Horror Watch: American Horror Story Ep. 8 – Rubber Man

 In “Rubber Man,” we are taken back six months to when the house was first sold and Nora’s ghost is wandering around realizing that she doesn’t recognize anything. Tate approaches and asks, “How can I comfort you?” and she asks for her baby. Tate seems more than happy to oblige in any way he can.

We then realize that he is the one who fetched the rubber suit out of the garbage and wore it the night Vivien thought Ben was just being kinky when he was actually busy sleepwalking.

After having seen the photos Violet found in the attic, Vivien is now aware that Nora is a ghost, though no one will believe her. Moira offers some reprieve by mentioning that there are some things that can’t be explained. “We’re all just lost souls, aren’t we?” she says.

This episode also gives us a little more insight into the relationship between Chad and Patrick and we learn they also had the desire to raise a baby but the instability in their relationship made it impossible. Chad found an online account Patrick was using for cybersex in S&M chat rooms. As he shares his findings with his female friend over lunch, she talks him into exploring bondage as a way of getting Patrick interested again. That’s where the rubber suit comes from, after Chad buys it to revive the romance in his relationship. Unfortunately, Patrick turns Chad down and things continue to fall apart between them.

The failure in Chad and Patrick’s relationship is parallel to the issues between Ben and Vivien. They too have been struggling with reviving the romance between them while feeling the financial strain that has been put on them after buying the house. Just as Chad believed a baby could heal things with Patrick, Ben and Vivien seem to believe the pregnancy can make things better, but it is only making come asunder.

Hayden is quickly learning what her powers are as an entity that is “dead as disco.” She forces Nora to confront that she too is dead and that there are other souls trapped in the house. However, she can’t yet get her way with Moira who insists on defending Vivien. Hayden’s anger is motivating her to further destroy the Harmons. Her evil plan is to take Vivien’s twins and share them with Nora and she believes she can make this happen by having Vivien institutionalized.

Vivien’s desperation grows when she interprets Hayden’s tricks on her as though she is having side effects from the medicine the doctor prescribed. Moira dives into another speech about how she views the torrid relationship between men and women and tries to console her: “That’s what men do. They make you think you’re crazy so they can have their fun.” She then goes into a quick summary of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, and I was absolutely not surprised by this. In fact, it had been running through my mind for weeks. It’s a terribly appropriate reference to what is happening in Ben and Vivien’s relationship. Moira continues and shares that for ages, men have been writing women off as crazy. I find this to be the most important scene of the episode. It is loaded with ironies that make my head spin, considering that the in-house therapist is causing the most psychological damage on his family. The reference to the short story brings up issues of female psychology and how a woman’s biological functions are interpreted as reasons for insanity, whether it be menstruation or postpartum depression. Moira then fully discloses that there are evil spirits in the house and that Vivien must leave.

Unfortunately, when she hastily packs a bag and grabs Violet so they can flee, she is stopped by the ghosts of the man and woman who died the night they invaded their home. Violet sees them as well and they both run out of the car and back into the house.

Ben gives her a hard time for trying to leave with Violet and he doesn’t believe her when she tells him what she saw. While they are downstairs having this discussion, we then find out that Violet and Tate are in her bedroom having a post-coitus conversation. Now that we know what Tate has done to Vivien, it’s horrifying to see him and Violet in bed having pillow talk.

Ben is at his most condescending as he argues with Vivien, calling her crazy and stupid. She confronts him with far more direct language than she has used before regarding his infidelity. When Violet comes down to join them, Vivien asks her to tell Ben what she saw in the car the night they tried to leave. Violet lies and makes Vivien sound like she was seeing things.

Vivien calls Marcy over with the pretense that she wants to discuss whether the house will be sold to Escandarian. She fakes feeling sick and has Marcy fetch a glass of water for her so she can sneak into her purse and steal her handgun. With that same gun, Vivien later gets herself into for more trouble than she needs. After Hayden successfully spooks her, she gives Ben reason to put her away in a mental hospital.

Ben gives her a Valium and has her stay in bed while he speaks to the police, during which he is also confronted by Luke (man, I hope I have that name right), the security guard. Not one to be quieted, Luke makes it clear he has disdain for Ben’s behavior and blatant disrespect of Vivien’s condition. While they are arguing, Hayden continues her campaign of terror against Vivien, screaming and shrieking as she tells a half-conscious Vivien that she wants her babies. She tells Vivien that the father of her babies is there in the room and wants another round. Vivien sees the man in the rubber suit and screams. They struggle as he pulls her off the bed and this gets the men downstairs to run into the bedroom. Suddenly she realizes that she is no longer struggling with the rubber man, but with Ben.

As she tries to explain what she has seen, no one believes her, and she is removed from her home while still dressed in her night gown. “I had to do it Vivien. You’re unstable and you need to be evaluated,” says Ben.

She leaves without a struggle and says, “At least I’ll be out of this house.”

At the end of this episode, I did feel a few tears roll down my face. I felt a gnawing impotence as Vivien surrendered and was escorted away, but there was also a reluctant sense of relief.

And it’s no accident that at the very end, when we see a flashback to Tate shooting Chad and Patrick in the basement, he says, “It’s kind of romantic, isn’t it? Now they’ll be together forever.” You can’t help but assume that he will have a similar plan for him and Violet. He is in love, after all.

All photos via FXNetworks.com