by Alex Greenberger
“American Horror Story” has got me hooked. Since last Thursday, I’ve been waiting for tonight’s episode, “Open House,” and boy, did it live up to my expectations. Well, sort of. The opening, which was a flashback to the infantata’s demise, was pretty awesome…but it was two minutes long and then there was a commercial break. Way to break the tension, FX. It makes me think “American Horror Story” would have been better suited to Showtime or HBO, but I could care less because this show is so good.
“Open House” was, as Ryan Murphy put it in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “the most sexual episode yet.” But “sexual” is not to be confused with “sexy”—none of the show’s sex scenes were titillating in any way. One of the show’s best scenes yet was Vivien’s intense masturbation fantasy. First, she imagines the police chief having sex with her. Then she imagines Ben having sex with her. OK, still sexy, but a little weird. Then, out of nowhere, she starts imagining the Rubber Man raping her. The way the scene is edited, quickly cutting between the Rubber Man and Vivien’s orgasmic but disturbed faces, makes it feel like some sort of nightmarish fever dream. This scene is an example of the show’s divisiveness: either you love it (and by love, I mean “become mortified”) or hate it. I fall under the former, if you couldn’t already tell.
In the midst of all this un-sexy sex is a plot that’s come a long way since the first episode’s mishmash loose structure. “Open House” featured a few twists that really turn the story upside down. You thought you knew what Larry did? You have no clue! Think you know everything about the infantata? You don’t even know the start of it. “American Horror Story” is a show that keeps the viewer guessing. How often does that happen anymore?
Constance remains the best character, but not by much anymore. I’ve really grown to liking the realtor. The “homo/homeowners” line was possibly the funniest on the show yet. But back to Constance—she is still the greatest. Her lines are funny, she’s a well-rounded character, and even though she’s a horrible person, you still want her to be triumphant. The more I see, the more I think that Jessica Lange will be nominated for an Emmy for her work in “American Horror Story.”
Yet I am a little worried about how Murphy and Falchuk plan on ending a few of the characters. Moira and Violet’s characters feel a little bit vague still. What are their motivations? Who are they? There’s still so much left to be said, and despite the fact that so much was revealed in this episode, nothing has still been told about Moira and Violet, except through flashback in Moira’s case.
Since flashbacks in shows like “American Horror Story,” are usually used to reveal twists, Murphy and Falchuk are going to have to find a really great visual expression of the flashbacks. Instead of doing that corny whirring noise that’s heard every time a flashback begins on “Lost,” the flashbacks are worked into the story. They’re narrated by characters, and they feel like they have a point that’s more than just to reveal something crucial.
I feel like there’s still a lot of major plot twists coming up. The commercial for next week promises the reveal of the Rubber Man’s true identity, among other things. Alright, Murphy and Falchuk, you went there. You got me. Now show us what you’ve got.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com