'til  death did them part... or not. Tate's strategy: Seduce the sex addict and snag the band during the sexing... or snag the ring while Pat beat the crap out of him. Pat opted for door number two. So to speak. Pat pummeled the devil boy that pokered him and then took his life. He lost control of his temper and fists, then lost control of his tongue and secrets, too. Turned out prior to his death, Pat wasn't just cheating on Chad -- he was planning to leave him. “It was not supposed to be like this! I’m not supposed to be here! I was going to get out! I fell in love! God help me, I was going to get out and I was going to be with him and then you killed me and now I’m stuck here. WITH HIM!” By that second  ‘him,’ Pat meant Chad… who just happened to be standing in the door, watching and listening as his eternal domestic partner unleashed his whopper. Pat was stopped cold. Chad turned hot and stomped off. Tate smirked a bloody and smirk and quietly scooted away, ring in hand.

NEXT: FlufferJuice! FlufferJUICE!! FLUFFERJUICE!!!

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