Monday, April 14, 2014

American Horror Story- Murder House- Episode 8- Rubber Man

**This review contains spoilers**

Synopsis: The clock is ticking with six months on the calendar for the big move, and The Harmons are still piecing everything together, while Marcy (Christine Estabrook) puts the finishing touches on the deal. Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his boyfriend, Patrick (Teddy Sears) are the current residents at Murder House. A depressed and frustrated Chad struggles to find a spark to fix the intimacy issues in the relationship. 

The solution? Chad visits a local BDSM shop to purchase a full body latex suit. Chad tries to seduce Patrick with some help from the suit, but Patrick rejects Chad’s advances. A disgusted Chad scolds Patrick for his cold and uncaring attitude, and Patrick crushes Chad’s hopes for bringing a baby into their lives.

Chad throws the latex suit in the trash, but a stranger picks it up. Who is the stranger? It’s Tate (Evan Peters). Tate wears the latex suit, and as the Rubber Man, Tate murders Chad and Patrick. To complicate the situation, Nora (Lily Rabe) is having a lot of trouble accepting her death, and she misses her baby boy. Tate steps in to help Nora with one promise: Tate will find a way to give Nora a newborn baby.

In the present, a shaken Vivien (Connie Britton) is losing control. Vivien’s sightings of a dead Nora are dismissed as paranoid delusions, but Moira (Frances Conroy) emerges as a believer and a support system for Vivien. Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is still bitter towards Ben (Dylan McDermott), and Violet blames Ben for her mother’s catastrophic nervous breakdown.

Vivien is haunted by a series of ghostly sightings, and Hayden (Kate Mara) is determined to destroy everything in Vivien’s life. With Tate’s help as the Rubber Man, Hayden devises a plan with a reluctant Nora: The Rubber Man will haunt and torment Vivien, pushing her to the edge. And when Vivien finally snaps, Ben will be forced to commit Vivien to the “loony bin.”

As a patient in an insane asylum, Vivien will be labeled as an unfit mother, and to complete Hayden’s plan, Hayden will take one of the twins to replace her dead child with Ben, and Nora will take the other child to replace Thaddeus. Luke (Morris Chestnut) is on a short list of allies to protect Vivien, and Vivien is running out of time and options, as Hayden executes her master plan. Does Vivien have enough to endure Hayden’s taunting? Or will Vivien crack under the pressure?

Review: Tate as the Rubber Man? It’s not a complete shock, because the foreshadowing is too obvious in the first half of the season. At first, AHS: Murder House wanted the audience to believe Tate was just using the latex suit to scare and play pranks on Violet. Now, there’s no more guessing, hints, or different candidates. Tate is the Rubber Man, no questions asked. Tate is the one, who impregnated Vivien on the pilot episode, and now we have an official nickname for the man in the latex suit.

Chad and Patrick‘s deaths? Yeah, the murder-suicide was a set up, with Tate leading the way. He murdered Chad and Patrick……but Moira (the older Moira) helped Tate plan the murder-suicide. Moira had the inside scoop for Chad and Patrick’s active social lives, so to kill any suspicions, Moira gave Tate a gun to complete the set up.

Why did Tate murder Chad and Patrick? Because Tate wanted to help Nora in her quest for another child. Chad and Patrick had plans for a baby, but Patrick’s infidelity ruined their relationship, and Patrick crushed any hopes for a child. With Chad and Patrick dead, Nora could wait on a new family to move in, and Tate could focus on their possible plans for another child. Creepy, creepy stuff.

Vivien is hanging on by a thread in this episode, and she finally snaps, when Hayden pushes her. Vivien reaches a breaking point with the house and Hayden’s games, and after the warning from Moira, Vivien makes the decision to leave the house with Violet in the middle of the night. But Violet and Vivien run into a surprise inside the car outside. Remember the three whack jobs (including one of Ben’s patients) from Home Invasion (Episode 2)? They reappear in the car as ghoulish figures to haunt Vivien and Violet. Frightened, Vivien and Violet retreat to the house for safety.

Ben returns to play the role of a protector, but Vivien is not interested in Ben rejoining the family as a helping hand. Vivien tells her story to the police, but they have trouble believing Vivien’s story, because the maniacs from Home Invasion are dead or missing. In reality, we know Tate (with some help from Constance’s cupcake) murdered the trio.

