This particular episode was tough to watch. Not only do we watch what happened with Tate, but there is a suicide attempt and an overall theme of open-mindedness to the spiritual world. The episode also guest stars Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) as Derek, one of Ben’s new patients.
It opens with what happened in 1994 with Tate Langdon at Westfield High as he guns down several students, the ones who we saw had come back to plead with him in the Halloween episode to confess to what he did.
We watch as several students and a teacher try to barricade themselves in the school library, but Tate finds his way in and one by one, shoots them all leaving only the teacher as a survivor.
Ben’s new patient Derek shares that he has a crippling fear of urban legends. While he can handle the horrors of real life, he is terrified, to the point that he can’t have a social life, of stories that have convinced him it’s dangerous to even look in the mirror. One particular story about a pig butcher is more compelling than the others, and Ben decides that the best way to overcome his fear is to fully confront it. He comes up with the brilliant idea to have Derek face his hears in the bathroom. Unfortunately, Ben’s ignorance of the house’s ghosts takes a toll on Derek.
Vivien has had it with Ben, to the point that she triggers the alarm even though she knows there is no inherent danger around. I’ve been finder her to be quite a graceful character. She seldom raises her voice to get her point across, whereas Ben feels he has to scream to convince everyone around him that he’s not lying (though basically that’s all he ever does).
In his most patronizing voice, Ben says to Vivien, “If you violated our marriage in front of me I’d be furious.” Vivien responds, “I’m finding it really hard to look at your face because I really, really, really ant to bash it in. I find you disgusting and disappointing as a man. We’re going to end this marriage and we’re going to sell this house…”
If you’ve been visiting the FX site and exploring some of the interactive stuff they have up for this show, then you might know about the one that lets you explore the house. I spent some time on it last week and as I explored the kitchen, there were artifacts that told the story of a man whose wife had fallen in love with a woman and she couldn’t choose between the two. When Vivien is speaking with the security guard, they both share that their spouses have been unfaithful. It struck me then, as he shared about his wife leaving him for another woman, that we will soon learn more about his story.
Constance is doing her part in trying to get Violet to believe what she sees and perhaps help Tate “cross over.” After Violet begins an emotional breakdown, she comes down the stairs calling out for Vivien as “Mommy” in a very endearing, vulnerable voice. Instead of Vivien, she finds Constance in the kitchen smoking a cigarette. Constance says, “This house will make you a believer.”
Constance has Violet go to her house where they sit with Billie, a medium who speaks to the dead. Violet holds onto the last bit of her skepticism, believing that what she found on the Internet about Tate and the Westfield students is some kind of hoax or computer hack. The medium repeats to Violet words that her grandmother whispered to her about no one ever understanding her. She leaves in tears.
Vivien is still very curious to find out what the nurse saw in the ultrasound. She calls the hospital and learns her name is Angela and she arranges for the nurse to give her an address where they can meet. When they do meet, it is in a church and Vivien shakes her head at Angela’s claims that she saw hooves. She walks away as Angela shrieks out that she is carrying a beast in her impure womb.
Constance brings over food that is meant to be good for the baby’s health. Though it doesn’t exactly look palatable to the rest of us, Vivien eats it anyway. She also chows down on a dish full of brains after a small discussion with Moira about whether she will remain employed. Interestingly, Constance has been supplying her with pork glands that are supposed to be full of B vitamins and iron. What I’m hoping to better understand is what parallel it may hold with Ben’s patient who is terrified of the pig butcher story.
The show usually does some foreshadowing in each episode, sometimes through figurative language. You might recall that in the Halloween episode, Ben’s creepy patient shares a fear of being cut in half. Then later, Tate hacks her stomach with an axe and the police find her nearly cut in half having died several blocks away after escaping the house. Something to chew on, so to speak.
Violet is struggling to come to terms with her awareness of the dead. She becomes suicidal and as she envisions slitting her own throat, we know something bad is coming. She is struggling with how to handle the truth all by herself because everyone around her has foggy vision. Her father looks at Moira and sees only the sexy, younger version that no one else seems to see. Her mother is also being blinded from the truth, not just figuratively, but literally because she never gets to see the ultrasound of the baby’s appearance.
Violet comes home from school after acquiring a bottle of sleeping pills and she thinks she sees Tate in the house. She follows his shadow down into the basement and there she sees the doctor, the twins, the nursing student, and even the two who remained in the house during the home invasion and were killed by the ghosts. So now we know that if you die while on the property, you get stuck there, which is why Addy was able to “cross over” by dying in the street, away from the home.
Tate finds Violet collapsed in bed and sees she has swallowed all of the sleeping pills. Crying, he drags her into the bathroom where he crawls into the bath tub with her limp body. He turns on the water, sticks his fingers down her throat and causes her to vomit. She wakes up in breathless sobs and becomes even more distraught when she realizes she is in Tate’s arms.This was the scene that made my eyes water as I felt for her desperation.
The episode discussed so much about fear and how you can give it the power to cripple you. You see it in so many of the characters in just one episode. Ben’s fear of being honest has broken him down as a man and destroyed his ability to give his wife and family what they need. Angela, the nurse, is so terrified of what she has seen in the ultrasound that she quit her job. Derek’s fear of the urban legends has caused him to feel like a broken man and even when he finally does face his fear, he doesn’t survive.
Violet’s fear has a lot to do with who she has always been, which likely means that she has always noticed something about her was very different from everyone else. I really feel that in the moment when she was in Ben’s arms, crying and saying, “The darkness, it has me,” she was referring to depression and that they have dealt with it before and maybe given it that name. Ben says, “I have you baby, I have you.” It’s a tough moment to watch because you can’t help but think that he is the very darkness that envelops Violet.
We walk away with a very important lesson about evil. Just because someone may look beautiful doesn’t mean they don’t have it in them. Ben is handsome but he is a destroyer. Tate is alluring and vulnerable, but he hides a very dark nature and Violet must now figure out how to help him cross over and leave the world that belongs to the living.
Here is a link to a preview of the episode:
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