by Alex Greenberger
Every time I turn on “American Horror Story,” there’s usually someone else in the room. Someone will say, “What are you watching?” And I’ve noticed that it usually doesn’t take very long for this to become, “Why the hell do you watch this show?” The third episode of “American Horror Story” was no exception—its opening sequence contains attempted rape, a gunshot to the eye, and adultery. And once again, the opening sequence is simply brilliant. This opening sequence was the best out of the three so far because it shed some light on some of the show’s central mythology: we get to finally understand what went down between Moira and Constance and why Moira is blind in one eye.
Handling mythology is clearly one of the stronger aspects of “American Horror Story.” I’d even dare to say it has some of the most intriguing and puzzling mysteries since “Lost.” Yet “American Horror Story” is much more adept, and thankfully faster, at revealing its backstories than “Lost” ever was. In the third episode, the relationship between Moira and Constance is explored (and mostly revealed over the course of the first three minutes!), while Vivien discovers more about the house’s past owner, a demented, ether-addicted scientist hell-bent on building his own version of Frankenstein, a post-modern “post-modern Prometheus,” if you will. Meanwhile, Ben experiences mental absences, possibly due to the seductive pressure of hot-Moira. As usual, not-hot-Moira still stands there glumly as she continues to get verbally abused by Constance and Vivien.
“American Horror Story” continues its dark stories and makes them even darker. By the end of the episode, there are several insane twists that make it seem as though it may have been a better decision to call the show “American Gothic.” Once again, Ben’s patient proves to be trouble—her demise in this episode is, to say the least, unexpected and bizarre. Hayden’s storyline also finishes in this episode in a sudden way. Then again, nothing stays finished in the Harmon house for long…
The beauty of the third episode also lies in the flashbacks. For the first time in the three episodes, there are flashbacks interspersed throughout the episode. During the middle of the episode, Vivien takes a so-called “Murder Tour” of Los Angeles to discover what has happened in her house. The sequence is slightly comedic, making it reminiscent of Stephen King, but there’s a flashback to the 1920s about the scientist that lived in the house previously that’s very serious. If you can imagine “Blue Velvet,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and a Chuck Palahniuk novel mashed together, you’d get that sequence. Yes, it’s that weird, but it’s still a lot of fun.
That seems to be a running theme on this show: the wonderful is never wonderful, and the bizarre is always entertaining. It seems that there is a lot of mythology that has yet to be explored. There are probably a lot more bodies to be dug up, and there’s probably a lot more screwed up owners that haven’t even been touched upon yet. But what I wonder is how much is really happening right now. Is Ben having a psychotic break? Is the Burned Man really speaking with Ben? Could the Harmons be dead? Keep theorizing—you won’t get anywhere with this one. That’s probably the most frustrating part of “American Horror Story,” and one of the reasons why I unabashedly admit my appreciation of it as one of the best shows currently on television.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org