Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tonight's TV Talk: Live-Blogging The 'American Horror Story' Season Finale...

TV Talk for Wednesday, December 21st 2011

American Horror Story (FX, 10pm) - S1, Ep12: "Afterbirth"

- Switched over to FX a minute early out of excitement. Caught the end of Twilight in doing so. Not cool, FX; not cool.

- The Harmons' Boston house looks like one Phil was trying to sell on Modern Family...

- Ben just said the smartest thing he has ever said: "Therapy isn't trying." Well, you're a psychiatrist, Ben, so you're pretty much admitting you're useless personally *and* professionally.

- You're a pusher, Ben, and no good comes from pushers. I hope the house eats you and then spits you out across the street so you don't get to live with Vivien and Violet forever. It's kind of a shame because I really like Dylan McDermott and was looking forward to seeing him week after week. Having him take off his lawyer clothes was welcome, too. But his character has just proven to be nothing but the worst. He's the Will Schuester of American Horror Story. I don't know why Ryan Murphy has such a hard time writing guys like this.

- I won't miss this opening credits sequence.

- Oh, another adorable TV baby. I can't take the cuteness. And I can't take the fact that we don't know if this is the devil baby or not. Let's see a flicker behind the eyes or something! If the effects team could make Jessica Lange look almost thirty years younger, they surely can add a glow to a baby's pupils.

- I know Constance has an agenda with the baby, but she's not completely wrong about the house wanting to claim the baby. I just feel like at this point it would behoove her to team up with Vivien to keep the baby from Ben, regardless of if it's in the new house or the Murder House. They need to keep
the baby-- the baby who already looks too big to be a newborn, by the way. Look at how so many modern shows have embraced babies these days. They're not the scariest things to work with anymore.

- Moira's eye is looking less wonky tonight.

- I know we won't learn what this "end game" is tonight. I don't really believe that the writers know what the "end game" is yet. But like some of my other new favorite shows of this season, I don't think the destination is what is going to matter. It's the journey, all the weird, wacky sh*t we see along the way.

- Omigod Ben, this is so not about you! Tami Taylor shouldn't have to give you a high school counseling session right now.

- Also, I can't tell if Ben is seriously not listening to Vivien's wishes right now or if the show just feels the need to repeat everything three times tonight.

- Wait, the guy who hung Ben-- have we seen him before? Maybe it was because we were only getting flashes, or because I refuse to wear my glasses in my own home, but I didn't recognize him.

- So, Christine Estabrook is going to tell these new potential owners that the dog comes with the house, right? Though, I do have to say I like the idea of this new teenager creating a second season love triangle with Violet and Tate. That's bound to unleash a whole new level of Tate's crazy and aggression.

- Okay, the economy sucks, and the Harmons had the house on the market for months with no bites. How much time are we pretending has passed between when Ben died and these new people moving in? And should we just assume the sister came and picked the baby up? And can we see their side of the story as the baby grows devil horns and skins cats or whatever as he grows up? He's the only living family member left; you better believe I'm in invested!

- Poor Tami Taylor. She didn't want to be stuck with Ben forever. He cheated on her. And her wishes were that he leave and raise the baby anyway. She should have walked down those stairs and slapped him in the face, not embraced him in a hug. That's sloppy character consistency.

- Can someone please just ask Hayden to go away? No need to slash the dead's throat. Just yell. The rule says she has to obey.

- Violet doesn't seem like the type to play the game. Forget the fact that the audience is all caught up to what's going on in the story and don't need episodes to reveal the truth about life and death, but she doesn't bullshit, so I don't expect her to concoct some lie for why she's in the house all of the time. The new kid may not think he believes in ghosts, but she can prove it. And if she does? Then what? Constance has her baby; the house does not; but he doesn't fit into that part of the story. The house has no use for him.

- Oh Vivien, technically you lost three babies in the house. One may still be with you now, but you lost her to the house first.

- Moira, we don't need your exposition; after eleven and a half episodes, we more than "get" who the good and bad ghosts are. Thanks. But I really appreciate it's Frances Conroy Moira and not dead-stripper eyes Alexandra Breckenridge Moira.

- So...wait...are we looking at two different times in the evening or is someone else in the Rubber Man suit? Someone like Ben, maybe? Ben, trying to take charge of the situation in the completely wrong way?

- Is Morris Chestnut no longer on retainer now that the Harmons are not the owners of the house? Because that would be a big shame.

- Oh wow, this new family is getting a crash course. Congrats, Vivien; when you put your mind to something, you can rally the troops fast.

- Tate must really be mentally ill. Why would he want this kid to be stuck in the house forever? Then he'll never be rid of the competition for Violet. She may have asked Tate to go away once, but she still sees him; she's not really alone if she doesn't want to be. And even if she was, she doesn't like this kid's taste in music. Tate, you can do better; you can find her a better match!

- YES, Tami Taylor! Can someone please make a GIF out of 10:46 please??

- Aw, Tate is so broken. I seriously love him the most. Though in death Vivien is finally becoming the character I always wanted her to be from the beginning. She really is liberated and confident in a way she never was when she was living in the shadow of her husband's failings.

- I hope this "Murder House" tour guide has photos of Vivien on his tour. I bet that would boost sales like crazy.

- I take it back, this "therapy doesn't work" speech is the smartest thing Ben has ever said. I like Ben way more in death, too. If the message of this story is that we can't really be free to be our smart, spirited selves until we die, well, the suicide rate may spike. But really, let's let this inspire us to live this way in our daily lives, because really, why not? Life's too short. Clearly.

