Horror Watch: American Horror Story Ep. 3 – Murder House

This episode opens with a glimpse into the deaths that occurred in 1983, which we learn involved Moira and Constance’s drunk husband. Moira is making the bed in the master bedroom when Constance’s husband forces himself on her after revealing that they’d already slept with each other once before. Though Moira tries to fight him off, Constance is already walking into the bedroom with a loaded gun.

She fires one shot into a mirror. The second shot goes into Moira’s right eye, and three go into her husband. This leaves me wondering if she saved the last shot for herself. After all, she’s is probably just another one of the ghosts, though I don’t know this for certain just yet.

Vivien and Ben begin to discuss some of the problems that are keeping them from moving out of the house. She learns that he lied to her about their finances and she is angry again that truth has been withheld. She insists that they find a place to rent but Ben is adamant about rebuilding his practice and remaining in that house. He then gives her some psycho babble about her having PTSD and that they just need to find her a therapist that their insurance can cover. She smartly responds, “Don’t make me feel like I’m crazy.” Ben, as usual, refuses to take responsibility for his mistakes. She says, “If you lie to me again, we’re through.” Ben’s facial expression is appropriate, because obviously he’s toast.

Vivien meets with their realtor, Marcy, and gives her a lesson in why you shouldn’t screw people over. Marcy claimed that by law she only had to reveal anything about the home within the last three years, which at this point only includes the murder-suicide of the gay couple, but none of the other gruesome deaths. Once again we see Vivien’s low tolerance for liars. She tells Marcy exactly what she is going to do to start making the place that much more attractive to potential new buyers.

While Constance is in the house again looking to see what new pieces of silverware she can steal, Moira walks into the room. Their conversation reveals that something keeps them from moving on and getting away from the house and Moira is the one who feels the most helpless. What’s worse is that whatever it is she did while she was alive, she’s had plenty of time to repent but she remains in a constant state of shame thanks to Constance’s reminders of what she has done, thus making her name rather appropriate.

Ben is with a new patient named Sally Freeman (does she look familiar to ya, Tara?). She is a dull woman who is discussing her marital problems and demonstrates how she has memorized her husband’s favorite football teams. During their appointment, he becomes drowsy after drinking a cup of coffee brewed possibly drugged by Moira and Sally gets very upset with him and snaps.

When he wakes up, he’s outside, his hands covered in blood and he fears he’s done the worst. He walks back into the house to find Moira crouched on all fours scrubbing the floor with a large sponge. She offers no clear answer as to why she is “cleaning up his mess,” and lets him know there’s another patient waiting for him.

Unfortunately, that new patient is actually Hayden who has come to let him know that she didn’t terminate the pregnancy after all. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know because Ben hurriedly left the clinic after she had already been taken in by a nurse in episode 2. She could be lying to Ben, and rather than asking for proof, he falls for her manipulations. She leaves after a detective arrives to let him know he is investigating a missing persons report on Sally Freeman.

While Vivien is outside doing some garden work, she sees the Eternal Darkness tour during which the guide calls her home “Murder House.” She decides to take the tour herself and learns that the home was built in 1922 by a surgeon named Charles Montgomery who lived there with his wife, Nora, their son, and two servants. Charles picked up a drug addiction and was obsessed with piecing together different animals (now we know what all those jars are about). Nora was fed up with becoming poor and dealing with creditors, so she arranged for girls to come by to the house for very private procedures. As she described them, they were girls “in trouble.”

After hearing that part of the story, Vivien looks down realizes she is bleeding. She jumps out of the vehicle and runs inside the house, afraid she might be losing her baby.

Ben takes a light jog in the park and is bothered again by the half burnt man, this time asking him for $1000. Ben asks the man to stay away from him. Suddenly, Ben wakes up outside in the yard again, this time with a shovel beside him and not sure how he even got there. Constance happens to be standing by under the clothesline while Moira watches from a window upstairs. In her lovely southern accent, she talks to Ben about how the ground is useless for growing anything and that he should build a gazebo to cover it all up. A lot of attention is directed to that part of the yard and with good reason. Not only does it foreshadow future events, but it hints at secrets that need to be discovered for the salvation of others.

Vivien receives a very blatant ghost visit, and it is Nora. Vivien lets her in, thinking she is a prospective buyer, but not before grabbing a blunt object in case it’s another freak trying to murder her. Nora walks through the house and loves what she sees until she enters the kitchen and realizes it’s been modernized. The camera moves behind her and we see that’s she’s got a hole in the back of her head. Vivien doesn’t see this, so as she makes tea, she tries to explain to Nora that the modern fixtures can be removed. When she turns back around holding two mugs for tea, Nora is gone.

The detective returns to see Ben and lets him know they found Sally Freeman after a failed suicide attempt, along with his missing voice recorder. After listening to the recording, the detective isn’t thrilled with Ben’s callous attitude. Ben, on the other hand, is a lot more relieved to find out that he didn’t actually kill Sally himself and doesn’t realize that he is once again not taking responsibility for his actions. When Ben says Sally did it to herself, he’s expressing relief that he hadn’t physically harmed her, but he is also dismissing responsibility for having been a catalyst in her suicide attempt.

Hayden returns to the house and is screaming at Ben for once again ditching her. He manages to calm her down and agrees to have dinner with her. On their way out of the house, she is dreaming up a delicious meal just before getting whacked in the face with a shovel by the half burnt man. Ben freaks out and calls him a murderer, but is soon convinced that a big problem of his has been solved.

As the man digs a hole for Hayden’s body, he finds Moira’s bones, still wearing the maid uniform. Moira watches as another body is thrown upon hers. She cries when Ben eventually starts to build a gazebo over the site, and Constance whispers, “Poor girl. Now you’re stuck here forever.”

This episode gave me a lot to think about in terms of how Ben repeatedly fails to have any genuine connections with women. He yells at Hayden that he loves his wife, but I don’t believe he does it for the sake of making her believe him. I think he wants to convince himself of it. Hayden is clearly not a healthy-minded female if she is traveling across the country to tell Ben she’s going to move out there, and he should know that. He tries really hard to believe that he has his family’s best interest in mind, but he continues to create situations that will only cause further damage to his relationship with Vivien and Violet.

The supernatural element of bones in the yard keeping the ghost of Moira stuck there is as effective as one would expect. Now I wonder what is keeping all the other ghosts around. Also, there is the added hazard that an Open House invites many strange people, and in this show, that includes the former residents, all of them dead.

All photos via FXNetworks.com

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