Halloween night at the Murder House. There will be tricks. There will be treats. There will be bloody dog in the microwave. (Although that might be a trick, too.) But more than anything, there will be masks. And by evening's end, some of them will come off, exposing hideous faces underneath.
We begin where we left off last week. Larry Harvey is pounding on the door. He wants his headshots. He wants his thousand bucks. But what the scorched faced firebug with the dead kin and Broadway dreams wants most of all is Ben Harmon, and he wants him now. Trick-or-treating kids approach. Larry scares them away, pelting them with candy from the 'TAKE ONE' bowl Violet left on the porch. Scary-hilarious. If only Larry was willing to hire himself out as a haunted house attraction, he'd make his precious thousand bucks in no time flat.
On the other side of the devil-windowed door stands Violet. She sees The Burning Man through the peephole. She calls her parents at the hospital, where they wait for an ultrasound they’ll never get. Ben tells Violet to hang tight and promises to get to her ASAP. Violet listens to Larry huff and puff like a big bad wolf and she’s spooked. She backs away the door, as if afraid the monster’s rage might blow it down. She doesn’t see The Rubber Man behind her, shiny and lithe and waiting. But then the buzzing and pounding stops; Larry, it seems, has given up. And when Violet senses the presence of someone behind her, and then wheels around to confront it, the silent and sinister sentinel is gone.
Violet races to her bedroom. A pebble pings her window. She investigates, and as she moves, she eludes – and fails to see – the filthy hand attached to the pale arm stretching from underneath the bed and reaching for her ankle. (Infantata? Hayden?) Violet looks outside. It’s Tate. The bad boy of Murder House lane is here to take her on the proper date he promised to give her in the last episode.
Violet goes downstairs. She lets Tate in. He gives her a black rose – a symbol of black magic. He painted it himself. “I know how you don’t like normal things,” he says. She takes it. “You’re the first guy to give me a flower,” Violet swoons. Her father told her not to leave the house, but the instruction is either forgotten or ignored in the gaze of Tate’s dark eyes.
[Or maybe she thinks: “What would Nana do?” Nana – the heroine of the shojo manga that Violet was reading last week – would probably say: “I fell totally head over heels in love with him. If I had to pinpoint the moment when I blossomed into a woman, it was right then.” (Nana, Vol. 1)] [Or not. ]
Anyway: She goes.
The Harmons barrel into the house like firefighters into a blaze. Fearsome thoughts crackle in their heads. Ben: Did Larry whack my daughter? Vivien: Did the Friends of Franklin invade anew? The embryo inside Vivien’s womb: I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE, AND MY ULTRASOUND PHOTO WILL SCARE THE S--T OUT OF YOU.
Vivien – upstairs -- blows into Violet’s bedroom. No Violet. Ben – downstairs -- barks out a bright idea: “Call her cell phone!” Vivien does; Violet answers. She’s at the beach. Tate is standing on the perch of a lifeguard station and throwing his arms wide, exposing himself to the black waters before him – his version of a Leonardo DiCaprio-in-Titanic impression. I’m the bogeyman of the world! (Next up: Coughing up ectoplasmic loogies.) Violet lies. She says the guy pounding on the door was just some jerk pulling a prank. She says she’s out with friends. Vivien is relieved that her daughter is okay, and that she’s finally making pals instead of enemies. “I want you home in an hour,” Vivien says. Violet agrees.
Vivien enters the kitchen to find Ben looking frazzled and holding a butcher knife. Seconds earlier, the secret-saddled adulterer opened the devil door and saw his Larry-whacked mistress Hayden standing on the WELCOME mat looking as bloody-dirty-mangy as a Pet Sematary revenant. Trick or treat, father of the dead child inside my dead body. Ben quickly shut the door on her Joker-smirky face. Hence: The Frazzle. The lie Ben tries to sell Vivien? Those damn kids! They wrecked the pumpkins on the porch! And Ben's impulsive reaction was to… slaughter them? With a butcher knife? Vivien looks at Ben with eyes that say 'You're totally freaking me out right now.' But she’s too pooped to throw his increasingly psycho butt out. She tells him she's going to take a bath and go to bed. “We can talk about you moving out tomorrow.” Ben trembles and bellows: “I’m not leaving this house. And I’m not giving up on this family!” I am a guilt-wracked a—hole! Hear me roar!
Vivien ignores him and leaves him. Which, all things considered, is fine by Ben. One problem at a time. I’ll sweet-talk my way out of that one in the morning. But first, I have to play whack-a-mole with my peek-a-boo mistress.
NEXT: The Firebug begs to be squashed