“Halloween: Part 2” isn’t a second-half conclusion so much as an additional episode that also happens to take place on Halloween. The cliffhanging excitement fails to carry over, as the Harmon Calmness (the family’s passivity that remains oblivious to living inside a fucking haunted house.) keeps the humans grounded as the ghosts run amok, which should make the humans all the more panicked. But with Dylan McDermott, it’s either weeping or it’s sweaty, raised-voice stoicism. The episode’s lack of utter insanity forces me to be regrettably sincere with my criticism this week. Or does it?
Tate, the bastard lovechild of Generation X and something blonde, gets the bulk of the usually enjoyable info-dump. His story, involving a vengeful gang of murdered high school archetypes, is a relevant callback to his first scene with Ben in the pilot, where he fantasizes over inciting a school shooting. Though Tate doesn’t remember, that very event apparently happened sometime in the 1990s, according to one ghost’s proclamation that she’d be in her thirties had she lived. These scenes contain decent teen acting and shades of actual menace when Violet and Tate are threatened.
On the thinly-written flip side, the ghosts approach Tate and Violet on a beach after Tate unsuccessfully tries his American Horny Story on Violet. Oddly, this occurs immediately after Violet flees The House, following the wraparound scene of Larry the Burn Victim’s front porch tirade and the briefest appearance from Rubber Suit Man. The anti-climactic vibe continues, as the ghosts eventually leave Tate without any repercussions beyond trying to force him to remember his past, which doesn’t even happen. And in case you thought AHS might mature and be less direct with allusions, save that thought. The girl ghost blatantly mentions Tate asking her if she believed in God before he shot her. Her name? Collie M. Byne. No, not really, but damn. Since Tate doesn’t have any visible wounds, I’m assuming he didn’t shoot himself in the head after the murders. My prediction: Stomach cancer.
The “important” storyline tonight is another Harmon home invasion. Returning from the ER visit that hinted at Vivian’s possessed womb, the couple takes two Violet-centered seconds before diving right back into the drudgery of matrimonial woes. (Best not worry about that whole demon child thing just yet, right? Maybe there’s a Sixty Mornings After pill she can take.) Hayden the Formerly Pregnant Bostonian Ghost is back and already annoying/haunting the shit out of everyone.
Altogether, Hayden’s motives include harassing Vivian while manic-depressively convincing Ben to tell Vivian of his fabled business trips that ended in Hayden’s pregnancy. Hayden suffers a mini ghost-crisis when she finds out Vivian herself is pregnant. (Way too much “You won’t understand until you know the truth about Boston” circular conversation between Viv and Hayden.) I sincerely hoped Hayden would repeatedly stab everyone with that glass shard, but Ben’s admissions halted all the excitement. What are all these spooks half-assing their ghostly duties?
Ben’s reactions and motivations are so ridiculous and problematic. Hayden’s reappearance doesn’t scare him. It makes him think Larry and Hayden are plotting against him, despite Larry being straight-up about demanding $1000, and Ben actually watching Hayden burial beneath the dirt upon which he built a goddamn gazebo. Ben, you stubborn coot! Reasoning that police presence on Halloween would hurt their chances of selling The House, Ben verbally waves away all ideas of outside authority, even though his house had been broken into, he’d been assaulted with a shovel and roped up by Larry, and he was untied by a ghost (Nora, the House’s original wife). Even if he was completely unaware of Nora’s disposition, she’s still a strange blonde woman in his basement.
Of course, there is further odd behavior. Chad, upset that his (ironic pun) life partner is getting his freak on with other ghosts, destroys the pumpkins on the Harmon front yard while screaming at Vivian that she’s ruining his house. In a singular and forgotten scene, he catches arsonist Larry pouring gasoline inside the house. Chad’s possessiveness rears its head again. Again, though, we never get back to this, so it’s currently pointless to ponder. Prediction: We never hear about the Harmons having to clean up massive inexplicable puddles of gasoline.
In No Shit News, Constance finally admits to viewers, and Violet, that Tate is her son. Constance mourns Addy’s death, narrating over an odd but strangely affecting scene of her in the morgue, putting make-up on Addy’s face. (Seeing as how she initially blamed Addy’s death on Violet for doing just that, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but Lange makes it look good.) Constance tells Violet that Tate cannot find out about Addy’s death yet, as he doesn’t handle such news positively. Maybe this kid doesn’t even understand his own existence. Such a teenager.
That the episode ends on Ben leaving The House, per Vivian’s previously mentioned wishes, does nothing to excite nor entice me. It just means we’ll have to later deal with Ben and Viv making up. Maybe it will include the “What do you mean you don’t remember dressing like a gimp the last time we had sex?” conversation. It doesn’t matter. The character isn’t going anywhere. And seeing as how the show will see a second season, I seriously want to be proven wrong on that. Seriously.
From the Basement
(This section compiles random thoughts that don’t warrant their own paragraphs, in a questionably successful attempt to streamline the above.)
As a continuation, this episode broke the flashback mold, though the first few minutes mirrored last week’s ending. So I guess it was a flashback. Dammit.
Tate throws rocks at Violet’s window instead of showing up inside like he normally does. At least he wasn’t holding a boombox over his head. And what was up with the hand under the bed that tried grabbing Violet’s foot? Addy’s the only one who’s been under there that we’ve seen. Is this where she would meet up with the redheaded boys? Are closet monsters on the horizon?
Earlier, I really wanted to call Tate a Creature that Goes Hump in the Night for his beach scene. Now I am sated.
Vivian (to security guard): “I feel…”
Guard (immediately): “Safer?”
Vivian: “Yes, thank you.”
Guard (referring to the bloody Hayden, after walking in on the aftermath of the entire Hayden debacle): “Is she an intruder?”
With exceptions for those previous bits, I hope Morris Chestnut’s security guard won’t be another wasted character. The actor seems too TV-prominent for it to get that way.
The rot-belching Hayden and Larry the Burn Victim as a future tag team? Count me mildly interested.
The lone ghost jock asks Tate why he only targeted jocks, to which the lone hipster informs the jock that he’s the only jock there. The writers must have contests to see how long they can stay awake on Ambien while forming these scripts. Second case in point: With Vivian, Hayden shares that Ben thinks she tastes like “raspberries and cream” between her thighs. To me, this is Ben’s biggest lie.
Annoying puppy exploding in a microwave: Startlingly funny! Finding out it was only tomatoes: Unsurprisingly disappointing.
Violet’s smoking habit is a big put off. Not because she’s a teenager, or the gross factor. It’s that she is clearly the least stressful person on the show.