Sunday, April 13, 2014

American Horror Story- Murder House- Episode 7- Open House

**This review contains spoilers**

Synopsis: In 1994, Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) is obsessed with Constance (Jessica Lange). Larry lives in the Murder House with his wife, Lorraine (Rebecca Wisocky) and their two daughters, but Larry can’t control his urges to indulge in an affair with Constance.

One night, a grieving Constance asks Larry for a favor. After Tate’s death, the state has plans to take Constance’s disfigured and feral son, Beau (Sam Kinsey), and Constance will go to jail for charges of criminal child neglect. Beau lives alone in the attic, and he’s shackled in chains. The favor? Constance wants Larry to go to the attic and murder Beau before the police arrive. Larry is willing to do anything to please Constance, so Larry surprises Beau in the attic, and Larry murders Beau.

During dinner, Larry announces his plans to leave Lorraine and his daughters, because he can’t deny his feelings for Constance. Larry promises financial support for Lorraine and the kids, but Lorraine locks herself in the girls in a room upstairs, and Lorraine sets the room on fire. Larry breaks the door down, but Larry ran out of time, and a helpless Larry watches the horrifying demise of his family.

In the 1920’s, Nora (Lily Rabe) tries to adjust to Charles’ (Matt Ross) creation. Charles used the beating heart from one of the abortion patients to resurrect the Montgomery’s dismembered and deceased son. But Nora walks into an unpleasant surprise in the nursery. The new Thaddeus (Ben Woolf) is a savage monster, and Nora is ashamed of Charles’ creation. Nora is overwhelmed with guilt, shock, and grief, so Nora murders a defenseless Charles with a gunshot to the back of the head. After Charles’ death, Nora turns the gun on herself, and Nora commits suicide without hesitation. 

In the present, Marcy (Christine Estabrook) hosts an open house for the Murder House with Vivien’s (Connie Britton) help. A wealthy Armenian developer is interested in buying the Murder House with a ridiculous lowball offer, but Vivien is desperate to sell, so she considers the offer.

The younger version of Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) seduces the developer, with hopes of building a swimming pool in the backyard, and Moira persuades the developer to tear down the gazebo, and release Moira’s (Frances Conroy) remains, so she can move on to the afterlife with her mother.

But there’s a big problem with the developer’s plans for a swimming pool: He’s lying. The developer plans to tear down the house for a bigger profit, and his actions force Moira and Constance to seriously consider a temporary partnership to stop the developer.

Larry shows up to the open house to ask questions as an interested buyer. But an irritate Ben (Dylan McDermott) surprises Larry at his home, because Larry ignored Ben’s “If you step foot on this property again, I’ll kill you” warning.

Vivien is still furious with Ben, but a shocking announcement  from the doctor changes Vivien’s thought process. Vivien is healthy and safe, but new test results reveal Vivien is pregnant with twins. Ben is happy, and Vivien wants to express her joy with two new children in the family, but one question bothers her: How is this possible?

Violet (Taissa Farmiga) experiences a series of strange occurrences after her suicide attempt. Violet can see dead victims, who share a dark past with Murder House, but Tate (Evan Peters) offers a solution for Violet’s problems: Violet needs to stand up to the dead Murder House residents and victims of the past, and if the fear is too much for Violet to handle, Violet needs to shout “Go away!” to send a clear message with no mix-ups. Tate is Violet’s shield of protection from the malevolent forces at Murder House, but what’s going to happen, when Tate disappears? 

Review: Larry Harvey is a liar. Larry wasn’t the one, who tried to burn down the Murder House years ago. Lorraine is the one, who started the fire, and she’s responsible for the deaths of Larry’s daughters.

On top of that, Constance is using Larry. Larry is obsessed with Constance, and he’s head over heels for her, but Constance doesn’t feel the same way. Constance sees a weak and pathetic man with no self-respect, because Constance knows she can use Larry to do her bidding (i.e. murdering Beau) with no questions asked.

Ben? Yeah, he’s not worried about Larry anymore, and you can see it with Ben’s demeanor during the surprise visit to Larry’s apartment. Throughout the first half of the season, Ben was always unnerved, frustrated, and angered by Larry’s presence.

Here? Ben is cool and calm, because he knows Larry is nothing more than a sniveling weasel, who’s obsessed with the house and Constance. To put an end to Larry’s constant harassment and surprise visits at the house, Ben files a restraining order against Larry, and Ben will report Larry to the police. And Ben leaves Larry’s home with two words to crush Larry’s hopes for a $1,000 loan and a chance at moving into the house again: “Game over.”

The end to Nora and Charles’ story? Gruesome. It’s the best word to describe it, and Nora couldn’t shake the guilt for ruining the lives of the young abortion victims. As far as Thaddeus goes, we never see Thaddeus, when Nora visits the new and improved version in the nursery. You’ll hear a lot of hissing, and you’ll see Lily Rabe’s petrified facial expressions, but that’s it.