- I really don't think Tate is a psychopath. I think that would be too easy. Of course, I want to see the good in him so that I can justify him staying around. Violet said her good-bye, but apparently we did learn something new tonight; we learned that when you say "Go away, good-bye" to a ghost, they only disappear from you. They are still bound to the house, to be seen by others-- dead and alive alike. Wouldn't it be too easy any other way?

- So...are we absolutely sure this second baby is dead? If it starts growing-- teething, crawling, whatever, I wouldn't be entirely surprised. I don't trust Nora's judgement about anything, especially when a baby is involved. And good freakin' luck trying to co-parent with all of these nut jobs. Once they smell the new blood, so to speak, they should descend. Shouldn't they? Or do they only want live babies? I guess the rules are fuzzy on that...

- I love twisted Christmas!! I guess not that much time passed at all since last episode and this one. Also, I kind of wish this is how the episode ended: with the happy family around the tree and the dark outsiders looking in and plotting. It wouldn't fit the tone of the rest of the season, but it would be quirky and weird the way so much else has.

- Meredith!!

- What is all this talk about Constance and youth? Is she sucking the baby's life force? That's the one thing this show is lacking. I wouldn't put it past them/her... But let's all congratulate Ms. Lange now; she just won the Golden Globe. And probably the subsequent Emmy.

- I guess the murder gene doesn't dissipate with the next generation. Holy hell. Also, I was convinced this scene with Constance and the little boy was a flashback to baby Tate when I saw the photos prior to screening. But at least there's no question about who the father of the living boy is. The real question is how far Constance will go to cover this one's crimes the way she couldn't for her elder. Maybe she could teach him a code or something. I'd be happy to have a new Dexter Morgan in my life and on my TV, and I never wanted that to be Harrison, but this little boy (Michael, right? Because that's just...ironic) is the spitting image of Harrison and the spitting killer instinct of Dexter. So let's do this.

Final thoughts: Ryan Murphy, you are one cocky bastard, and right now, I'm kind of loving it. I feel like this entire first season of American Horror Story was one giant audition for all of his actors. If he liked them, he killed them off (in the house) so he could keep them for season two. If he didn't like them, he wouldn't have done so. I think the only question mark was really McDermott and whether or not he'd make the cut, not only because in the story he and Vivien were estranged, but also because Murphy was clearly much more inspired by his strong female cast, and when McDermott was front and center in the story, they were often relegated to supporting, somewhat weaker characters. But I'm kind of glad it all worked out, even if I don't believe she's over everything already. She can get her residual anger out by slicing and dicing him every time a new family moves in, saying it's just to scare them out, but really slowly but surely starting to feel better, too.

This season finale wasn't the strongest piece of television I've ever seen, but I do think it was one of the strongest episodes of the season, and I really appreciate the fact that this is one show for which I can't anticipate every twist and turn. Sure, some things (like the identity of the Rubber Man) certainly felt "too easy" or "too obvious" at the time of the reveal, but I certainly couldn't have predicted the season would end where it did, and in fact there were a couple of points in this episode, let alone last, that could and would have served as stopping points for other shows. But this one thinks bigger than that, even if sometimes the thoughts are wild. I've had my ups and downs with the show, but I truly believe this was a solid close-out, and it only leaves me anticipating what's to come even more without angering me that we didn't get any particular key question answered. To me, that's a job well done right there. To me, not being able to exactly pinpoint where the show is going to go next also means they're doing something right.

Here's a hope for season two
: In order for this show to pick up momentum, it can't wimp out on us and introduce a brand new family and a brand new house. Though so much of the Harmons' story, as well as Constance's, felt "wrapped up" by the end of "Afterbirth," it would be a huge cop-out to just send us off on our merry way to meet some new victims. In fact, it would be quite assumptive to do so; I, personally, wouldn't want to go along for a ride with brand new characters when ones I am invested in are still floating out there. I want season two to remain at the Murder House, but I want less of a focus on any new family in the house and more focus on the Harmons adjusting to their new undead lives, as well as their still struggle to gain control of the house. Yes, that means I want to jump back in time to see what went on in those three years that Tate's off-spring was finding his true calling in life. Not only are we already invested in their characters, but we know how it's going to go with the new family: disbelief at the weird things around them, little reveals here and there that their brains rationalize, been there, and done that. Even if Vivien gets her scares in during the first night every time, it's the same stuff on a loop. We'd be as bound as the dead themselves. The same would be true if we jumped ship with Murder House and ended up at a new location with all new people-- dead and alive alike; we'd be going through the same types of scares and revelations as we did in season one, and even if those motives were different, the actions would be the same. That would be a giant step backward-- there'd be nothing unique about it and there'd be no room for growth-- and no television warrants that. Similarly, if we stay in the future, we will lose a lot of sure to be important character moments that would only be told out through the occasional flashback later. As we saw in season one, flashbacks can be a creative device to explain relationships between inhabitants of the house, but they only worked when the characters involved were the ones on the periphery. And to push Vivien and Ben and even Violet to the periphery would be a huge loss. I don't care who they might bring in; Tami Taylor is the heart of any show. Besides, the idea that we can see what goes on behind-the-scenes of the house, so to speak, is truly something new. We've gotten glimpses at the players and their seeming motives, but there are still a lot of things left unanswered.

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