One day, Vivien fakes an illness to distract Marcy, and Vivien steals Marcy’s gun. At night, Hayden and Tate double-team Vivien in her room with another round of scare tactics. Hayden taunts Vivien (i.e. smashing Vivien‘s panic button for Luke), and Tate (as the Rubber Man) tries to force himself on Vivien. Out of panic and fear, Vivien grabs the gun, and she shoots the first person, who walks through the door of her bedroom. Unfortunately, the wounded victim is Ben.

Luke arrives on the scene, but he’s too late. Vivien pleads her case to the police, but they can’t find any signs of forced entry. The police, Ben, and Luke have a hard time buying into Vivien’s story, and Ben is out of options. To ensure Vivien and Violet’s safety, Ben commits Vivien to an insane asylum, but a stunned Vivien is relieved to leave the house. 

Wait a minute. Vivien is not the only one, who witnessed the ghoulish versions of the maniacs from Home Invasion. Violet is the second witness, so Violet should’ve told the truth to protect her mother, right? Well, Violet was about to tell Ben the truth, but Tate stopped her.

Why? Because Tate didn’t want to lose Violet. If Violet confessed to sightings of dead people, she would join her mother in the asylum, so Tate convinced Violet to tell a lie to Ben and the second group of police (Violet told the truth to the first group of cops. Yeah, I know. Weird) officers. But you can see the look of heartbreak on Violet’s face during a talk with Ben, because Violet feels the guilt.

There’s a lot to digest in this episode. It’s not a big shock, but we finally know the identity of the Rubber Man, and Violet is an x-factor in all of this. How is she going to react, when she finds out the love of her life impregnated her mother? Will Violet forgive Tate? Or will Violet launch a mission to stop Tate’s plans for Nora’s new baby?

And what about Vivien? Will she succumb to a life inside an asylum? Or will she fight back to reclaim her family, her home, and her life? If I’m using this episode as a measuring stick, you have to believe in the chances of Vivien throwing in the towel. It’s hard to ignore the defeated look on her face towards the end, and the odds are stacked against her, because Ben threatened legal action to stop Vivien’s plans of a move to Florida without Ben.

Hayden is hell-bent on destroying Vivien’s life, and she’s not walking away without a victory. And how do you fight someone, who’s dead? The dilemma with the twins raises a lot of questions, because Ben and Violet are unaware of Tate’s plans with Nora and Hayden. And Vivien can’t use the asylum as a safe house for the twins, because Ben stepping in and taking the twins back to the house is a foregone conclusion.

To add to that, you have the elephant in the room with Tate’s latex suit. Vivien found the mask laying around the house (another scare trick from Hayden), and Vivien tries to jog Ben’s memory with a reminder of the wild night….but Ben was downstairs, when Tate was wearing the suit.

Rubber Man ties up the loose ends for Chad and Patrick’s story (they never showed the full “murder-suicide” in Halloween Part I. They only showed the attack on Chad), they give you an inside look for the downfall of the relationship between the two, and they show a detailed flashback for the origins of Tate’s suit. You’ll see a good amount of spooky moments in Rubber Man (the flickering lights during an attack from Hayden, the sight of the three nutcases from Home Invasion in the backseat of the car, etc.), and it’s hard to ignore the earth shattering vibe in this episode. Ben forces his way back into the house, Vivien is gone, Tate is working with Hayden, and Hayden is holding a seemingly insurmountable lead in the feud with Vivien.

Murder House is on a roll towards the march to the finale, and Rubber Man ends with a plethora of intriguing and through provoking unanswered questions. Also, Violet missed two weeks of school, but they never provide a proper explanation for the absences. They just lead you in the direction of Violet being the rebellious spoiled brat, and that’s it.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m glad Vivien FINALLY made the decision to leave the house before something bad happens. There’s some time left before the end of the season, so Ben, Vivien, and Violet are not in the clear yet, but it’s refreshing to see a character with enough common sense to make a move before they hit the point of no return for a haunted house.

I’ve seen my fair share of horror movies, shows, and horror themed material over the years, and oblivious protagonists, who wait too long to leave a HAUNTED house really annoy me. Yes, we see ghosts, dead people are walking around,  someone in the family is possessed, and we’re pretty sure the evil forces in the house are the main reason for a series of strange incidents and injuries, but let’s wait it out until the end to be 100% sure. You know, when there’s no possible chance of an escape, and someone in the family dies, because they had to sacrifice themselves to save the group. Ugh.    

Rating: 8/10

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