Thursday, April 3, 2014

American Horror Story- Murder House- Episode 2- Home Invasion

**This review contains spoilers**

Synopsis: In 1968, The Harmon’s home is used as a dormitory for young women. Maria (Rosa Salazar) is a nursing student. The rowdy group of women in the dormitory invite Maria to a concert for The Doors, but Maria is a dedicated bookworm, so she refuses the invitation for a quiet night of studying with another nursing student named Gladys (Celia Finklestein).  Franklin shows up on the doorstep for help. Franklin flashes his bloody forehead through the peephole, so Maria opens the door. But Franklin reveals  his true colors, when he attacks Maria and Gladys.

Vivien (Connie Britton) and Ben (Dylan McDermott) find some peace in their lives after Vivien’s announcement, but Hayden (Kate Mara) disrupts the happiness in Ben’s life with one phone call, because Hayden announces her pregnancy during the call. Ben can’t take the chance of upsetting and betraying Vivien again, so Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) comes up with a simple solution for his troubles: Ben has to lie about the trip to Boston to save his marriage and his family. Ben takes Larry’s advice with a story about a patient, who tried to commit suicide, and Ben uses the fake story as a cover to meet Hayden in Boston.

To add to his growing list of problems, Ben treats another troubled patient named Bianca, and Bianca shows an unnatural obsession with the house and the murders. Constance (Jessica Lange) is looking for revenge with Addie’s (Jamie Brewer) help, but Vivien reaches out to Constance for help and advice for the baby after a few warning signs for another miscarriage.

Violet’s (Taissa Farmiga) relationship with Tate (Evan Peters) is at a standstill after the bizarre incident in the basement. A petrified and disfigured Leah (Shelby Young) confides in Violet, but Vivien and Violet run into some trouble one night, when three intruders invade the house…..

Review: Fear motivates Vivien and Ben to make some uncharacteristic choices. Ben listens to Larry Harvey, because he’s terrified at the thought of Hayden ruining his new life. And Vivien is willing to burry the hatchet with Constance for the time being, because she NEEDS advice and help.

Hayden? Yeah, she’s a clingy nutcase. There’s a scene with Ben and Hayden, and they’re at Hayden’s apartment to discuss options about the pregnancy together. Ben pulls out his phone every other minute to check on any updates from Vivien or Violet. Hayden catches Ben looking at his phone before a pizza arrives, and she flips out over Ben’s lack of consideration and neglect.  Ben refuses to hand over the phone, but Hayden bursts into tears, and she hugs Ben to end the scene.

Remember Franklin, Maria, and Gladys? Well, on that night in 1968, Franklin posed as a victim to enter the house. Franklin forced Maria to wear a nurse’s outfit with both of her hands and feet tied behind her back. Franklin had some nasty encounters with nurses as a child, and as a man, Franklin uses Gladys and Maria for revenge. Franklin murders Maria with a knife, and Gladys suffers a brutal demise after Franklin uses the upstairs bathtub to drown her.

The intruders? They’re a group of three, who reenact famous murders. Violet and Vivien will fill the roles of Maria and Gladys, and Bianca is a member of the group. That’s right. Bianca used the cover of a patient to study the layout of the house, but the group runs into some trouble, when Tate shows up.

Bianca eats a homemade cupcake (the cupcake was a peace offering for Violet, but she refused to eat it) from Constance during the preparation process. Unbeknownst to Bianca, Constance’s cupcake contains two secret ingredients: A laxative and Addie’s spit. Bianca is suffering from stomach problems and uncontrollable vomiting, so Tate takes advantage of Bianca’s mistake. Tate murders Bianca, Vivien escapes her captor, and Tate convinces Violet to lure her captor into the basement. Tate, with help from the supernatural forces in the basement, murders the remaining intruders.

During the fiasco, Addie tries to warn Constance about the intruders, but Constance scolded Addie for interrupting her romantic night. To punish Addie, Constance locks Addie in a closet surrounded by mirrors, because Constance knows Addie can’t stand the sight of her own reflection.

After a text message about the break-in, Ben rushes home to check on Vivien and Violet. But there’s one big problem with Ben’s sudden departure: He left Hayden at the abortion clinic by herself. Ben and Hayden agreed to an abortion, but Ben abandoned Hayden at the clinic without a good-bye.

But it’s not over yet. Towards the end, Tate, Constance, and Moira are standing together in the basement with the intruder’s corpses. Constance directs traffic, and together, Tate and Moira split the responsibilities (bleach and chopping) for clean up duty.

Ben is stuck in a tough spot, because Violet resents Ben for abandoning the family during the intrusion. Hayden is in Boston, and to end the episode, a flustered Vivien issues a demand to Ben: They’re selling the house, no questions asked.

Another good cliffhanger to end the show. Murder House pulls the plug at the right moment, because Ben doesn’t have a chance to respond to Vivien’s demand for selling the house. Also, we learned more about Moira, Constance, and Tate here. Clearly, all three of them are working together, and Constance is the leader, but why? What are they planning?

And call me crazy, but I’m not the only one, who noticed the Carrie connection here, right? The deranged and overbearing mother (Constance) locking her daughter (Addie) in a closet for punishment? Yeah, it’s almost impossible to ignore the similarities for Constance’s methods of tough love.

Home Invasion is a solid follow up to the pilot. Murder House continues to build the dark mystique surrounding the Harmon’s home with flashbacks of grisly murders from the past. Violet is still a brat, who’s holding a grudge against both of her parents, but after the break-in, Violet shows a softer side to Vivien. On the flip side, Ben is in Violet’s dog house for leaving the family.

Vivien trusting Constance was a nice surprise, and you can say the same thing about Ben trusting Larry. Ben has to keep the Hayden situation a secret from Vivien and Violet, and Larry offers a shoulder to lean on. Vivien needs advice from an older woman, and a perky Constance is more than willing to help. But Larry and Constance are two shady characters with troubled pasts, so in the long run, you have to consider the possibility for taking a big risk with two untrustworthy sources of comfort.

The follow up ends with another good cliffhanger, and after a series of strange and near death experiences, you have to believe Ben is seriously considering Vivien’s demand, right? The basement is a death trap, and for some strange reason, Tate falls into a home field advantage comfort zone with the supernatural and evil forces in the basement. Also, watching Constance channel her inner Margaret White (i.e. the closet scene with Addie) provides a surreal moment for any Stephen King fan. And Ben should reconsider his new strategy to treat patients at the house after Tate and Bianca….. 

Rating: 6/10

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