American Horror Story recap: Night of the Fluffing Dead

The Rubber Man strikes, a pretty girl meets an ugly end, and the Harmons tangle with a fluffer from hell in 'Halloween.' 
Ep. 04 | Aired Oct 26, 2011

TRICK OR TREAT? The Rubber Man showed his masked face yet again in  American Horror Story's first Halloween episode. Alas for special guest star Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Heroes), the monster's visit was more scary-creepy-deadly than scary-creepy-sexy. Also? Not really a fan of crafting.

FX

October 28, 2010. Halloween looms. According to legend, the dead come back on the night before All Saints' Day. But in one Los Angeles neighborhood, the departed -- dear and otherwise -- don’t need holiday magic to roam free. They just need the house, a home to haunted history, vengeful wraiths and hideous monsters built from baby parts and hooves or wrapped in zippered black leather. One year ago, it was also home to two men whose love had gone corpse-cold. Chad (Zachary Quinto) is an interior designer with an unforgiving sense of decorum and a sharper tongue. Patrick (Teddy Sears) is his companion, a paramedic who likes to work out at the gym. A lot. They bought the house to flip it -- fix it up, sell at a mark-up, make a killing. Yet the collapsing SoCal housing market is crushing the dream by the day. To salvage it, Chad has come up with a bold idea to generate publicity and heat for their marketing-challenged home: A French-themed Halloween party worthy of a photo spread in Elle Décor.

Chad is stenciling Marie Antoinette’s face onto a pumpkin when Patrick rushes through the kitchen, eager to get to the gym -- eager to get away from his rotting homelife. “Don’t forget to use a condom,” Chad calls after Pat. “And pick me up some Gala apples. I thought the Golden Delicious would look dramatic in the bobbing bucket. They just look dull and depressing, there’s no contrast.” Patrick drifts back into the kitchen, faced pinched with What did you just say? piss. Chad continues throwing combo punches of bitch and blasé. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you’re screwing your twink trainer? And also I need gourds. I’m gonna hang them from the tree in front, spray-paint them. They’re going to be these clever little organic ghosts.”

Pat is humiliated. Infuriated, too. Chad knows?! And he’s finally confronting me because… I won’t stay and help him carve pumpkins?!  Pat comes clean -- and fights dirty. Yep, he’s screwing his trainer. And better? “Twink” digs being a “power bottom.” Chad snaps. “First of all, remember our agreement: Don’t ask, don’t tell,” he says. (What a stupid, degrading rule for a relationship. And other things.) “Second, is this crass revelation supposed to hurt me? At this point with you, I’m bulletproof.” Triumphant in his self-righteous scorn, Chad takes a swig of Chablis and resumes crafting. “I also need some dry ice. And have you picked out your costume yet?”

Such is the dysfunction within Chez ChadPat. And Pat, for all his faults, has the eyes to see it. Yes, he cheats. But because Chad is a superficial wuss! “This is all bulls--t! What we’ve become is bulls--t! I don’t give a shit about carving pumpkins! I want passion! Love! I want to be in a relationship with a man, not Martha Stewart!” He also gets the money shot: “I can’t believe this is who we’ve become. Hallow-queens, arguing over pumpkins. We wanted to have a baby. We were going to have this... great life.” Damn. S—t just got real! Pat exits for parts unknown. The Chad hangs alone.

Hours pass. Chad loses himself in frantic “fluffing” – the key word in this episode, defined as the art of covering-up and putting on appearances; of willfully denying or suppressing ugliness with a façade of glamour. Chad dumps red apples into a galvanized bucket filled with water. His inner Martha shrieks in alarm. Red apples compromise the vision. Green apples. It must be green. The façade cracks. Chad deflates. He slumps into a chair, defeated. By everything. He’s doomed, too. Red and green – the show’s harbinger hues, signaling death’s imminent arrival. And there was much red and green in "Halloween," most of it expressed via apples, that metaphorically loaded forbidden fruit.

Enter The Rubber Man. Who seems to show up when people are in tender, vulnerable spaces. Think: Vivien, flush and woozy from having sex with her own philandering partner for the first time in a year, and also under the influence of her doctor’s mystery meds. Chad sips Chablis and smirks tipsy. He thinks the guy in the suit is Pat, modeling his Halloween costume. Chad approves. Scary. Sexy, too. The Rubber Man says nothing. Chad invites him over to finish crafting a bat. “I’m sorry. Sorry for everything,” Chad says, taking (in my opinion) too much blame for the sake of making peace. “My attitude. My low sex drive. It must be low testosterone from stress. I’m seeing a doctor next week.”

No he won’t. The Rubber Man throws Chad into a wall, then throttles him and pushes his head into the bucket of bobbing apples. Before Chad can die from drowning, The Rubber Man snaps his neck. CRACK. Chad is whacked.

NEXT: Looking for fireplace pokers in all the wrong places

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