by Alex Greenberger
Full SPOILERS to follow.
Ryan Murphy has called the eighth episode of “American Horror Story,” entitled “Rubber Man,” his favorite episode. And with good reason. “Rubber Man” is proof that “American Horror Story” is continually improving as the season progresses. That in itself is a terrifying thought when many TV shows fade quickly after their first episode.
This week, we get one of the show’s biggest reveals: Who is the Rubber Man? The answer is…Tate. I hoped this wasn’t what Ryan Murphy had planned, but his mind is just as twisted as I thought it would be. It’s official: Vivien is having twins with Tate, and the reality of that situation is just as disgusting as it sounds.
I think we all knew Tate had major issues, but I didn’t think he was that bad a person. Most of “Rubber Man” is spent fully exploring what Tate did when he was wearing the gimp suit through flashbacks. He appears to have been a busy guy when he wore that latex monstrosity. Tate staged the death of two gay lovers, raped a man with a poker after relentlessly beating him, and impregnated a middle-aged woman. Just the kind of guy Ben hoped would be dating his daughter and impregnating his wife.
Murphy’s use of homosexual content in his shows has been a major facet of his programs, but it has always perplexed me. His three major shows, “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” and “American Horror Story,” feature gay storylines, and while “Glee’s” is a bit more normal, what is their point? It seems a bit unnecessary to have Tate rape Chad’s lover using a poker, but apparently anything goes in “American Horror Story.” Maybe Murphy wants us to think Tate is gay, but the character has not been well-defined. In the last episode, when Violet showed him the gay porn, his reaction was oddly smarmy. While he was unable to have sex with Violet when she wanted to, he did in this episode, which makes no sense. So if Tate is in fact gay, maybe he was bullied for being gay and that is why he shot those kids.
While that major reveal occurred, there was some creepy things going on with Vivien. Hayden really has it in for her — the ghosts have come up with a grand plan to have Vivien give birth and then boot her out of the house by causing her to go insane. Their plan may have backfired a little bit, since the end of this episode featured Vivien leaving for a mental hospital per Ben’s orders, but it seems to be working.
One thing I think is very interesting about this whole situation is that it’s the woman who is going crazy. Yes, it is the women and children that are imperiled in horror movies, but it’s typically up to the men to lose their marbles. Jack Torrance goes insane in “The Shining,” not Wendy. I thought “American Horror Story” would follow a similar route, but as usual, I was wrong.
Instead, Murphy and Falchuk are following a trajectory much more along the lines of “Rosemary’s Baby,” or maybe Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which is featured prominently in this episode. Vivien’s story arc seems to be mirroring Gilman’s character in her short story. This parallelism isn’t exactly a big secret, as Moira basically tells “The Yellow Wallpaper” to Vivien to get her to understand that Ben is just making her think she is insane. Murphy’s use of it, though unnecessarily obvious, is interesting and welcome, as “The Yellow Wallpaper” is my favorite short story.
A lot continues to happen in the Harmon house, and there’s still more to come in the upcoming five episodes that will cap this first season. Next week, the show promises to begin tying in the baby to religion, but in what way we don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I’ll follow this show wherever it goes. Gimp suit-wearing psychopaths or not, I’m always ready for a little bit of the old ultra-scare from “American Horror Story.”
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.