Friday, April 4, 2014
American Horror Story- Murder House- Episode 3- Murder House
**This review contains spoilers**
Synopsis: In 1983, Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) is trying to clean a room in The Harmon’s future home, but Constance’s husband, Hugo interrupts her. Hugo is looking for more after an unexpected one night stand with Moira, but Moira quickly rebuffs his advances. Hugo won’t take no for an answer, and Hugo tries to rape Moira, but Constance surprises Hugo and Moira with a gun. Constance shoots and kills Moira. Hugo begs for a second chance, but a heartbroken Constance murders Hugo after a brief pause. Constance bursts into tears, and with no one else to turn to, Constance takes a seat next to Hugo’s corpse for comfort.
After the home invasion, Vivien (Connie Britton) pushes Ben (Dylan McDermott) to sell the house, because Vivien doesn’t want to raise a child in their new home. Ben dismisses Vivien’s concerns with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, but Vivien is determined to move.
But there’s one problem with Vivien’s plans: The Harmon’s are broke. Ben lied about a series of bad investments, and without the house, The Harmon’s don‘t have enough money for a move. Ben agrees to Vivien’s one last chance terms, and Vivien forces Marcy (Christine Estabrook) to help The Harmon’s sell their home with the threat of a lawsuit (Marcy lied about the number of murders in the house).
Meanwhile, Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) pesters Ben for a $1,000 loan, and a returning Hayden (Kate Mara) surprises Ben with a visit at the house. Hayden is still bitter about Ben abandoning her at the clinic, and Hayden drops a bombshell on Ben: She never had the abortion. Hayden is keeping the baby, because she wants Ben as a father, and Hayden is planning a new life with Ben as a family man. To add to his growing list of problems, Ben accuses Moira of theft for his missing tape recorder, and Ben tries to fire Moira (Frances Conroy), but Vivien demands answers for the hostile confrontation.
Violet (Taissa Farmiga) leans on Tate (Evan Peters) for comfort, and Violet threatens Vivien with the promise of running away, if Vivien and Ben sell the house. A distressed Vivien (using an inconspicuous disguise) takes a tour to learn about the history behind her infamous new home. The “Murder House” was built in 1922 by Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross). Charles lived in the house with his socialite wife, Nora (Lily Rabe), and their infant child. The tour guide retells the gruesome story for Charles and Nora’s past, but Vivien abandons the tour, when she suspects signs of a miscarriage…..
Review: The Murder House? That’s a creepy nickname for The Harmon’s new home, and the backstory for Charles and Nora Montgomery is very eerie and disturbing. An anxious Vivien listens to the tour guide’s shocking story, and the details hit Vivien in the face like a series of hard slaps.
Charles was a famed surgeon, who built The Murder House in 1922 for his wife Nora, a needy and whiny socialite. As a couple, Charles and Nora had one child, but Charles hit a downward spiral with an addiction to drugs. As an addict with a disturbing “Frankenstein complex,” Charles experimented with animals in his basement. Need an example? Charles tries to sew wings on a small pig. Yeah, after one look at Charles’ creation (using that word loosely), you’ll think twice about making any “When pigs fly” jokes again.
But mangled pigs are low on the totem pole for the Montgomery’s list of problems. A snobbish Nora is complaining about a shortage of maids around the house, and Charles doesn’t have enough money to take care of the stack of unpaid bills. The solution? Charles performs illegal abortions for Nora’s handpicked clients in the basement, but in 1926 Nora and Charles’ relationship hit a shocking climax.
Charles and Nora’s backstory is genuinely creepy (i.e. the shot of Charles’ failed experiments in the basement), and Nora (in the modern world) surprises Vivien with a visit one day. Keep in my mind, Vivien’s doesn’t recognize Nora’s face, so Vivien assumes Nora is another potential buyer for the house. Vivien shows off the house for Nora on a mini tour, and Nora is not happy about the modernized upgrades in her precious home.
But an emotional Nora recalls memories from her past as a mother, after Vivien announces her pregnancy. Vivien microwaves two cups of water for tea, but when she turns around, Nora disappears. Towards the end, Vivien is sleeping, and Nora quietly sneaks in her room. Nora tries to touch a sleeping Vivien’s stomach, but Vivien turns at the last second.
“If you lie to me again, we’re threw.”
That’s Vivien’s stern warning to Ben after Ben tells the truth about the Harmon’s dire financial situation. But Vivien’s not the only one, who’s sick and tired of shenanigans in the new house, because Ben FINALLY reaches a boiling point with Moira after the mysterious case of the missing tape recorder.
