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“Tonight’s episode was so scary, I shit my wife’s pants,” bears no resemblance to actual truth. By AHS’s standards, “Piggy Piggy” nearly bored me, and may be most memorable for Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet ‘s ludicrous fear of the beyond-ludicrous “Piggy Man.” By this sixth episode, the series has bypassed numerical gears and coasts in overdrive while texting and checking its make-up. The possibility of everything careening off a cliff keeps my trigger finger at bay. A pronounced lack of Ben Harmon, however, earns “Piggy Piggy” the Benefit of the Doubt Award. And somebody eats a raw brain! Brain. Raw. Eaten. Stay tuned.
The arguably unnecessary opening, for information’s sake, flashes back (no way!) to Tate’s 1994 high school massacre. The five students from “Halloween: Part 2” blockade themselves in the school’s library before each is inevitably picked off in classy offscreen fashion. Decent slasher movie tension is achieved by keeping Tate unseen until his reveal him as a SWAT team bursts into his bedroom and riddles him with teenage angst-piercing rounds. Thankfully, security cameras (à la Columbine) and Marilyn Manson’s Sweet Dreams are absent. Alas, Constance will never know Tate’s motives, since his ghost-self is unable to remember. And yes, his bedroom was in The House, because Constance ’n’ Them used to live there. (Over-exaggerated slap on the forehead.)
By the Powers of Google, Violet discovers Tate’s crime and death. To this, she calls for Mommy, but finds only Constance and Billie Dean Howard (television’s Sarah Paulson, everyone). Billie Dean (who’s not my lover, but let other predictions commence) is a psychic medium who boasts of an upcoming pilot on Lifetime. Her abilities are proven through references to Mary, a bed-ridden elder from Violet’s past, who repeats “I can’t understand you.” Mary preaches to the choir. Billie Dean later relates to Constance that Addie (whose name I consistently misspell on here) is finally a pretty girl, and that she isn't mad at Constance for not returning her to the yard in time, as she is in a happier place. Lange could have had this conversation with a loaf of bread and it would have been just as lovely. (Thanks to reader "likestheshow" for pointing out my previously blatant error here.)
Let us consider: This show, where main characters are either ghosts, or are friends/enemies with ghosts, is introducing a medium who can communicate with ghosts twice-removed! So many levels! It’s akin to deleting a file you already put in the recycling bin.
Violet distances herself from Tate, and he tries harder to prove his affection. By eerily professing his love on a chalkboard when no one was around. Violet and Former Bully, who’s obviously been busy Googling the Devil, wax on about knowing what evil is really like, man. Former Bully then gives Violet a bottle of sleeping pills, which don’t spend much time in the bottle, as Violet downs half of them after her second first-hand experience with the angrily ambling ghouls convening in the basement. Tate runs a shower, where Violet throws up for exactly half a second before appearing fully aware of her situation. Tate pledges to forever protect Violet, and the episode quietly ends with the two of them lying in bed together. Tate’s sincere-ish “I love you,” here is in direct antithesis to Ben and Vivien’s disjointed “I love you,” from the pilot. Maybe intentional, maybe not.
To mention the ending before the adult Harmons feels victorious. Following an Angry Couple’s Mad Libs-esque spat, the recently-evicted Ben is forbidden inside except for patient sessions, as he can’t afford an office. Since we don’t see where Ben is living now, I have to assume he’s got a mattress on the roof. Ben envies the increased presence of the Security Guard, whom Vivien has taken a shine to, mostly due to their world-exclusive stance against infidelity. (Does this guy have a name yet? Honest question.) AHS’s pacing dictates that Security Guard will have a Japanese rock garden built over his corpse by next week’s credits.
Meanwhile, Vivien’s belly is slowly but surely containing the Anti-Christ. Vivien tracks down Angie, her ultrasound tech who quit the hospital. They meet in a church, where Angie loudly calls Vivien’s fetus The Unclean Thing and The Plague of Nations. (No, she di’int!) To this, Vivien casually confirms to herself that there was a machine glitch. The instinct of the majority, surely. Angie then crosses major lines by saying she saw hooves instead of feet, to which Vivien leaves angrily. What the hell did she expect? Who meets a woman who thinks their child is evil and doesn’t stop to look up the address online? I only meet religious zealots at Barnes and Noble coffee areas.