The less is more thought process/approach works here, because Thaddeus as a monster is horrifying and hideous, and they can’t show the audience a full view, because it’s too much to handle. And there’s a nasty shot of Nora’s bloody chest after a failed breast feeding attempt, because Thaddeus wasn’t interested in milk. Also, the shot for the splatter of blood after Nora turned the gun on herself is genuinely sickening.

The Armenian developer lied to the younger Moira for sexual favors. He never had any plans to build a swimming pool. Nope. The Armenian developer is going to tear everything down for his future projects, so what’s going to happen to the dead residents and victims from the past, who reside and walk the earth at Murder House? Will they fade away into nothing? Or will they answer for their crimes with an eternity of punishment? Tate “hates” Constance, but Constance believes in a second chance to fix her relationship with Tate. Beau can’t comprehend the situation, and with a happy Addie resting in the afterlife, Constance is terrified at the thought of an eternity full of loneliness and despair.

The thought of the unknown after the destruction of the house  is enough to scare Moira, and together, Moira and Constance agree to bury the hatchet (temporarily) to work together. And a delusional Larry provides a helping hand, because he’s clinging to the hopes of buying the Murder House for a second chance with Constance.

The plan? The young Moira lures the Armenian developer into the basement with the promise of oral sex. But Moira ends the pleasurable experience with dismemberment. Larry pops out of nowhere, and Larry uses a plastic bag to suffocate the Armenian developer. But Constance orders Larry to remove the developer before he “expires,”(you can walk the earth as a dead person, if you die at the Murder House) because Constance doesn’t like the idea of a confrontation in the future.

Ben is stuck in no man’s land, but he reaches out to Tate for help with a disgruntled and suicidal Violet. Tate offers his advice to Ben, but there’s a bigger problem with Violet: She can’t control sightings for dead victims (including Beau) of the past. Tate offers a solution, and when Violet tells the ghostly figures of Murder House’s past to “Go away,” they disappear without a trace. Violet has a temporary solution for the “I see dead people” problem, but that’s not going to last for long. The evil forces of Murder House are persistent, and “Go away” won’t solve the problem in the long run.

Towards the end, Violet is going through some pictures from the attic. Vivien joins Violet in her room to look at the pictures, and Violet shocks her mother with a grainy black and white picture of Nora, Charles, and Thaddeus from the 1920’s. Remember, Nora took a tour of the house with Vivien as an anxious buyer in episode 3, and Violet wasn’t around, so she doesn’t recognize Nora’s face.

Vivien’s eyes are stuck on the picture with this stunned look, because she gave a tour to a dead woman, and the screen cuts to black with Vivien looking at the picture to end the episode. It’s another great cliffhanger. How is Vivien going to handle the Nora problem? Will she tell someone? Or will she keep the secret to herself out of fear? Because Vivien’s going to have a tough time convincing others to believe in a story about a dead woman from the twenties walking around the house.

Open House ties up some more loose ends for Charles and Nora’s story, and you’ll see how far Moira, Constance, and Larry are willing to go to protect the house. They’ll do ANYTHING to save Murder House, and the union between Moira and Constance is a nice surprise, because they’re bitter enemies stuck in a never-ending feud. The Armenian developer? It’s kind of hard to feel sympathy for his death, because he crosses the line for unlikable characters. Basically, he’s a suave and soulless businessman, who’s obsessed with money, and women are just disposable sex objects for him.

Also, you have to believe Ben is on the verge of forcing his way into the house again. Vivien is clearly having trouble carrying the load on her own, and Ben needs to put in some more work for the redemption zone, but Vivien is struggling  alone. On top of that, Vivien has to deal with the Nora problem, because Violet is not alone in the boat for witnessing dead people walking around the house.

You’ll see another excellent performance from Jessica Lange in Open House. Yes, Constance is a heartless and manipulative person, but I could feel a little bit of sympathy for her in this episode. You can see the devastating look of heartbreak on Lange’s face, when Tate dismisses Constance’s pleas for reconciliation. And Lange’s passionate and emotional talk with Moira about losing the Murder House? Amazing. You can feel Constance’s desperation and fear, because Lange’s performance is spot on.

Larry is reduced to a hollow shell of a man here. He’s not a creepy and intimidating menace anymore. Now, he can’t bully Ben, because Ben knows the truth about Larry, and Larry is Constance’s punching bag. And the twins? Wow. Another legit shocker, and remember, we still don’t know if Ben is the father, because the stranger in the latex suit seduced an unsuspecting (on the pilot episode) Vivien during Ben and Vivien‘s romantic day/night. Open House features another jaw-dropping cliffhanger, and the story is progressing at a nice pace. I thought about a lower score, but I’ll give this one an extra bump for Lange’s top notch performance.   

Rating: 9/10

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