Ben fires Moira on the spot, because he’s tired of Moira’s tempting sexual advances, but Vivien wants both sides of the story before a final decision on Moira’s future as The Harmon’s maid. Ben pleads his case to Vivien: Moira is trying seduce him for another affair, but Ben is trying to fight off and ignore Moira. But Vivien isn’t 100% sold on Ben’s side of the story. After a visit from a detective (more on that later), it’s revealed men and women see different versions of Moira. Men see an attractive and irresistible young woman (Alexandra Breckenridge) with a skimpy and revealing wardrobe. Women? They see a withered old woman (Frances Conroy) with a frumpy maid’s outfit.
Anyway, Vivien bites her bottom lip to agree with Ben, but Moira throws a fit, when Vivien tries to fire her. Moira promises a lawsuit for Ben’s attack (Ben grabbed Moira’s shoulders), if Ben and Vivien fire her. Vivien wants to leave the house without a lawsuit, so she agrees to Moira’s terms (extended lunches with no questions asked, extended breaks, etc.).
Unfortunately, Moira’s blackmailing scandal takes a backseat to a bigger problem: Hayden’s return. Ben abandoned Hayden at the clinic to support Vivien and Violet after the break-in. Well, Hayden’s not too happy about Ben’s willing choice to comfort his family, so Hayden returns to force Ben into a corner with no escape route. Ben tries to dodge Hayden, but Ben forgets to show up to a crucial meeting with Hayden at a local Norms. A furious Hayden tries to expose Ben for his lies, but a nervous Ben agrees to an immediate meeting with Hayden. Hayden calms down, and together, Ben and Hayden leave the house for a talk.
But a surprise visit from Larry Harvey complicates Ben’s plans for a peaceful talk. Ben and Hayden take a few steps outside, and BAM! Larry Harvey smacks Hayden in the face with a shovel . Ben tries to stop him, but Harvey uses the shovel to kill Hayden. Harvey killed Hayden as a favor to Ben, because Harvey believes death is the only solution to stop Hayden’s plans for destroying Ben’s marriage and his family. Oh, and Harvey still needs the $1,000 loan.
With no realistic escape options, Ben works with Harvey to cover up Hayden’s death. Harvey digs the hole to bury Hayden’s body next to Moira’s remains in the backyard, and Ben uses a suggestion from Constance to complete the full proof plan: Ben builds a gazebo over the grave for Hayden and Moira.
Wow. Jaw-dropping stuff. Constance kills two birds with one stone. The gazebo helps Ben with his problem, and Constance earns another point in the never ending feud with Moira (with her remains buried under the gazebo, Moira is stuck at the house). Hayden’s death? A complete shocker, and the set up was perfect. A calm Hayden and Ben are walking out of the house together, and Larry clocks Hayden with the shovel before she has a chance to react.
For now, you get the impression Ben is in the clear. Hayden is gone, the situation with Moira is on ice, and during the closing moments of this episode, Ben and an oblivious Vivien share two tall glasses of iced tea. But it’s American Horror Story, and we’re only three episodes into this season, so ANYTHING can happen to change Ben’s seemingly quiet lifestyle.
Oh, and a detective investigating (Ben uses doctor/patient confidentiality as a shield) an attempted suicide for one of Ben’s patients (Sally Freeman) returns his missing tape recorder. But there’s a disturbing plea from Freeman during a session. She threatened suicide, but Ben was stuck in one of his blackout phases, so he doesn’t remember the incident. Also, Ben collapsed in the doctor’s office with Vivien, and Ben (unknowingly) experienced another blackout in the backyard. Of course, Ben points the finger at a bitter and vindictive Moira for poisoning his coffee (tests reveal a foreign substance in Ben’s blood work). Moira’s response to the accusation? “Prove it.”
Murder House is another satisfying episode for American Horror Story’s first season. For now, Ben is safe, but he’s skating on thin ice with Larry. And you have to wonder what’s going to happen with Vivien after the strange false alarm? Long story short, the doctor dismissed Vivien’s spot of blood in her pants, as a harmless and normal discharge. BUT the bleeding stopped, when Vivien entered the house?
They introduced some new characters in this episode, and you have to believe in Nora having a major impact on The Harmon’s life. She’s another dead face with connections to the house’s past, and if I’m using the ending as a sign for things to come, Nora is targeting Vivien and her baby.
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