Brain. Brain. Oh, that’s right. Tonight’s cry for attention centered on Vivien scarfing down a raw brain. Where’s Man Vs. Food’s Adam Richman and his fat ass? Constance insists that Vivien starts eating various forms of offal in order to keep the baby’s health up. A neighbor’s friendly advice, sure. First, Vivien initially balks at Moira’s sautéed sweatbreads (a brand name if I’ve ever heard one) before taking a small bite. Then she warily sniffs a raw pancreas sitting on the counter. Then there’s a brain in a pot, and HOT DAMN, Vivien goes to town on without a second thought, or a dash of whatever spice goes well with raw brain. Anything for the baby! Also, Vivien tries to fire Moira, but Moira persists. Nothing new there. Just the whole brain cooking and then ingesting.
Beetlejuice, Candy Man, Bloody Mary! The episode title refers to the legend of Piggy Man, a 19th century mask-wearing hog butcher devoured by his own hogs. His ghost is called using mirrored phrase repetition, which ends with the victim bleeding out upside down over a bathtub. Ben’s patient Derek (Stonestreet) is terrified of mirrors, enough that his appearance is downright scruffy. Ben eventually projects that fuming jealousy on Derek by angrily telling him to get over his fears, and it works. An overused storyline lacking excitement, it’s notable for its ironic Twilight Zone ending, where Derek finally says the phrase to his mirror at home, only to be shot and killed by a unrelated burglar hiding in the shower. It was not an earned ending, but it wasn’t your normal “bathroom scare” fare.
American Horror Story should hereby avoid such unrelated procedural material. The character of Derek was campy and dandy, but his story does nothing to further anyone’s plot, and served mostly to give Dylan McDermott screen time. We’re already coping with repetition as the time-filler between the lines. Far from perfect, the emotional core shift to Tate and Violet works because by definition, it doesn’t include Ben and Vivien. I hope they stay split apart and their feud explodes to much more than the bland sum of its parts. Next week: The Donner Family Very Special Episode.
From the Basement
Someone got paid cash money for the idea, “That really scared girl under the table in the library? Let’s make pee on the floor a little bit.” Someone probably pulled out a checkbook on the spot. Also, Tate never asked anyone if they believed in God before he shot them. Why even mention this last week? Why show us all this when we already know what happened? Still, it was a good scene.
From the Mouth of Lange: “How are you such an arrogant girl that you think there’s only one reality that you can see?” I couldn’t have said it wordier.
“You think I wanted a bloody Mexican ghost in my bathroom?” asked Billie Dean.
It would be amazing if Mary were the grandmother whose death drove Violet into her gloomy alternative lifestyle, because then we could say it’s ripping on Freaks and Geeks as well as everything else. Yes!
Ben’s advice to Derek, after their first session, was to shave. I’m sure his certification is around here somewhere. When Security Guard tells him that Hayden never made it to the police station, he politely accepted this with a furrowed brow.
After seeing a real ghost in The House’s shower, Derek then thinks it’s ok to do at his own house. That’s a stupid fucking character arc, writers.
When Vivien mentions bad news, Moira’s immediate concern is for the baby. She is then disinterested after hearing it isn’t. As silly as the line delivery was, it’s a telling line where the baby’s importance is convened. Or maybe not. Fuck it.
I liked the scene where Violet visits Tate’s old high school and talks to a teacher who survived Tate’s gunshots. Adults always know kids are up to something.
Moira thinks cheating on a spouse is akin to murder. Why those two things are related to her, EYE wonder. This is the pun-ultimate one.
To end on a thoughtful note, I wonder if Tate’s motives are an actual thread of interest that will continue. Violet keeps asking if Tate was depressed or if he was unliked. Constance wonders. I happen to just think it’s The House’s influence. So what else can it possibly be?
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